North LA County guardianship lawyers

North LA County Guardianship Lawyers Answer: Will My Ex Get My Children if I Pass Away?

North LA County guardianship lawyers are asked this question nearly every day! The answer is…maybe. Before you begin to worry, let us explain.

When nonmarried parents have a formal custody agreement and one party passes away, that custody agreement is no longer valid. In most cases, the child’s permanent custody would revert to the surviving parent.

What If the Surviving Parent is “Unfit?”

If there are concerns about the fitness of a surviving parent, the State of California has a provision where a third party can step in and apply for guardianship of a minor child. For example, a grandparent may be compelled to apply for guardianship if they feel the surviving parent is not capable of raising the child(ren). Unfortunately, in these circumstances, the burden of proof is on the grandparent (or other petitioner). The third-party would have to prove in court that the surviving parent is unfit, which could result in an expensive and lengthy custody battle.

You Can Still Have a Say

As a parent, you can also take steps to make your wishes for your children known in your will.  If you believe that your ex is unfit or unable to care for your children in your absence, you can use your estate plan to spell out your concerns and offer up alternative choices for guardians.  After your passing, a judge will be given the opportunity to review your wishes and ultimately decide if choosing a guardian other than the biological parent would be in the child’s best interest.

What if parental rights were terminated?

If the surviving parent has previously had their parental rights terminated, they will not be considered for guardianship of the child(ren) after the death of the other parent. In these cases, it is extremely important for the parent who retains rights to have an estate plan that spells out exactly who should raise the child and what resources are to be used to do so if something happens to mom or dad.

Get Informed to Be Empowered

While guardianship questions are rarely black and white, the solution in almost all instances is to create an estate plan. There is nothing more important in life than protecting our children’s future, and a straightforward estate plan can give you the peace of mind that your child will be protected no matter what!

If you have questions or you are ready to get started with creating legal documents to protect your family, please contact our North LA County guardianship lawyers at 818-334-2805 to schedule an appointment.  

West San Fernando Valley will lawyer

Tackling Your Responsibilities as An Estate Executor | West San Fernando Valley Will Lawyer

In life, there are jobs we seek out and others that are given to us. Being named an Executor on an estate is one of the most important jobs one can be asked to hold by another person. It means there is someone who trusts you fully and believes that you will manage their final wishes properly and without conflict.

That’s not to say the job is easy. Again, you were likely appointed to the role of Executor because your loved one felt you could handle any stress or difficult responsibilities that come with the job. 

The good news, however, is that there are ways to prepare in advance so that your life as an Executor is easier when the time comes. Here are some suggestions a West San Fernando Valley will lawyer would have you consider:

  • Have the hard conversations now. Meet with the person who is naming you as an executor of their estate and ask them to describe exactly how they wish their estate to be administered. Take notes and make sure you get all the details. Knowing the “why” behind the decisions in the will can help you navigate “gray area” choices if they arise.
     
  • Be organized. The job of Executor consists of lots of paperwork, bureaucracy, and time maintaining the estate as it goes through the probate process. Set up a filing system, spreadsheets, and bins, so the Executor job does not infringe on your everyday life.

  • Get a lawyer. No matter the size of the estate, it is prudent for all involved parties to have a lawyer. At the minimum, have a consultation with an attorney to make sure there is not something you have overlooked. People often think they can do everything themselves only to be caught at the end by taxes or administrative issues.

  • Move quickly once the person passes away. Grief makes people act in unexpected ways, so it is imperative that after the person dies, you move quickly to locate the original final will and file the necessary paperwork with the courts to be recognized as the Executor. At this time, order up to 8-10 copies of the death certificate to save yourself time later. Another uncomfortable thing you will need to do is to secure the assets. All too often, grieving loved ones will go to the home and begin to take items they believe they should have. You will have to be the one who stops this.

  • Be upfront with the heirs of the estate. Make sure they all get a clear understanding of how estate administration works. The process is a slow one, which frequently frustrates family members who are grieving. By giving them an explanation or better yet, having a lawyer do it, they will hopefully have patience with you and avoid conflicts.

  • Know there will be conflicts. Grieving is an individual process, and you will take the brunt of most of that emotion. If money is involved in the administration, the speed at which money is inherited can be infuriating. Heirs becoming angry with you is even more of a probability if any perceived omissions or secret bombshells are in the will. Hopefully, if that is the case, you knew ahead of time and were prepared.

