Expert Probate Attorney in Novato, CA for Spousal Property Petitions
Are you navigating the complexities of a spousal property petition in Novato, CA? At Codi M. Dada Law Offices, we specialize in providing compassionate and expert legal guidance. Our experienced probate attorney team understands the intricacies of California estate laws, ensuring your rights and interests are protected.
Understanding Spousal Property Petitions
Legal Expertise for Your Peace of Mind
Dealing with a spousal property petition can be overwhelming, especially during a time of loss. Our probate attorneys are skilled in handling these sensitive matters with the utmost care and professionalism. We assist you in managing the legal processes involved in transferring property ownership, ensuring compliance with California law. Our goal is to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible, providing clarity and support every step of the way.
Whether it’s real estate, investments, or personal property, our legal team has the expertise to manage all aspects of property management. As your dedicated property management lawyer, we take the time to understand your specific situation, offering personalized solutions that align with your needs and the laws of California.
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Call Today to Learn More
Ready to discuss your spousal property petition in Novato, CA? Don’t navigate this complex legal terrain alone. At Codi M. Dada Law Offices, our probate attorney team is here to provide the guidance and support you need. Call us at [Your Phone Number] to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you with your spousal property petition in California. With our expertise and commitment, you can trust that your legal matters are in capable hands.
Trust FAQs & Glossary
Everyone needs a Living trust to avoid unnecessary court fees, court appointed appraisal fees and excessive attorney fees that are associated with probate. Further, most probate court calendars are booked several months in advance and require technical knowledge of how to prepare each court document and comply with notice requirements as well as, the court appointed appraisal process. It is not uncommon for a simple probate case to take over one year to complete. During this wait time, it is complicated and difficult to manage those assets that are in probate. During the emotional distress of dealing with the death of a loved one, the simultaneous need to deal with understanding and complying with the probate court rules and regulations, makes the process even more difficult.
There are many direct and indirect benefits of establishing a living trust or other similar estate planning device. One of the most important is that the trust controls exactly how the assets of the trust are to be distributed; both during your lifetime and then after your death. Further, the trust acts better than a will after death because the assets can be distributed without court supervision (i.e., no probate). Probate is a very expensive and tedious job involving a long process with many court formalities requiring technical knowledge, all for the purpose of legally transferring assets to heirs if there is no trust. Probate should be avoided for many reasons. This will be discussed in detail during our meeting.
A professionally drafted and properly funded revocable living trust avoids probate at death. A will must go through the probate process, so assets can be verified and distributed by the probate court. By avoiding probate with a customized estate plan, you and your loved ones will prevent tedious, stressful and expensive delays while protecting your assets, privacy and peace of mind.
A professionally drafted and officially funded living trust avoids probate court disruptions if you lose your mental capacity. To have your personal care and assets managed privately by people you choose and trust, instead of being placed in a court appointed guardian requires a professionally executed and properly funded estate plan. A will does not help in a loss of capacity situation because a will becomes effective only at death.
A living trust and estate plan puts all your assets together under a complete plan with one set of clear directions for how you want things to occur. This provides you with the ability to easily disburse your assets fairly and exactly as you desire. This avoids the need to balance inheritance with other account beneficiary designations or joint ownership because of fluctuating values of investment accounts, life insurance or the purchase and sale of real-estate during your lifetime.
A professionally drafted and properly funded living trust provides you with more privacy and greater protections against your assets being contested. A trust is a private document that you share with those you choose and trust. Probate, on the other hand, is a public process which requires notice to be given to certain relatives and possible heirs. The probate process allows others to file claims to contest your will and allows others to see your financial information.
A properly prepared living trust means a trust that comprehensively and clearly addresses each special circumstance in your unique life in a way that is legally recognized because all legal formalities have been met according to the California law.
A properly funded living trust means that the assets that are intended to be controlled by the living trust are correctly titled and effectively recorded with the either the County Recorder’s office or within each individual financial institution depending on what type of asset is involved. A trust that is not properly funded is not effective and will not achieve the objectives it was intended.
The best way to make sure your living trust is properly written and properly funded is by having an experienced estate planning attorney prepare the trust and guide you in properly funding the living trust. By using an attorney over other do-it-yourself options, gives you security that the estate plan will achieve the objective that you intend to achieve and avoid probate.
