Free Forms

We encourage you to talk to a lawyer about your estate planning needs. However, for certain small estates and for individuals who are not worried about the costs and expense of probate, we are providing information related to some free California forms below: California Will These forms and information are not designed to be a substitute for proper estate planning, and drafting your own will may have unintended consequences and result in misinterpretation. It also does not prevent probate, however, a will may be a better alternative than having no documents in place. CALIFORNIA STATUTORY WILL (PDF) DOWNLOAD California Durable […]

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What Happens to Your Assets When You’re Gone?

Older couple discussing estate planing

Assets you hold with another person, such as your spouse, can go to them directly depending on how assets are titled. Assets in accounts that designate a beneficiary can go straight to that person – this includes life insurance, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and brokerage accounts. Make sure that you keep these designations up-to-date, or your ex might end up with a surprise fund. If you have already set up a trust, assets that were properly funded get distributed according to the terms set out in a trust document by your estate planning attorney. Other assets, such as real property […]

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Estate Planning Checklist

We’ll walk you through how to create and formalize your estate plan with our step-by-step estate planning checklist. 1. Take inventory. First things first, you can’t do much to prepare an estate plan without knowing what you have. Make a list of everything you own, which includes the following: Real property Cars, boats, trains, and planes Gather statements from your banks, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts. Gather information on any stock or stock options Gather information related to any cryptocurrency holdings Make a list of insurance policies, whether self-purchased or through an employer Any business ownership interests, including whether you […]

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Deed Downloads

There are many considerations to take into account when adding or removing someone from title, or even changing the way that title is held. Making these minor changes can have significant consequences on what your rights may be for the property, potential impact on property tax increases, and what might happen to the property in the event that you die. In addition to filing the deed itself, recorder’s offices have ancillary documents that need to be filed or the deed may be rejected. These may include the Preliminary Change of Ownership Reports or Documentary Transfer Tax Affidavits, and/or Claim for […]

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How to Hold Title to Real Property

  Who can sell or give away the property: What happens to your share if you die: Probate   Co-owners aren’t married (siblings, business partners, unmarried couples)     “Joint Tenants” Any of the owners can sell, give, or mortgage their share without the other parties’ permission. The new owners is automatically a tenant-in-common. Other owner(s) get your share automatically. No “Tenants in common” Any owner can give, sell, or mortgage their share without permission. You can leave your share to someone else. It doesn’t automatically go to the co-owner. Probably   Married People who Own Property Together     […]

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Real Property Contracts

DEEDS – Adding or Changing Names on Real Property Whenever someone wants to make a change on title to real property, they need to record a deed with the local county recorder. In California, we have a few commonly used types of deeds: -Grant Deed – A grant deed is used when somoen who is on the current deed transfers ownership or adds a name to a deed. You are also promising that there are no hidden liens or mortgages. Grant deeds are commonly used in sales or gifts of real property, to add another owner to title, to change […]

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Quiet Title Primer

What happens when there is a civil action filed with the intent to settle title disputes to a property? This will be resolved in the civil court system through a cause of action called “quiet title”. Quiet title occurs in sitautions when there is a disagreement as to who is the legal title owner of real property, or when there were liens on property that the owner believes shouldn’t be there. Sometimes this happens because there are liens that were recorded and never removed, other times it happens when someone was supposed to be placed on title, but they never […]

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Guide on Earnest Money Disputes

There are two main standardized forms used in California for real estate transactions. The forms cover a range of issues including what conditions must be met before a transaction can be finalized, to specifics on fees, to guidelines on what will happen during a dispute regarding the purchase or sale. The two most widely used purchase contracts are the PRDS (Peninsula Regional Data Service) purchase agreement and the CAR (California Association of Realtors) purchase agreement. Earnest money disputes arise after a buyer has provided their initial deposit, which is generally 3% of the purchase price, into escrow. If there is […]

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What is a Partition Action?

            In California, if you own real property with someone else, you have a statutory right to sell it – this act of forcing someone to sell real property through the courts is a cause of action called Partition. Regardless of how you hold title, whether it is as joint tenants, tenants in common, community property, as a trustee of a trust, – if you are unable to agree to sell the property together, you can go to the court and petition for this to occur.             This situation might arise if you purchased property with relatives or business partners, […]

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