Posts Tagged ‘Estate Planning’
Each state’s law provides that the property be distributed to the closest surviving relatives. In most states, the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and next of kin inherit, in that order.
If there is no next of kin, then property will “escheat” or revert to the state.
Only “probate-able” assets (that would have passed through your will) are affected by intestate succession laws.
How your assets are distributed in California depends upon who your closest relatives are when you die. California Probate Code §§6400-6414 determines the order of inheritance. The following some of the more common examples are illustrated here:
Parents and siblings survive you, but you have no spouse or children — Parents receive 100% of all property
Siblings survive you, but you have no spouse or children – Siblings split equally 100% property
Spouse and siblings survive you, but you have no children or parents — Spouse receives 100% of community property and ½ of separate property and your siblings split equally 50% of separate property
Spouse and one child survive you – Your spouse receives 100% of community property and 50% of separate property
Spouse and multiple children survive you – Your spouse receives 100% of community property and 1/3 of separate property AND you children split 2/3 of separate property
Children, but no spouse – Your children split 100% of all property
There are some additional factors that affect intestate inheritance as well,
Survivorship period. To inherit under California’s intestate succession statutes, a person must outlive you by 120 hours. So if you and your brother are in a car accident and he dies a few hours after you do, his estate would not receive any of your property.
Half-relatives. “Half” relatives inherit the same as if they were related by whole blood. 
Posthumous relatives. Relatives conceived before (but born after) you die inherit as if they had been born while you were alive.
Immigration status. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally in the United States.
There are numerous estate planning options that can be used to change the “default” intestacy rules.
In the coming weeks, we will be reviewing many options in our Wednesday Words series. In the meantime, if you have any questions, or would like to discuss your estate plan, please contact Laura L. Thatcher, or a qualified estate planning attorney in your area.
 Community property is generally defined as all property earned by the labor of either spouse during marriage.
Sunday is Veterans’ Day, so I searched for a military themed joke for this week’s Friday Funnies. There are lots of great ones. However, as you might imagine, most of the jokes out there are just a bit raunchier than would be appropriate for this site. After searching many sites, I came across Vetfriends and found the perfect joke – it even has estate planning references!
As unlikely as it seems, a Marine and a Sailor were friends and decided to go on a ski trip.
Along the way, they had car trouble and broke down by a farm on one of the coldest nights of the year. They knocked on the farm house door and a beautiful widow stood before them. The widow told them they were welcome to spend the night in the barn, but she could not allow them to stay in the house for appearance sake.
The night seemed to go uneventfully and the next morning the guys continued and finished their ski trip. Nine months later the Marine was contacted by a lawyer.
The Marine caught up to his Sailor buddy and asked him, “Hey Mack, you remember that beautiful widow we met on our ski trip”?
The Sailor replied rather sheepishly, “Yes.”
The Marine said, “You didn’t happen to get up in the middle of the night and pay her a visit did you?”
The Sailor again said, “Yes.”
The Marine asked, “And by the way did you use my name instead of yours”?
The Sailor again said, rather red faced, “Yeah Buddy. I’m sorry.”
The Marine replied, “That’s okay, she died and left me a million bucks!”
Wishing you peace!
Unless you specify how financial and health care decisions will be made in the event you become incapacitated, there’s no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out. Plus, without a plan, your loved ones will be saddled with the difficult task of seeking a court-appointed guardian.
On the financial side, planning tools you should consider include:
- A revocable living trust. You transfer your assets to the trust, retaining control over your financial affairs by serving as trustee. In the event you become incapacitated, your chosen representative takes over as trustee.
- A durable power of attorney. This document authorizes your representative to manage your financial affairs and control your assets, subject to limitations you establish.
- Joint ownership. Holding title to property jointly with another person allows him or her to manage the property in the event you become incapacitated. It’s a simple, inexpensive strategy. But it produces two results that may or may not be desirable: 1) It provides your co-owner with immediate, unrestricted access to the property, and 2) the property will pass to him or her when you die. Joint ownership also may trigger negative tax consequences.
On the health care side, planning tools you should consider include:
- A health care power of attorney. Also referred to as an Advance Health Care Directive, Durable Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, this document appoints a representative to make medical decisions for you in the event you can’t make them yourself.
- A living will. A living will communicates your preferences for life-sustaining medical intervention — such as artificial nutrition or hydration — under specified, life-threatening circumstances.
- A Guardian Nomination. A stand-alone Guardian Nomination allows you to designate a guardian (and temporary guardian) for you minor children.
Your attorney can help you prepare the documents necessary to implement these estate planning tools.
If you have any questions, please contact The Thatcher Law Group or another qualified estate planning attorney.
Wishing you peace.
I was trolling the ‘net for an entry to the Friday Funnies file and I came across this oldie but goodie from The Onion on various important items to keep in mind while preparing a living will. My favorites:
- It’s important to have a lawyer present when you draft a living will, as it makes the desire to be dead that much more tangible.
- Explain in no uncertain terms that, should you die and return as a zombie, loved ones must shoot you in the head without hesitation.
- A living will is a great way to meet a notary public, if notaries public are your thing.
- If you choose to remain on life support indefinitely, make sure your family is legally restricted from dressing you up as a corporate mascot and renting you out for parties.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at Robinson – Thatcher, LLP. Our motto is “Bringing Peace to Your Family”. To that end, we strive to make your journey through the legal system as painless as possible. We also work to keep the financial costs as reasonable as possible.
So, when I saw this joke, I knew we had to include in our Friday Funnies posts!
A woman walked into her attorney’s office asking for an estate plan. He said he would be happy to assist her, but he required a $5,000 retainer. She wrote the check and gave it to him. He thanked her and asked her to tell him about her estate. She replied, “You just took it.”
From “The Complete Book of Wills, Estates & Trusts” by Alexander A. Bove, Jr., Esq.
A while ago, I started posting humorous bits on our Facebook page as Friday Friday Funnies. After my Aunt passed away suddenly, I fell out of that habit.
The practice of law (especially a family-oriented practice like Robinson – Thatcher, LLP) is so frequently filled with such emotionally draining issues like divorce, custody battles and bankruptcy) that I decided to bring back the Friday Funnies on a slightly bigger scale. Instead of limiting my post to Facebook, I’m bringing it to the Robinson – Thatcher blog as a whole. So tune in on Fridays for a little bit of levity.
For the first post in this feature, I thought I would put up a tried and true bit of humor that I found around the web. Thanks to Maxine for the image. I think my Aunt Julie would have got a kick out of it – she was always the life of the party.