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

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

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

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

Caution! Sever a Joint Tenancy Before Conveying the Interest to a Third Party

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As a graduation present, your client purchases her son a home. Although the plan was for the son to live there alone, the client and her son take title as joint tenants. Years later, your client remarries and asks you to convey her interest in the house to her new husband’s children on her death. What do you do? Whatever instrument you choose, be sure to sever the joint tenancy! Continue reading

Perpetual Motion for the Rule Against Perpetuities

The court giveth, and the court taketh away. Continue reading

Does a Class Gift to Children Include Adult Adoptees?

The Probate Code says no, in most cases, but a recent court decision said yes. Here’s what happened in Sanders v Yanez (July 30, 2015, H041578) 2015 Cal App Lexis 662.

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Profile in Practice: Agnieszka Adams

AgnieszkaAdamsAs part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, here’s a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys, Agnieszka Adams:

CEB: What is your practice area and how did you choose it?

Agnieszka: I practice exclusively in the area of trusts and estates. My practice includes estate planning, probate, and trust administration. Our firm doesn’t, however, represent clients in trust and estate litigation matters. My interest in this field started in law school. I chose a tax concentration while at UC Hastings (I knew I wasn’t going to be a litigator). When I began practice, I was fortunate to work at a full service law firm where I was given the opportunity to explore various practice groups. I quickly realized that trusts and estates was the area in which I wanted to specialize.

CEB: What do you like best and least about practicing law? Continue reading