What is an Executor for Estate Planning in California

With the recent passing of O.J. Simpson, the executor of his estate has been in the news. This article will explain some basics about what an executor is and what duties they perform, with examples from the O.J. Simpson estate. (Note: O.J.’s will was filed in Nevada, but for the basic principles relating to executors, this article does not differentiate between California and Nevada law.)

What is the definition of an executor?

  • An executor is a person named in a Will and appointed by the court to carry out the dead person’s wishes. The executor is also called the personal representative of the estate.

Who is the executor in the O.J. Simpson case?

  • J. Simpson’s final will was filed in Nevada, following his death after a battle with cancer.
  • Simpson’s longtime Las Vegas attorney Malcolm LaVergne was named as Simpson’s personal representative and executor of the will and testament, according to court records.
  • His property was placed in The Orenthal Simpson Revocable Living Trust.

One of the general duties of an executor is to handle creditor claims.

What debts are at issue with the O.J. Simpson case and how are they being managed?

  • LaVergne, the executor in the Simpson case, addressed the $33.5 million civil judgment awarded to the families of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman by a California jury in 1997. He was sued by their families for wrongful death and found liable by a civil jury, which puts them in the position of creditors to Simpson’s estate.
  • LaVergne said that the families would be put in the “pecking order” of creditors behind the IRS.
  • In a phone interview, he said he would fight any payout from the estate to the Golman family.
  • As per the CNN article, he told reporters: “It’s my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing,” LaVergne told the outlet. “Them specifically. And I will do everything in my capacity as the executor or personal representative to try and ensure that they get nothing,” he said.
  • In a follow up interview he backtracked, saying that perhaps he had been too harsh against the Goldmans: “Now that I understand my role as the executor and the personal representative, it’s time to tone down the rhetoric and really get down to what my role is as a personal representative.”
    • See https://www.yahoo.com/news/o-j-simpson-cremated-estate-192531874.html

What other executor-related issues that have arisen in the O.J. Simpson case?

  • According to an NBC News article, republished at yahoo.com, O.J.’s executor has made statements about a few other estate matters.
  • LaVergne has been contacted by scientists requesting access to O.J.’s brain to study CTE, which is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that has been studied in former football players.
  • LaVergne is refusing these requests and O.J. will be cremated.
  • Simpson’s will asked for money to be retained to create a suitable monument at his gravesite, so this will be a responsibility for his executor.
  • His will also indicated that his wishes were that there should be no litigation or dispute, and any beneficiary or heir who did not follow that dictate would receive only $1.00 in lieu of any other interest to which they were due.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in all aspects of family law and can help you complete your own estate plan or assist you with properly administering the estate of a loved one who has passed. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.

Estate Planning Lessons to be Learned from the Matthew Perry Trust

Matthew Perry, the beloved Friends actor who played Chandler Bing, passed away more than four months ago, and now details about his estate are emerging. This article will highlight some of the interesting aspects of the late actor’s estate, and suggest helpful takeaways that can be learned from this high profile trust example. See for more details: https://people.com/matthew-perry-will-names-executors-estate-1-million-trust-named-after-woody-allen-character-8607717

You can personalize your trust.

  • One lesson that can be learned from the Perry Trust is that you can personalize your trust to send a message to loved ones.
  • People reports that his wishes were that his trust be called the “Alvy Singer Living Trust.”
  • He named his trust after Allen’s alter ego in “Annie Hall,” which had special meaning for Perry because he once recalled that watching “Annie Hall was one of his favorite memories with his mother.

 A trust can be used to protect the privacy of the value of the estate.

  • One of the advantages of a trust is the privacy that it affords the deceased and the family of the deceased.
  • Documents valued Perry’s personal property at about $1 million dollars, but that figure excludes the assess that were already in the trust.
  • This means that his true wealth was kept private from the public, which can be important for anyone who wants to protect their privacy.

 Estate planning can include “obvious” provisions just to be sure.

  • Perry’s estate plan has an example of including a provision that is somewhat obvious just to be sure.
  • He did not have any biological children.
  • However, his will reportedly included a provision that any biological children would not be entitled to anything. We can only speculate why he included that in there, but one might guess it would be to shut down the incentive for any false claims from someone claiming to be a child.

