How to Set Up Power Over a Client’s Digital Assets

computer that holds digital assets and accountsAn increasingly important issue in estate planning is how to handle a decedent’s digital assets, e.g., email and social media accounts, digital files and photographs stored in the cloud. Here’s what to do.

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How to Allay Fears About Advanced Health Care Directives

Cancer patient comfortable knowing she has a health care directive in placeIn addition to the natural fear of becoming incapacitated, some people hesitate to sign an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) because they worry it will take away their power to make decisions. Here are some facts to allay those fears. Continue reading

Make Sure Your Client’s Will and Lifetime Decisions Are In Sync

will documentPeople expect that their property will be distributed according to their will when they die. This is generally true, but the testator may have made decisions during his or her lifetime that override the will provisions. Continue reading

What to Do If Your Client Dies Abroad

Although most attorneys never get involved with probate administration outside the United States, you might encounter practical problems if your client, who’s a California domiciliary, dies abroad. Continue reading

Checklist: Reviewing an Estate Plan

Attorneys are often asked to review a will prepared by either another attorney or the client who used a self-help book. But review of an existing will really means an estate plan review, including beneficiary designations and powers of attorney. It’s relatively simple to spot improper drafting, but harder to determine whether needed provisions were omitted. This checklist will help you review a will and estate plan to make sure it’s up-to-date and meets your client’s needs. Continue reading

The Times They Are A-Changing (for Estate Planners)

The corporate tax cut is permanent, but most individual provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub L 115–97, 131 Stat 2054) are set to expire for tax years beginning after December 31, 2025. These expiring provisions will tax the ingenuity and patience of estate planners and their clients. What to do? Continue reading

Alas Poor Urick: SLAPP-stick Comedy Relieves Probate Court Drama

Updated 2/1/18: In Gaynor v Bulen (Jan. 23, 2018, D070907) 2018 Cal App Lexis 53, the court held that a petition alleging that trust assets were improperly used in probate litigation was not a cause of action arising from protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute. Although the alleged breach of loyalty may have been carried out by the filing of probate petitions, the petitioning activity itself was not the basis of the claim.

Despite its name, a statute designed to deter strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) has been applied to a variety of private disputes, including probate proceedings, as a recent decision illustrates. Continue reading

How Estate Planners Can Help Parents of Young Children

Parents of young children are tired, anxious, and a bit overwhelmed. They’re balancing parenting goals with career goals and, more often than not, feeling like they’re meeting neither. They know they need a . . . will? Or is it a trust? Or a living will, didn’t someone mention that once? What the parents know they need, on a basic level, is some document that tells the world who they wish to care for their children should the parents die before their kids reach adulthood. Here’s how estate planning attorneys can best help. Continue reading

Providing for a Pet After Its Owner Dies: Pet Trusts

Pets play an important part in the lives of many people, and pet owners often want to arrange for the financial support and care of their animals after the owner dies. To make this happen, the best option is usually to include specific provisions in a trust. Continue reading

Can You Control What Happens to Your Remains After You Die?

California has a statutory scheme for the right to control disposition of the remains of a deceased person (Health and Safety Code §§7100–7117), but if you or your client wants to have this control, you need to put it in writing. Continue reading