• The Basics 2017: Estate Planning

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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.

Continue reading

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

Capacity at Issue? Consider Making a Video

Video_135848805When you’re preparing a will or trust for someone for whom capacity might later be raised as an issue, you have a potentially powerful tool that can help avoid later disputes: video. There’s nothing like a judge seeing a competent person discussing the disposition of his or her estate to knock the wind out of claims of incapacity. Continue reading

Tales of Hoffman: Postmortem Planning for Actor’s Estate

2013-07-catastrophe-122552905The tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has given us an opportunity to consider his estate planning, with lessons and strategies for the rest of us. Continue reading

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