Monthly Archives: October 2015

Parents helping young adult children with important legal, tax, and investment needs

Often overlooked by parents are important legal needs of their young adult children (18 years and older). For example:

  • Once 18, who will make medical decisions for the then adult child if the child becomes unable to give informed consent to medical decisions? Avoid the problems of the Terri Schiavo case and avoid a court conservatorship of the person by having your young adult child (18 or older) sign an Advance Health Care Directive.
  • Once 18, who will manage the then adult child’s financial affairs if the child becomes unable to sign what is needed? Avoid a court conservatorship of the estate by having your adult child sign a durable general power of attorney.
  • Who would manage and inherit whatever assets the young adult owns? Avoid the cost and uncertainty of a court probate proceeding by having your child sign a will (and, if appropriate, a living trust or TOD/POD accounts).
  • Who should own the car that the child drives? Consult with your casualty insurance broker and compare the additional cost of insurance with just your child being the sole owner of the car with the benefits of reducing your exposure by you not being the owner of the car that your child drives (especially if your plan is to have your child own that car “when the time is right”).
  • What liability insurance should the parent have on that car (if the parent decides to own that car) and how much of a liability umbrella policy should the parent have? Consult with your  casualty insurance broker to protect your estate, as your estate can be liable for damages caused by your child’s operation of your car.
  • What liability insurance should the child have? Consult with your casualty insurance broker.
  • Help your adult child obtain and maintain proper health insurance coverage, especially once the child leaves your health insurance policy.
  • Introduce your child to a certified public account and good investment advisor who can teach your child the wisdom of tax and investment planning.

Who is in charge of a California probate when there is no will? Who will be the administrator?

California law dictates who has priority to serve as administrator of your probate estate if you died without a will and with a California estate large enough to require a California probate.

In such cases, a person in the following relation to the decedent is entitled to appointment as the California administrator in the following order of priority:

  1. Surviving spouse or registered domestic partner
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Other descendants
  5. Parents
  6. Brothers and sisters
  7. Descendants of brothers and sisters
  8. Grandparents
  9. Descendants of grandparents
  10. Children of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  11. Other descendants of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  12. Other next of kin
  13. Parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  14. Descendants of parents of a predeceased spouse or domestic partner
  15. Conservator or guardian of the decedent
  16. Public administrator
  17. Creditors
  18. Any other person (i.e. friends)

(See Probate Code Section 8461 and the exceptions at 8462-8469.)

And what appears above also applies in a probate if the decedent had a will but failed to name an executor who was able to serve as executor.

Of course, these statutory rules do not apply if the decedent had a will that nominated an executor who would be willing and able to act. Nor should these rules apply if the decedent’s assets were titled properly in a living trust and with proper beneficiary designation (to avoid probate).