A living trust is not expensive. Although originally a Living trust does cost a more than a simple will, the additional costs associated with the probate of a will make a trust much less expensive. Thousands and often tens of thousands are taken out of your assets to pay for the administration of probate even for an average sized estate.
Select an attorney that shows they are focused on the art and skill of creating a comprehensive and perfectly tailored estate plan based on your specific circumstance. Select an attorney that is reachable. Often attorneys delegate their customer service duties to a paralegal or secretary, finding an attorney that answers their own phone and personally returns messages is a great sign that the lawyer provides you with the best service during the drafting process as well as, in to the future if you may need to make changes or have questions.
Another strong factor in selecting an attorney is finding an attorney who has a family and lives in the area. This gives you a higher assurance that the attorney will be reachable if you were to need further guidance years into the future.
While many options exist today, nothing can substitute for an in person meeting with an estate planning attorney. While many services provide for a boiler-plate, cookie- cutter living trust, these types of trusts rarely provide what they promise. Rarely, if ever, do these generic one size fits all living trusts identify or address the specific and unique circumstances of each person’s family, friends, pets and personal preferences. Also, the language of these generic trusts often times suggest a meaning that can be misunderstood and incorrectly believed to achieve a mistaken purpose. Dealing with an actual estate planning attorney will provide you with a reliable source of explanation, in simple understandable terms, so you understand each part of your estate plan and know how it will affect your assets and loved ones, now and into the future.
A trust is only valid at the time it is funded. This means that there must be some assets held in the trust. A living trust is funded by titling assets into the name of the trust. With bank accounts and other financial institutions, this is a process performed by the specific financial institution. The process requires presenting a Certificate of Trust or a Declaration of Trust to the financial institution. These documents are part of a professionally drafted Estate plan.
When funding a trust with real estate certain documents such as a Transfer Deed and Preliminary Title Report must be properly drafted and notarized and then recorded with the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the property is located. These documents are technical and should be completed by an estate planning attorney. Most reputable estate planning law offices will accomplish the transfer of real property by drafting and recording the required documents as part of the overall estate plan. This service is provided at the estate planning Law Office of Codi M. Dada.
With a revocable living trust during your lifetime, you as trustee or the settlor can make any changes to the revocable living trust as you desire. This is a simple process that an estate planning attorney can assist you with. The important thing is that during your lifetime you are never trapped or prevented from making changes.
Amending a revocable living trust is a simple process of drafting legal documents and properly notarizing these documents for the purpose of making changes to a preexisting revocable living trust. The notice must then be given to any company that may have been affected by the trust amendment. An estate planning attorney can clearly explain how to amend a revocable living trust.
Unless specifically altered in the living trust documents. A revocable living trust cannot be changed after the death of the settlor. If the living trust is for married people, then the revocable living trust becomes Irrevocable, unchangeable at the death of the surviving spouse.
Revocation of a living trust is the process of drafting legal documents and properly notarizing these documents for canceling the living trust, as though it never existed. Along with drafting these documents all assets held in the trust must be properly retitled and transferred to your individual name.
The beneficiary of a living trust is the person who will gain the benefit of the assets held in the revocable family living trust. Unless specifically altered, you will be the beneficiary of your trust while you are alive. For married couples, both spouses are the beneficiaries of the living trust.
Separate property is the property of a married person, that was acquired or earned before becoming married. A revocable living trust allows each person the option to designate the property as separate property making it the property of the spouse who acquired it before marriage or designate the property as community property, making it the property of both spouses. This is discussed during our complimentary consultation.
Community property is property that was acquired during marriage with the use of community assets or community income. Community assets include the earnings of each spouse. Income derived from separate property during marriage, can remain separate property if it is managed correctly. This is discussed during our complimentary consultation.
A revocable family trust is a set of instructions that you and your spouse agree. An estate planning attorney can draft the instructions exactly as you and your wife intend. In short, separate property can be protected, kept as separate, and community property can be protected to remain community property. Situations vary and laws regarding these topics are complex. This is discussed during our complimentary consultation. An estate planning attorney will have the specific answers after learning of your circumstances.
Essentially, a revocable living trust allows you to act as trustee, settlor, and beneficiary. You will both manage and settle the trust and, for your lifetime, will be the one who receives the benefits of the trust. Creating a trust like this will require you follow specific guidelines that will be covered at the initial consultation.
