Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law
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July 2014 Archives

Hoffman's estate plan leaves assets to his girlfriend

Readers in California may be interested to know that Philip Seymour Hoffman, the acclaimed actor who died in February following a drug overdose at the age of 46, reportedly went to great lengths to protect his children from the pitfalls of becoming overly reliant on his wealth. Court documents released in the months since the actor's passing show that his estate plan included provisions that left the majority of his fortune to a girlfriend rather than his three children. Hoffman and his girlfriend, who is the mother to the three children, had been together for many years prior to his passing.

California credit card debt after death

In many instances, credit card debt does not die with an individual, but unless an account was opened jointly, a surviving friend or relative will not have to pay off the debt in most cases. During the estate administration, it is an executor's responsibility to pay debts with the deceased person's assets. If there are not enough assets to cover all the debt, creditors cannot typically hold relatives liable for the outstanding balances. However, since California is a community property state, spouses might fall under one of the exceptions to that general debt liability rule.

Unmarried partners need protection

Couples in California who decide to live together rather than marrying may think that their estate will automatically go to their partner without benefit of a will. The truth is, it probably will not because marriage offers several automatic protections for issues such as estate planning and medical directives that are not available to unmarried partners.

It's important to review estate plans regularly

Readers in California who are considering creating a plan to distribute their wealth may want to know that just making a plan and filing it away often isn't enough to assure that everything goes smoothly. Estate planning documents that have been drafted more than a few years ago may fail to take into account life changes such as divorce, a new business venture or changes in the tax code. Wealthy individuals are usually careful to check their plans annually, and this is a good idea for those with fewer assets as well.

Important considerations when choosing a trust administrator

California residents who are looking into estate planning may be interested in an article discussing one vital aspect of creating a trust that is often overlooked. Determining who will administer the instrument can be an extremely important decision.