Planning for the end of one’s life, or potential incapacity, is probably something an individual in their 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s does not want to contemplate.  Even those in their later years might find it a difficult topic to discuss.  However, there are several important reasons why one should strongly consider having a Will prepared, and perhaps other estate planning documents, such as an Advance Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management, despite their being a member of Generation X, Y, or Z.  These scenarios are based on personal experience with cases handled by me and which could have been avoided with a bit of planning.
Continue Reading But I’m Too Young to Have a Will!

It is generally accepted that “personal property” refers to all property aside from real property. But in California, that isn’t always the case when it comes to making gifts of your property in a will or a trust.  California courts actually look to the language used in a document making a gift of “personal property” or “personal belongings,” and sometimes to other evidence, to interpret the scope of property intended when using such a term in an estate planning document.

Continue Reading This Time, It’s Personal: Beware The Misleading Use of “Personal Property” In Your Estate Planning Documents

First, what is a contract to make a will?

A contract to make a will is exactly as it sounds.  It is an agreement to provide for a person as part of a decedent’s will.  The terms of the agreement could be as simple as a promise to provide services in exchange for a specific cash gift as part of a decedent’s will.  For example, Elizabeth may promise to provide caregiving and household services to William in exchange for William’s promise to provide her with $250,000 upon his death.  When William dies, hopefully his will has a provision leaving a specific cash gift of $250,000 to Elizabeth.  If not, then there has been a breach of the agreement.  The agreement can become substantially more complex, particularly when real property is the subject of the agreement.  Instead of agreeing to pay Elizabeth $250,000 in exchange for her services, William may promise to leave his house to Elizabeth.  Again, when William dies there may be a breach of the agreement if William’s will contains no provision instructing that his house be given to Elizabeth.


Continue Reading Dead Men Tell No Tales and Other Issues with Contracts to Make a Will

It was recently revealed that the late Paul Walker left his entire estate—valued at approximately $25 million—to his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.

As reported, Paul Walker named his father as the executor of his will and his mother, Cheryl, as the guardian of Meadow’s person and now-$25 million estate. Prior to his death, Meadow lived