Written by Robert Nickerson
Are you about to face retirement, but are single without any children? If that's you, then chances are you haven't thought a lot about estate planning and what that entitles. Perhaps you spent most of your time putting all your focus on your career and saving your money. Maybe you spent a lot of time on exotic vacations and education instead. No one lives forever and as you get closer to retirement, thinking about an estate plan will become more crucial. Here are some things you ought to consider doing as your first steps.
Execute a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy
These are important for when your still alive and will give you the ability to appoint someone to make medical and legal decisions if your incapacitated. As you are single, you'll need to find someone you can trust with those hard problems. Once you die, then the both Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy are no longer binding, so this is where a will and trust is preferred.
Make a Will
Who do you want in charge of your estate and your assets? This is the person you trust that'll be able to maintain your responsibilities, pay required income and taxes, and even probate the will if needed. Whoever you want to benefit from you will, should be set up through a revocable trust.
Create a Revocable Trust
When you are alive, you should be the primary beneficiary. But this becomes different when your dead and need to figure out whom you want to receive your assets. This is called naming beneficiaries. Do you want to provide a loved one with a place to stay? Or do you have a collection that you feel someone is deserving of? If there is something else, like a cash fund you want to give to someone that's young, but too young to receive them at the moment. That's when you set it up so that they don't receive the benefit until their old enough to manage the money. Who will control that? That's called the trustee and can be set up for anyone. Perhaps it's you? Or you want to name a successor for that trustee to manage that fund? As a single person, this will be a curtail thing to consider when dealing with beneficiaries.
Fund the Trust Now
This is also important; If you start putting something away into the fund now, the trustee will be able to manage it with ease once you gone. If you don’t, then someone close too you will have to petition it in probate court in order to be approved. This will become an expensive and time-consuming problem to deal with later on. Funding the trust will give you the ability to control that and pick who will manage that.
Consider Estate Taxes
This is one area that doesn't get looked at as single people usually don't care if their beneficiaries receive less while the government gets more. There are some options available to increase the amount beneficiaries receive. Charitable donations don't have to surrender as much. Lifetime gifts are also a good option.
Single people have no reason to wait to the last minute, even though a lot of people do. Death bed planning is a major burden and a waste of your lingering time. Call our office to plan something out and avoid a headache.
BY MORTON J. GRABEL, ESQ. & MARK R. DENNING, ESQ.
THE LAW OFFICE OF MORTON GRABEL, APLC
As I am sure you can imagine, all dog bites are shocking to the victim especially if it was unexpected and unprovoked. Further, some dog bites result in serious injuries; and in the worst case death can result from the most vicious attacks. Also, a dog bite can result in permanent scarring, nerve damage and a significant risk of infection. Often there is residual psychological harm that extends far beyond the physical injury. Therefore laws have been passed to protect and/or compensate the victim of a dog attack based on the legal theories of strict liability and negligence.
I) You should note in California, there is no "one free bite" rule.
II) STRICT LIABILITY. Certain California dog bite statutes impute strict liability on the dog owner for damages to any person bitten by the dog. It is not even necessary to show the owner was negligent, or had knowledge the animal was vicious.
California Civil Code section 3342 provides as follows:
3342. (a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.......etc etc
This statute is “designed...to prevent dogs from being a hazard to the community.” Davis v. Glaschler (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 1392, 1399. The policy behind the law is that innocent victims should have their damages covered by those who choose to own dogs that bite. In essence, “the owner is virtually an insurer of the dog’s conduct”, a dog owner is expected to be vigilant in preventing his dog from biting anyone.
Under the dog bite statute, all the victim needs to show to recover from the dog owner is the victim was “in a public place or lawfully in a private place” when bitten. See Delay v. Braun (1944) 63 Cal.App.2d 8, 146 P.2d 32 (plaintiff was lawfully on defendant’s property when bit by defendant’s dog while walking on the driveway of the home to find the defendant to discuss defendant’s tutoring of plaintiff’s grandchild).