  • Heirloom distribution needs to be deliberate. Once the significant assets and personal items are named in the will, the hard part starts. Deciding who receives the personal items in the home can cause the most conflicts. There is no explanation for the small household items that might have importance to many family members. A sweatshirt, a picture frame, or a dish can hold deep memories that you might be unaware of. Creating an equitable system for if multiple people want an item will ensure this process is done deliberately.

These are only a few ways you can help yourself if you have been named an Executor. If you find yourself struggling with your duties and or you have questions and need some advice, we are here to help. Contact us at 818-334-2805 to schedule an appointment with a West San Fernando Valley will lawyer.

Calabasas will and trust lawyers

How to Add, Change, or Remove Your “Legacy Contact” On Facebook

Have you ever thought about what you want to happen to your “digital assets,” including your Facebook page, after you pass away?

This is a question that Big Tech giants have spent the past few years grappling with as more and more of our lives are lived online. As such, companies like Facebook have started developing solutions to help account holders more easily “pass on” their digital real estate to loved ones and friends following their death. “Legacy Contacts” is one such feature that permits this to happen on the platform.

Until the creation of the Legacy Contacts, loved ones of the deceased only had two choices to manage an existing Facebook Account:

  1. Leave it a public wall (that no one had “behind the scenes” access to) where people could continue to post messages; or,
  2. Request that the page be “memorialized,” which rendered the profile invisible and unsearchable to those who were not already connected with the account.

Now with the Legacy Contact feature, Facebook account owners can name who they want to manage their profile in their absence. This “heir” would immediately have access to friend requests, pictures, and the management of content on the profile page.

Or, for those who want their Facebook account to remain private, the Legacy Contact feature also gives users the option to request a full deletion of their account after death.

How to Add, Change or Remove a Legacy Contact

Facebook offers the following instructions to guide users through the process of naming a Legacy Contact:

  1. Click  in the top right of Facebook.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
  3. Click Memorialization Settings.
  4. Type in a friend’s name in Choose a friend and click Add.
  5. To let your friend know they’re now your legacy contact, click Send.

To change or remove a legacy contact, follow steps 1–2 above, then click Remove. From there, you can add a new legacy contact if you’d like.

If your account is memorialized, your legacy contact will be notified. Learn more about what a legacy contact can do. Note: You must be 18 or older to select a legacy contact.

Utilizing Legacy Contacts is an easy and straightforward way to let Facebook know how you want your private social media information to be handled after your passing.  If you have any additional questions about how to include your digital assets as part of your estate plan, please contact our Calabasas will and trust lawyers at 818-334-2805 to schedule an appointment.

Calabasas Special Needs Lawyer

Can I Appoint Someone to Serve as Co-Conservator Over My Adult Child with Disabilities? |Calabasas Special Needs Lawyer

Choosing to serve as someone’s adult conservator is a huge responsibility.  An adult conservator for a person with special needs is generally tasked with overseeing that individual’s physical well-being, medical care, housing, day-to-day needs, and sometimes his or her finances.

In the majority of cases, it’s a biological parent (or parents) who will apply to become their child’s adult legal conservator when he or she turns 18. But even parents will ask us if they are able to appoint an “alternative conservator” or someone else who can help with all required responsibilities and duties.  Most commonly, we are asked by parents of individuals with special needs if they can appoint one of their other adult children, a stepparent, a sibling, a grandparent, or other relative to serve as co-conservator who could have the same legal rights as the main conservator.

Legally speaking, having a co-conservator is absolutely possible, and it’s something we often encourage to help lighten the load. However, the parent or main conservator cannot appoint this person him or herself.  Instead, the candidate will need to go through a formal legal process with the California courts where they will petition to serve as a co-conservator. During this process, the court will need to verify that the person is indeed capable of serving in this capacity, and from there, a judge will ultimately approve or deny the request.

When we meet with families to start the process of filing for a conservatorship over a young adult with special needs, we will typically ask up front if the main candidate to serve as conservator wants someone else to serve in a co-conservator role.  In general, it’s easier and less expensive to take care of everything all at one time.  The bottom line is that every family is different, and it’s important to work with an attorney who will help you create an individualized plan that actually works over the long haul.

