Blog

INTESTATE SUCCESSION – DYING WITHOUT A WILL

What happens when someone dies without a will (called, “dying intestate”)? Who gets what?

In California, when someone dies without a will, or with a will that does not dispose of all of his or her property, the laws of intestate succession determine who the decedent’s heirs are, and how much they will get of the estate.

ESTATE TAX VS. INHERITANCE TAX

What is the difference between estate tax and inheritance tax?

Estate tax is that owed and payable by the estate.  The federal government applies an estate tax to estates over $5.43 million for 2015 (this amount is indexed and is scheduled to increase every year).  For states that impose an estate tax (most do not, including California), the residence of the decedent determines whether or not state estate tax will apply.

MILLIONAIRE HOARDER’S ESTATE UP FOR GRABS

Gerald Willits died at the age of 76 years old, in Orange County.  Mr. Willits, a plumber, lived a life of solitude, estranged from his daughter and so detached from others that it was several days before anyone discovered his remains.

The rooms in Mr. Willits’ one-story house were piled high with paper, fast-food wrappers and other trash, and were infested with rats.

ROBIN WILLIAMS’ ESTATE – THE VALUE OF WELL DRAFTED TRUSTS

A year after his death, Robin Williams’ third wife, Susan, and his kids Zachary (from his first marriage), Zelda and Cody (both from his second marriage), are still at war with one another.  The issues at stake are: division of his personal property, which was not explicitly dealt with in his trust, and; how much money is needed to maintain the residence that Susan shared with Williams, for which, per Williams’ estate planning documents, his estate is to provide sufficient funds to maintain during Susan’s life.