Cohen Law Office

San Mateo California Estate Planning Law Blog

Meeting your estate planning needs for you and your loved ones

Estate planning isn't just about making sure your wishes are met. It is also one of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones. With a complete, enforceable estate plan in place, your loved ones will know what your medical wishes are, how you want your assets handed down, and who you want to make decisions on your behalf. Thus, an estate plan can help your loved ones cope with your incapacity and death when the time comes.

However, some people in San Mateo may not have executed an estate plan. They may think that because they are not wealthy, they do not have anything of value to pass down. However, even items that have more sentimental value than financial worth could still be hotly contested between one's heirs if there is no estate plan in place to dictate who is to inherit what.

Mediation may be preferable to estate litigation in California

It is always difficult to lose a loved one. However, emotions become especially heightened when the deceased's heirs disagree with regards to the distribution or handling of the deceased's estate. Those in San Mateo who are facing the prospect of estate litigation may want to first consider trying mediation.

Although not right for every situation, through mediation, family members can air their concerns in a constructive manner that can lead to a resolution, rather than resentment. Mediation can also be less costly and time consuming than litigation.

There are options when it comes to visitation in California

Even the best of parents in California may find that, after years of being married, they are best off ending their union. When parents in California divorce, it is only natural that they both want to spend as much time with their child as possible. However, sometimes it is in a child's best interests to live primarily with one parent. When a child spends less than 50 percent of their time with a parent, that parent will have visitation rights. In general, there are three types of visitation that could be ordered.

First there is scheduled visitation. The schedule will list which dates and times the child will be under the care of which parent, including holidays, birthdays and vacations. An advantage of this type of visitation is that it reduces conflict and makes it clear who is to have the child and when.

Why challenge a will?

When someone important to you passes away or faces incapacitation, that person's will may involve you in some way, or might conspicuously leave you unmentioned. If so, it is always wise to review the document carefully to fully understand your role in the process of distributing the decedent's estate.

In many instances, the will itself may include contradictions or may treat you or some other party particularly unfairly. For instance, you may believe that you stood to receive some significant portion of the esteem or should otherwise benefit from it, but the will does not include instructions to that effect.

What if a trustee in California breaches their fiduciary duty?

When a person in California creates an estate plan, one document they might consider executing is a trust. A trust is overseen by a trustee. However, after a trust is created, the trustee must uphold his or her fiduciary duty. The failure to do so could lead to trust litigation. The following post will provide a brief overview of how a trust is created, and what a trustee's fiduciary duty entails.

The creation of a trust is relatively straightforward, even if the terms of the trust itself are complex. In a trust, a person, the grantor, transfers legal ownership of the assets placed in a trust to the trustee. The trustee must manage these assets in a way that benefits the trust beneficiaries. Of course, with the wide variety of revocable and irrevocable trusts out there, the actual language of the trust sometimes needs to be quite complex in order for the trust to serve the purpose the grantor wants it to.

Tackling estate planning one step at a time

According to a Wells Fargo survey, only four in every 10 individuals in the United States age 60 and up have executed the legal documents necessary that dictate how their health care and finances will be handled if they become incapacitated.

These numbers may be surprising, but the fact of the matter is that contemplating one's death is not always easy to do. However, it is important that people in San Mateo and elsewhere execute the necessary estate planning documents sooner rather than later. Estate planning can seem daunting, but it can be simplified by looking at it as a series of steps.

How are marital assets categorized for divorce purposes?

When it comes to dividing property in a divorce, there is a lot at stake. Couples in California will have to make decisions that could affect them for many years to come, such as what to do with the family home or how to divide retirement accounts. So, it pays to have an understanding of how California law addresses the issue of property division.

First, it is important to understand that California is considered to be a "community property" state when it comes to property division. Basically, this means that each party has an interest in assets obtained while married, since the marriage created a single community. With that in mind, spouses should note the difference between community property and separate property.

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.

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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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