Here at the Law Offices of Lisa S. Golshani, we want parents and caregivers to feel as secure and supported in their roles as possible, as that ultimately results in the best care for the person with special needs.  If you have questions about how to create a Special Needs Plan that takes into account the unique dynamics or challenges in your family, please feel free to contact us at 818-334-2805 to schedule an appointment.

Calabasas Trust Lawyers

Everything You Need to Know About Self-Settled Trusts | Calabasas Trust Lawyers

There are a lot of different estate planning and asset protection planning trusts out there: revocable living trusts, Medi-Cal asset protection trusts, and life insurance trusts are just a few of them. One type of trust that Calabasas trust lawyers find to be useful, though sometimes only in narrow circumstances, is a self-settled trust.

What is a self-settled trust?

A self-settled trust is used to protect financial assets, real estate, personal property, and business assets from future creditors. Like most other trusts, once these assets are transferred into a self-settled trust, they’re legally owned by the trust and not by you. A self-settled trust is an irrevocable trust, which is the key feature in making sure that future creditors cannot reach the assets that are in the trust.

What are the limitations of a self-settled trust?

As mentioned earlier, there are a few limitations to self-settled trusts. The biggest limitation is the fact that they cannot protect assets from past creditors, so any debts incurred before the trust is created are still liable to be paid out from trust assets. Self-settled trusts are also not allowed in a number of states, as many lawmakers were worried that these trusts could be used to wrongfully avoid creditors. Self-settled trusts are legal in the following states:

·       Alaska

·       Delaware

·       Hawaii

·       Mississippi

·       Missouri

·       Nevada

·       New Hampshire

·       Ohio

·       Rhode Island

·       South Dakota

·       Tennessee

·       Utah

·       Virginia

·       West Virginia

·       Wyoming

How do I create a self-settled trust?

If you live in one of the states that allow self-settled trusts and want to create one to avoid future creditors, your first step should be to speak with an attorney who has experience with drafting self-settled trusts. Once you’ve chosen an attorney to create your trust, you’ll have to provide the following information:

·       The creditors from whom you want to protect your assets. Many people choose self-settled trusts if they worry about possible accidents or injuries, work in high-risk professions with liabilities, or own a business.

·       The trustee of the trust. You cannot choose yourself as the trustee of your own self-settled trust, since that defeats the purpose of the assets no longer being in your control. You’ll need to choose someone you trust or a corporate trustee who can fulfill those duties.

·       The assets that will go into the trust. Typically, people will put financial assets and real estate property into their self-settled trust, but everyone’s individual situation is different. You should bring a list of all your assets when you meet with your attorney so you can better determine what assets will go into the trust.

If you’d like to learn more about self-settled trusts and how one can fit into your estate plan, or if you currently have a self-settled trust and would like to have it reviewed by one of our experienced Calabasas trust attorneys, please contact us at (818) 334-2805 to set up a consultation.Report

Calabasas Elder Law Attorneys

Calabasas Elder Law Attorneys: Everything You Need to Know About Reverse Mortgages

There are many options available to seniors who would like access to liquid assets, and reverse mortgages are one of the most common – and misunderstood. Our Calabasas elder law attorneys have outlined everything you need to know about reverse mortgages, so you have the information you need to make the best choice possible.

What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a financial tool available to seniors aged 62 and older who own their homes. It allows them to use their home equity as collateral to receive a lump sum, line of credit, or annuity to receive money. This makes the homeowner the borrower and the bank the lender, which means that interest will need to be paid on the monthly repayments to the lender.

When is the reverse mortgage loan due?

Typically, the borrower is responsible to make monthly payments to the lender until the amount that is borrowed is paid back. However, there are certain circumstances where the entire amount of the loan could be called due:

·       The borrower lives in a different primary residence. You must live in the home if you have a reverse mortgage, even if you still own the home. The lender will call the loan due if you rent out the home or move out for any other reason.

·       The borrower does not live in the home for 12 consecutive months due to health reasons. A senior suffering from health conditions who moves into a nursing home must move back to the home within 12 months, otherwise, the loan will be due.

·       The home is sold. The loan will be called due if the borrower either sells the home or transfers the title of the home to another person who is not also a borrower of the reverse mortgage.

·       The borrower passes away. There are cases where a non-borrowing spouse may be able to remain in the home after their spouse passes away, but certain conditions must be met. It’s best to speak with an experienced elder law attorney to find out how to avoid leaving the house if the loan is called due upon the passing of a spouse.

