Newport Beach Estate Law Blog

Family of deceased Alan Thicke in the throes of an estate battle

The widow of actor Alan Thicke has responded to a legal petition filed by her stepsons. She says her stepsons are trying to prevent her from receiving her rightful inheritance while they spend their father's trust money.

The disagreement between Tanya Callau Thicke and her stepsons, Robin Thicke and Brennan Thicke, stems from a petition filed by the sons in Los Angeles Superior court in which they asked the judge to uphold the prenuptial agreement entered between Alan Thicke and his widow. Tanya Thicke, however, says that she had no plans to challenge the prenuptial agreement and that her stepsons merely filed the petition to harm her reputation.

What do 'joint tenancy' and 'tenancy in common' mean?

"Joint tenancy" and "tenancy in common" are property ownership arrangements used when a property has two or more owners. In cases of joint ownership of a property, it will be established whether the multiple owners will hold the property as tenants in common or as joint tenants. The biggest difference between these two forms of joint ownership comes into play when one of the owners passes away.

Joint tenancy: Joint tenancy refers to the right of survivorship. Under these arrangements, following the death of one of the "tenants," a.k.a., owners, the deceased owner's share will be transferred to the surviving tenants. This will happen independently of anything referenced in the deceased tenant's will and it will not be subject to approval by a probate court. The ownership transfer of a joint tenancy happens automatically upon death.

Could the children of my stepmother claim my father's estate?

Stepparents and inheritance are a common concern among children. Imagine a situation in which a father remarries to a woman who has children from a previous marriage. The father passes away and the stepmother inherits all of the estate outright. Will the children of the father have the right to receive a portion of the estate after their stepmother passes away?

If the father's will left everything to the stepmother -- and the will only left something to the children in the case that the stepmother died before the father -- then the children of the father will not have any special claim on the estate. The only way the children will receive something is if the stepmother specifically bequeathed something to them in her will. At the moment the stepmother inherited the father's assets, they became hers free and clear to do with as she pleases. She has the right to bequeath them to anyone she desires whether the recipient is a family member or not.

How does a third-party special needs trust work?

When you hear about a third-party special needs trust, the term "third-party" refers to the trust as a tertiary entity that will provide for the needs of the special needs person. The benefit of a federally-approved special needs trust is the fact that it will not disqualify the beneficiary from receiving government aid and other financial assistance.

Unlike other types of irrevocable trusts, an irrevocable special needs trust, allows for continued government assistance and other government benefits to be received by the beneficiary of the trust. With traditional types of inheritance, the person with special needs would have to choose between (1) receiving and benefiting from his or her parent's estate and (2) receiving and benefiting from government various types of government assistance to pay for medical care and other services.

Financial planning for a child with special needs: 1 man's story

There's no way to predict that you're going to have a child with special needs. You simply decide to have a baby, and hope for the best. Then, on the off-chance a special needs baby is born, the parents respond in beautiful ways to make sure their child has best and most comfortable life possible. In one case of a special needs dad, who found out that both of his sons had cystic fibrosis in 2002, that's exactly what he did. He made sure that his children with cystic fibrosis would be well-taken care of.

Something that helped the dad provide for his children was the fact that he was a financial planner. One of the first steps he took was to enroll his financial planning firm into a group health insurance policy, which allowed him to buy health insurance for his kids at a discounted rate to pay for all the medications they needed, which were more than $100,000 a year.

3 important steps to take in the days after a death

The days following the death of a loved one can be anything but easy. Grief and shock often takes control as you try to process the loss. But during these times of grief, there are critical steps to take to protect your loved one’s estate.

Here are three things family and estate executors should do after someone passes away.

Don't commit this business succession mistake

Setting up a plan to ensure your loved ones will receive ownership of your business, or at least be able to receive the monetary value of your business, after you have died is an important concern that every successful California business owner should handle. Fortunately, by creating a business succession plan, the owners of companies can organize a way for their heirs to gain appropriate ownership and control of their businesses in the event of an unexpected death.

Although a succession plan can be very helpful in this regard, however, business owners need to be careful not to commit the most common mistake. Too many people wait until it's too late.

Are you going through a major life transition right now?

Everyone goes through many periods of transition in their lives. In fact, you might feel like an entirely different person compared to who you were three years ago. That feeling could be the result of a death in the family, a marriage, a new child, a new grandchild or any other number of reasons.

It's important, following any time of transition, that we take an inventory of our lives and estate plans to determine whether our wills, trusts and other estate documents reflect what we want for our families after we're gone. There are a few issues to pay attention to in this regard.

Be careful to remember the following points in your estate plan

Without detailed knowledge of California estate planning laws and strategies, those who are planning their family's estates could run into serious problems -- problems that are so severe that they could ruin their estate plans completely. Here are a few things people forget when planning their estates that could destroy their estate plans:

Forgetting to include a critical component: Your estate plan should consist of more than just a will. At a bare minimum, you should set up a financial power of attorney and an advanced medical directive in addition to your will.

A widow’s guide on financial planning

It’s hard enough that you had to deal with your husband’s death, making funeral arrangements and greeting relatives during your time of grief. You’re a widow now, and as overwhelming as it may seem, you must carry on with your life. That will include getting your finances in order and updating your estate plan.

Oftentimes among married couples, just one of them has the sole responsibility of dealing with family finances and estate planning. It may be the husband or it may be the wife, but when one of them dies, it leaves the other in quite a bind. Suddenly, the surviving spouse is forced to become a quick study in all things related to personal finance and estate planning. How do I write a check? How do I contact creditors? Who is my broker?


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