California Conservatorships And Guardianships

October 24, 2008 by Mitchell A. Port

California probate courts use PVP attorneys. What is a PVP attorney? Do you need one? How do you get one? What exactly does a PVP attorney do?

The abbreviation “PVP” is short for “Probate Volunteer Panel”, which is a panel of attorneys who register with the Los Angeles Superior Court to assist with the resolution of various California probate issues. The PVP panel consists of California attorneys who the court appoints in probate and family law matters, including conservatorships, guardianships and related proceedings. In a typical proceeding, a PVP attorney is appointed to represent the interests of the potential conservatee or ward.

Here’s what the California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, says in the probate section of its Court Rules, Chapter 10:

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Californians' Tax Shelter May Double

October 21, 2008 by Mitchell A. Port

The online Wall Street Journal said in an article posted on October 15th that estates, including those in California that may or may not go through probate, may benefit by a "portable" estate tax shelter regardless of which presidential candidate is elected.

The article says: "This issue is known as portability because the exemption per person -- $2 million this year and $3.5 million next year -- would become transferable from one spouse to the other, in effect doubling the surviving spouse's exemption. In essence, that means that spouses would be able to use each other's estate-tax exemption without first having to set up complex and costly trusts and take other steps that many people now feel obliged to do."

For us in California, the article goes on to say: "...such a change could greatly simplify estate planning and lead to fewer hassles for many married couples and their heirs." Living trusts in California may no longer be necessary to capture both spouses federal tax shelter. Nonetheless, a living trust will continue to be useful as a technique to avoid probate.

Probate in California continues to be a good reason to create a living trust. If someone you know died and did not have a living trust, call Mitchell A. Port to discuss probate.

Probate In California - Still Alive And Well

October 16, 2008 by Mitchell A. Port

Why are California probate attorneys and probate lawyers so busy? Over half (55%) of all adult Americans do not have a will, a new survey shows, a figure that has remained pretty much unchanged over the past three years.

The survey on estate planning was conducted by Harris Interactive for Martindale-Hubbell,, one of the most comprehensive online resource for finding lawyers.

The survey asked 1,018 adults and found that more than half of them did not have a will. Only one in four Hispanic Americans (26%) had a will. Only one in three African American adults (32%) had a will.

At a minimum, get a California will if that's where you live. Better yet, avoid probate in California and get a living trust too.

Call Mitchell A. Port about your California living trust, will and other estate planning documents. Call 310.559.5259.

California’s Living Trust Beneficiaries And FDIC Coverage

October 13, 2008 by Mitchell A. Port

The financial bailout plan recently signed into law benefits Californians because bank accounts owned by living trusts can get more FDIC insurance than accounts owned by individuals. Trust accounts get the maximum FDIC insurance for every qualified beneficiary.

Until December 31, 2009, when the financial bail-out package expires, the FDIC now insures “qualifying beneficiaries” in California for $250,000 each. A qualifying beneficiary is a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, or sibling of the account owner. The account must be owned by the living trust.

This is how it works:

A single mom in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County or Orange County California sets up a living trust naming her two children as the beneficiaries after she dies, the bank account owned by the trust is insured up to $500,000: 2 beneficiaries at $250,000 each.

If my wife and I set up a living trust and all three of our children are the beneficiaries after we both die, the trust account is ensured for up to $1,500,000: $250,000 for each beneficiary and for each owner, or 6 x $250,000.

These FDIC limits are per bank not per account. If a California living trust owner has more than one account at the same bank, these limits apply to all their accounts there.

Be sure and confirm this with your banker in writing and avoid relying on any other informal sources.

To discuss your living trust, Will, durable power of attorney and advance health care, please call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259.

Transfer A Vehicle Without Probate In California

October 10, 2008 by Mitchell A. Port

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has a clear explanation about a transfer of a car and other vehicles without probate at its website. The decedent's heir may transfer title or interest of the vehicle if the estate is not going through probate or awaiting probate of a will.

The California form entitled "Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate" may be completed without Testamentary Letters or Letters of Administration. Transfers without probate may be done only for vehicles registered in California.