Naming Child as Executor is Viewed as Honor

The article Executor of Will a Dubious Honour contains many truisms I discuss with my estate planning clients on a daily basis. Every estate planning consultation in our Riverside estate planning law office involves a discussion regarding who will be in charge of carrying out the client’s wishes upon disability and after death.

An executor is the person who carries out the terms of the decedent’s Will in the Riverside County Probate Court or the San Bernardino County Probate Court. Many parents do not want to disappoint their children, so they name them as executor even though the child may be emotionally or finanically unqualified to serve as executor. On numerous occasions I have had parents go on for a half hour telling me about a child’s inability to manage money or his or her drug or alcohol addiction, only to have then tell me they want the child to serve as executor of the estate. Another familiar occurrence involves parents telling me how one or more of their children are controlled by their spouse and how the spouse is out to grab the money and has turned the child against the family. Yet the parents want to name that child as the executor.

On other occasions the parents have told me they want to name all the children as co-executors because the parents don’t want to be preceived as playing favorites. They disregard the fact that the children live on opposite sides of the country or the fact they have told me the children are not close or have never gotten along with one another.

Many problems can arise from naming children as co-executors:

  • Administration can be more difficult because multiple signatures are required to carry out the financial transactions and administratrive procedures. Often, the signatures must be notarized or worse, require Medallion Signature Guarantees. This is particularly a problem where children live in many different areas of the country.
  • One or more of the children may have financial problems, a bad credit history, past bankruptcies or criminal convictions which may lead to difficulty insecuring bonding or financing, if needed.
  • The children may be unable to agree on a plan of action – either because of legitimate differences of opinion as to the best approach to take with regard to the administration of assets, because of differenes in the financial position of each child, or because of past history of confrontation between the children.
  •  An impasse may arise and the estate administration may stall if concensus can not be reached between the co-executors.
  • Family relations can be permanently damaged or destroyed because of disagreements that arise during the estate administration process.

While it sometimes makes sense to have more than one child looking over the shoulder of the other child to assure that the administrative process is carried out properly, in many situations where these concerns arise it would be much simpler and ultimately less costly to name a bank, trust company or private professional fiduciary as the executor. You can get more information about private professional fiduciaries from the Professional Fiduciary Assocation of California (PFAC).

For more information about probates and trust administrations, see our estate planning website. To schedule a free one hour consultation to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys in our Riverside law office, call 951-787-7711 or visit our website.

Rhode Island Approves Gay Marriage: Estate Planning Still Needed for LGBT Partners

Rhode Island is now the tenth state to approve gay marriage. The other states that recognize marriages of LGBT couples are Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hamphsire, New York, Vermont, Washington. The District of Coumbia also recognizes gay marriage. States that allow either domestic partnerships or civil unions or gay partners are: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Many LGBT couples may now believe that gay marriage is inevitable in every state.  This may cause some LGBT couples who have married or entered into a civil union or domestic partnerships to have an unwarranted sense of security. The truth is, LGBT partners are “legal strangers” in the majority of states. In addition, at least until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the case involving the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), U.S. v. Windsor, the status of LGBT partners is not recognized under federal law. As legal strangers under federal law and the law of most states, gay partners do not have legal rights with regard to inheritance, lifetime financial decisions in the event of disability, health care decisions, support and child custody issues.

For this reason, all LGBT partners, no matter where they reside, should have a comprehensive estate plan in place to protect their rights. A typical estate plan that Riverside estate planning lawyer Dennis Sandoval prepares for his gay and lesbian clients includes one to three trusts (one joint living trust to hold the assets of the couple and one or two trusts to hold the assets the partners desire to keep separate); a pour-over will, property powers of attorney, advance health care directives and HIPAA pre-authorization form for each partner, a general assignment and assistance with funding the assets of the partners into the trust(s). California LGBT couples should also consider whether it makes sense to register as domestic partners under California law. If the couple has children, consideration has to be given as to how to protect the rights of each partner as a parent.

For more information about estate planning for LGBT partners, visit our website.  You can schedule a complimentary one hour consultation at our Riverside law office with one of our estate planning attorney who specialize in estate planning for LGBT couples by either calling 951-787-7711 or visitng our website.





