Law: Estate Planning

According to a recent LA Times article, “the Southern California housing market is red-hot again.” 2015 was the second-busiest year since the 2008 recession, and experts are calling for 2016 to be the year that the peak returns to Orange County. With so much hype in the forecast, it can be difficult for both buyers and sellers to track market trends, sift through all the numbers, and forecast what may or may not happen over years to come. I know I’d rather choose a new paint color or build my dream wraparound porch than pore tediously over CoreLogic statistics. And…
Since its first Wills and Trusts Week in the fall of 2011, the Orange Catholic Foundation (OCF) has had as one of its primary goals to encourage everyone to have an estate plan designed to provide for the needs of their families. Each year in the spring and fall, the OCF works in collaboration with parishes and schools throughout the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to provide information sessions led by local Catholic estate planning attorneys and financial advisors to help you protect and provide for your loved ones, update or create your estate plan, and learn more about wills,…
When Trustees finish their work distributing trust assets, they often utter the same comment about the problems they encountered managing a trust: “Nobody knows what to do as a trustee until the job is almost over. It would be nice to know before the job begins.” The complete answer to this question calls for the template of a textbook. But Tina Fey, late of Saturday Night Live, unknowingly gave the simple answer about the trustee’s job when she described a leader: “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” The…
Real Estate Development and Private Money Lender It has been a number of years since I attended high school economics. I won’t name how many, so don’t try to guess. Back then, even in an Advanced Placement class, I think I could categorize the number of topics I learned into about eight varieties: cost-benefit analysis, trade, exchange and interdependence, macroeconomics (as it pertained to business cycles and public debt), the benefits of trade and foreign markets, and some matters pertaining to personal finance. In the years post-high school, some delve deeper: econ majors or those looking to get into the…
If you have not bought or sold a home in a number of years or maybe decades, it is likely there are a few new trends in real estate you should know about when you interview real estate agents.One trend now common among many real estate brokerage firms is called the practice of “going paperless.” This can be a bit scary for some people, especially senior adults who are not accustomed to using computers and tablets in their personal or professional lives. If you have any reservations about the paperless process, you should talk with your agent about any concerns.…
With April 15th only a few weeks away, the time has come to look at some of the available tax deductions for homeowners or for those who bought or sold a home in 2015. In most instances you will need to itemize your taxes in order to qualify for the below tax deductions and credits. If in doubt, talk with a tax attorney or certified public accountant (CPA) to ensure you can claim the deduction. Home Ownership Tax Deductions The following expenses can be eligible for a tax deduction: Your property taxes. The mortgage interest on your primary residence, as…
California is a prime target for senior financial abuse as it is the nation’s highest retirement destination, with an estimated 4.2 million people over age 65 living in the Golden State in 2012. The California Department of Finance projects that by 2020, California’s over-65 population will have increased by 50 percent from 2010 to 6 million and by 2020 will have doubled to 8.4 million as even the youngest baby boomers reach 65 years old.  At an age when the labors of a lifetime should be enjoyed, con artists, unscrupulous companies, caregivers, and even trusted family members are exploiting many…
Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when most of us first did our living trusts, Estate Attorneys and Accountants chanted the praises of dividing our estates into two or three parts when the first spouse died. What we were told then was right: the best way to avoid probate and at the same time reduce or eliminate Estate Taxes was to slice the trust in two at the first death to take advantage of the $600,000.00 that each partner in a marriage could pass on to children without any tax bill to pay. For most people, that eliminated the possibility…
According to the Orange County Register, a 91-year-old woman from Brea died in mid-2014, and left her entire estate to her caregiver. After officials discovered the transfer, they removed her assistant as trustee and took away the home she left  him. Why? According to the District Attorney and the ruling Judge, the facts of the case demonstrated “Fraud and Undue Influence” by the caregiver. A caregiver has worked for you in your later years; How can you to safely include this person in your will or your trust? Can you avoid the accusations that destroyed this 91-year-old’s wishes? To avoid…
Whoever said two things in life are certain - Death and Taxes – should have added a third one to that list: Sibling Rivalry. Unless you subscribe to the old Chinese rule of only one child, chances are you have experienced the ugliness of sibling rivalry in your own family. We expect to see this undesirable behavior during childhood but we certainly don’t expect grown adults to exhibit this immaturity after the death of one or both of their parents when they should be pulling together & cooperating with each other. Raising competitive kids in America unknowingly helps breed contempt…
Joint tenancy is often referred to as a “poor man’s will” which is a simple and inexpensive way to avoid probate but it is not appropriate in many cases.  Except between spouses, joint ownership is usually a bad idea. Joint tenancy property passes to the surviving joint tenant, regardless of your Last Will. Despite your best intentions, there’s a trap in holding joint tenancy ownership with an adult child when trying to avoid probate or for “convenience” that you may not have considered. While you may achieve the goal of delaying probate at the first death, your hard-earned assets may…
As an estate planning attorney, one of the questions I get the most is how can I be sure that my kids aren’t going to just waste my money away once I’m gone? Most are concerned that there is nothing they can do, and their adult children are just going to spend their inheritance away without a care for what their parents would have wanted. And we also get many clients that think their family members should be just fine on their own, but want to save their kids some of the financial burden of dealing with their affairs when…
As some senior citizens have learned, even long-standing basics of the law don’t withstand the needs of government agency to pay the costs of health care. In California, the Department of Health Services (DHS) operates under a regulation that changes the common law character of joint tenancy. This regulation, known as 22 CCR 50960.12 [DHS 12], effectively overhauled the legal concept of the Right of Survivorship previously practiced under California Common Law. Under the Right of Survivorship, which existed in joint ten- ancy definitions before California even became a state, if a person owned property with a someone who was…

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