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San Francisco Estate & Family Law Blog

Challenging a will? Expect a difficult, uneasy experience

Mom left you out of her will. You feel angry, hurt, jealous and betrayed all at the same time. In your mind, something just didn’t seem right, so now you are considering contesting the will. This seems like a logical idea, but before you take the plunge there are a few things to remember.

The experience will be time-consuming and expensive. It also likely will be emotionally draining due to the stress, bickering and stiff negotiations between you and other family members. And it’s just not an easy thing to win in a courtroom.

Prenuptial agreement may help during divorce mediation, trial

People in San Francisco generally do not enter a marriage with the goal of getting divorced. However, sometimes, divorce simply cannot be avoided. This means two spouses must try to work out their issues during divorce mediation or proceed to divorce trial. In either situation, prenuptial agreements are invaluable, as they can help people to protect their family wealth in the event of an unexpected marital breakup. The trick, though, is making sure that this type of agreement is created correctly before one walks down the aisle.

A divorce court in California will not enforce prenuptial agreements in certain situations. For instance, if one individual tried to force the other party to sign the agreement, it may end up being unenforceable. Likewise, if one of the parties did not read through the agreement, the court may not enforce it.

Divorce mediation may make divorce process less painful

After years of conflict, two spouses in San Francisco finally decide to get divorced. The marital breakup is a big step both emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, the divorce process can easily drag out and lead to more emotional and financial challenges if the two parties are unwilling to work together during divorce mediation or informal negotiations to resolve their divorce issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.  

Fortunately, divorce does not always have to be an ordeal filled with animosity and bitterness that lingers for years after the divorce has been finalized. After all, this impacts not only the couple but also any children who were also involved in the divorce process. Both spouses can save themselves a lot of money as well as save their family a great deal of emotional suffering, if they are willing to reach their own divorce agreement without further court intrusion.

Managing your digital estate

We just can’t seem to escape social media and the internet. We use them, rely on them, and sometimes seem obsessed by them. Because of the popularity of technology, many of us have created “digital estates” through emails, electronic photographs and personal musings that may be on our computer or housed within platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Internet and social media aficionados should know that managing one’s digital estate is important. Many of us already do so daily, hourly or even every few minutes. But what will happen to your digital estate when you die?

Divorce mediation may help those battling over pets

If two spouses in San Francisco see eye to eye on their finances, they may have no problem diving their assets during a divorce proceeding. However, figuring out what to do with their shared pet may be a completely different matter. If the two parties are both emotionally tied to the pet and do not want to give it up, they can use divorce mediation to achieve a satisfactory resolution.

With divorce mediation, the parties can work toward an agreement regarding what will happen to Rufus when they get divorced. For instance, they may agree to share custody of the pet. In this situation, they can create a detailed visitation plan -- one similar to a child custody and visitation agreement. 

Self-help estate planning may lead to costly mistakes

The chief objective of asset owners during the process of planning an estate in San Francisco is to make sure that their assets end up in the proper hands when they die. However, this may not happen if the owners of assets fail to complete estate planning. Likewise, it may not occur if they rely upon do-it-yourself options.

Recently, online legal companies have started to offer self-help estate planning tools. Although these may seem convenient at the outset, they may end up costing an asset owner more in the long run. After all, an incorrectly created estate plan may cause the owner's assets to remain stuck in a lengthy and expensive probate proceeding.

Retirement planning deserves attention during divorce mediation

Getting divorced can understandably be an emotional and financially challenging experience no matter how old or young two spouses are. However, those over the age of 50 who are navigating divorce mediation or litigation face the extra task of having to support two retirement plans with assets that were intended to be part of their combined retirement savings. Those in San Francisco who are in this situation may benefit from taking the following steps.

First, they may want to take full advantage of the opportunity to save extra for retirement. The current tax law permits those who are ages 50 and older to put extra money into their workplace retirement plans or IRAs. Financial advisors can provide details about the yearly contribution limits that exist for each account a spouse owns.

QDRO may be needed during divorce mediation

The process of splitting up possessions can understandably be difficult during the process of dissolving a marriage in San Francisco. When retirement assets are part of the mix, this can make property division even more complicated. Below is an explanation of what to expect when addressing employer-sponsored retirement assets during negotiation or divorce mediation.

If one of the spouses who is going through divorce has a retirement plan through his or her workplace, the other party legally has the right to receive a portion of it. The only method for legally accessing this share is via a QDRO, or qualified domestic relations order. This is true whether the retirement plan is a traditional pension plan or a 401(k).

Millennials should have a will, too

Someday, we’re all going to die. This may be hard to fathom if you are a 25- or 30-year-old millennial, healthy and apparently invincible. Still, you shouldn’t be reluctant to deal with talking about death and creating a will. Where do you want the money in your bank account to go? Who should administer your social media accounts once you’re dead? Who will get your top secret recipe for avocado toast?

A will would be beneficial, providing directives straight from you as to where your assets – no matter how small they are – should go. This decision will save your loved ones from having to deal with your estate matters. They’re already in mourning, and really don’t need any additional grief.

Child custody and support issues can complicate divorce

Going through a marital breakup can naturally be overwhelming for two adults due to the financial and emotional challenges involved. However, the process becomes even more complicated for those having to navigate child custody and support as well. A couple of tips may help parents who are going through divorce in San Francisco.

First, divorcing parents may be wise to take stock of their financial health. For instance, do they have debt, and do they have child support payments? Putting these figures on spreadsheets can help them to determine where they currently are in their lives and then plan ahead so that they have financially promising rather than devastating futures.