Even though a trust is typically more convenient to administer than a will, it may still require some processing.

  • A trust is often used because it avoids probate proceedings, so it can be faster and less hassle than a will. However, as the Perry case shows, there may be some time and administration involved.
  • Perry died on October 28, 2023 in his Los Angelous home, and detailsa re just emerging in March of 2024.
  • Perry’s executors are reportedly Lisa Ferguson and Robin Ruzan, and they have had to roll over $1 million dollars of personal property into the living trust. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

For Matthew Perry friends and fans, his early death was a great loss, but from all appearances he successfully planned a smooth transition of his assets to loved ones so that his wishes could be carried out now that he is gone. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we want to help you prepare for the unexpected. We have extensive experience in estate planning and can help you create a plan that is right for you and your loved ones.  Contact us today at 707-451-4502.

Decanting a Trust in California

If you are interested in a trust as an estate planning tool, you may have heard the word “decanting” and wondered what it means and why you might need it as a strategy

What does decanting mean?

  • The word “decanting” traces its roots to winery, where a person would decant a wine by pouring it from it’s bottle into another container.
  • Similarly, a 2019 California law allows you to change the terms of an irrevocable trust by “pouring” trust assets from an old trust instrument into a new trust.  
  • This helps you to leave behind the unwanted terms of the old trust, just as you would leave behind the impurities in the wine. 

What law changed the rules for trust decanting? 

  • The California Uniform Trust Decanting Act became effective January 1, 2019. 
  • Before this change, modifying an irrevocable trust was difficult, but now decanting provides an easier way to modify an irrevocable trust. 

How is decanting accomplished?

  • In general, you must still notify trust beneficiaries of the proposed changes and allow them the opportunity to object to the changes. 
  • You must also stay within the limits of which the trust terms can be changed, which depend on the Trustee’s authority in the original trust. 
  • For example, you might want to eliminate beneficiaries, but you wouldn’t be allowed to use this rule to increase Trustee compensation. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

There are pros and cons to decanting, and it needs to be accomplished properly. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we make it our business to stay current on regulatory changes that impact estate planning. We will customize a plan to help you find creative solutions to meet your estate planning goals, and we will work with you to keep your plan up-to-date and responsive to regulatory changes. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

Estate Planning Ideas: Transfer Wealth by Helping Your Children Buy a Home

People commonly think of estate planning as only being relevant after you have passed, but there are many tools for transferring wealth during your lifetime. This article will summarize three ways that you can transfer wealth to your children through helping them purchase a home.

Lend money as an intrafamily loan. 

  • A family loan can greatly benefit family members purchasing a home because they can avoid the high interest rates that are currently market standard.  
  • One common challenge is that a loan to one family member may strain relationships with other family members who were not given the opportunity for an intrafamily loan. 
  • Another challenge to be aware of is the complication of a intrafamily loan to a married family member who may subsequently get divorced.

Give money as a gift. 

  • A gift can be used outright or in the form of loan forgiveness. 
  • The lifetime gift exemption is cumulative and applies to all recipients, and under federal life that amount is $12.92 million per person, or $25.84 million for a married couple. (Numbers scheduled to change in 2026.)

 Co-sign a loan. 

  • Another common way for a parent to assist is to act as a guarantor or co-signer on a loan. 
  • This helps a child who may not have established credit and may help the child secure a better loan. 
  • The risk is that the parent is likely obligated under the terms of the loan if the child does not pay. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

If you are interested in learning more about methods and tools for transferring wealth during life or after death, contact us at the Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with estate planning and can help update an old plan or create a new one that meets your needs. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

It’s a famous phrase that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail, and this anecdote is especially true in the realm of estate planning. The most important step you can take with an estate plan is the first one: getting started, and therefore, the most important estate planning mistake of all would be to do nothing. But what are the other common mistakes people make in estate planning? This article will summarize typical estate planning mistakes to avoid with source material based on.

Failing to prepare for incapacity. 

