Monday, December 21, 2015

Talking Estate Plans with Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season

Imagine a typical scene at your household during the holidays. It probably includes just about your entire family gathered around one table – two if you have young children in your family tree – discussing all sorts of topics, from current events to days of yore. Even if you're the one traveling to a relative's house, this scene is likely to unfold.
While your first thoughts are probably about cheer, celebration, and light dinner conversation, you need to consider that this is an ideal time to bring up estate planning questions and concerns. Wills, trusts, and asset distribution are all matters that really should be reviewed by your entire family – why not bring it up while they are all in one place?
If you are worried that estate planning might not be the most fun topic to discuss, check out these hints on how to touch the subject and what should be addressed when you do:
  • Mention the future: At some point, someone is going to be talking about future plans, guaranteed. You can slip in mention of your loved one's estate plans then if you do not want to bring it up outright.
  • Keep it light: There's nothing inherently upsetting about estate planning – it is just discussing the future stabilities of you and your family, after all. Don't dwell on the fact that someone has recently passed away, or that they are entering their golden years.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions: If someone at the table has created a will or a trust already, you shouldn't hesitate to ask them if it is up to date. Oftentimes, people forget to revise estate plans after major life events, such as the birth of a grandchild. Reminding them here could do everyone a big favor.
  • Find out where: The best estate plan in the world means zilch if you can't actually find and reference it after someone passes away. Your loved ones probably haven't intentionally hidden it away but may have just forgotten to tell you where it is.

Ready to talk to your family about estate planning? If the answer is still "maybe not," don't worry! It can be a considerable hurdle for anyone. At the Law Offices of David A. Shapiro, P.C., our Los Angeles trust attorney can help you understand all that needs to be discussed. Also, if you have questions about drafting an estate plan, we encourage you to call 310.853.1554 today and request your free initial consultation!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Part III - Duties and Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

Additional duties and responsibilities of the personal representative are as follows:
  • Insurance. The California personal representative is required to obtain and maintain adequate insurance covering the assets and risks of the estate for the entire period of the administration. With proper court approval, the personal representative may be reimbursed for insurance premiums that he or she paid from the assets of the estate.
  • Record Keeping. The personal representative must keep complete and accurate records of each financial transaction affecting the estate. An accounting must be prepared of all moneys received, spent and the dates in which each transaction occurred. A detailed description of all assets remaining after the payment of expenses must also be prepared.
The court will review the personal representative's account. Receipts must therefore be saved because the court may ask to review them. If the accounts are not filed as required, the court will order the personal representative to do so. Failure to comply may result in the personal representative's removal.
  • Consulting an Attorney. If the personal representative hired an attorney to represent the estate, good attorney-client communication must be established at all times. The attorney and the personal representative are responsible for the prompt completion of the estate administration.
To find out more about personal representation, contact the Law Offices of David A. Shapiro, P.C. at 310-773-0377.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Part II - Duties and Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

Additional duties and responsibilities of the personal representative include:
  • Inventory the Estate Property.The personal representative must locate and take possession of all the decedent's property to be administered in the estate. A valuation of the probate assets, including appraisals of real estate and business interests must then be made as of the date of death. Within four months after the issuance of Letters to the personal representative, an inventory and appraisal report of all estate assets must be filed with the court. At around the time of filing of the inventory and appraisal report, a change of ownership statement must also be filed with the county recorder or assessor's office in each county where the decedent owned real property at the time of death.
  • Notice to Creditors. Within four months of the personal representative's appointment, a notice of administration must be mailed to each known creditor of the decedent. If the decedent received Medi-Cal assistance, a notification must also be made to the State Director of Health Services within 90 days of the personal representative's appointment.
Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Duties and Responsibilities of a Personal Representative