This clause prevents a beneficiary from selling their interest in the trust. In addition, it also prevents others—such as creditors—from having access to the beneficiary’s interest.
This is a rule that regulates the Maximum Duration of Trusts provision (it is also known as the “Rule Against Perpetuities”) and most all states require it to be included in a trust. Essentially, it means a trust must end eventually.
A No Contest Provision is language in the trust document that assists in preventing arguments between the beneficiaries. It means that, should anyone legally contest a trust’s validity, they won’t receive anything from it. These types of provisions can be adjusted depending on personal preferences. This is discussed during our complimentary consultation.
These are provisions that set the requirement that a beneficiary must survive the survivor by at least thirty days to receive his or her distribution. This can avoid an unnecessary probate of the beneficiary’s share of the trust. This also accounts for the possibility of a simultaneous death of a married couple.
Essentially, they create rules of how the assets in a trust will be distributed to a beneficiary who is either a) under the age of 21, or b) is incapacitated.
Simply put, a bond is an insurance policy that protects the beneficiaries if the trustee does something unlawful and loses trust assets. The choice to require a successor trustee to obtain a bond depends on who you designate as the successor trustee. How much can you trust the designated trustee? Will there be adult beneficiaries that are able to monitor the actions of the successor trustee? What is the responsibility level of the successor trustee? We will discuss this during our complimentary consultation as well as, explore other options.
Requiring a bond can be a good idea but there are some complications that can arise if without proper planning. It can also be a “Catch-22” situation; an individual can’t access the trust’s assets until they become a trustee, but they can’t become trustee unless the bond is paid for using the trust’s assets. In addition, bonds are often difficult and expensive to obtain; an estate planning attorney can give you the best advice depending on your specific circumstances and overall investment portfolio. We will discuss this during our complimentary consultation.
The answer to this question depends on your specific circumstances. Often people believe that because, sometimes, the beneficiary will also be the successor trustee, they do not need to get paid. While this might be true in some situations it is not a good idea in most. It is important to remember that if the successor trustee is not the only beneficiary there will be additional administrative, tax preparation and reporting duties that will require the successor trustee to devote time, money and energy.
If compensation is not specifically indicated in a professionally drafted living trust then default provisions will apply. If a successor trustee is a corporation (i.e., a bank) the compensation is the trustee’s published fee schedule. When a successor trustee is an individual such compensation is determined based on a “reasonable fee” based on the time and effort of the trustee. If there is ever argument as to what amount is reasonable a court judge makes the decision. A trustee is also entitled to be reimbursed for all necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of the trustee’s duties.
A successor trustee has many duties. One of the most important duties is giving a report to any beneficiaries (though a beneficiary may waive the requirement). This will be discussed during our complimentary consultation.
This is a legal document that must be properly executed. The HIPPA Waiver gives your designated person, the agent, or trustee the right to obtain your health care information. Because of specific California regulations on the execution of a release concerning your protected health information, there is also a separate waiver form for each person designated. Similar provisions are often found in a General Powers of Attorney and you’re a Health Care Directive.
Depending on the size of the estate, designating your revocable living trust or living family trust as the beneficiary of life insurance policies allows you to provide much more guidance and control on how the money is distributed. Things like; at what ages will the beneficiaries receive the money? What should the money be used for? A college education? To purchase a home?
These types of provision are completely up to your personal desires and preferences. It is important that your intentions are written properly and referenced correctly to withhold legal scrutiny. A devoted estate planning attorney will properly word the provisions to reflect your true intentions if they are ever challenged in the future.
These are important provisions if you plan on designating a Trust as a beneficiary of a retirement account. Essentially, any IRA or tax-deferred accounts receive “stretched-out” pay-outs. This will be discussed during our meeting.
These types of provisions enable you in the future to appoint a trust protector of the trust (sort of a “go-between” between the trustee and the beneficiaries). The trust protector serves without compensation, but may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses. While the trust protector is acting:
- The trust protector can receive a copy of all notices, reports and/or accountings required to be delivered to any trust beneficiary.
- The trust protector may remove a trustee and appoint successor trustees (but may not appoint himself/herself.
- The trustee must consult with the trust protector as to the needs and requirements of the beneficiaries of the trust, the suitability of any discretionary distribution and the fitness of any beneficiary to receive any distribution.
