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Estate Administration and Probate Archives

Why you should avoid the DIY approach to estate planning: Part I

There are times in life when doing something yourself can save considerable amounts of money. There are other times in which it is necessary and/or smart to seek the help of a professional. Choosing which of these routes to take is often fairly intuitive, but not always.

The benefits of hiring an attorney who is also a CPA

Before we get into the benefits of hiring an attorney who is also a CPA, let’s discuss the main difference between the two. While an attorney specializes in the laws surrounding business transactions, taxes and estate planning, CPAs specialize in the financial outcomes of each.

Disputes continue over estate of Robin Williams

Most people think of an estate plan as just a way to specify end-of-life wishes and divvy up personal possessions among heirs. These are both important functions, but a well-written estate plan does more than that. Notably, it can reduce the chances that family and loved ones will end up in a dispute over inheritance rights.

Inventory and Appraisal: The Basics, part 2

We are picking up where we left off with our June 20 post. We were talking about what goes into the inventory and appraisal of a decedent's estate in California. The law does not require an inventory for every estate; the administration of a small estate, for example, does not include filing an inventory and appraisal with the court. When one is necessary, though, the responsibility falls to the personal representative.

Inventory and Appraisal: The Basics

We have discussed the role of the personal representative in probate proceedings in past posts ("Personal representative or executor? Either way, it's a tough job," for example). The specific duties may vary from estate to estate, determined by the size of the estate and the content of the testamentary documents, among other things. Some of the duties are relatively straightforward, others are more complicated and more time-consuming.

A detour down memory's own memory lane

When former President Ronald Reagan died in 2004, the world was, for the most part, aware that he had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for years. Officially, his memory started to fail in the 1990s, long after he had left office. Unofficially -- at the time, at least -- the signs were there while he was in the White House. Some suggest that the onset of Alzheimer's dated back to his first term.

Personal representative or executor? Either way, it's a tough job

If you are a movie fan or have a working knowledge of 19th Century novels, the word "executor" may conjure images of a middle-aged or older man, usually a lawyer or a judge, who sits behind an imposing desk in a large leather chair in his richly paneled and book-lined office, reading aloud from a long document. "I, Chesterton Balfour von Aiken, leave all of my property to my nephew Cedric," he intones, adding, after a suitable pause, "To my son, Romsley, I leave nothing."

Unclaimed property in California: Near the finish line

Most of us hope for a windfall, a healthy infusion of cash that comes free of obligation -- and taxes, of course. There must be an old uncle somewhere who amassed a fortune panning for gold somewhere in the Rockies, someone who has no other living blood relative. You will hear through a law firm that his pile of cash is now yours.

Unclaimed property in California: The adventure continues

There are only a few ways the government can take private property. Eminent domain, for example, allows the government -- usually the city or the state, but, really, any government body -- to take privately owned land for public use. The government still has to pay for the land, but as long as it pays a fair price and meets the "public use" requirement, it's valid. The meaning of public use, of course, is tested time and again in the courts, but if there is a public use, the taking is legal.

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