·       The loan agreement is breached. Reasons for a loan breach included non-payment of property taxes, a lapse in homeowner’s insurance, or if the house falls into disrepair.

Obtaining a reverse mortgage could be beneficial in certain circumstances, but as we listed above, there are a lot of different issues you should be aware of before you take out a loan. It’s best to consult with an elder law attorney who has experience with reverse mortgages to find out if taking a loan is best for you.

If you’d like to learn more about reverse mortgages and how they can impact estate planning, or if you have a reverse mortgage and want to have your existing estate plan reviewed, please contact us at (818) 334-2805 to set up a consultation with one of our Calabasas elder law attorneys.

San Fernando Valley Will Lawyer

It’s Been Five Years: Do You Know What’s in Your Last Will and Testament? | San Fernando Valley Will Lawyer

When was the last time you took a look at your Last Will and Testament? If it was five years ago or more, then you should consider dusting it off and reading through to make sure it’s up to date.

Remember, a lot can change in five years: the birth of new family members, marriages and divorces, or even significant changes in your finances are just some of the reasons you should revisit your Last Will and Testament, as well as the rest of your estate planning documents like your Power of Attorney and Living Will. Just keep in mind, though, that if you notice your Last Will and Testament is out of date and you revoke it, you should have a replacement ready to go.

Revoking a Last Will and Testament is not as cut and dry as simply ripping up the original document or putting it through a shredder. Our LA County probate court will, on rare occasions, accept a copy of a Last Will and Testament if there is reason to believe that the original is either lost or accidentally or maliciously destroyed. The simple fact that there is a precedent for courts accepting Wills marked “COPY” should give pause to anyone who thinks about ripping up their original Last Will and Testament to change their estate plan.

Instead, if you want to revoke your Last Will and Testament due to changes in your family’s situation, you should speak with an experienced San Fernando Valley Will lawyer. A Will lawyer can help you figure out the best way to change your estate plan, which will probably involve rewriting your Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Will documents. (Again, simply destroying these documents can create a legal mess by leaving you without the coverage an estate plan provides.)

Taking a look at your Last Will and Testament, as well as your other estate planning documents, every five years is a good habit to ensure your wishes are known to your family and you have the proper planning in place. If you believe you may have a problem with certain family members once you’ve changed your estate plan, you may want to seek the advice of an experienced San Fernando Valley Will Lawyer to talk about your options.

If you would like to learn more about revoking your existing Last Will and Testament, or if you’d like to review your existing estate plan, please contact us at 818-334-2805 to schedule a consultation.

North LA County Estate Lawyers

North LA County Estate Lawyers Answer, “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”

Have you ever wondered what is the worse that can happen if you become incapacitated or pass away without an estate plan in place?

If you have, you’re not alone. This is actually a common question our North LA County estate lawyers receive, especially from those in close-knit families who believe that their kids (or other loved ones) will peacefully sort everything out when they pass away without needing any additional legal documents or guardrails in place.

Failing to Plan Makes Life Harder for The People You Love

The truth of the matter is that without a plan (or even the wrong plan) you make things much harder for the people you care about, even if everything goes as smoothly as possible and everyone gets along. Managing your affairs will also become much more costly and more time-consuming than they need to be if something happens.

You May Not Like The “Default Plan” The State of California Already Has for You

Remember, you are not obligated to create an estate plan; the state of California already has a plan that your loved ones will be forced to follow in the event you do nothing. However, this “default” plan is not one that very many people like. The only way to override the state’s plan is to legally create one of your own.

What If You Are Disabled or Incapacitated?

If a crisis happens during your lifetime and you don’t have a plan, you run the risk of losing flexibility and you may even lose control. Even if your loved ones want to help if you get sick or become incapacitated, they could be barred from getting involved with your affairs because of privacy or HIPAA laws. If that happens, all decisions about your care and your future will be made by a judge who doesn’t know you or what is important to you.

Make Planning a Priority to Protect Your Family, Your Wishes, and Your Assets

The bottom line is that an estate plan is a roadmap that’s designed to make life as easy and hassle-free as possible for yourself and your loved ones in the event of illness, incapacity, or death. It’s one of the most loving gifts you can give them. If this article has caused you to rethink your choice of going with the state’s plan for your affairs, we are here to help you. Simply contact our North LA County estate lawyers at 818-334-2805  to schedule a consultation.

