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Gold River California Estate Planning Law Blog

Daughter asks court for control of estate after father's death

Longtime soap opera actor Kristoff St. John passed away last month, reportedly without a will, and now his oldest daughter has asked a California court to allow her to take over his affairs.

The young woman, who was born in 1992, filed court documents in Los Angeles seeking to be appointed the administrator of her father's estate. St. John died Feb. 3 at age 52. His body was discovered in his home in the San Fernando Valley.

Update your estate plan after these events

Do not assume that the estate plan you made five years ago -- or even the one you just made today -- is going to stand the test of time. Life changes. Things happen. The future is not always what you expected it to be. When facing significant changes, you absolutely want to update your estate plan so that it accurately reflects what your life looks like now.

Examples of life events that may make it necessary to update your plan include:

  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Having a loved one or an heir pass away
  • Having a new baby
  • Starting a new job or a new career
  • Starting a new company
  • Acquiring any significant property, such as a new home
  • Starting new investment portfolios

New homeowners: Now is the time to make an estate plan

Buying a home is a significant milestone. This is likely one of the biggest purchases you will ever make in your lifetime. Not only is it a financially valuable asset, but it is also emotionally important. The fact that you now own a significant asset means you need to create an estate plan. Without a plan in place, your home may not pass down to who you want when you die. 

As a new homeowner, you must factor in any family disputes and tax consequences when deciding what to do with your real estate. It is vital to be thoughtful about who will inherit your home and how. Here are some options for how to transfer ownership of your home via an estate plan. 

The business steps doctors should take before retirement

You know that one day you'll retire and leave that medical practice you started in Northern California. You'll have more time for fishing. Or traveling. Or playing with the grandkids.

It's great that you're thinking about a fun future. But have you thought about your succession plan? It's never too early to do that, and with the demographics of today's medical community, it should become a priority.

Could your dog benefit from a pet trust in California?

We love our furry friends more than anything in the world, and as we grow older, they can become our primary companions in life. For this reason, many older California residents begin to worry about what will happen to their pets after they're gone, so they include their animals in their estate plans. Under California estate laws, you can set up a special pet trust that will provide funding for the care of your animal after you've died.

Pet trusts in California will last for the entirety of the pet's life. When you set up your pet trust, you will need to name an executor and a caretaker of your animal who will serve as the beneficiary. Often, estate planners choose to name different parties as executor and beneficiary/caretaker so that there is additional oversight regarding the way the funds are being used. With different parties serving in these rules, the executor can audit the caretaker to ensure that the pet-related funds are being used exactly in accordance with the terms and instructions laid out in the trust.

How to approach an unsolicited offer for your business

You've been hard at work on your business for years, with your nose buried in spreadsheets and inventory and hiring. Then, one day, you get a call that could change your life. Someone wants to buy your business.

Dollar signs and thoughts of enjoying your retirement on a glistening California beach run through your head before you snap back into reality. Is selling and letting someone else into your tightly held company the right thing for you? This will take soul searching and some solid advice.

Protecting children, preventing conflict

There are many reasons to set up an estate plan. It can help you reduce the tax burden of the estate, it can give you more say in how your money is used and it can help you leave specific assets to specific people -- just to name a few benefits.

However, two of the main things you want to think about are protecting your children and preventing conflict between family members. An estate plan helps you do both.

Does your estate plan fit your current situation?

Have you looked at the true value of your assets recently? If your business has been growing or if your land has increased in value, the figures might surprise you.

In most cases, growth is a cause for celebration. However, if your estate plan uses outdated figures, you could have some risk exposure of which you are not aware. Here are some quick tips on how you might manage risk during periods of success.

5 tips to keep your estate out of California probate court

There's more to an estate plan than writing a will. In fact, a complete estate plan can transfer your financial and physical property to your heirs without your assets being subject to the California probate process.

The purpose of probate is to make sure a will is valid or to settle an estate if no will is left behind. The probate process can take time and prove costly. Don't you want your beneficiaries to receive your assets as soon as possible?

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