Assemblymember Evan Low’s assembly bill, AB 1194, dramatically changes conservatorships in California. In the wake of the #FreeBrittney movement and the 2020 Netflix film, “I Care a Lot”, California is poised to significantly tighten the rules governing conservatorships. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill on September 30, 2021 which will go into effect early next year.

In the words of Low, “California’s conservatorship system is failing people from every walk of life, whether they are a global superstar whose struggles unfortunately play out in the public or a family unsure of how to take care of an elderly parent.” This bill is the most comprehensive attempt to overhaul conservatorships in California since the Omnibus Conservatorship and Guardianship Reform Act of 2006.

This bill will amend Section 1051, 1460, 1471, 1826, 1850, 1850.5, 1851, 1851.1, 1860, 1860.5, 1862, 1863, 2250, 2250.6, 2253, 2401, 2620, 2623, 2640, 2641, 2653, and add Sections 1851.6 and 2112, and repeal Section 1458 of the Probate Code. It would also amend Section 6580 and add Section 6563 of the Business and Professions Code.

the-talk-lm-thumbnail-300x158Yes. The answer is unequivocally yes. The conversation might be uncomfortable and hard but necessary. Adult children don’t need to know everything, but they should be informed of some basics of their parents’ estate plan. A surprising number of Americans do not have a full estate plan in place. Only about 18% have an estate plan that contains at least a Will, Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney. Most children believe it’s the responsibility of the parents to initiate a conversation about succession planning however, most parents don’t. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the challenges and offers suggestions for this difficult topic.

First and foremost it’s important to bring up the subject, inquire gently and respectfully and, if necessary, enlist a third party for help.

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The short answer is, not easily. Generally, the airline’s policy is that your miles expire when you do. The crux of the problem is that airlines own the miles. You don’t. It is buried deep in nearly all frequent-flier program terms and conditions. They, therefore, can make any rules they want. Additionally, those terms and conditions also usually contain provisions prohibiting the sale or transfer of miles thereby making it difficult to pass them on when you die. Even if an airline might be lenient, they probably will impose a fee to transfer miles after death. The last thing you want to be doing after a loved one dies is pleading with an airline company so that you don’t lose your loved one’s 500,000 points.

A recent Wall Street Journal article suggests the following:

1. Have a will. Many airline companies don’t understand revocable trusts so having a will and including specific language about the airline miles is important.

2. Make sure your accounts remain active. It’s much harder to work with a surviving spouse when the deceased spouse’s account is about to expire.

3. Don’t call credit card companies to inform them of a death until you’ve implemented a plan for the airline miles. Many companies will simply close accounts (and points will be lost) when the credit card company associated with the loyalty program is informed of the death of a cardholder.

4. Make sure you give online access to the person you want to receive the miles. This includes giving them account numbers and login information and passwords. You should also give the login information and passwords for the credit card associated with the loyalty program as well as your email.

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We are pleased to announce that Julia E. Burt and Heidi Richert Clerc were both named Top Lawyers by Palm Springs Life magazine again in 2019. Both Julia and Heidi have consistently been recognized for several years for their exceptional service and experience in Wills, Trusts & Estates.

Often in a marriage, one spouse is primarily responsible for handling and managing the finances and bill paying. However, that arrangement leaves the other spouse in the dark. When the hands-off spouse has to take over the financial responsibilities because of a death or disability it can be a great challenge. Anne Tergesen in her article “Estate Planning for the Uninitiated” in the Wall Street Journal provides some excellent tips to help both spouses stay informed. One of the best tips is to hire an estate planning attorney to make sure all documents are up to date and make sure that both spouses understand what each documents says and does.

We are pleased to announce that the California Board of Legal Specialization has certified Heidi Richert Clerc in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law. Heidi joins the ranks of the other Certified Specialists at Burt + Clerc (Julia E. Burt and Elaine E. Hill).

California attorneys who are certified as specialists have taken and passed a written examination in their specialty field, demonstrated a high level of experience in the specialty field, fulfilled ongoing education requirements and been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with their work.

Making charitable bequests in Wills or Trusts is a common practice. However, many individuals merely name a charity and do not specify for what purpose such a gift should be earmarked. Recently, an extremely generous, if not equally frugal, librarian in New Hampshire left his entire $4 million estate to the University of New Hampshire. He stated that $100,000 must be used for the library, but did not specify how the rest of the funds must be used. The University has decided to use $2.5 million to expand a career center for students and alumni. However, the University has also decided to use $1 million to purchase a video scoreboard for the school’s football team. This decision is causing an uproar among students and community members who believe that the spirit of the gift is not being followed. The contention is that the donor would be “turning in his grave” if he knew that his money was being used to purchase a video scoreboard.

To prevent similar issues for your charitable gifts, you should leave specific instructions and directions as to how your gift must be used. If you do not, the charity has the discretion to use the funds in any way it chooses. Sample language includes, “To Charity X to be used for ___________” or “$$$$ to Charity X to establish a ______________ in my name.”

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