Calabasas estate planning

Calabasas Estate Planning Lawyers: How Prenuptial Planning Offers Protection Against Life’s “What-Ifs”

Now that vaccinations have started and “normal” life is within our grasp, many couples are starting to resume their wedding plans. Those who have had to postpone their big day or got engaged during the pandemic are once again starting to put deposits on venues, purchasing gowns, and even planning honeymoons. However, Calabasas estate planning lawyers want everyone to know that estate planning and prenuptial agreements should be part of the process along with selecting flowers and all the “fun stuff.”

All marriages celebrate the joining of two lives together, a union of family and finances. And while estate planning is not exactly romantic, it can create a feeling of being protected even if the worst happens. Likewise, creating a prenup before the marriage can offer each partner security and confidence that all of their bases are covered as they enter into the union. Essentially, it sets forth how all property, assets, childcare, and spousal support would work IF the marriage did not survive. The prenup’s contents depend on the unique needs of each couple and the document is designed to protect each partner if the marriage were ending.

Couples are encouraged to create an estate plan together, but each partner will need their own lawyer when creating a prenuptial agreement. The reason is simple; the prenup is meant to protect each partner separate from the other. It is also vital to select an attorney in the state where the couple plans to reside, as there may be different laws regarding support after a marriage ends.

Calabasas estate planning lawyers are quick to point out that a prenuptial agreement is often a process that keeps marriages from ending in divorce. Starting the marriage on a strong financial foundation can bind couples closer together. It gives them an open and honest place to discuss financial plans, ideas on fidelity, wishes for the future, and how each views the marriage before entering the contract.

If you or a loved one is getting married, please consider an estate plan and prenuptial agreement as part of the wedding plans. That way, as you walk down the aisle, you know that no matter what, your future is protected. Call one of our estate planning lawyers at 818-334-2805 to schedule a consultation.

Calaabasas estate planning attorney

Aid & Attendance Benefits for Wartime Veterans: How to Take Advantage of 2021 Pension Rate Increases to Pay for Long-Term Care

Many veterans and their families are unaware of the availability of the Aid and Attendance pension benefit for veterans over the age of 65 through the Department of Veterans Affairs. These benefits can be used to help offset long-term care costs for older veterans who served during a period of war, whether that’s at home or in a care facility.

What Is Aid and Attendance?

Wartime veterans and their spouses who require help performing tasks of everyday living (bathing, dressing, medication management, etc.) may be eligible to receive a non-service connected pension benefit through the VA to help pay for care in their home or a senior living facility. The A&A pension is available to veterans who were honorably discharged after at least 90 days of active duty as well as their surviving spouses.

New Pension Rates for 2021

In 2021, a veteran may receive up to $1,936 per month for themselves, up to $1,244 per month to a surviving spouse, or up to $2,295 per month for a couple. For two veterans who are married and qualify, the benefit amount may be up to $3071 per month.

How to Qualify for Aid and Attendance Benefits

To qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, the veteran’s physician will need to certify that the individual requires assistance with daily living tasks such as dressing, bathing, cooking, and eating. These are also referred to as ADLs or Activities of Daily Living.

The location or type of care is based primarily upon the need for assistance with ADLs. This assistance can be provided in the individual’s home or a care facility including a nursing home or assisted living facility. An individual living in an independent living situation may also qualify if they need onsite assistance. If the person providing the care is a family member, VA benefits would not apply unless the applicant is paying the family member the same way they would pay a caregiver who is not a relative. The relative caregiver would be responsible for claiming the income on their taxes.

Likewise, there are income and asset limitations that a veteran and/or spouse must meet in order to receive benefits. If the veteran does not initially qualify, an elder law attorney can help the veteran legally reallocate their funds to fall within the government’s guidelines.

If an application for A&A benefits is denied, a reason for the denial will be provided. Rather than appealing the denial, the applicant will need to file a form that allows them to provide additional information. Also, remember that nobody is allowed, under the law, to charge a veteran or their spouse fees for completing or expediting the application or other documents for VA pensions.

More information about the A&A pension, including a benefits calculator, can be found at VeteransAid.org. If you need assistance accessing such benefits for yourself or an older loved one, contact our estate and elder law firm at 818-334-2805.