• The Basics 2017: Estate Planning

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Revocation-on-Divorce Statute May Have Retroactive Reach

When the marriage is over, former spouses usually want their property to go somewhere else when they die. At least the revocation-on-divorce statute assumes this is so and renders transfers made to the other spouse null and void. The statute became effective in 2001, but it now looks like it may affect transfers made before then. Continue reading

When and Where Should You Define Terms in a Will

When the meaning of a term significantly affects the will’s interpretation and a misunderstanding may lead to confusion, conflict, or even litigation, consider including a bespoke definition clause. The definitions should provide the personal representative (or testamentary trustee) with clear directions for the distribution even though many years may have passed between the execution of the will and the testator’s death. Continue reading

Getting Out of the Pool: Special Needs Trust Planning After the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

For many of us, an unanticipated influx of money leads to getting that remodel off the ground, paying for college, or taking that long-dreamed-of vacation. For persons with disabilities, that same influx can lead to a loss of vital public benefits. The influx means the person needs to seek legal advice on whether to establish a first-party special needs trust (SNT) or join a first-party pooled SNT. See 42 USC §1396p(d)(4)(A) or 42 USC §1396p(d)(4)(C). Continue reading

Using Life Estates to Protect Property and Avoid Reassessment

Proposition 13 has allowed many homeowners and other property owners to perpetuate low historical assessments for years or generations using the interspousal exclusion and parent-child (or grandparent-grandchild) exclusion from a change in ownership at death. Rev & T C §§63, 63.1. These property tax opportunities are an important part of California estate planning, and life estates play an important role in making it work. Continue reading

Tips for Drafting an Understandable Trust

thinkstockphotos-513685872The purpose of a trust document is to convey information to its intended audience. But that audience is typically a very disparate group in terms of its education in general and its knowledge of trusts and taxes in particular. How can you write a trust that’s understandable to them all?

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How to Make Name and Gender Marker Changes

thinkstockphotos-494028256It’s often a problem for transgender people that their government documents (e.g., driver’s license, Social Security record, passport) don’t match their name and gender. Having updated documents is important for employment, government benefits, and even safety. An incorrect document can “out” a transgender person at a dangerous moment. Here’s what you need to know about making name and gender marker changes. Continue reading

New Foreclosure Protection for Deceased Borrower’s Successor in Interest

115754429California law gives residential borrowers various rights and remedies when it comes to foreclosure prevention alternatives against a mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee or beneficiary under a deed of trust, and authorized agent. But what happens after the borrower’s death? Continue reading

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