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Fresno County Probate and Estate Planning Law Blog

Another duty of an executor: Taxes

When you agreed to serve as the executor of a loved one's will, you may not have truly understood all of the duties the law requires you to undertake. Even so, you rose to the challenge, gathered and inventoried all of the estate's assets, notified heirs, beneficiaries and creditors, and paid the decedent's final expenses.

Then, you discover that you have yet another task, and this one may be the most challenging one -- filing any tax returns required by the tax code. Most people have enough difficulty filing their own tax returns, so how are you supposed to know what returns to file for the estate?

Overview of will abatement and how to prevent it

Like other areas of the law, estate planning and litigation have their own lingo which might not be familiar to the average Fresno County, California resident, even if that person happens to be an attorney.

One term with which those thinking about doing estate planning might not be familiar with, but probably should be, is "will abatement." Although it is a fancy sounding concept, it merely refers to the notion that, at the end of the day, after an estate has gone through probate and the debts and expenses paid, there might not be enough money to give every beneficiary the full amount of his or her bequest.

We advocate for the interests of trust beneficiaries

As a previous post discussed, even though trusts are generally kept out of the courthouse and even out of the public eye, those who stand to ultimately benefit from a trust, aptly called "beneficiaries," have the right to receive information from the trustee from time to time.

If they don't like what they see and to start to suspect the trustee isn't doing his or her job properly, or if they cannot get the trustee to provide the information to which they are legally entitled, then beneficiaries also have the option to ask a court to remove the trustee and, in the right circumstances, to reimburse the trust for any money the trustee mishandled or misappropriated.

Steps you can take to reduce your estate taxes

When estate planning, you may give extensive thought to the distribution of your assets and establishing trusts for charitable giving, but it's prudent not to overlook the issue of estate taxes. Not every California estate has to file a return, but as laws fluctuate and change, your situation could change as well. 

Smart estate tax planning could be as important as smart estate planning. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to reduce the taxes your estate may owe. As with any complex matter pertaining to tax law or estate law, you may find it beneficial to seek legal help regarding the most beneficial course of action for your individual situation.

As the beneficiary of a trust, you have rights

Perhaps your loved one created a trust to help provide for you after his or her death with or without your knowledge. In any event, after death, you became one of the trust's beneficiaries.

The successor trustee appointed by your deceased family member took over the administration of the trust, which means that he or she is responsible for taking care of the assets in the trust and making distributions from it in accordance with the terms set forth in the trust. Even so, the trustee owes a duty to you, and you have rights when it comes to being a beneficiary.

Legal considerations in a business merger

As a Fresno business grows, it may wish to explore opportunities to expand in to other markets. One means of expanding one's business is to consider merger with another business. A merger may involve buying another business in what is called an acquisition. In another type of merger, two businesses come together to form a new, and hopefully better, organization.

Even for a smaller business, though, there a lot of legal and financial considerations a business owner needs to be aware of. For instance, before a merger gets finalized, two interested businesses will likely enter a series of agreements in which they agree to share financial and other information with each other in confidence.

Is the executor of your loved one's estate misusing funds?

You may have recently felt the considerable loss of a loved one. During the aftermath of this event, you may feel your grief in many different ways. Because you know that your family member's affairs will also need putting to rest, you may have questions about who should handle certain tasks. However, if the deceased individual created a will, he or she likely named an executor to handle probate duties.

Though the decedent did not name you as executor, you may still feel the need to ensure that one attends to the necessary tasks correctly, especially if you have concerns over the executor's actions. The tasks that the executor must complete often allow him or her to gain access to estate funds, and you may wonder whether he or she has utilized those funds properly.

How does fiduciary duty play in to probate litigation?

Like other states, California law recognizes that some legal relationships between people are special and, as such, deserve, some special acknowledgement. These fiduciary relationships represent situations in which society is simply not content to leave to generally applicable laws an one's own agreements to govern.

Instead, one who serves in a fiduciary capacity has a legal obligation not to look out for his or her own interests first, but rather, to look out for the best interests of the person or people the fiduciary is supposed to serve and protect.

We can help you set up the right trust correctly

Previous posts on this blog have discussed the different types of trusts a Fresno-area resident can use for estate planning or for other financial or legal purpose. When a Californian chooses the right type of trust for his or her needs, it can make his or her life much easier and can also leave a lot more money in one's bank account.

However, in order for a trust to be effective, it has to be drafted properly and account for a lot of things, including a person's property and debts, their income, their other estate planning documents, their family situation and, most importantly, the person's own wishes.

Trust our firm for sound regulatory compliance advice

As any Fresno County resident who has tried to start his or her own business knows, there is a lot more to the process than simply deciding how one wants to legally organize his or her business and then getting down to the work of turning profits.

Instead, as a previous post on this blog discussed, there are many regulations and rules issued by state, local and federal authorities which may apply to one's business, and a business is expected to be aware of and comply with each and every one of these rules, even when they are involved and complicated.

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