July 2009 Archives

July 21, 2009

Guardianship of Your Minor Children

Recent events regarding the custody and guardianship of Michael Jackson's children have garnered increased interest from parents with minor children.

The most common manner in which a guardian is nominated is the inclusion of such a provision in one's Will. However, California recognizes other methods of accomplishing nominations of guardians.

Not nominating a guardian may have unwanted or intended circumstances. Who a parent chooses as potential guardian is of tantamount importance and can present numerous challenges. Some considerations a parent might take into account while choosing a guardian would be a person who possesses similar values, shares religious or spiritual practices, has room in their home and their lives for your children and in some instances, has sufficient resources to provide for you children.

Let's assume a couple with a minor son suffer an untimely fate and neither had included a nomination of guardianship as part of their respective estate plans.

Say both the mother and father each have sisters, and both sisters attempt to gain custody of the children through the probate court.

The mother's sister is single, lives locally, has a good job and shares similar values and ideals as the deceased couple. She often visits with her nephew, spends a considerable amount of time with him and they have a great relationship.

Now let's assume the father's sister is married, has significant assets, but does not and never has shared the same values, principals, ethics or political ideologies as her brother or his wife. She lives in another state and has had limited connection with her nephew.

Presumptively, both the mother and father might have nominated the mother's sister as guardian. However, absent a nomination, the court may look at a two parent household and that household's finances in making their decision of where to place the minor child.

Be assured that nominating a guardian is not binding on a court, but the court will usually acquiesce to a parent's choice of guardian absent extenuating circumstances.

July 15, 2009

Estate Planning Article

David Colker wrote an interesting article this week in the Los Angeles Times. The article addresses the benefits of advance planning but warns against some of the pitfalls an unwary consumer may experienced when creating a do-it-yourself Will or when utilizing the services of an online document preparation company to draft Wills.

When using form driven services, most problems may arise when the estate is not simple and straightforward or where the estate contains taxable aspects not considered by the client or where there the possibility exists of someone contesting the Will.

Even though a consumer might shy away from paying for the expertise of a qualified estate planning attorney, often the old adage rings true - "you get what you pay for," and after all is said and done, a comprehensive solid plan in most cases should very well save you money.

Notwithstanding the above, if your estate is worth more than $100,000 in the State of California, a Will cannot save your estate from a time-consuming, public and costly probate proceeding

July 13, 2009

I'm Baaaaack

It has been a long time since I have posted. The long lay off was due to a sports related injury that affected my right arm. Just imagine the things you can't do without the use of your dominant limb. It gave me a whole new respect for the disabled.

Now that my arm is practically back to new.......or rather is restore to how it was prior to the injury, I can return to the blog.

It is an interesting time for estate planning issues. Especially considering the legal machinations occurring since Michael Jackson's passing as well as changes in tax laws and cutbacks in the courts.

Stay tuned for updates and continued information on probates, wills, estate planning, guardianships, trusts and trust administration.