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What is an advance healthcare directive?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Mar 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you become incapacitated, and can no longer manage your own affairs, you will need someone to help you. Two primary areas where this is relevant is your financial affairs and your healthcare affairs. There is a separate document for each. A durable power of attorney is the document where you w...

Who should be my healthcare agent?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Feb 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

One of the documents in your estate plan portfolio is an “advance healthcare directive” or “healthcare power of attorney.” This is the document where you name an agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You also have the option of giving your agent some guidance abo...

Is your estate plan up to date?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Feb 07, 2020 | 0 Comments

Setting up an estate plan is an important thing to do, but don't stop there. In addition to properly transferring assets to your trust, your estate plan should be “tuned up” from time to time. Depending on the nature of the changes, you might just need an amendment, or you might need a full resta...

How long do I have to contest a trust?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Jan 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you are an interested party (heir of the settlor or a beneficiary) under a trust, you may be able to contest the validity of the document in court. This is most commonly done by people who were disinherited and who feel the document might not be valid. However, the law favors the quick adminis...

What are the elements of a valid trust?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Jan 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Not all trusts are valid. The law in California requires specific elements be met for a trust to earn its validity. It might sound like a mere academic discussion, but these requirements can have real world consequences if your trust does not meet all of these elements. What is a trust? A trust i...

Protect your home from Medi-Cal recovery

Posted by Michael Guzman | Jan 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

When you get older, you might have additional medical expenses that you don't have now (i.e., a home healthcare provider or assisted living). If you qualify, you can get assistance with these expenses through Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. However, some people are worried about what wil...

If you own a house, you should have a living trust

Posted by Michael Guzman | Dec 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

Very often, a house or other real estate is the property that triggers probate. The threshold is only $150,000, and in California that is not hard to meet. Probate can be a major inconvenience to the beneficiaries. However, you can avoid it altogether by setting up a living trust and transferring...

What happens to the property of a missing person?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Dec 03, 2019 | 0 Comments

Sometimes, a person can be missing for a long time and you need to figure out what to do with their assets. Bills go unpaid, property is neglected, businesses go downhill, etc. In California, if someone is missing, the court can appoint a conservator to manage the estate until they return. Additi...

Title disputes involving trust property

Posted by Michael Guzman | Nov 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

As you may or may not know, a “quiet title” action is a court proceeding where the court determines title status and ownership questions related to property. When a trust is involved, such an action may be brought under Probate Code Section 850. Some examples of causes of action where this might ...

What is a “revocable transfer on death deed”?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Nov 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

As you probably know, probate is the court administered process of wrapping up a deceased person's estate. It is complicated, time consuming, and costly. For this reason, most people take estate planning steps to avoid probate altogether. One way to avoid probate for real property is to execute a...

What are the responsibilities of a probate executor?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Oct 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you've been named executor in a will, or seek appointment as administrator, the probate court will hold you to a high standard when managing the estate. Here are some of your duties as personal representative of the estate: Managing the assets of the estate When managing estate property, remem...

Which debts are paid first when someone dies?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Oct 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

Sometimes, there is not enough money in the estate to pay off all debts. The question then becomes, “Who gets paid?” In California, under the Probate Code, debts of the decedent are paid according to a schedule of priorities. Probate Code Section 11420 states the following: “(a) Debts shall be pa...

Costs of probate: “probate referee” fee

Posted by Michael Guzman | Oct 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

When you hear the term “probate referee,” you might picture a guy with a whistle saying, “Break it up!” at a professional wrestling match. Although someone like this might be helpful (as probate disputes can get heated), that's not actually what a probate referee does. A probate referee is a pers...

My family member passed away. What do I do?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Sep 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

It's always difficult to lose a loved one. It becomes more difficult if you're not sure what to do after they pass away. Once the funeral service has passed, and things have settled down, here are 10 things to think about to start wrapping up the deceased person's affairs. 1. Did the person have ...

Are handwritten wills valid?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Sep 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

A will, or “last will and testament,” is a document that takes effect at death and dictates where your property will go when you are gone. It is also where you name a guardian for your minor children and an executor to carry out your wishes. The person who executes a will is the “testator.” Ordin...

Initiating a probate case

Posted by Michael Guzman | Sep 09, 2019 | 0 Comments

Certain estates of the deceased are subject to administration through the probate court. Generally, if the estate is valued at over $150,000, and ownership does not otherwise pass without the need for court oversight (for example, if the property was held in a living trust), probate will be requi...

What is a “no contest clause” in a will or trust?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Sep 02, 2019 | 0 Comments

No matter how carefully planned your estate is, there is still a risk of an inheritance dispute after you're gone. The best you can do is take steps to minimize that risk. One way to do that is to include a “no contest clause” in your will or trust. What is a “no contest clause”? A no contest cla...

Grounds for contesting a will or trust

Posted by Michael Guzman | Aug 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you think a will or trust (or some provision thereof) is not valid, and you would like to contest it in court, you need to have a valid legal reason. You should not contest a document just to cause trouble or because you are unhappy with the distribution. If you file a contest without probable...

Is Probate Necessary?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Aug 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

Probate is the court-supervised process by which a decedent's estate is administered (assets are collected, valued, and distributed to their heirs/beneficiaries after debts and expenses are paid). But not all property is subject to the full probate process. To determine whether probate is needed,...

Why is my corporation or LLC suspended?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Aug 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you have a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC) registered with the California Secretary of State (SOS), you can check its current status on the SOS website. In the “Status” column, you might find that it has been suspended. There are 2 common reasons for this, discussed below. Fai...

Titling your bank accounts in the name of your trust

Posted by Michael Guzman | Aug 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

Executing a revocable living trust is an important way to plan for the disposition of your estate and to prevent the need for probate. But it is only effective over assets held in the trust. This is why it's important to not only list the asset (which should be adequately described) on the Schedu...

What is a “preliminary change of ownership report”?

Posted by Michael Guzman | Jul 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

When real property is transferred in California, it is potentially subject to reassessment upon a change in ownership. (Reassessment often means an increase in property taxes.) For this reason, when you record a deed transferring property, you also need to complete a Preliminary Change of Ownersh...

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