Estate of Thomas Kinkade: The Handwritten Wills

Posted June 21, 2012 in Estate Planning by Eric Despotes.

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June 21, 2012
Estate of Thomas Kinkade: The Handwritten Wills
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First, the cause of death. Then, the arbitration clause. Now, the mysterious handwritten wills. The unraveling of Thomas Kinkade’s estate has been like a daytime drama, with his wife of 30 years and his girlfriend of 18 months pitched against each other.

The “Painter of Light” apparently kept his family in the dark about two handwritten wills. The wills bequeath girlfriend Amy Pinto-Walsh a Monte Sereno home and $10 million cash “for her security” or to establish a Thomas Kinkade museum.* A hearing will be held in court to determine the validity of these handwritten wills, a.k.a. holographic wills. The following questions will need to be answered by the court, which are applicable to all holographic wills:

  1. Did he write the wills?
  2. Did he sign and date them?
  3. Was he coerced?
  4. Was he of sound mind?

Purported holographic wills include: a tractor fender, a cigarette carton, a bedroom wall, a napkin, a nurse’s petticoat, and an eggshell. Needless to say, this is not the ideal method of creating a legally secure document. The most troubling part about creating a holographic will without legal guidance is that this type of will is more susceptible to being denied probate.

You should to be able to rely on the document that guides the distribution of your estate. The attorneys at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters. If you are interested in developing an estate plan or reviewing your current estate plan, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich & Patton for further information.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

* The second will appears to modify the first will. See copy of “wills” with translations here: http://bit.ly/NbaLty.

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Fiduciary Duties Between Spouses: Respect Thy Spouse

Posted June 19, 2012 in Family Law by Gina Policastri.

Husband uses wife’s private shopper and bank account to purchase $1.4 million worth of luxury goods from Neiman Marcus. Wife is bedridden the entire time recovering from a traffic accident. Private shopper is having sexual relations with husband, and earns a commission off of the sales. Neiman Marcus is reportedly refusing to return the goods. (See http://abcn.ws/KsRBy8.) Does wife have any legal recourse for the purchases she did not participate in? This true story is one extreme example of how spouses can breach the fiduciary duties they owe to each other.

Under the California Family Code, spouses are treated much like business partners and must deal fairly and in good faith with each other. The fiduciary duties require an “accurate and complete” disclosure of all transactions and provide that spouses share equal management and control of their community property. These duties are subject to few exceptions and the consequences for breaching them can be severe.  If you find yourself on either side of a breach of fiduciary duty claim, the experienced attorneys at Lonich & Patton can assist you in determining your rights, obligations and exposure.

The Certified Family Law Specialists*  at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex family law matters.  If you are interested in learning more about your fiduciary rights and obligations, contact the Certified Family Law Specialists* at Lonich & Patton for further information.  Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

*Certified Family Law Specialist, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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Transfers from Parents & Grandparents to Children: Avoid an Increase in Property Tax

Posted June 4, 2012 in Estate Planning by Michael Lonich.

 Do you know how to shield your  intra-family property transfers from being reassessed for property tax purposes? Understanding the law about exclusions from reappraisal is the first step towards avoiding an increase in property tax.

In California, real property is reassessed at the market value if it is sold or transferred, and property taxes can sometimes increase dramatically as a result. However, if the sale or transfer is between parents and their children, or from grandparents to their grandchildren, the property will not be reassessed if certain conditions are met and the proper application is timely filed.

Transfers of real property are excluded from reassessment if either (1) the transfer is a primary residence (no value limit); or (2) the transfer is of the first $1 million of real property other than the primary residence. The $1 million exclusion applies separately to each eligible transferor. For example, a grandchild may exclude $1 million of property transferred from her father and his parents (paternal grandparents); and $1 million of property transferred from her mother and her parents (maternal grandparents) for a total of $2 million.

It is important to note that claiming this exclusion is not always beneficial. The attorneys at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex property matters. If you are interested in developing a property transfer strategy tailored to your family’s needs or learning more about estate planning, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich & Patton for further information. Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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