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

No-Contest Clauses May Not Be the Deterrent You Think

ThinkstockPhotos-148073606State law changes enacted in 2010 have restricted the enforceability of no-contest clauses. Under Prob C §§21310–21311, a typical no-contest clause providing that an unsuccessful contestant gets nothing from an estate or trust is enforceable only against a “direct contest” brought without probable cause on specified grounds. And even if it is enforceable, a no-contest clause may not be an effective deterrent if the beneficiary thinks the amount at stake is outweighed by the benefit of a successful contest. Continue reading

How to Amend a Trust

ThinkstockPhotos-97050627When drafting a revocable trust, your clients may be very keen to include a particular niece or cousin, but then have a change of heart years later and want to write them out. As long as the trust allows it, you can simply amend the trust for them instead of revoking it and starting fresh. Here’s how. 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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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

Portability—Game Changer for Estate Planning or More of the Same?

148037463Estate planners are taking a second look at portability—the use of a deceased spouse’s lifetime exclusion by the surviving spouse—now that the law on this subject has been made permanent. Continue reading

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