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How to Initiate Probate Litigation in California

In California, probate petitions are initiated in superior court where the court has jurisdiction pursuant to probate code section 7050. The superior court has jurisdiction over (1) will probate and will contests, (2) the appointment or removal of personal representatives, (3) estate management and (4) the distribution of the probate estate. One issue that comes up when initiating a probate proceeding is the property venue – the place to file the lawsuit. If the decedent (person who died) was living in California at the time of their death, then the proper place to commence the probate is in the county where the decedent lived prior to their death. Probate petitions or responses thereto must be verified under Probate Code section 1021. This means that the

Posted in Probate Disputes

What is a Trust?

Generally, a “trust” is an arrangement that creates fiduciary relationship to property that is held and administered by one party, called the trustee, for the benefit of another, called a beneficiary. A trust is always for the benefit of some third party or parties or for some particular object. This, however, does not preclude the trustee and the beneficiary from being the same person. The person who creates the trust is called the “settlor” or the “trustor.” The fundamental nature of the trust relationship is that one person holds legal title for the benefit of another person. Accordingly, unlike a corporation or a limited liability company, a “trust” is not included within the definition of “person.” This is because a “trust” is simply a collection of assets and

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Posted in Wills / Trusts

What is a Partition Action?

What is a Partition Action? Sometimes, when two (or more) people own the same piece of real property, they will disagree on what to do with the property.  One common example occurs when a parent passes away and leaves a piece of real property to her/his three children.  If the children cannot agree on what to do with the real property, one of them may eventually be forced to file a suit for partition of the property. A partition action asks the court, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 872.210, to divide the real property fairly between the different owners.  For a property with a home or other development on it, this usually means selling the property and dividing the proceeds of the

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Posted in Ownership, Partition, Real Estate Attorney Los Angeles, Wills / Trusts

Probate: When Is it Necessary?

 What is Probate? In the wake of a loved one’s death, many families and friends may be faced with a necessary, but unenviable, task of sorting out the decedent’s estate. This process, when the Court is involved, is called “probate.” Probate is the court-supervised administration of a decedent’s estate.  Historically, the term “probate” only involved the specific process of establishing a decedent’s will before the court. In modern usage, probate refers to the entire process of court-supervised estate administration, regardless of whether the decedent died with a will or without one, i.e. testate or intestate. When Is It Necessary? Whether probate administration is necessary varies depending on a number of factors – not all property in which decedent had an ownership interest is subject to probate

Posted in Joint Tenancy, Ownership, Probate Disputes, Real Estate Attorney Los Angeles, Wills / Trusts

What is Probate?

What is probate? Probate is a word that most people have heard but few really understand.  They may have some idea that “probate” is something that happens when a loved one passes away, but they often have very little information beyond that.  Let’s take a brief look at what probate court is and when you might need to bring a case there. Probate courts deal with the financial and proprietary issues that come up when a person dies.  A probate court is where you go to determine whether a will is valid or to interpret the terms of a trust.  Probate courts are also responsible for transferring ownership of any property from the person who recently passed away (the “decedent”) to the decedent’s heirs or

Posted in Probate Disputes, Real Estate Attorney Los Angeles, Wills / Trusts

5 Things to Know about a Transfer on Death Deed (TOD)

On January 1, 2016 Assembly Bill 139 went into effect in California allowing a non-probate method for conveying real property upon death, now known as a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed (“TOD Deed”).  This deed is really just a future conveyance that provides that a certain person will get the property upon their transferor’s death. How it works?  The grantor determines that they would like their property to go to someone upon their death.  They record the TOD and then when they die the person who they named in the deed gets the property.  But, before they die, they can change their mind and decide that they do not want the property to go to that person upon their death – very much like a

Posted in Deeds, Probate Disputes, Real Estate Attorney Los Angeles, Transfer on Death Deed

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts: What They Do

The current estate tax exemption is currently set at $5.45 million. So, if your estate is worth less than $5.45 million (or $10.9 million per couple), you do not need to worry about your children or other heirs having to pay estate taxes. However, if your estate is worth more than the exemption, you can expect Uncle Sam to tax your estate worth over and  above the exemption at a rate of about 40%. However, there are legal ways to reduce your estate and still insure your heirs receive more of your money after you pass. An irrevocable life insurance trust is one such device. An irrevocable life insurance trust reduces the amount of money in an estate by taking advantage of the yearly gift tax exclusion

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Posted in Irrevocable Trusts, Wills / Trusts

What are Totten Trusts, PODs, and TODs? And How Can I Use Them in My Estate Planning?

Totten trusts, Payable on Death (“POD”) accounts, and Transferrable On Death (“TOD”) accounts all provide for the automatic transfer of types of property at death to a named beneficiary – without having to go through probate. These accounts are available in most states. With a totten trust, you can deposit money into a bank account in your own name as trustee for another person. Generally, you can revoke such a trust at any time prior to your death. Assuming you do not revoke your totten trust, upon your death the person you named – the donee – receives the bank account. A POD account is very similar to a totten trust. You deposit money into a bank account in your own name, but you designate

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Posted in Totten Trust, Wills / Trusts

Why Create A Trust?

Reasons to create a trust are as varied as the types of trusts that exist, but there are some common reasons and goals behind creating trusts for estate planning. Often, an individual uses trusts to transfer property at his or her death to avoid court involvement. Another common goal is to administer assets for the benefit of minors or incapacitated individuals. Trusts may also be utilized to retain assets for the benefit of a living person during his or her lifetime and then offer direction for the subsequent distribution of those assets to charities. A person might also use a trust to take advantage of opportunities to reduce estate taxes or to protect less than responsible beneficiaries from creditors and perhaps themselves. And these are

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Posted in Wills / Trusts

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – How to Avoid Them

  Here are 5 common, serious mistakes we see in estate planning – mistakes that can be solved fairly easily with help from your attorney or financial planner. Misuse of Jointly Held Property – jointly held property may become a nightmare in terms of unexpected tax and nontax problems First, there is the potential for federal and state gift tax upon the passing of one joint tenant if the property is jointly held with a non–spouse or a non-citizen spouse; Second, once jointly owned property with a right of survivorship passes to the survivor, any provisions in the person who has passed away’s will pertaining to the property are ineffective – this is true even when the property is jointly held with a spouse. Third,

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Posted in Estate Planning, Wills / Trusts

Zachary D. Schorr’s Expert Appearance on the Dr. Phil Show

Zachary D. Schorr’s Expert Appearance on ABC’s Nightline

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Zachary D. Schorr has been named to the Southern California Super Lawyers (Rising Stars) list for attorneys in Real Estate for 5 straight years - 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. In 2016 he was also included as one of the top 100 lawyers in Southern California in this category. The selection for this respected list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers.

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If you are currently involved in a real estate dispute, either commercial real estate or residential, and are looking for a Real Estate Attorney in Los Angeles with a cost-effective, results oriented approach designed to meet your case's specific needs, contact the attorneys at Schorr Law. Our real estate firm has the specific knowledge and experience necessary to get you the best possible results.

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