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San Diego Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Pressuring someone into signing a will makes it invalid

When people think about a will that is not valid, they often think about a fake will. Maybe, after a parent's passing, an heir drafted a will that gave them a far greater share of the estate than they got in the original. There is a clear chance for financial gain.

This type of thing does happen, but a fake or fraudulent will is not the only type of invalid will. There are many other ways that a will can fail to hold up in court. One such issue is if the person who signed it was pressured into doing so.

Do children need to pay a deceased parent's debt?

You have $10,000 in credit card debt. If you pass away, does that debt simply go to your children? Are they obligated to pay?

This is an important question to ask when doing your estate planning. The truth is that, in most cases, children do not need to pay for debts like this and have no obligation to even attempt it. After all, just because a parent was approved for a card with a high limit does not mean that the children can afford it or had any say in the parent's spending. It would be unfair to pass the debt to them.

Estate planning can address simple things

One reason people sometimes give for not doing their estate planning is that they don't think their estate is complex enough. Maybe they don't have multiple homes or properties. They don't have complex investment portfolios. They don't want to use trusts or give to charity. They just assume that the assets they have should go to their heirs, and that's fairly straightforward.

While this line of thinking is understandable, it also overlooks a key fact: Estate planning can address simple things. It's not just about complex assets.

Is a Formal Probate Proceeding Always Necessary?

Coping with the death of a loved one and the formal probate proceeding can be daunting. If the decedent's assets are not already transferring outside of probate, for example by jointly owned property, trust property, or property determined by beneficiary designation, a formal probate proceeding can seem like an absolute certainty. However, in some such cases, a formal probate proceeding may actually be avoided altogether.

The California Probate Code provides a streamlined procedure to settle an estate with assets under a certain threshold value, thus qualifying it as a "small estate." In these small estates, an affidavit may be used to transfer the decedent's assets.

Education trusts are not just for college

When people generally talk about education trusts, they mean that the money can be used to pay for tuition and related costs at a college or a university. It is important to note that, while this is how it often works, the trust does not have to be so limited. It can be used for other educational purposes.

For instance, perhaps an heir does not want to go to a four-year college and instead plans on going to a one-year trade school. The trust can still be used for that school even though it is different than a traditional college. Other examples of alternatives include educational workshops or private schools.

Gifting money before you pass away

Estate planning does not always have to mean putting money in a trust or writing out your assets in a will to give them away after you die. You may want to gift money to your heirs before you pass away.

For one thing, this can help to reduce the tax burden on the estate, which may mean that more of the money stays in your family. You can also make the estate process simpler and easier by parring down the estate in advance.

A Message To Clients

Dear Clients and Prospective Clients,

Although our physical office is temporarily closed, our virtual office is up and running! If you have been thinking about starting or changing your trust or will, now is the time to do so. The entire process can be completed from the comfort and safety of your home. We are also available remotely to service your probate and trust administration needs. Please email or call us today to schedule your appointment.

Estate planning is wise with the COVID-19 pandemic

Estate planning is always wise, and life is unpredictable. About 40,000 people die in car accidents every year, and none of them anticipated that happening at the beginning of the year. The goal of estate planning should always be to get it done in advance so that the plan is ready if something unfortunate and unexpected does happen.

That said, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has brought this idea a lot closer to everyone's minds. It is hard to tell exactly how far it will spread or how many lives it will take, but some of the estimates are quite high, and it does spread fast. On top of that, some people are at high risk, including:

  • The elderly
  • Those already dealing with serious medical conditions
  • These medical conditions include things like lung disease, diabetes and heart disease
  • Those with weakened or compromised immune systems, such as those getting chemo for cancer

A Message for our Clients, Potential Clients, and Visitors...

With the recent updates and news about Covid-19 (the coronavirus), we want to share the measures that our office to taking to ensure the safety and well-being of all our clients, potential clients, and visitors.

The first line of defense starts with you, our valued clients, potential clients, and visitors. While we love to greet our clients, we are no longer shaking hands or giving hugs. If you are feeling ill, we encourage you to stay home or seek appropriate medical assistance, even if your illness is not related to Covid-19. We require all employees to stay home if they are sick, or to immediately leave the office if they develop illness during the workday. Our conference room and office entry door handles are sprayed and wiped down after each meeting. Several times a day, we spray and wipe down shared office tools, such as copiers, refrigerator, counterspace, etc. 

What is it called when you pass away without a will?

Many people put off writing a will. Say you do so for a few decades, thinking you still have time to get your estate plan together. Then, just before you actually get that plan down on paper, you pass away unexpectedly from a heart attack or in a car accident.

Life is unpredictable, and this does happen to many people every year. When it does, it is known as "dying intestate." This refers to the fact that you have no will, you have no estate plan and you have left no real guidance for your heirs.

Law Office of Suzanne P. Nicholl, PC
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San Diego, CA 92122

Phone: 619-894-8552
Fax: 858-373-5556
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