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Fresno County Probate and Estate Planning Law Blog

What is the cy pres doctrine?

Many people in Fresno County have probably heard of trusts, and some may even themselves have created a trust or intend to do so as part of their estate planning strategy.

In many ways, trusts are similar to wills with respect to how they get interpreted, but in other respects, they work a little bit differently. For instance, courts are likely to give a more liberal interpretation to trusts, perhaps because, more so than wills, trusts are considered "equitable" instruments that are designed to carry out the intention of the person who created the trust.

4 things to remember if you are ready to hire more employees

Adding workers to your payroll is not an insignificant decision for small business owners. It is generally only something people do after careful examination of finances, resources and need. Fortunately for the economy, adding jobs looks to be a priority for most small businesses in the country.

In fact, according to a recent report, small business job creation increased by six points  across the U.S. last month. If you are among those small business owners ready to expand your workforce, you should refresh yourself on lawful, effective hiring practices.  

The difference between 'fair' and 'equal' when it comes to heirs

Parents of multiple children know that it doesn't take much to spark a fight between siblings. This can be especially true when it comes to how kids perceive the treatment they receive from parents. The phrases, "That's not fair!" and "But I'm older!" can be made more times than a parent could ever count.

This is why parents can struggle when it comes to deciding how to distribute their assets in a will or trust among their children. Is it better to be fair or equal? Below, we examine some pros and cons of each approach.

Preventing estate planning disputes and contests

You may be one of the fortunate few whose children get along well as adults. For whatever reason, the siblings in your household grew to respect each other and remain friends, perhaps even best friends. However, this is not always the case, so if your children bicker and maintain childhood rivalries, you may feel comforted to know you are not alone.

Nevertheless, the dynamic of your family may be especially concerning to you as you consider making your estate plans. Whether your children are friends, enemies or somewhere in between, you certainly don't want your last will and testament to be the cause of tension or turmoil among them.

5 estate planning roles to reassign after divorce

Spouses and partners fill several roles in our lives. They can be a decision-maker, a provider, an ally, a protector, and a supporter. In the event of a divorce, we look to others and ourselves to fill these roles.

You can take a similar approach to adjusting the roles assigned in your estate plan after a divorce. Chances are that you won’t want your ex to have any role in these plans, so you will want to review the following positions and appoint new people to fill them.

Consistency crucial across all estate planning documents

In previous blog posts, we have discussed the importance of regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan to reflect any changes in your wishes, family or financial situation. This ensures your plan is updated and reflective of current circumstances.

However, problems can arise if you update some documents and not others. When your plans are not consistent, then your loved ones can be left to fight over your estate and what they believe you truly wanted. Complications can also arise when outdated documents take legal precedent over other more current documents. This is the very situation facing Alan Thicke's children and widow.

4 estate planning elements to review, change after divorce

Divorce is one of the most difficult events a person can go through. It can change everything from when you see your kids to what you have planned for your career and retirement. 

Divorce is also one event that will likely change your estate planning goals and decisions. This can be easy to forget, since they are not as immediate as the other difficult adjustments you must make. However, taking the time to update your estate plan, including the four elements we discuss below, can be critical in preserving your wishes as you enter a new chapter in your life.

Estate planning involves both creating and updating a plan

In today's fast-paced world, thinking about creating or updating an estate plan is likely a last priority for many busy Californians. In fact, one survey indicated that the average amount of time between updates made to estate plans was nearly 20 years. However, paying attention to estate planning is essential in order to protect one's assets in California down the road.

In addition to creating a detailed estate plan, updating is important for many reasons. These plans may need to be updated in the event of a birth, death, disability, wedding, divorce or job change. Estate plan updates may also be necessary for those nearing retirement or when the stock market goes down or up.

Will my heirs have to pay an inheritance tax?

If you plan to leave an inheritance to your children, chances are that you want to maximize the amount you leave. This means minimizing any taxes they would have to pay on that gift.

That leads to the question posed in this headline. Thankfully, if your child inherits money or property in California, he or she will not have to pay an inheritance tax. However, if a person inherits property from someone living in a state that does levy a tax on inheritances, he or she will typically have to pay taxes to that state.

Has a loved one's will presented reason for probate litigation?

Courtroom litigation can cover many different areas of law. For you, the area of concern that you may feel warrants legal action may involve the estate of a recently deceased loved one. Though you may have hoped that the wishes presented in your family member's estate plan would prevent any serious issues from affecting the closing of the estate, certain aspects of the process may have caused concern.

In many cases, issues with a person's will, other estate planning documents or the executors handling of estate duties results in legal action. Families who cannot easily overcome disputes may end up facing drawn-out litigation for a variety of reasons.

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