Category: Estate Planning

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Doctors Who Disobey Health Care Agents in California May Be Liable for Elder Abuse

A recent California appellate case, Stewart v. Superior Court (2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 87, validates the primacy of medical powers of attorney and (as they are more currently known) advance health care directives.  Medical providers who disregard the instructions of duly-appointed health care agents by providing unauthorized treatment may be liable in California for elder abuse … Continue Reading

Play It Again: No Contest Clauses Must Be Referenced In Each California Trust Amendment

No contest clauses are an ever-evolving area of the probate law in California.  The Court of Appeal further refined the rules governing no contest clauses in a decision issued last week, Aviles v. Swearingen (2017) ___ Cal.App.5th ___.  In brief, in order for a no contest clause to apply to a trust amendment, the no … Continue Reading

When Is a Will Valid in California?

Although much wealth passes today through trusts and beneficiary designations, we occasionally handle California probate disputes that turn on the validity of wills, sometimes involving high value estates. The standard practice in California estate planning is for wills to be typewritten and prepared by attorneys, but those steps are not necessary.  A holographic, i.e., handwritten, … Continue Reading

Take It or Leave It: The Perilous Decision of Whether to Violate a No Contest Clause

One of the most dramatic areas of California trust and estate litigation is no contest clauses.  No contest clauses bring a made-for-tv excitement to the practice of trust and estate law because of the risk of disinheritance.  Yet such clauses are widely misunderstood, even among attorneys.… Continue Reading

Just the FAQs: California Trust and Estate Litigation’s Greatest Hits, Part 1

In our Sacramento trust and estate litigation practice there are several questions that come up over and over again.  In many instances, these questions are the building blocks of our practice that lead to more complicated questions that sometimes require the filing of a lawsuit to answer.  As a starting place, below are some of … Continue Reading

A Friend Request From The Beyond: California’s New Post-Death Digital Assets Law

Next time you schedule an appointment with Downey Brand’s Sacramento office to revise your estate plan you will have a new question to consider: who will manage your Facebook account when you’re gone? Assembly Bill No. 691, which became effective on January 1, 2017, attempts to aid in that process.  It is commonly called the … Continue Reading

Til Death Do Us Part: California’s New Transfer on Death Deeds

California’s new transfer on death deeds (“ToD deeds”) allow for the transfer of real estate upon the occurrence of death without the need for costly estate planning or probate administration. Codified at California Probate Code section 5600 – 5696, the new mechanism may fill a void in the array of estate planning options, but it … Continue Reading
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