Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

How can I protect my inheritance

I am a CA resident, my parents live in OK. I am their only living child and will inherit a sizeable sum, mostly property. Living in CA,a community propert state, will my husband have any claim to the inheritence? I know this sounds selfish, but I have only been married 3 years and have no children with him. I have 4 children by a previous marriage and I want to protect them. They deserve to inherit this property, after I'm gone. They have always been close to their grandparents, I tried to talk my parents into dividing the estate between all of us, but they will not hear of it. Is there anything I can do to protect them?

Asked on 10/20/02, 2:52 am

4 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Shaw Law Offices of Robert F. Shaw, Jr.
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Re: How can I protect my inheritance

Thank you for your inquiry.

Generally speaking, the property you inherit is designated as "separate" property. Therefore, as a general proposition, your husband will not have claim to that property despite the fact that you are married and live in California, which is a Community Property State. You must be VERY careful, however, in the way that you hold and manage the property you inherit. You MUST NOT do anything with the property such as commingle it with your community property estate, or utilize it as a shared asset with your husband, such that it loses its characteristics as "separate" property. This does not mean that you cannot make use of it and benefit the community estate, but it MUST be drawn upon as your separate property, leaving what is not drawn upon as your separate property and using what you choose and ONLY what you choose to benefit and become part of your community estate with your husband.

You should consult with a qualified attorney when the appropriate time comes so that no mistakes are made in the way you take control of and manage the property you inherit. Please do not hesitate to contact this office when you need legal consultation.

NOTE: Please understand that the information provided in this reply is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It also may not be complete. Before you make any decision that might possibly have legal implications, you should consult with our office, or another qualified professional, in a manner that provides for thorough communication so that thorough legal advice can be provided in a manner that relates to your specific circumstances. Thank you. Law Offices of Robert F. Shaw, Jr. 336 Bon Air Center. No. 407, Greenbrae, CA 94904. (415) 209-6332. http://www.Estate-Planning-Pages.com

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10/20/02, 2:03 pm
Kai H. Wessels Law Offices of Kai H. Wessels
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Re: How can I protect my inheritance

Thank you for your question. All property you inherit is your separate property, and not community property. If and when you inherit any property from your parents, you need to be care not to commingle (mix) this property with that owned by you and your husband. One common way that this could happen is if you use money earned by you or your husband to make payments on or repairs to the property you inherited. So be careful.

I also strongly urge you to establish a will or trust so that you can protect your children, and avoid your husband inheriting more than you desire.

Our firm is willing to assist you if you so desire. Our mission is to enhance the quality of your life by educating you of the value of estate planning services, how to protect and preserve your hard-earned or inherited assets, and avoid probate hassles. Our practice has been dedicated to education, administration, and litigation of Estate Planning, Probate, and Trusts since 1993.

Here are some of the legal services we offer which can help you and your family protect and preserve what you've acquire or inherited:

** Living Trust-Centered Estate Plans

** Foreign Properties and Clients

** Property Transfers

** Trusts for Minors

** Special needs structuring for Education, Healthcare, or Disabled care

** Trust Litigation

** Family Limited Partnerships

** A/B and A/B/C Trusts

** Life Insurance Trusts

** Qualified Domestic Trusts

** Charitable Trusts

** Trust Asset services

** Trust Administration upon a person's death

** Probate services such as Probate Administration, and Settling Will and Trust Disputes

Your calls and emails are welcome and I offer you a no-charge consultation to discuss your particular situation and the pros and cons of each option available to you.

I am a 1985 Juris Doctorate Cum Laude graduate of the Golden Gate University School of Law, located in San Francisco, California. You can find me lecturing regularly at several Universities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I hope the information above is helpful to you in determining that we are competent, experienced, and willing to help you with your needs. I invite you to call anytime, with any questions or concerns that you have, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Kai H. Wessels

Law Offices of Kai H. Wessels, Esq.

Ten Almaden Boulevard

Suite 1250

San Jose, CA 95113

Tel: 408.268.2580

Fax: 408.998.5388

Net: kaiwessels@aol.com

NOTE: Please understand that the information provided in this reply is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It also may not be complete. Before you make any decision that might possibly have legal implications, you should consult with our office, or another qualified professional, in a manner that provides for thorough communication so that thorough legal advice can be provided in a manner that relates to your specific circumstances.

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10/20/02, 2:51 pm
Ken Koenen Koenen & Tokunaga, P.C.
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Re: How can I protect my inheritance

An inheritance is the separate property of the recipient, and does not become community property unless comingled with community property assets. In other words, if you take the inheritance and deposit it in a joint checking account, the inheritance would become community property.

The amount involved along with other factors, would determine what steps should be taken. Some sort of a trust would make the most sense, but I would not wish to offer a definitive opinion of the type of trust without having more detail about your overall situation.

Please feel free to call me for a free consultation.

By the way, a living trust for you and your husband is not a bad idea for protection of your joint assets.

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10/20/02, 4:07 pm
Chris Johnson Christopher B. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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Re: How can I protect my inheritance

In California, inherited property is the separate property of the recipient, so your husband would not have any claim to the inheritance unless he's provided for in their estate plan.

California law would give 1/3 of your inheritance to him, though, if you do not have a will or trust made since your marriage, so this is something you should do now to protect your inheritance for your children. This can be done with or without your husband's involvement, and is the next step for protecting the inheritance.

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10/20/02, 8:02 pm

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