Whether a trust protector is a good idea depends on your specific circumstances. During your conversation with your professional estate planning attorney, recommendations will be made after learning of your circumstances.
In general, you as trustee will have the same level of control over the trust assets that you had prior to transferring the assets into the trust.
In a living trust, retained rights refer to the rights that only you can exercise. These usually include your right to revoke or change the trust at any time during your joint lifetimes. The purpose is to prevent the exercise of these powers by anyone other than you. This can be adjusted depending on your desires.
A survivor’s trust is a trust that is created with the assets of the surviving spouse, for reducing or avoiding federal estate taxes. If your estate exceeds the exemption amount, your living trust will be subject to federal taxes. With a properly drafted estate plan, the survivor continues to have the complete control and benefit of the survivor’s portion of the trust (“Survivor’s Trust”), there are certain limitations placed on the survivor about the deceased’s portion. After the death of the first spouse, the decedent’s portion of the trust cannot be revoked by the survivor, but the survivor has the unlimited power to change the manner of distribution of the decedent’s share of the trust estate. This will be discussed during our meeting if appropriate for your circumstances.
With this type a trust, an estate planning attorney drafts a trust agreement that provides for the division of the trust into sub-trusts after the death of the first spouse. It is very detailed because it contains many tax planning provisions.
With a QTIP Trust, your trust potentially divides into three separate sub-trusts after the first death. The first, survivor’s portion, is placed in a revocable part of their estate. The second, the deceased spouse’s portion, initially goes into an irrevocable trust called the “Marital Deduction Trust”; from there the surviving spouse can choose (“elect”) to have that portion of the deceased spouse’s estate up to the maximum amount which can pass free of the federal estate tax exemption available in the year of the deceased spouse’s death (which is currently $5,490,000) distributed to an irrevocable trust called the “Decedent’s Trust”. In this situation, there will be no federal estate tax due regardless of the value of the trust and the tax laws in the year of death (this is called the “unlimited marital deduction”).
At the death of the survivor, the assets held in the Decedent’s Trust pass to the beneficiaries of your trust without federal tax and the assets in the survivor’s and the Marital Deduction Trust are taxed only to the extent the total value in those trusts exceeds the estate tax exclusion available for the year of the surviving spouse’s death.
By utilizing these divisions, you can protect your spouse’s assets, which in turn can increase how much is given to any beneficiaries. In addition, you’ll have to worry less about potential taxes for assets in the Marital Dedication Trust.
Also, it can require the trustee to pay all of the income from the Survivor’s Trust and the Marital Deduction Trusts to the surviving spouse plus giving the Trustee(usually the surviving spouse) the discretion to pay the income of the Decedent’s Trust to either the survivor or to your children (this can provide for asset protection, as well as, potential income tax benefits). In addition, because IRA rules can apply and can have different requirements, there should be language to make sure that these conflicting tax laws do not result in any adverse income or estate tax consequences.
Also, it gives the trustee the power to use the principal of the sub-trusts for the benefit of the survivor. This is an unlimited power utilizing any criteria for the Survivor’s Trust; however, unless there is “non-Interested Trustee” (i.e., an “independent third-party Trustee”) acting for asset protection purposes, the distribution of principal from the Decedent’s Trust and the Marital Deduction Trusts must be discretionary and must be limited to the survivor’s “proper health, support and maintenance” in order to maintain the same standard to which the survivor was accustomed at the time of the first death. This limitation is necessary to prevent the assets in the Decedent’s Trust from being taxable as part of the survivor’s estate or from being reached by the surviving spouse’s creditors. Finally, it gives the Trustee the discretionary power to use the principal of the Decedent’s Trust for your children, particularly while they are not yet twenty-one.
This will be discussed during our meeting depending on your circumstances.
A Certification of Trust is a document that is required to open financial accounts. Essentially, it verifies that a trust exists and can be used as a smaller, simpler version of a trust agreement. A certification of trust should be included with a professionally drafted estate plan.
A Declaration of Trust is a document that is required under certain circumstances. Basically, if you fail to transfer certain assets to your trust, it can be used to confirm that you intended to do so. This document should be included with a professionally drafted estate plan.
An Assignment of Personal Property is a document that is required in a professional estate plan. This is how you can transfer certain personal property assets to your trust. A certification of trust should be included with a professionally drafted estate plan.