California Probate Form DE-295 Ex Parte Petition for Final Discharge and Order

California Probate Form DE-295 Ex Parte Petition for Final Discharge and Order is a required document to close a probate. It is the last document filed with the Court. Typically it is followed a few months after the final accounting is approved.  Receipts are filed along with the Form DE-295 and the Court clerk approved the final discharge.  Most California probate Courts require this final discharge to be done. Failure to do so can cause the Court to order a person to appear in Court and show why it has not been done yet.

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3 Key Points in the California Probate Process

Probate takes a minimum of 7 months in California. That is, for a full probate or standard probate it takes seven months. It might take longer but it really can’t take less.

Here are three key points:

1) START THE PROCESS: It amazes me how long some people wait to start the probate.  There is rarely a case where it makes sense to delay the starting of probate.  As I tell my clients probate can not end until 7 months after it starts so might as well get it started!

2) LETTERS ISSUING: The day letters issue is generally 6-7 weeks after the initial probate petition is filed at the courthouse. That is, the Judge signs an order and then letters can issue. Letters is what allows the Executor to stay in the decedent’s shoes and transact business. More formally letters are called Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.

3) FILE FINAL PETITION: Four months after letters issue you can file your final petition, final report or final accounting. That final document tells the court what happened during the probate process. In a full accounting it tells what the initial assets were, what assets came in, what assets went out, what’s left and how that will be distributed.

There are many other facets to a California probate but these are 3 key points in time.

Let’s talk about your California probate case!  -John

California Probate Form DE-270 Ex Parte Petition for Authority to Sell Securities and Order

California Probate Form DE-270 Ex Parte Petition for Authority to Sell Securities and Order does exactly what the name implies. It allows the Personal Representative, Administrator, Executor, Guardian or Conservator to sell securities.  In most probates the PR has authority under the Independent Administration of Estates Act so this Court order would NOT be required. However, if no IAEA authority then this Court order would be required to sell. By being “ex parte” it means it will be reviewed by the Judge on an expedited basis rather than waiting for a traditional Court date 6-7 weeks out.

Death and dying

Lost a good friend today.  Jonathan was only 44 years old.  Lost a battle with a brain tumor.  Of course I talk to clients every day of the week who are dying, who have just lost a loved one or, in the best case, are talking about dying in the distant future. In all my cases death and dying are at the core. It’s what I do for a living. It’s all I do.  I am an estate planning and probate attorney.  Losing a good friend, a friend my age, reminds me about the brevity of life.  Live life to the fullest and savor it.   -John

Review Your Estate Plan NOW

In general people should review their estate plan when major life events happen (divorce, marriage, births), assets change drastically, or laws change drastically.  Here are three reasons why NOW is more important than ever to review your estate plan with a qualified estate planning attorney.

1) NOBODY knows what the tax laws are going to be next year. It is very likely that the estate and gift tax exemption will be reduced drastically. It could be a use it or lose it time THIS YEAR. If you have a large estate gifting large amounts of money, into trusts or LLCs that you control, could be critical and could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

2) There are a lot of trust mill trusts out there that are poorly done. Assets aren’t in trust, the documents are one size fits all, and in general they are incomplete plans. Get those plans reviewed by a CERTIFIED SPECIALIST!

3) Asset values have changed drastically in recent years.  Your home was worth twice as much five years ago as it is today. That could change your estate plan. Have it reviewed to make sure the math still works!

-John

The death of the gift tax exemption

The federal gift tax exemption is currently $5,120,000. This means as of today a person can give away $5,120,000 TAX FREE.  The law, as written, will have this sunset December 31, 2012.  That would be the exemption back to $1,000,000. If you have more than $1,000,000 you should talk to your estate planning attorney NOW to talk about your options.

Transferring Credit Union Accounts to a Trust

Transferring, or connecting, ALL assets to a trust is a crucial part of the California estate planning process and this includes CREDIT UNION ACCOUNTS.  Just like bank accounts, stock accounts, bonds, mutual funds, and all other such monetary assets… credit union accounts need to be in your California revocable living trust. Listing the assets on the schedule of assets is important but more important is notifying the credit union so they know to actively change the account vesting into your trust.

In my experience credit unions are often easier to work with than banks, for these trust changes, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish.  Most credit unions have a certification of trust form that you would fill out.  Your estate planning attorney can help you fill the form out.

Any questions about trust funding during life, or after death, let me know.   -John

Putting Cars into Trusts

For the overwhelming majority of Californians who set up a revocable living trust there is simply no need to put your car into that trust.  The DMV has simple processes in place to transfer the car after death and without going through the probate process.  Here is a link to that California DMV web page.  Other people have their spouse or other loved one on title and that works as well. However, make sure there are no insurance gaps if you put a third party, like your adult child, on the car title. Might be best to do a payable on death designation!?

However, some people want to put their car into the trust no matter what. If so the DMV has forms for that as well. Here is a link to that California DMV web page.

Either way we can help you!  -John

California Probate Form DE-221 Spousal or Domestic Partner Property Petition

California Probate Form DE-221 Spousal or Domestic Partner Property Petition is a great tool to keep in mind when one spouse dies. It allows the surviving spouse to transfer property to them as well confirm their community property interest. This helps to guarantee the step-up in basis for tax purposes as well as clearing title to property that needs to be cleared.  It’s cheaper and quicker than a full probate.