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San Mateo California Estate Planning Law Blog

Types of legal issues that occur with trusts

While some San Mateo, California, residents may have heard the old adage that trusts help a family "avoid probate," the reality is that legal disputes involving the terms or creation of a trust can lead to full-blown trust litigation and, with that, one or several trips to the courthouse.

Without the proper management, these sorts of disputes can turn in to costly and stressful affairs that may be the very type of situation that the person who created the trust intended to prevent. As such, when a person either receives a lawsuit involving a trust to which they are connected, or if they sense something is amiss with the way a love one's trust is being handled, they should consider learning more about their legal options.

Is it time to review the terms of your will?

Creating a will that serves your purposes is not always a simple task. Conventional wisdom indicates that all legal adults should create a will, but a surprisingly high number of people simply never get around to it, even those with very high net worth or complicated assets. If you have a will already, this is an important step, but it is wise to carefully scrutinize your will for any weaknesses that may lead to challenges or conflicts later on.

If you have not reviewed the provisions of your will within the last four years, or since experiencing significant life events, your will is possibly more vulnerable to complications than you realize. Do not pass by this opportunity to protect the clarity of your wishes and ensure that your rights and preferences remain secure with proper attention to detail.

The benefits of alternative dispute resolution

When dealing with legal issues, one often worries about the process it will take to resolve the problem. Divorce, estate problems or any other type of legal dispute usually means going to court. While this can be an effective way to reach a final order, it is not the only way a resolution can be reached. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can be an effective way to reach a fair resolution, providing individuals in California and elsewhere with benefits litigation often cannot offer.

Using ADR can provide a wide variety of benefits, and these benefits are often dependent on the type of ADR utilized. The first type of ADR is mediation. This is when a neutral party known as a mediator helps facilitate the conversation that helps the parties reach a resolution to their disputes. The next is arbitration, which is where a neutral party known as an arbitrator listens to the arguments from each side, deciding the outcome of the dispute.

Why is it important to get help with estate planning?

If it is possible to do something by ourselves, we often like to take care of the matter on our own terms. However, this is not always possible. Take estate planning for example. Due to life complexities, it can be difficult for San Mateo residents to navigate the estate planning process. This is because estate planning could include the execution of a wide variety of complicated documents.

Why is it important to get help drafting an estate plan? The biggest reason to get legal assistance during the estate planning process is because mistakes can be made if the process is not handled by a professional. And even if the mistake is fixable, it can be rather expensive to fix. That alone proves why it could be extremely beneficial to have help when drafting an estate plan.

Advocating for clients during their divorce

It is a tough reality to face. With the rate close to 50 percent, married couples are aware that divorce is a possibility. When it becomes clear that ending the relationship is best for them, this may seem like it will be a cooperative process, as the couple has agreed to initiate the divorce process. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The divorce process has the tendency to stir up emotions, making it impossible to be optimistic and keep a smile on your face.

When emotions are running high, this can cloud a person's judgment. It can also make it challenging to work through all the necessary divorce issues. In these cases, it can be advantageous to have legal support to help guide you through these problems. At the Cohen Law Offices, P.C., our attorneys are dedicated to advocating for spouses in the San Mateo area, helping them reach a fair and amicable agreement.

Why you need a lawyer for estate planning

We know the perception is out there that hiring an attorney to help you with your estate planning is expensive. Internet businesses sell software that supposedly explain the process and allow you to draft a carefully tailored and legally valid estate plan on your own. There are even some people out there who think they just need to write down their final wishes and put their “will” in a safe deposit box to take care of their families.

Have you ever heard the expression “you get what you pay for”? It certainly fits when it comes to estate planning, as NerdWallet notes. Online software may save you money short-term, but you likely will receive no legal advice from an estate planning lawyer while you use it.

Challenging a will

Establishing an estate plan may seem easier said than done. It is, for the most part, something many people in San Mateo put off, but not always due to its complexities. Many put off drafting an estate plan because they do not want to face the inevitable; that one day they will pass on. Whatever the reason for avoiding this step, it is important to understand its role during and after your life.

Take for example a will. It is the most traditional and basic document in an estate plan. It memorializes the wishes of an individual, explaining who will get what at the time of their death. These documents are also frequently straightforward. In fact, it is difficult to challenge a will. Around 99 percent of wills will pass through probate without any issues arising.

How can mediation help with estate litigation?

When drafting an estate plan, one thinks that everything will be planned for when they pass. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Loved ones dispute about the legality of a will or trust, arguing that certain assets should have been left to them. This can lead to lengthy disputes that can prolong the probate process. Thus, many beneficiaries consider alternative ways to address these problems.

How can mediation help with estate litigation? Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution that is essentially a negotiation between two parties that is facilitated by a neutral third party. This process does not involve any decision-making by the neutral third party and can be either initiated by the parties or compelled by the courts.

How the tax reform impacts estate planning

Many thoughts and concerns go into planning for the future. When drafting an estate plan, many individuals in California and elsewhere are concerned about how taxes will impact their estate plan. However, when U.S. laws change, this could alter how individuals act when drafting an estate plan, what is included in the plan and whether they draft an estate plan early in life or not.

In response to the expected tax reform, those working in the estate planning industry were surveyed on how they expected these changes would affect their practices. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act intends to double estate and gift tax exemptions. However, most of those surveyed did believe that these changes would affect them. Roughly 70 percent stated that they represented clients with a net worth of less than $25 million.

Helping you navigate through the divorce process

No marriage is perfect. Spouses in California and elsewhere will likely deal with many marital issues throughout their marriage. However, when these issues and disputes outweigh the good times in the marriage, this is often the time when one or both spouses decide it is best to call it quits. Even if it is a joint and amicable decision, this does not make the divorce process any easier.

Being on the same page when it comes to filing for divorce might be a goo starting foundation, but it does not mean that all issues presented throughout the process will be as easy or amicable. Divorce can get messy, and when it does, it is valuable to understand what methods spouses can use to work through them.

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The Cohen Law Offices, PC
1720 S. Amphlett Blvd.
Suite 258
San Mateo, CA 94402

Phone: 650-517-6133
Fax: 650-592-2019
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