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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

A California woman has prevailed in court in a child support claim against her ex-husband. What makes the case unusual is that her victory comes almost 50 years after the man left her and their 3-year-old daughter and moved to Canada.

The woman, who lives in North San Diego County, says that she had given up trying to get the court-ordered support after her husband left the country in the early 1970s. She says she “just kind of forgot about it over the years” and raised her daughter on her own. Her daughter now owns the Los Angeles interior design firm where her mother used to work.

She says, “I was able to send my daughter to college, Paris. We traveled and had a good time. But the money runs out.” Now that she’s retired and doesn’t have a lot of money, she remembered that her “deadbeat ex,” as she calls him, owes her money. He’s back in the country, living in Oregon.

She says she realized that “there’s no statute of limitations on child support.” She sought to get what she was owed — with interest. The original child support order was for $160 per month. What would have totaled $30,000 at that rate as her child grew up, with interest, is now approximately $170,000.

The two reached a settlement for $150,000 this month. The woman says, “I think he’s a little bit panicked….I was panicked all these years. Now, it’s his turn.”

The woman says she wants to spread the word to other parents who are owed child support not to give up. She also wants to let those who try to escape their obligations know that they should never assume they’re in the clear.

These days, there are more sophisticated methods for tracking down parents who owe child support and collecting the money they owe for their children’s care and upbringing than there were in the 1970s. Your attorney can help you pursue legal action to obtain that support.

You may have been flattered when you were asked by a loved one or friend to be the executor for their estate. However, now that they’ve passed away and it’s time to get to work, the responsibility seems overwhelming.

If you’ve never had this role before and you’re not an estate planning attorney, it’s all too easy to mismanage things, end up with family members and other beneficiaries suing you for executor misconduct and run afoul of the law — even though you were trying to handle things properly.

“Executor misconduct” is a frightening term. Following are four common examples of it.

Failing to record the will

If the estate plan includes a will, it’s essential to file it with the court. It’s best if the deceased person made you fully aware of what was in their estate plan and the identity of their attorney. Unfortunately, if they didn’t, you’ll have to do some digging to locate the most current will and other estate planning documents. If you can’t find a will, you’ll need to go to court so that the person can be declared to have died intestate.

Failing to find and protect assets

It’s best when all assets are detailed in the estate plan. However, not everyone includes all of their assets. Even when they do, you may not always know where they are. It’s your job as executor to locate all of the deceased person’s assets and to secure and preserve them until the estate is settled.

Ignoring creditors

It’s essential to know what debts, bills and taxes need to be paid from the estate before assets are distributed. It’s also important to know which creditors have priority over others. Only after all debts and other financial obligations are taken care of should you begin the asset distribution phase of settling the estate.

Taking unreasonable payment for your services

People can designate in their estate plan what percentage of their estate they want their executor to take for their services. If the decedent didn’t do that, you can look to the California Probate Code for guidance. However, don’t just take the amount of money you believe you deserve.

The best way to avoid these problems is to consult with an estate planning attorney at the outset of dealing with the estate. If the decedent didn’t have one, find an experienced California estate planning attorney to help you.