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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

Time is money and when someone passes away, it becomes an unfortunate fact. Heirs may need access to the estate to pay up bills they may have cosigned on or to care for dependents. Because of this, while probate is an important part of estate administration, you might also want to consider setting a few assets aside that go directly to heirs. 

There are several options available to make this happen. Here are a few of them. 

Use account beneficiary features 

If you have a life insurance policy, you already have a beneficiary named. Double-check to ensure this is still the person you want to receive your money. Did you know that even your bank accounts and investment accounts might have beneficiaries designated too? MarketWatch recommends looking into Transfer on Death and Paid on Death features. Check the website or make a few calls. 

Create a small estate 

MarketWatch explains that, in California, a small estate is worth $166,250 or less of probate assets. If you can reduce how many assets pass through probate using the tips above and others, your heirs may get access to probate assets much faster and pay fewer fees. You may need to fill out some paperwork ahead of time and keep an eye on your assets to ensure you do not pass the threshold. 

Keeping an updated will in the state of residence 

MarketWatch estimates that 60% of Americans do not have any estate plan in place, including a will. Of those who do, some may have created a will in a former state of residence and never updated it. This might drag out the probate process and cause states to spend a lot of time deliberating over which one is responsible for what assets. Perhaps, even worse is having no will at all as the state decides who gets what. 

Some families prefer to ensure items go through probate so that everything gets accounted for and follows due process. Even so, keeping probate assets at a lower value may benefit your heirs in the short and long term. 

It’s unreasonable to expect your life to continue in the same way forever. You might get a new job, you might move out of state, or you might suffer a severe injury that changes how you accomplish day to day responsibilities. When such a significant change occurs, you may have reasons for wanting to update an existing child custody order.

After a child custody order is final, courts can be reluctant to change them as it can disrupt the child’s daily routine. In California, a significant change in circumstances needs to occur for the court to modify your agreement. The following are some instances of significant change:

  • Your income increased or decreased, such as due to a promotion or job loss.
  • You received an inheritance.
  • You developed a long-term illness or injury that results in disability.
  • You or your former spouse has a new partner.
  • You or your former spouse develop an unhealthy dependency on alcohol or drugs.
  • Your child’s needs have changed.

These significant circumstances are reasons for requesting a change in custody. In which case, there are generally two options available for you:

  • You and your former spouse agree on the change. If the two of you agree on new terms for your custody order, you can file an agreement with the court directly.
  • You and your former spouse don’t agree. If you want to change the custody order, but your spouse doesn’t agree, you will have to file papers with the court for a modification. You will have to appear before the court to make your case before the court will either deny or grant modification.

In the end, modification tends to come down to what’s in the child’s best interests. As long as the change does not drastically uproot your child’s life, a court will likely approve the modification. If you’ve recently gone through major change in your life, you may want to consult with a family law attorney who can help determine if you have grounds for updating your child custody arrangement.

After a divorce, you and your former spouse start to develop your own lives. This may take you away from your children. If you or your former spouse decide to move out of the state, you may wonder how that will impact your ability to see your children. In general, California has laws that outline what a parent must do to move out of state with their children that can help.

According to the California Courts, if your former spouse wishes to move out of state with your children, it requires showing in court that the move is the best thing for the children. This is assuming that you have a joint custody agreement. If your spouse has sole custody, then it is on you to show the move is detrimental to the children. So, if the court does approve the move, the next steps are figuring out how to stay connected to your children.

Parenting plan revisions

You will need to work together to recreate your parenting plan. The current plan will likely not work as the distance between you and your children will probably be too far to justify a regular visitation routine. You will need to work out something that makes sense for your situation. You may be able to get assistance from the court in figuring out an acceptable plan.

Potential options

As you work on your parenting plan, you may want to consider unconventional methods of staying in contact with your children. One option is virtual visitation. You can use technology to your advantage. Find ways to keep in contact by using online tools or apps that allow you to be available to your children all the time.