Many people only think of an estate plan as how to divide their assets after they die, but preparing for incapacity is very important, as you never know whether disease, accident or age may take away your ability to care for yourself. It should identify the people you want to authorize to make important decisions on your behalf with regard to your money, your healthcare, your end of life wishes, etc., and then the estate plan should enable them to do so. 

Not including funeral and burial wishes. 

Don’t assume your family members know your wishes. If you have strong feelings about certain issues, such as cremation vs. burial etc., those wishes need to be communicated in your estate plan. 

Not considering tax implications of transferring property. 

The famous saying that nothing is certain except death and taxes is true, but different estate planning tools have various tax consequences, so it’s important to think through the tax implications when your estate plan is created.

Not naming contingency decision makers. 

The unexpected happens, so you need back-up decision makers in your plan. You and your spouse may perish in an accident together or a child may predecease you. Don’t assume that your family will remain unchanged as your estate plan ages. 

Not keeping track of beneficiary designations. 

It is important and can be somewhat challenging to make sure your estate plan matches the information in all your accounts and assets. Make sure that you keep the information relating to each specific asset matching your intentions. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

An excellent way to avoid making estate planning mistakes is to use the services of an experienced estate planning attorney. Here are the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience with estate planning and will help you think through the potential challenges or various scenarios that may arise to create a plan that will accomplish your goals. Contact us at 707-451-4502.

Estate Planning For Parents with Care-giver Children

According to an article published by allabouttheelderly.com, approximately 17% of adult children provide care for an elderly parent at some point in their lives. The article further projects that by 2060, the population of people over 65 in the United States will have doubled

With these statistics in mind, you may want to consider in your estate planning the possibility of an adult child being your caregiver in the future, the ramifications of the possibility for your asset distribution, and the ways you can plan ahead to promote family harmony in various future scenarios. This article will explore a few of the questions that you can consider with ideas drawn from an article published on yahoo.com.

Preparing for the possibility that an adult child would be caring for a parent in the parent’s home. 

  • How long after death does the child have the right to live in the home?
  • Do you want to give the child a greater share of the assets after you die to compensate the child for their extra effort in your care?
  • Does your estate plan empower the child you plan to care for you to make decisions on your behalf?
  • What protections are in place to protect the adult child from fatigue, which in some cases can lead to elder abuse?

If the child or children are unwilling or unable to care for the parent. 

  • If you are planning on care from family members in the future, do you have a back-up plan in case they are unable or unwilling to care for you?
  • Is there a care facility or nursing home that you prefer that you want to designate as the care facility for when you are incapable of making decisions for yourself?

 Communicating estate planning to your family members. 

  • Communicating with family members about your and their preferences for the future can be as important as setting up the documents because you can get the support of family members in advance and resolve concerns or arguments while you are alive and well.
  • There are many tools available for estate planning and talking through the various choices with your family members can help you choose the right tools for your specific situation.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

The uncertainty of the future can invoke anxiety and fear, but estate planning can help give you peace of mind. When you create the right plan for you and your loved ones, then you can have the confidence to know that you are prepared for all possibilities. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive with estate planning and enjoy helping people gain the peace and confidence that comes from a properly drafted and personally customized estate plan. Please contact us at 707-451-4502. 

How the Rich Save Big on Estate Taxes

A recent article published on Yahoo Finance discusses some of the techniques wealthy families use to save on estate taxes

For most Americans, the tactics of the ultra-wealthy are not needed, but many find it fascinating to examine some of the techniques used by top0notch accountants and lawyers to save help rich clients save big on estate taxes. 


Using trusts to give away homes and country houses.


  • Qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs) freeze the value of the real estate property for tax. 
  • Homeowner puts the property in trust. 
  • When the trust ends, it is transferred out of the taxable estate and the estate only has to pay gift tax on the value of the property when the trust was formed. 

Passing wealth to future generations with trusts that last up to 1000 years. 

  • The laws on these so called dynasty trusts vary by state, but the idea is that the heirs don’t own the assets, but they have the right to use them and receive income from them. 
  • This plan can allow the passing of wealth through trusts with a long lasting term.


Charitable remainder trusts. 


