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San Jose Elder Law Blog

How does the probate process work in California?

Many individuals preparing for retirement choose to establish a will to allocate their hard-earned assets to deserving beneficiaries. Establishing a will constitutes a responsible decision, as you can feel content in knowing that your property and money will lie in safe hands after you pass away. Especially for those with substantial assets, wills allow for peace of mind, as you can determine exactly how your assets will face distribution.

In California, when you establish a will with assets worth over $150,000, your property will face the probate process. The procedure ensures that your will is truly your valid last will and testament, and it recognizes and distributes your assets according to your wishes. The process can take months, but probate makes sure that your exact beneficiaries will receive your designated generous gifts.

Accounting for your parent's financial future

Here you are: the strong, independent person your parents hoped you'd become. You take care of yourself, your family, your finances and you've saved considerably for the future.

Part of your strength comes from your foresight as it relates to estate planning. You appreciate just how critical it is to secure funding for your future. As you look ahead to your golden years, you imagine having everything you need. Just when you think you've taken every asset and liability into consideration, you start thinking about your parents and if they have enough for everything they need.

Planning for an aging parent to live with your family

Long-term care for your elderly mother is out of the question. You firmly believe that it’s your duty to take care of her in the last few years of her life, allowing you to spend more time with them. But there’s another factor: a financial one. Long-term elderly care can be costly.

Once again, you will be living in a multi-generational home. You remember your childhood days when your grandmother lived with you, so you may be accustomed to certain aspects of this new living arrangement that may disrupt parts of your home life.

Typical duties of an estate executor

The exact duties that are given to the estate executor may vary a bit, depending on precisely how the will is written and what desires the deceased had for the estate. However, there are some standard duties that are typically involved, and it's important to have a good grasp of how this process works if you're tasked with that responsibility.

For instance, the executor is the one who takes the assets from the estate and gives them to those who are named in the will. Until this is done, the executor is in control of these assets and keeps them safe.

Know all that you should put into your estate plan

Your estate plan is vitally important. No one like to thinks about dying, however, your family will certainly thank you for taking the time to get your estate plan done.

When you work on your estate plan, think carefully about the points you include in it. Many people think only about physical assets, but forget about some other important points.

3 things to know about organ donation

It's National Donate Life Month, which is a great time to consider something you might not have talked about when discussion your other estate plans. If you've already worked with an estate planning professional to create a will and determine how you want your assets handled after you are gone, you're ahead of many Americans. But, have you considered what your body might be able to accomplish even after you are gone? For many people, organ donation is a way to continue giving back to others. Here are three things you should know.

First, organ donation doesn't mean sacrificing your own medical treatment. Despite what you might see in movies or hear on social media, doctors and nurses don't go searching hospitals for potential organ donations so they can hurry sick people into the grave. No matter what your status is as an organ donor, ethical medical professionals treat you first without other considerations.

What should an executor do about a willed home?

One of the most valuable assets many people own is their home. Not only is it likely one of the more valuable assets with regard to money, it's also something that has sentimental value to many. Heirs might have grown up in the home or remember fond occasions spent there, so it's not surprising that the family house is often at the heart of probate disputes. For an executor, there are numerous ways to misstep when dealing with a family home that has been willed to multiple people. Here are some tips for keeping ahead of the conflict.

First, never take action without a court order on estate assets, especially when you're dealing with real estate. That means not selling the home or making agreements about the property until those arrangements are supported by court documentation. One mistake executors can make is being too quick to sell or otherwise dispose of a home, thinking that they can split the money between the heirs. That money might get mixed with other assets from the estate, though, or heirs might have another solution in mind.

Millennials: Estate planning is good financial management

Despite what many people might believe, millennials as a whole are typically fairly responsible with finances. Many of them grew up in years of recession and came of age as their parents struggled with student loan debt related to schooling that occurred years -- if not decades -- before. Seeing such impact first hand during formative years, millennials often think of money and success in very different ways than the generations before them.

While not all of a generation acts the same way, many millennials are careful with debt or carefully manage their finances. They also see success differently and don't tend to need some of the things that other generations did to feel successful. While these traits are great, millennials can fall into the trap of believing that being good with money now is enough to secure the future.

What are some types of elder abuse?

If you have an elderly loved one who lives alone, with others or in a facility, it's natural to be worried about their well-being. This is especially true if your family member or friend isn't able to communicate issues clearly due to physical or mental incapacity. In such situations, it's a good idea to know about common times of elder abuse and the symptoms of each.

Elder abuse typically falls into one of four categories: physical, emotional, sexual and financial. An older relative who is being abused in one way might also be experiencing other types of abuse, but that isn't always the case.

Sports-team owner settles lawsuit with heirs

Tom Benson, who owns several sports teams including the NFL's Saints, has reportedly agreed to a settlement in a case that involved the Saints, the Pelicans and some of Benson's heirs. The lawsuit has been in the news on and off for a few years, and it's brought up a number of interesting estate questions.

The details of the settlement are confidential, but whatever agreement the parties have come to appears to have stopped a trial that was scheduled to begin in early February. The lawsuit stemmed originally from Benson's move to swap out assets in a trust that was created for his ex-wife and her children. Benson wanted to remove ownership stakes for the Saints and Pelicans from the trust.

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