How To Choose An Executor: 2011 New York Times Article

July 28, 2011

Choosing an executor for your estate can be one of the most challenging decisions in the creation of drafting your will. An executor will administor your estate and continue to do so until the estate is closed. A will should be part of an estate plan and not "stand alone". If a will is part of a revocable living trust, then probate and the costs and time involved to administer the estate may be much less in both money and the period of time.

An article in the New York Times in 2011, discusses the qualities for an executor. According to the article, an executor can be a family or non family members. There are advantages and disadvantages to both strategies. In addition, an executor should be honest, well organized and able to work with the family members. The litmus test used by an attorney quoted in the articles is whether the executor files his/her income taxes every year on a timely basis. Clearly, this is one of the most important decisions you can make.

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Probate: New York Times Article: Risks to Avoid: 2011

July 26, 2011

The New York Times, in an article from 2011, discusses that avoiding probate with a revocable living trust is a very good strategy. Using a revocable living trust can avoid the probate system in which a will is determined to be valid or not valid and the estate is administered by the Court. It is important to note that only assets in the trust avoid probate. As such, it is very important to have your trust updated and to include assets into to your trust which were acquired after the trust was executed.

Even if you have a revocable living trust, some assets will avoid probate even though not placed into the trust. Examples of this are retirement assets, life insurance, savings bonds as well as some jointly titled accounts such as bank and brokerage accounts. It is very important that your wishes are carried out, after death, and having joint accounts allows access by another which may not be the testator's wishes after death.

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Probate Administration: Understanding Trusts: Los Angeles Times Article: 2011

July 21, 2011

The Los Angeles Tmes, in an article from 2011, has an extremely short article on this issue. In the article, it is stressed that understanding probate and trusts can make it easier to manage assets after death and during life. The probate administration process can be very complicated and legal representation is essential to analyze any probate estate.

It is also important to understand the strategies to avoid probate. Probate administration can be expensive, time consuming and allows the estate to become public knowledge. Many would prefer not to have their life exposed in such a public way upon their death and also not to have the distribution of their estate take months, or years, with the attendant costs. One strategyy to try and avoid probate is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust can avoid the probate fees and costs, take much less time in the trust administration and keep the assets and distribution from becoming public.

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San Diego Union: Estate Planning and Guardianship

July 19, 2011

The San Diego Union Tribune, in April of 2011, have an article discussing retirement, estate planning and guardianship. In the article, which deals with financial planning as well as other issues, one of the recommendations is for an estate plan and guardianship of their children. An estate plan can include a revocable living trust which also has many other benefits such as a health care directive and guardianship provisions for any minor children.

A revocable living trust is an estate plan which can be changed or modified as circumstances require. A revocable living trust is one of the only areas in the law where you can make a contract with yourself and it is legally enforceable. Provisions in the revocable living trust can include what happens with your minor children upon your death and many other issues such as property division. The financial security of your family may well depend on your estate plan which can save thousands of dollars in probate fees.

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Probate: San Diego Union Tribune: Professional Fiduciary

July 14, 2011

It is crucial to have a trusted and competent professional fiduciary as needed on your probate case. As the professional fiduciary has access to all accounts, they need to be trusted, honest and licensed by the State of California and verified. In most cases, the professional fiduciary is private and hired by a private party. The San Diego Union Tribune, in 2011, posted an article about a professional fiduciary who was hired by the San Diego Superior Court and who used money entrusted to her for gambling.

The professional fiduciary, Teresa Laggner, had been appointed by the San Diego Superior Court for over 13 years. The allegations include that she misappropriated, for her gambling and other use, over $2,000,000. The allegations also include the time periods from 2006 through 2011. Ms. Laggner was charged in the United States Federal District Court with criminal offenses which, as punishment, can have her incarcerated for many years.

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Guardianship of the Person: San Diego Superior Court Timeline: July 2011

July 12, 2011

Guardianship of the person means that the guardian of the minor arranges for the protection and care of the minor. This includes housing, clothing, food, shelter, education and all other needs. The guardian of the person also is in charge of all the personal needs of the minor, their education and their health care and medical needs. Depending on insurance coverage, a guardian may be able to obtain coverage of a minor through their medical insurance.

The San Diego Superior Court's timeline for guardianship of the person is approximate only and used for reference purposes. The petition is deemed to be filed on Day 1. A temporary guardianship may be requested but only under limited circumstances. On Days 1-5, the investigation is scheduled by either the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency of the San Diego Family Court Services. On Days 1-15, the relatives of the minor must be served with notice. On day 20, check the probate examiner's notes. On days 20-25, clear any defects which are in the pleadings. On Day 30, attend the hearing. On Days 30-35, file the order and ask for any letters needed.

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Guardianship in San Diego Superior Court: July 2011

July 7, 2011

In San Diego, the San Diego Superior Court hears cases invoving guardianship. These cases are heard in the Probate Division. Guardianships can be both of the estate and/or person and gives legal custody of a minor to someone who is not their parent. If a child is in immediate danger, the San Diego Superior Court advises to immediately call 911.

Guardianship can be of the person or of the estate. A guardianship of the person means that you have control and are in charge of the child's personal needs, health care and education as well as arranging for the child's protection and care. A guardianship of the estate means that you must file accountings with the Court as scheduled, keep an accurate list of the minor's estate, protect the minor's property and income and manage the minor's finances in a prudent manner. This can happen, for example, when a parent dies and leaves a child their life insurance or other assets and the other parent is deceased.

A guardianship can be either temporary or permanent. A guardianship of the person will require an investigation by either the San Diego Family Court Services or the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.

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New York Times: Estate Planning: June 1, 2011

July 5, 2011

The New York Times has an article of what you need to know about estate planning and many other issues regarding wills, living wills, medical directives, special needs trusts, estate tax and more.

Estate planning can include guardianship, conservatorship, revocable living trusts, special needs trusts, irrevocable insurance trusts and many others. Estate planning is also useful for passing assets without probate when in a living trust. Most living trusts are revocable meaning that they can be changed or modified. This is important since there are changes in circumstances including births, deaths, divorce, legal separation,illness, disability and others which necessitate changes to the revocable living trust.

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