Dennis Sandoval Speaks at American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys Conference

Riverside estate planning and tax law attorney, Dennis M. Sandoval, addressed The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys at their 20th Annual Spring Conference in Philadelphia this weekend. On Saturday, Dennis spoke on issues relating to trust funding and trust administration. On Sunday, he spoke on naming a trust as beneficiary of retirement assets, such as IRAs and 401Ks, in order to maximize “stretch-out” and long-term deferral on income taxation of inherited IRAs.

Call 951-787-7711 or visit our website to schedule a free one consultation at our Riverside law office to discuss your estate planning, trust administration, probate and tax planning needs.

Dennis Speaks to American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys

Riverside estate planning and tax attorney Dennis M. Sandoval addressed The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys at their 20th Anniversary Spring Conference in Philadelphia. On Saturday, Dennis talked about the technical issues of trust administration and trust funding. On Sunday, Dennis delivered a speach on the planning problems of naming a trust as a beneficiary of a retirement asset, such as an IRA or 401k, in order to maximize “stretch-out” and income tax deferral of inherited IRAS.

Call 951-787-7711 or visit our website to schedule a free one hour consultation at our Riverside law firm regarding estate planning, trust administration, trust funding, retirement planning, probate and tax planning needs.

Will Contest: Wealthy Widow, Barbara Johnson, Dies

Barbara Piasecka was born in 1937 in Staniewicze, Poland. She died in Wroclaw, Poland on April 3, 2013, at the age of 76.

She arrived in the United States in 1968 she had less than $200 in her pocket. Shortly thereafter she was hired as a cook by Esther Underwood Johnson, the second wife of J. Seward Johnson, Sr., heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune. Her cooking skills were unacceptable, so she became a maid at the Johnson’s Oldwick, N.J. estate. Mr. Johnson set her up in an apartment in 1969 and later moved in with her. In 1971, Seward divorced Esther. Mr. Johnson and Ms. Piasecka, ages 34 and 76, were married shortly thereafter.

Together, Seward and Barbara build an 140 acre estate in Princeton. She created a valuable collection of Flemish tapestries, paintings and drawings by Raphael, Rembrandt, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, and 18th century furniture.

When Seward died in 1983, he left virtually all his estate, valued at more than $500 million, to his wife. He disinherited all but one of his children. The children contested the Will. David Margolick, a former reporter from the New York Times, wrote about the case in his book, Undue Influence. The case involved many twists and turns, including the children accusing Nina Zagat, the attorney who drafted the contested Will as having a conflict of interest and Barbara’s attorneys moving for Judge Marie Lambert to recuse herself from the case because of what they believed to be blatant favoritism toward the children.

Shortly before the case was to go to the jury for a decision, the case settled. Barbara Piasecka Johnson received more than $300 million from the estate, the children received more than $40 million andHarbor Branch, an oceanographic institute founded by Mr. Johnson, was awarded more than $20 million. The legal bills totaled more than $24 million. Both sides claimed victory and held parties. The judge and jurors attended the children’s party.

Barbara lived for many years after the trial in Monaco. She also had homes in Italy and Poland. She used her inherited wealth to collect and exhibit wealth art and support charitable causes. Opus Sacrum, her collection of Western religious art, was exhibited that the Royal castle in Warsaw, Poland in 1990. It drew praise at a time when Poland was struggling to emerge from the oppression of Communism.

“This is a case when someone who may have acquired wealth by undue influence used it to better the world,” said Riverside estate planning attorney Dennis Sandoval. This is very unusual with this type of case. Visit his website for more information about elder financial abuse, undue influence and will contests. While at the website, register for a free one hour consultation at his Riverside law office with one of our Certified Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Specialist attorneys, or call the law firm at 951-787-7711.



Dennis M. Sandoval, A Professional Law Corporation, of Riverside, California, provides representation throughout Riverside, Corona, Norco, Moreno Valley, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Mira Loma, Redlands, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Chino, Chino Hills, San Bernardino, Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Perris, Hemet, Sun City, Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Winchester, San Jacinto, Lake Elsinore, Idyllwild, Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, Running Springs, Wrightwood, Yucaipa, Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

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