  • The person puts their assets in trust and collects annual payments for as long as they live, and only 10% of what remains in the charitable remainder trust has to go to a designated charity. 
  • The trust can be funded with a variety of assets from yachts to businesses, making them useful for entrepreneurs looking to help the world and benefit for themselves. 

Buying off-shore life insurance policies. 


  • Private-placement life insurance is used ot pass on assets without incurring estate tax. 
  • The trust owns the life insurance policy that is created off-shore.  
  • This one is primarily for the ultra wealthy, as the premiums are often 5 million up front.  

Transferring assets when the market is down

  • Grantor-retained annuity trusts can facilitate big savings when the market is down. 
  • They pay a fixed annuity, so a certain amount during a term such as two years, and appreciation of the asset’s value is not subject to estate tax. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Most of us are not ultra rich, so the techniques they use may not be applicable to you, but there are many tools available to facilitate successful estate planning even for the average American. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience with estate planning and create a customized plan with you to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of and your wishes are memorialized. Contact us at 707-451-4502.

4 Vital Questions in Estate Planning

This article summarizes highlights from a publication at TheStreet.com which discusses the four key questions in estate planning

According to a recent survey, although 87% of parents plan to leave an inheritance, only 37% reported an actual plan to do so.  For some, thinking about their demise is uncomfortable and for others, discussing an estate plan may create or reopen family disputes. 

Do I even need an estate plan?

  • That same survey found that one in five respondents admitted to arguing over an inheritance. 
  • Failing to plan for your assets, your healthcare if you are incapacitated and your end of life preferences can lead to confusion, results not in accordance with your desires, and unnecessary court costs. 
  • You estate could potentially be eroded by the unintended and unanticipated costs that result from not having an estate plan or not keeping it updated. 

What assets will I transfer?

  • You want to avoid any assets becoming unclaimed property.
  • One of the first steps is to have a plan that lays out what assets you will give and account details. 
  • Keep your asset list in a secure and obvious place. 

When should I transfer assets?

  • You can transfer assets while you are alive or after you have passed.
  • As you consider the question of when to transfer, you need to consider all the tax implications and also weigh your own need for the assets during your lifetime. 

 How can I communicate my plan to my family?

  • Open communication with your family members can help you better plan because you can get an idea of their financial needs and wants. 
  • The potential tax consequences of wealth transfer can also be important to discuss with family members.
  • If you plan to leave a business to family members, it may be wise to help teach and train them about the business during your lifetime.  

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

The famous phrase, “failing to plan is planning to fail” is an axiom of estate planning and finding the right advisors to assist you is key. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience with estate planning. We can create a customized plan with you, or if you already have an estate plan, we can help you ensure that it is updated and accurate. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Settlement Announced: The Final Chapter in the Lisa Marie Presley Estate Dispute?

In a series of articles, we have been following the news related to the Lisa Marie Presley Estate dispute. This case has general interest to many in the public because of the fame of Priscilla Presley and her granddaughter, Riley Keough, who recently starred in the hit Amazon series Daisy and the Six. For the team here at the Law Office of David Knecht, the case is interesting for ourselves and our clients to follow since it involves an estate planning dispute, with interesting takeaways about the importance of keeping an estate plan updated and making sure it is accurate. 

The latest news, which is sources from CNN, is that a settlement has been reached between Priscilla and her granddaughter. Ronson J Shamoun reported in a court hearing in Los Angeles before Judge Lynn Scaduto, “The parties would like to report that they’ve reached a settlement.” 

What was the estate dispute about?

  • The dispute centered around the Promenade Trust, which named Riley Keough, Lisa Marie Presley’s oldest daughter as the beneficiary of her mother’s estate. 
  • Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley’s only child, died after being hospitalized following an apparent cardiac arrest. 

What were the terms of the settlement between Priscilla Presley and Riley Keough. 

  • The terms of the settlement agreement are not public at this time. 
  • The judge asked for the settlement and the motion for seal (which would prevent public access to the settlement) to be filed by June 12 and set another hearing for the case in August. 
  • Shamoun, Priscilla Presley’s attorney, told reporters that all parties were happy and the family in now unified and excited for the future.

