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Newport Beach Estate Litigation Law Blog

What are a conservator's duties?

When an adult is unable to take care of him or herself, the court can appoint another person or organization to care for them. The conservatee, the person who cannot manage his or her health or finances, is then taken care of by the conservator. Depending on the needs of the conservatee, there are different types of conservatorships that a California court can create.

California Probate Code creates the most common types of conservatorships-general and limited probate conservatorships. A general conservatorship is for adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. While most of the conservatees in this category are elderly people, they can also be young people who have been seriously impaired.

Consider a trust for a loved one battling addiction

Opioid addiction has skyrocketed over the past 20 years and is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 42,000 people died from opioid abuse in 2016, which is five times greater than in 1999.

Addiction of any kind can heap tremendous emotional and financial strain on a family, as rehabilitation efforts can be costly. Parents of chemically-addicted children here in California can spend thousands of dollars on treatment, sometimes using money meant for their retirement.

How to eliminate trustee and beneficiary communication issues

One of the largest issues that beneficiaries tend to have with a trustee is that the trustee may refuse to communicate with them. Many trustees abuse their position of power and think they aren’t required to relay crucial information to the beneficiaries about the trust.

As the settlor, you need to take precautions to ensure this problem doesn’t happen. Even though you chose someone you believe you can rely on to have control over the administration of your property, that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll have a good relationship with your beneficiaries. Here are some ways you can prevent these potential conflicts:

Is one form of elder abuse more common than another?

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology looked into the types and causes of elder abuse taking place. It found that financial elder abuse was the most common. California residents might be surprised to hear that according to the researchers, this result was in line with what they expected to find, but they didn't expect that the perpetrator most often would be a family member.

Researchers gathered data from that reported to the National Center on Elder Abuse resource line. They found that 55% of the calls were regarding financial abuse and family members were identified as the cause 47% of the time. Emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse were also others forms of abuse reported, with family members responsible for three of the five. Additionally, 32% of the calls that were reporting abuse being perpetrated by a family member reported more than one kind of abuse.

When is a spousal property petition filed?

Though there are some steps California residents can take during their lifetime to avoid probate, many neglect to do so. However, all is not lost-it might be possible for a surviving spouse or domestic partner to file a spousal property petition.

Property that is not in a trust, does not have a surviving joint tenant or does not have a pay-on-death beneficiary will go through probate. Probate, as mentioned previously on this blog, is a process that drains heirs' emotions and finances. Many may not know that creating a will does not mean an estate avoids probate. However, if there is a will with the only beneficiary being the spouse or domestic partner, he or she can get the property transferred through the spousal property petition. This way, probate may be avoided.

Benefit from having experienced help create an estate plan

As mentioned previously on this blog, deciding how one's assets will be distributed after their demise is not something many California residents enjoy thinking about. This is one of the main reasons people shy away from engaging in estate planning.

Even those who finally get around to creating trusts or thinking of ways of avoiding probate often try to find a basic, simplistic solution that is most likely found online. As a result, their estate plan is not catered to their individual circumstances, and loved ones are left struggling to understand why certain decisions were not made or stuck in trust and probate litigation for years.

Are there disadvantages to writing one's own will?

At the end of the day, most California residents believe that a will is a document that outlines where one's property will go in case of their death. Therefore, drafting a will should not be a complicated task-in fact, any person can create one in the comfort of their home if they have access to the Internet and a printer. These days, there are computer programs that generate wills that are straightforward enough for any layperson to understand and complete. Then why shouldn't they be used?

The most important reason is the one attraction of the do-it-yourself document-it is simple, basic and straightforward. Most generated documents are complying with the laws of all 50 states, which is why they are kept as simple as possible. However, very few people have such basic situations. Any individual with a slightly more complicated situation will leave loved ones scrambling after their death, as their will won't have covered many bases.

What is a fiduciary?

When a California resident creates a will that outlines the guidelines that should be followed to distribute one's assets and estate, there must be someone on the other end who will follow these directions to the letter. This is where an executor or personal representative comes in. He or she is responsible for settling the decedent's estate according to their directions. The person can appoint someone on their own or the court will appoint someone if no one has been appointed. Not only does this individual have to settle all their debts, but they also have to distribute what is left of the estate to the descendants.

An executor is just one form of a fiduciary relationship between two parties. A fiduciary is someone who has the power to act on another's behalf, honestly and loyalty. That means a fiduciary must set aside his or her personal motivations and act with the highest standard of care for those being represented. A fiduciary relationship does not only have to exist after someone passes away-it can be with anyone who has been hired to act in another's best interests.

What are some other signs of financial elder abuse?

When a California resident worries about someone exploiting their financial information, they often envision strangers and take extra precautions to make sure their personal information doesn't leak out to unknown individuals.

What many do not realize is that 90% of perpetrators of financial abuse, especially elder financial abuse, are family members and people the victims know well, such as neighbors, friends and caregivers. Given the fact that elderly people are considered easy prey, it is important for loved ones to recognize the warning signs of financial elder abuse.

Here’s how to invite a probate dispute among your family

There are some telltale signs that your estate may cause issues in the courts or among family members after your death. Knowing what these issues are and how to pinpoint them can truly help you create a solid estate plan that is going to hold water and that is going to be carried out smoothly.


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