III) There is also a second theory of strict liabilitywhen the dog owner defendant knows of certain propensities, for example a tendency to bite, attack, scratch or aggressively jumping on humans [ a leaping dog]. (See Drake v. Dean (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 915, 19 Cal.Rptr.2d 325). This theory is useful when there is no actual bite. For example, if the dog jumped and knocked the victim down as in Drake v. Dean. The owner’s or keeper’s knowledge of a dog’s vicious or dangerous propensities may be inferred by (1) the general reputation of the dog, (2) the size and breed of the dog, or (3) the fact that the dog is kept chained or muzzled. (Smith v. Royer (1919) 181 Cal. 165, 170).
IV) NEGLIGENCE- Another theory of liability is to show the dog owner was negligent. One way to show negligence is when the owner allowed the dog to run uncontrolled in violation of the local leash law; for example inboth Temecula and Murrieta, there are municipal codes, and often other local laws intended to protect the public from animals that are unleashed. This is called ‘negligence per se” and places the burden on the defendant to give explanation for the violation of the local law.
V) LANDLORD’S LIABILITY. A landlord can be held liable for failure to remove a tenant’s dangerous dog from the property. In Portillo v. Aiassa (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 1128, the court stated: “We hold that a landlord has a duty to exercise reasonable care in the inspection of his commercial propertyand to remove a dangerous condition, which includes a dog, from the premises, if he knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care would have known, the dog was dangerous and usually present on the premises.” In that case, the plaintiff was bitten in a liquor store by a dog owned by the tenant who was operating the business. The court noted it is reasonably foreseeable that guard dogs in commercial establishments open to the public will injure someone. The court also held the landlord could not avoid liability by failing to inspect the premises and thereby claim that he had no knowledge of the dog.
A residential landlordwith actual knowledge of a tenant’s dangerous dog can be held liable to an injured victim, but the landlord has no duty to inspect the premises for such an animal. The landlord is under no duty to inspect the premises for the purpose of discovering the existence of a tenant’s dangerous animal; only when the landlord has actual knowledge of the animal, coupled with the right to have it removed from the premises, does a duty of care arise.” Uccello v. Laudenslayer (1975) 44 Cal.App.3d 504.
*The Office of Morton Grabel, APLC represents dog bite victims under Civil Tort Law. This office has recovered millions of dollars for our clients in Riverside County.
Please note by reading the information above & herein, no attorney-client relationship has been created. Moreover, the information provided herein is not be relied upon as legal advice for your specific legal needs. Should you have legal questions feel free to contact Attorney Morton J. Grabel in Temecula at (951) 695- 7700. Mort, originally from Philadelphia PA, attended an ABA Law School, has an MBA, a Real Estate Broker's License, a CA Nursing Home Administrator's License and is a member in good standing of various local Chambers of Commerce.
Written by Robert Nickerson
Here's a quick scenario for you. Let's say you have a child that wanted some extra money to help buy his dream home. You want to be sure that he'll be safe with it, but you also want to check your estate plan (if you have one already). You understandably want to figure out how to handle this kind of gift if you can even call it a gift at all. So your question is probably whether to make reference to it in the estate plan or to treat it as an early development inheritance.
In order to figure that out, here are some things you need to figure out.
You first need to figure out what it is you want to give your child: a loan or a gift. It's hard to figure that out as the lines are often blurred. It's best to remember that the two are completely different things. A loan is when you expect to be paid back, and I mean that fully. Not a partial loan or a "Pay when you can and maybe get it all done" loan. Even if it wasn't documented, if it's something your gonna get back, then it's a loan. If it's in the category of not expecting any payment back, then it's a gift.
There are a cople of reasons why it's important to distinguish the two. If it's a loan, then there is a set debt and is now an asset of the estate. For example, if you were to loan out $200,000 to a child and it's not repaid before you die, they'll still owe money to the estate.
If it was a gift, then the only thing you'll need to think about is with it be being reported as a gift property. It will not likely affect the estate unless noted.
A good way to handle a gift is to note that the gift was an advancement and to use that as a reduction in the inheritance share.
It'll be more complicated if the funds were a loan. The debt can be forgiven, but it'll be a tax nightmare without the right paperwork. Since it would be a part of the estate, a personal representative should be able to recover it. It'll help calculate it in terms as a part of the inheritance.
Anyone has a lot of options with how money and inheritance is treated when their alive. When their dead, the options become narrow, so it's better to think about this now. Talk to your attorney about it.
Jeffrey C. Nickerson - Estate Planning Attorney - My Passion is Special Needs Planning!