What was the problem with the estate plan?

  • Lisa Marie Presley’s will contained a 2016 amendment that removed her mother and former business manager as former trustees. 
  • Priscilla’s petition to the court identified problems with the amendment: she did not receive the amendment while Lisa was alive, which the Trust required, and her name was misspelled. The amendment was not witnessed or notarized and the authenticity of the signature was in question.

 What are some of the estate planning lessons for everyone that can be gleaned from this high-profile case? 

  • Make sure you prioritize getting your estate plan complete and updated because you never know when your time will come. 
  • Follow all of the rules and procedures properly to provide notice, have correct signatures, have proper notarization if required, etc. 
  • Communicate changes to family members in advance so that if there are questions or concerns, they can be addressed while you are still alive. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Benjamin Franklin is said to have coined the well-known phrase: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” The challenges faced by the rich and famous can be a lesson to all of us that our time may come sooner than we think and planning ahead for the sake of the peace in your family is vital. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience with estate planning. We will listen to you to create a customized estate plan for your family, or if you already have an estate plan, we can help you ensure that it is updated and accurate. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Estate Planning Lessons from Hollywood: Michael Lockwood Appointed Legal Guardian Amidst Lisa Marie Presley Trust Battle

A widely publicized estate planning case that is ongoing is the disputed estate of Lisa Marie Presley and new developments were recently reported by the LA Times. Lisa Marie (daughter of Elvis Presley) died in January of 2023, leaving behind a trust that purported to leave control of her estate to her adult daughter, Riley Keough. However, Priscilla Presley (Lisa Marie’s mother) has challenged the validity of the documents that changed the Trust. In 2016 Lisa Marie amended her will, naming her two eldest children as co-executors. Her son pre-deceased her. She filed to dissolve her marriage to Michael Lockwood that same year. Lisa Marie and Michael Lockwood were parents of two minor twins. The new development in this case is that the court has appointed the father of the twins, Michael Lockwood as the legal guardian of the twins.

Takeaway Lesson for Estate Planning from this Case – Avoid Conflicts of Interest

Why was Michael Lockwood a good choice for a guardian ad litem?

Although we do not know the specific basis for the court’s ruling on this issue, the LA Times quoted Michael Lockwood’s lawyer explaining why Lockwood was a good choice: He said that his client was ready, able and willing to protect the twins’ interests and that he has a good, collegial, familial relationship with all of the parties involved. Perhaps more importantly, there is no conflict of interest regarding appointment because the proposed guardian is not a beneficiary of the trust instrument at issue. 

What is the estate planning lesson we can learn from this new development in this case? Avoid conflicts of interest.

When doing estate planning, an important consideration should be any real conflicts of interest of potential conflicts of interest. When you are alive, you are in the best position to know your beneficiaries, their relationship to each other, and try to look down the road to understand what motivations may be in play after you have passed. When you meet with your attorney to do your estate planning, it will likely be helpful for you to talk through any concerns that you might have about conflicts of interest and the possible methods to avert your worries. 

What other estate planning lessons can be learned from this case? The importance of following procedures and keeping all documents up to date. 

Some of the issues that are in dispute in this trust case are the authenticity and validity of the 2016 alleged amendment to Lisa Marie’s trust amendment. Pricilla has alleged that it wasn’t delivered to her during Lisa Marie’s lifetime, that the date was added via PDF, that the document misspells Priscilla’s name, that the signature is on a separate page from the substantive provisions, that the signature looks inconsistent with her usual signature and that the purported 2016 Amendment was neither witnessed nor notarized.

The most important takeaway from this case for anyone hoping to avoid estate planning disputes in the future is the importance of following the procedures required by the will, keeping it updated, being accurate, and fully complying with all of the requirements in the documents.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Firm

Estate planning that is kept up to date, drafted accurately, and performed in compliance with the terms of the estate instrument is vital for avoiding estate planning disputed. For this reason, finding an experienced law firm to assist you is essential in making sure that your estate planning is done properly to avoid disputes after you have passed. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we want to help you create a current and accurate estate plan that will help you achieve your goals. Contact us at 707-451-4502.