At Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, APC, our experienced attorneys focus on bringing our clients peace of mind by using efficient, effective, and affordable means. Our Los Angeles estate planning lawyers handle matters related to estate planning, probate, trusts and estates litigation, and conservatorships and guardianships. As family law attorneys, we also can guide you through a divorce, a child custody determination, or a related issue. We offer personal attention to each client and strive for extraordinary results without unnecessary expense.Estate Planning
Each person’s situation is unique. Our firm tailors its estate planning advice to fit a client’s circumstances. Estate planning instruments that can be helpful include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance health care directives, guardianships, and conservatorships. Certain formalities need to be observed in connection with these instruments in order for them to be valid. For example, wills need two witnesses in California. When a witness is also a beneficiary, they can keep their inheritance only if a third witness is added. Under Probate Code section 2480, a conservator can get a substituted judgment to make a will or trust for a conservatee.
If your loved one passes away, you may not feel ready to deal with a court proceeding. However, the Probate Court handles wills and estates, as well as the distribution of assets, after someone’s death. Probate is the process of gathering, valuing, and distributing a decedent’s estate in Probate Court. Our estate planning attorneys can guide Los Angeles residents through this process. When there is a will, that will govern the disposition of property. However, under some circumstances, litigation will occur in probate because a family member, a beneficiary, or a potential beneficiary believes that a will is not valid. A will can be challenged with allegations of duress, undue influence, or lack of testamentary capacity, among other reasons. In California, Probate Courts also handle conservatorships and guardianships.Trusts and Estates Litigation
The Probate Court has broad powers to supervise and protect the administration of trusts within its jurisdiction. Trustees owe a duty of loyalty and a duty to diligently review trust instruments and not deviate from the trust’s terms. They owe a duty of the highest good faith toward beneficiaries. A trustee is not allowed to favor one beneficiary over another. There are some breaches of trust that require a trustee to be removed under section 15642(a). A trustee can be removed by the court on its own motion or on the petition of a beneficiary, cotrustee, or settlor. Trusts and estates litigation often involves disputes between beneficiaries as well. California courts have long imposed an extraordinarily heavy burden on attempts to establish a delusion rather than just a false belief. “[I]f there is any evidence, however slight or inconclusive, which might have a tendency to create the belief, such belief is not a delusion.” (Estate of Alegria (1948) 87 Cal.App.2d 645, 655, quoting Estate of Scott (1900) 128 Cal. 57, 62) Moreover, as this Division held in Goodman v. Zimmerman (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 1667 (review den.), the Legislature approved that longstanding “any evidence” rule when enacting and amending the statute at the heart of this case, Probate Code § 6100.5. That is why “the standard for testamentary capacity is exceptionally low” (Doolittle v. Exchange Bank (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 529. Hence the need for aggressive and experienced counsel.Conservatorships and Guardianships
California law provides for a conservatorship of the person, a conservatorship of the estate, or both. Under Probate Code section 810, each person is presumed to have the ability to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions, but this is a rebuttable presumption. If somebody is unable to care for their personal needs or financial affairs, and they did not put the appropriate estate planning instruments in place, it may be necessary to hold a conservatorship proceeding. These are protective proceedings in which the court can appoint a conservator or responsible person to take care of a conservatee, who is a person unable to care for their own needs. Our Los Angeles estate planning attorneys can represent you in these proceedings. California Probate Code 2355(a) says that if a conservatee has been found to not have the ability to make health care decisions, a conservator has the exclusive power to make health care decisions for the conservatee that the conservator determines are necessary, if those decisions are made in good faith and based on medical advice.Family Law
Family law matters can be stressful even under the best circumstances. Issues can arise in connection with divorce, property distribution, child custody, child support, alimony, and paternity. In California, which is a community property state, the marital property of the spouses will be divided 50/50. This does not mean that each asset will be individually divided in half but only that each spouse will receive exactly half of the total marital property. Separate property will belong to the spouse who acquired it in its entirety.Divorce
At least one spouse must have resided in California for a minimum of six months in order to file for a divorce. The divorce petition needs to be filed with the Superior Court of the county where one of the spouses resided for the past three months. You can file for a divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences that have caused an irremediable breakdown of the marriage, or incurable insanity if you have competent psychiatric or medical testimony. There is a mandatory six-month waiting period before a divorce can be finalized once a petition has been filed. Summary dissolution is a streamlined process for getting a divorce, but you must meet certain criteria, including not having any children who were either adopted or born before or during the marriage.Child Custody
Judges determine child custody in California based on the children’s best interests. They will consider the children’s welfare, health, and safety among their primary concerns. For example, judges are not supposed to grant custody or visitation to a parent who has been convicted of sexual or physical child abuse, unless the judge determines that this history does not present a risk to the child and explains their reasoning in writing. They should also make a decision guided by the principle that children benefit when they have continuing, frequent contact with both parents. A judge cannot give preference to a parent based on the parent’s sex.Elder Abuse
In addition to serving as Los Angeles estate planning lawyers, our attorneys help aging California residents assert their rights against people who have mistreated them. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In California, elder abuse can be based on physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or financial abuse or exploitation. The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) was enacted to provide remedies to elderly people and dependent adults who have suffered from abuse. Under this law, an elder is someone who is at least 65 years of age. Dependent adults are people between 18 and 64 who cannot carry out the activities of daily living because of mental impairments. In the case of financial exploitation or abuse, the law considers whether the alleged abuser knew or should have known that taking the property would harm the elderly person.Discuss Your Needs with an Experienced Los Angeles Attorney
Whether you are involved in a will contest or a divorce, you may benefit from legal representation. Ginzburg & Bronshteyn can explain your rights and obligations while outlining your next steps to consider. Call us at (310) 914-3222, (714) 280-0601, (818) 787-1011, (415) 465-6566, or (858) 605-4565 or contact us through our online form to explore your options with an estate planning lawyer in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego or Ventura or discuss a probate or family law matter.