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Comprehensive Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts,
and Probate Services since 1972
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-
The Law Offices of
Gregory T. Annigian
114 North Indian Hill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711
Phone: (909) 981-
Fax: (909) 981-
After being appointed as the personal representative for a decedent’s estate, the executor must perform specific duties within a defined timeline. First, the executor must marshal the assets. This may involve getting a tax i.d. number, establishing a bank account for the estate, transferring existing accounts, and locating real property and intangible assets. The executor may need a tax i.d. number if they are establishing a fiduciary relationship as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. After gathering the assets, it is necessary to inventory and appraise everything. Next, the executor must pay the decedent’s debts and taxes owed by the estate. The executor must also settle outstanding liabilities against the estate. Lastly, it is the executor’s responsibility to disburse any remaining assets to heirs and other entitled parties. The distribution of the estate is to be conducted following the directives of the decedent. If any part of this process is challenged, the estate or the executor may be open to legal action which can be handled through probate litigation with an experienced probate administration attorney.
The executor has a responsibility to pay the liabilities and debts of the estate. The executor will notify, in writing, all parties who have a financial interest in the decedent’s estate. The creditor will be notified about the decedent’s death and the appointment of the executor. There is a specific process that needs to be completed for the legal notification of creditors. The executor must complete the correct form and they must have it mailed by someone who can provide Proof of Service by Mail. The executor cannot simply mail the notice themselves. A legal notice is also required to be filed in local newspapers. Creditors can include utility companies, credit card companies, medical facilities or doctors, banks, and others who have an interest in the decedent’s estate. A certain length of time must pass before payment can be made from the estate. If the executor recognizes the debt as valid, they are authorized to pay the debt if the estate's funds are available at the time of final disbursement. If the executor disputes the claim, a notice is sent regarding the debt’s rejection. The creditor may pursue the claim through a lawsuit and litigation may be necessary. The claim must be made within one year of the decedent’s passing. The executor must also settle tax debt owed by the estate to the federal and state governments.
Navigating the administrative hazards and unfamiliar procedures of probate can be intimidating for an estate executor. In addition to feeling confident that your concerns are being effectively addressed, you’ll experience countless benefits when hiring a probate administration attorney. Firstly, there are no up-
Estate planning is more of a process than a one-
Keep in mind that throughout your lifetime, circumstances may change and the estate planning documents will need to be revised. It is suggested that estate planning documents be reviewed each year. A lot can happen in a year. Have new family members been added through marriage or birth? Have family members passed away? Has property been acquired or sold? Are these properties titled correctly to be included in any trust? Looking at these details ensures your interests are protected and that your directives will be upheld as the estate is settled after your death. The most common legal tools for the estate planning process are trusts, wills, business succession plan, advanced healthcare directive, and power of attorney.
If you own a business or a corporation, it would be wise for you to consider what will happen with the company in the event of your incapacitation or death. Who will run the company? Who will handle day-
By creating a business succession plan, you are in control of the details and the transition of power is made easier for all involved parties. You can protect the business and your financial interests will be realized by future generations. If you do not have a plan in place, your business may be vulnerable to legal disputes and costly litigation. This can dramatically reduce friction between family members, employees and management which may minimize the risk of litigation. Creating a business succession plan may also set family members and management at ease. When the time is right, they can become trained in the skills they’ll need to take on new roles in the business. If your plan includes selling the business, the transfer will be smoother because the requisite documents will be readily available.
When a loved one becomes unable to manage legal and financial responsibilities, who will take on this role? The answer is the Power of Attorney. This grants legal authority to another person, the attorney-
The Power of Attorney is often obtained when family members understand the declining ability of their loved one. This legal document should be obtained before the person becomes incapacitated. Many times the Power of Attorney is acquired because a person needs assistance paying bills and signing documents. When a person requires assistance for only medical reasons, a specific document is used. If you lose mental capacity and have not appointed a power of attorney, valuable time may be lost if immediate decisions are necessary. In addition, unnecessary stress among family members may result if healthcare decisions are involved and you have not appointed a Power of Attorney.
Wills & Trusts determine who will inherit your assets, and both are subject to California’s legal requirements to be valid. A simple mistake may result in years of costly litigation and vastly reduce the value of the estate.
Failure to properly draft your will or trust may not only result in litigation, but also prevent your final wishes from being met. Trusts serve multiple purposes in addition to simply being a tool that is used to pass on your assets. Therefore, it is essential that the proper type of trust is utilized to ensure that your objectives are carried out. Estate Planning is not a one size fits all process, and it’s vital that you work with a lawyer who possesses an in-
Most people put off retaining an attorney to create a personalized estate plan, believing that it isn’t necessary until they are older. However, life is unpredictable and it is important to take every precaution possible to ensure that your assets, your family and your business are protected should the unexpected occur.
It is wise to meet with a Wills & Trusts Lawyer once you obtain considerable assets including the purchase of a home, get married, or have children. A seasoned attorney can meet with you, review your goals, and will work diligently to ensure that your wishes are clearly set forth.
A well drafted, comprehensive estate plan can reduce the likelihood for future litigation, help protect you and your family financially in case of illness or incapacity, and provide peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out upon your passing.
Estate Plans should be reviewed every few years, especially if you have undergone any major life changes such as divorce, marriage, or the birth of a new child / children.
While both types of estate planning tools determine how an individual’s assets will be distributed upon death, there are fundamental differences between them.
Wills, otherwise known as a Last Will and Testament, must typically be probated through the court. The Probate Court will oversee how the executor administrates the will, and all probate cases are a matter of public record. Probate is costly, timely and lengthy – matters may take anywhere from six months to two years to settle, based on the complexity. However, unlike trusts, wills allow the testator to name guardians for their minor or disabled children.
There are several different types of trusts. Each serves a different purpose and there are several tax consequences associated with both wills and trusts. Each and every factor must be taken into account when choosing whether a will best serves your needs, if a trust would be more appropriate, or if you need a combination thereof.
Probate is the process by which the court determines the validity of a decedent’s will, oversees administration of the will, handles all claims against the estate, and ultimately ensures that all remaining assets are distributed according to the terms of the will.
Not all wills are required to go through Probate. Estates valued under the statutory minimum do not have to be filed with the court. The executor of the will may simply handle all monies owed by the estate prior to disbursing the remainder to named heirs and beneficiaries.
However, when a will is required to undergo the probate process, expenses can quickly add up. Probate Courts charge a statutory amount to handle these cases, and that amount is a percentage of the value of the estate in its entirety.
Should any disputes arise, the aggrieved party may turn to the Probate Court for assistance. Should the dispute be unable to be settled, litigation may result. To best avoid the possibility of litigation, the will should be clear in its terms and be well drafted as to specificity and legal requirements.
While wills only address the distribution of assets after death, trusts may serve a multitude of purposes, including the following:
In addition to the preceding, there are several other types of trusts. Each type of trust has different tax consequences, as do wills. Because there are so many different types of trusts, each with differing tax consequences and protections, it’s imperative that you seek the services of a highly qualified and experienced Wills & Trusts Lawyer.