The main goal of estate planning is to allow Woodland Hills residents to share their assets with beneficiaries according to their own wishes. Yet that happening may depend largely on the competency and trustworthiness of whomever one chooses to be his or her personal representative. There are a number of things that a personal representative can do that may be prejudicial to an estate and can disqualify him or her from the role. A breach of fiduciary duty in this regard includes any actions (or inactions) that go against those rights and responsibilities conferred on the personal representative (provided they were done in bad faith).
When you hear terms like "community property" being used, you likely assume that one is referring to divorce proceedings occurring in Woodland Hills. Regarding estate planning, most that we here at the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo assist are surprised to learn that such principles also apply. You might think that the law gives you the freedom to dispose of your property however you wish. Unfortunately, that may not exactly be the case.
Many come to see us here at The Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo seeking assistance with probate cases in Los Angeles County because, even though such proceedings can be complicated and drawn-out, they are often necessary in order to effectively distribute a decedent's assets as he or she intended. If you have recently completed the probate process, you are likely glad that it is over. Imagine what you might face if you had to go through it a second time?
Whenever someone living in or with ties to Woodland Hills passes away, those close to him or her typically begin to prepare for the process of administering his or her estate. Aside from ensuring that that a personal representative has been named to handle the matter, one of the first things to be considered is which probate court would have jurisdiction over the case.
Many in Woodland Hills might assume that the matter of estate administration involves simply sitting down at a table, reviewing a decedent’s assets, and then divvying them out to beneficiaries. In reality, the process is much more involved. In fact, one assigned as the executor of an estate (along with any interested parties to it) might even have to go on a search for property that might rightfully belong to the estate, yet are in the possession of another. In some cases, those parties may even have to go as far as initiating legal action in order to recover such assets.
It is not uncommon for Woodland Hills residents to die in debt. When one who has outstanding liabilities passes away, those obligations remain with his or her estate. Whomever is appointed to administer the estate must settle those debts out of its assets before funds can be dispersed to beneficiaries. One form of debt that many may not view as such are promised donations. While it may seem counterintuitive that a financial gift could be viewed as a debt, when one pledges a donation, he or she is essentially promising to pay money to an organization. That agreement is viewed as a contract.
Estate planning experts in Woodland Hills recommend that people begin planning for the transition of their assets early on in life. Those who do so may rest easy knowing such matters are covered. Yet given that they may live for years or even decades after having created their wills, these people may also want to know the methods through which they can revoke them if they so choose.
Many in the San Fernando Valley may talk about the probate process as if it were some form of punishment that should be avoided at all costs. While there are certain advantages to not having an estate go to probate, the truth is that thousands of cases appear in probate court every year. Statistics shared by the Judicial Council of California show that in the 2013-14 fiscal year, 44,298 of such cases were heard in state courts. Understanding the probate process may have a significant impact on one’s estate planning.
Few in Woodland Hills may want to have to consider the potential for their deaths at a young age. They may maintain the belief that there will be plenty of time to address such issues when they are older. However, such a line of thinking may prove to be flawed given that no one has any control over the circumstances of his or her death. Should someone without having properly addressed the affairs of his or her estate die, his or her family members or friends may petition the court to be granted special authority over certain aspects of it. That authority, however, is typically limited, both in its scope and its duration.
Not only is estate planning a process that Woodland Hills residents should begin early on in their adult lives, but also one in which they may want to involve their families and other interested parties in. The reason for this is that as one’s circumstances change throughout his or her life, he or she may feel compelled to update his or her estate planning documents to reflect the current situation. If all those who are party to the estate are not involved in this process, they may cry foul once the testator is gone and his or her current will is brought to light.