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

by Danielle F. Diebert
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

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. 

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When Do You NOT have the Right to Remain Silent? Conservatorship Proceedings and Equal Protection Clause Claims

by Allison M. Pedrazzi
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Thanks to Law and Order, we’re all familiar with the beginning of a person’s Miranda Warning: “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”  What many may not know, however, is that this is a right only afforded to those involved in criminal proceedings.  In civil cases, there is no constitutional right to refuse to testify.  Historically, this has been intended to ensure that our criminal justice system—which can deprive a person of their freedom,

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Casebriefs – How Recent Decisions Could Impact You

by Allison M. Pedrazzi
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

In our monthly department meetings, the trusts and estates group at Weintraub keeps current by reviewing recent cases and discussing how they could affect our practice. See below for some highlights from the past few months:

Pena v. Dey – When is Self-Help Enforceable?

(Filed August 30, 2019)

The gist:

James Robert Anderson established a living trust in 2004, which he amended in 2008. He was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and brain cancer in 2011.

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There's No Place Like Home - Heightened Evidentiary Standard for Moving Conservatees from Their Personal Residence

by Carlena L. Tapella
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Frequently when a conservatorship proceeding is commenced, the proposed conservatee is residing in his or her personal residence. Having a conservatorship established can be a distressing experience for a conservatee who has awareness of the effect of such a proceeding. One primary concern may be whether there is going to be a change to living arrangements with which the conservatee has been familiar, sometimes for decades. Naturally, it is commonplace for a conservatee to express that they “don’t want to go to a care home.” In recognition of the need to affirmatively preserve the right of conservatees to remain in their own personal residence,

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How to Get Rid of a Dead Body

by Daniel C. Kim
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

California Trusts and Estates Quarterly

This article was first published in Volume 25, Issue 3, 2019 of the California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, reprinted by permission.

Those of us who watched AMC’s hit drama “Breaking Bad” may recall the scene in the pilot episode where Walt and Jesse set out to dissolve a dead body in hydrofluoric acid. Jesse neglects to take Walt’s (the chemistry teacher’s) advice to dissolve the body in a plastic container and instead uses a bathtub,

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Important Tax and Estate Planning Update

The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

You may have heard by now that the Gift and Estate Tax exemption amount was increased by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which became effective on January 1, 2018. This article is to highlight some of the key estate planning issues under the new tax law.

In 2019, the Gift and Estate Tax exemption as adjusted for inflation is $11.4 million, and in 2020, the exemption amount will be increased to $11,580,000.

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What Aretha Franklin’s Estate Teaches Us About the Pitfalls of Handwritten Wills

by Leslie R. Kolafa
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Typically, only those of us who are trusts and estates attorneys geek out over the fascinating problems that handwritten wills create. But when those wills were written by a music icon worth $80 million, suddenly this topic is intriguing to a much broader audience. Aretha Franklin died on August 31, 2018. Her family was confident that she died without a will, but on May 3, 2019, the personal representative of Franklin’s estate discovered three separate documents,

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Focus on Fiduciaries: What Fiduciaries Need to Know About the Attorney-Client Privilege

by Mary deLeo
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Last month, my Weintraub colleagues and I had the pleasure of speaking at the Professional Fiduciary Association of California annual conference on the topic of the attorney-client privilege and its application to clients serving in a fiduciary capacity (trustee, executor, conservator, agent, etc.).

Most people have a cursory understanding of what the attorney-client privilege does – it keeps communications between clients and their attorneys confidential and free from discovery, which fosters honest and complete communication between client and lawyer – but many individuals don’t realize that there are important limitations and exceptions to the privilege,

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A Case Lesson in “What Not To Do” When Billing as a Conservator

by Daniel C. Kim
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Based on recent appellate cases, one of which is discussed below, the court’s scrutiny of conservators’ conduct and, specifically, private fiduciaries, is seemingly on the rise. Private fiduciaries acting as conservators should always remain focused on performing and charging only for those services that are consistent with the best interests of their conservatees. California case law continues to refine that understanding.

In the recent case of the Conservatorship of Presha,

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And You Are? Long Lost Relatives Need to Prove Up Their Entitlement to Inherit

by Danielle F. Diebert
The Trusts & Estates Law Blog

Under California law, the laws of intestacy control who inherits when a person dies without having prepared a valid will or trust. These rules can be complicated particularly as remote or even unknown blood relatives may have a claim to assets of the decedent’s estate. However, these long lost relatives often must prove up their entitlement to inherit from the decedent’s estate.

The California Probate Code has a procedure in place to determine who is entitled to inherit from the decedent as set forth under California Probate Code section 11700 et seq.

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