Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Practice Areas

Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

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VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

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Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

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I Object! But Can I?


By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Estate Planning, Probate & Estate Administration

Upon the death of a person, an administration of their assets occurs to ensure that the proper individuals receive their due shares.  Depending on the amount of assets and the type of administration, the process may be more or less complex.  In cases where an individual died with relatively few assets (under $150,000), abbreviated procedures may be used.  In cases where an individual did not engage in estate planning or wrote a will, the probate process will probably be necessary.  For individuals who created a trust, the trust administration process must begin.  Of course, during the process the beneficiaries are identified along with their respective shares and this sometimes results in hard feelings.

In very small estates, there are often not enough assets to create significant issues and in intestate transfers (no will), assets pass according to law.  In wills and trusts the deceased person has specifically directed how their assets should be managed and distributed; depending on the circumstances, it is possible to challenge these directions.  If you are considering a challenge, there are a number of issues you must assess before initiating that challenge.  The first consideration is whether you are in a position to challenge at all.

The primary individuals who may  always contest the terms of a will or trust are individuals who would inherit if no will existed, known as “intestate beneficiaries.”  Generally, children and spouses are included in this group.   Grandchildren (or their guardians) may be eligible when children have died before their parent.  Parents may inherit from children who did not produce grandchildren.

Additionally, an “interested person” may generally object to the will or trust or to how it is being administered.  Creditors of the estate may file a claim for payment.  Aside from typical creditors, such as credit card companies, informal creditors may also prove their claim.  Generally, the claim will have to be supported by some sort of contract.  If the decedent said he would give you his entire art collection, but failed to direct it in his will or trust, it is probably not enforceable.  However, if the decedent said that he would give you his entire art collection in exchange for taking him to the doctor every week, it is possible that you have a valid claim against the estate.

Proving your claim will, in almost all cases, be an uphill battle.  Proving incapacity or undue influence during the creation of the estate plan can be extremely difficult.  The capacity needed to create an estate plan is relatively low.  Additionally, the safeguards that frequently exist in the estate planning process, such as witnessing and attorney involvement often indicate that the decedent intended his or her directions.  Similarly, proving the existence of a binding contract can be difficult, particularly when not in writing.

Proper, regularly updated planning tends to prevent disputes.  Speaking to your estate planning attorney about the appropriate manner of dealing with distributing less to beneficiaries than their intestate share and with specific gifts to unrelated people may prevent litigation and expense during the administration process.

A Survival Guide for Those Left Behind: The Price of a Loved One’s Dying Done Right…
FREE REPORT: This complimentary report, focused on what do you do when you find your husband expired on the floor, is comprised of many of Mr. Miller’s articles from his long running column for the largest regional newspaper in San Diego County. This report is written in easy to understand, plain English, and will guide you through the questions surrounding the death of a loved one.

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About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning
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