Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Britney Spears says so.  After thirteen years of conservatorship, on June 23, 2021, Britney appeared remotely at her conservatorship hearing and relayed her emotional plea to the judge to terminate her conservatorship without the need for any further evaluation. The June 23, 2021, Hearing: ”I’m [Not] A Slave 4 U” At the hearing on June 23, 2021, and after years of relative silence, Britney expressed to the judge that she felt that the conservatorship was “abusive” and that she wanted her life back.  According to partial transcripts of the court proceeding, Britney stated that she wanted the ability to make…
Planning for the end of one’s life, or potential incapacity, is probably something an individual in their 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s does not want to contemplate.  Even those in their later years might find it a difficult topic to discuss.  However, there are several important reasons why one should strongly consider having a Will prepared, and perhaps other estate planning documents, such as an Advance Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management, despite their being a member of Generation X, Y, or Z.  These scenarios are based on personal experience with cases handled by me…
Conservatorship proceedings are commenced for a variety of reasons, but the most common circumstance is when an elderly person requires assistance, either with their medical care, or their financial affairs, or both, and that individual does not have an alternative in place which would eliminate the need for a conservatorship. The establishment of a conservatorship does not deprive a conservatee of all of their personal and legal rights.  Unless the court makes a specific determination otherwise, a conservatee retains the legal right to marry or to enter into a domestic partnership (Prob. Code, § 1900); to make a will (Prob.…
2020 has been a year to remember for so many reasons: a global pandemic, the race to a vaccine, and an election with record-breaking voter turnout. President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate Vice President-elect Kamala Harris campaigned on a platform of detailed proposals, including changes to certain areas of tax law. Here are some reforms that we might see during a Biden presidency, and the effects those changes might have: Eliminating the step-up in tax basis Biden has proposed that the current step-up in tax basis upon death be eliminated. This means that a beneficiary would take the decedent’s…
In 1978 California voters approved Proposition 13, a landmark measure that set—and has kept—property taxes at a low rate. This November’s ballot includes a proposition known as the “split roll” initiative that would make significant changes to Proposition 13. Currently, California treats commercial and residential properties almost identically when it comes to property taxes. A homeowner and a business owner pay taxes on the value of the property based on its fair market value when it was acquired, with increases in property taxes limited to a maximum of 2% per year. This keeps property taxes low for both homeowners and…
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused us all on necessities and on trying to prepare for an uncertain future. This article outlines why an estate plan is one of those necessities. I Don’t Have an Estate Plan; What Would Happen if I Died? It’s important to have an estate plan for several reasons.  During your life, you want to ensure that you control your assets and that if you are ever incapacitated, your estate is controlled by a trustee that you have selected. When you pass away, you want to be sure that your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries in…
When Karl Lagerfeld passed away in February of 2019 in France, many speculated that his cat, Choupette, was well provided for as part of his estimated $150 million estate. This pampered feline was much loved by Mr. Lagerfeld during his life, and appeared in photoshoots and featured in many high-end fashion magazines. However, over a year after Mr. Lagerfeld’s death, certain media outlets have reported that the administrator of Mr. Lagerfeld’s estate has “disappeared.” Based on these reports, many question whether Choupette will ever be able to dig her claws into her alleged inheritance. In fact, the failure of a…
In advising clients regarding the rights afforded to joint tenants on a bank account, most practitioners would say that the agreement with the financial institution generally would control, with the surviving joint tenant succeeding to the funds remaining in the account on the death of the other joint tenant. California’s Multiple-Party Accounts Law (Prob. Code, §§ 5100, et seq.) governs ownership of accounts with multiple parties and the disposition of those accounts upon the death of one of the parties to the account. Probate Code section 5302, subdivision (a) provides, in pertinent part, that, “Sums remaining on deposit at the…
Like most estate planners, we always remind clients that tax and estate planning laws are subject to change and frequently do. As busy practitioners, it is impossible for us to reach out to every client when a change might affect him or her, so we remind all clients to come back to see us if they have questions or are concerned about how recent developments affect their plans (and in any event, at least every three to five years). January 1, 2020 saw one such key change in the law—the implementation of the SECURE Act. The “Setting Every Community Up…
It is generally accepted that “personal property” refers to all property aside from real property. But in California, that isn’t always the case when it comes to making gifts of your property in a will or a trust.  California courts actually look to the language used in a document making a gift of “personal property” or “personal belongings,” and sometimes to other evidence, to interpret the scope of property intended when using such a term in an estate planning document. There is no statutory definition of “personal property” in the Probate Code, nor is there one clear definition in case…