Upon the court's appointment, the personal representative becomes an officer of the court and takes on certain duties and responsibilities. These duties and responsibilities include:
  1. Managing the estate's assets. Estate assets must be managed with the care of a prudent person dealing with someone else's property. The prudent person rule requires that the fiduciary or the personal representative exercise discretion and average intelligence in making investment decisions. Accordingly, the personal representative should be cautious about making risky or speculative investments and may be liable for losses obtained in such kind of investments.
Estate assets must be kept separate and not commingled with anyone else's, including that of the personal representative. Bank accounts, securities and other assets must be held in a name that shows that they are estate property and should not be held under the name of the personal representative.
Estate accounts must earn interest and may be kept in insured accounts in financial institutions, except for checking accounts intended for ordinary administration expenses.
The estate's money cannot be spent without the court's approval. However, reimbursements can be made for official court costs paid by the personal representative to the county clerk as well as for bond premium. Money taken out of the estate without the court's permission may result in the personal representative's removal and/or reimbursement to the estate from the personal representative's own personal funds.
Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog. Contact our firm for more information. 
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What is the Purpose of a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney is a legal document which designates another individual to act on your behalf should you be unable to do so due to physical or mental incapacitation. A Power of Attorney can give a blanket or general authorization for another individual to perform any and all of the tasks you would normally perform, if you were able. It can also authorize an individual to perform one single task or limited duties during a specified period of time, thus revoking his or her authorization once that task has been completed or that time period has come to an end.

The type of Power of Attorney you chose will depend on your specific needs. In addition to the Limited and General Power of Attorney mentioned above, there is a Durable Power of Attorney which would go into effect at any point you became incapacitated and unable to act on your own behalf. The final type is referred to as a Springing Power of Attorney and is a form of Durable Power of Attorney. The primary difference is that with the Springing Power of Attorney certain circumstances or conditions must be met before the Power of Attorney would go into effect. Any type of Power of Attorney can serve to give you a peace of mind that your affairs will continue to be managed as you would have.

Our firm has a reputation for providing clients with high-quality service and professional legal representation in a range of trust and estate-related matters, and we take pride in being able to help clients protect the assets and estates they have worked so hard to build. For more information about estate law, trusts, and the various types of Powers of Attorney, contact the Law Offices of David A. Shapiro, P.C. and schedule a meeting with a Los Angeles trust litigation lawyer at your earliest convenience.

Friday, June 13, 2014

At What Age Should I Consider Creating a Will?

Most people understand there are benefits to having a will or living trust. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that close to 55% of all American adults are currently living without a will or any type of estate planning in place. This leaves their assets, property and the remainder of their estate subject to distribution under state law. If you want to have a say in how your assets and estate will be distributed to your children and heirs, then you need to create a will. If you don't want your beneficiaries to be left fighting to retain even the smallest portion of the estate you worked so hard to build, you need a will.

If you want to ensure your loved ones are adequately provided for after you are gone, then it is vital you waste no time in creating your will. Establishing a will or living trust does not have to be a time-consuming process. It is an important part of protecting those you love. A will is one of the most important documents all adults should have in place. With some assistance from a Los Angeles trust litigation lawyer, you will be able to make the process of creating your will a relatively painless experience. You may even find that sitting down to discuss and lay out the details of your will can present other issues which should be addressed.

While many people have come to the conclusion that they should wait until they are married or have children before creating a will, it is important that have a will in place throughout your adult life. Yes, there will probably be numerous changes as you get older and you may or may not amass additional property and assets along the way, but having a will in place serves to protect those assets in the event of your untimely death. A will can also help provide for burial and other related expenses so that your family and loved ones are not left struggling to cover the costs. Once your will has been established, it is recommended that you and your lawyer review the your will on a yearly basis.

To help you create your will and assist you with all of your trust and estate planning needs, it is recommended you contact the Law Offices of David A. Shapiro, P.C. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Does All Property Go Through Probate?

Not all property will go through probate. Assets that are part of a person's "non-probate estate" can be distributed outside the probate process. Life insurance or retirement benefits such as IRA's, Keoghs, and 401(k) accounts transfer automatically to the beneficiaries. Bank accounts that have been named to beneficiaries and are set up as pay-on-death accounts (PODs), or "in trust for" accounts, also pass to the beneficiary without probate. Properties held in a joint tenancy, community property or living trust also pass to the beneficiaries without probate. Other assets may not need to go through probate, either.

In California, if the total value of the probate estate (assets that are subject to the authority of the probate court) is less than $150,000, beneficiaries can claim the assets with a simple sworn statement (affidavit) or use the state's "simplified procedures" for transferring property. The probate estate, on the other hand, consists of all types of property, both real and personal, that make up a person's estate. Tangible and intangible personal property, such as collectibles and stocks are probated in the state where one lives. Real estate property is probated where the property is located. Thus, if a person has real property in California and New York, then there will be two probates.

If you have any further questions about what would and wouldn’t be included in the probate process, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of David A. Shapiro, P.C.