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.

California Prenuptial Agreements: Lessons from the Golden Bachelor Divorce

For fans of reality television, the announcement of the divorce of Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist from the popular ABC show, the Golden Bachelor, highlights the importance of prenuptial agreements.  This article will discuss the importance of prenuptial agreements and highlight lessons learned from this high-profile divorce with facts sourced from this New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/12/style/golden-bachelor-divorce-gerry-turner-theresa-nist.html

Use Prenuptial Agreement Discussions to Sort Out Important Life Choices

  • In the case of this Golden Bachelor couple, they seemingly had life experience, financial incentives and an inspiring television love story to help glue the marriage together.
  • So where did they go wrong?
  • Interestingly, Theresa and Gerry did have prenuptial agreements in place prior to the marriage, but apparently, they did not fully utilize the opportunity to come to a consensus on their life plan.

Prenuptial Agreements Can Be A Marriage Plan, and Not Just a Divorce Plan

  • This article advocates for greater communication prior to marriage, “When couples discuss and memorialize their intentions, whether it be to leave the workforce to raise children or grow an investment portfolio, there is less uncertainty and greater transparency.”
  • This perspective sheds new light on a prenup: Marriage is not just a romantic union, but an economic union, and in the absence of a prenup, the couple’s property will be governed by the California Family Code, which takes a community property approach to property division.

How Can I Benefit the Most From the Prenup Process?

  • One approach is to ask questions to yourself and your partner to understand where you are and where you want to go:
    • What do I want to accomplish from a prenup?
    • Have my spouse and I discussed and agreed on important life decisions?
    • Do I want to do something different than the default?
    • Does my spouse want to do something different?
    • What is motivating our decisions?
  • Some couples engage with a therapist prior to seeking legal advice, so that the therapist can facilitate a safe space for honest discussion.
  • Although each party should be represented by independent legal counsel, a benefit may be obtained by considering the process to be one of collaboration to find solutions rather than a negotiation with winners and losers.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney for Your Prenuptial Agreement Needs

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in all aspects of family law, and can help you plan, understand and finalize a prenuptial agreement. We all have many years of practice in divorce, custody issues, and all family law matters. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.

Recent Celebrity Divorces Part 2

If you are splitting up with a significant other, you are probably going through a range of emotions, and learning about others going through the same challenges can help you navigate and deal with your divorce or break up. This article is Part 2 of a list of famous couples who have split up in the last year. See https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/entertainment/g44441257/celebrity-break-ups-divorces/.

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Jackman.

  • The divorce announcement shocked many Hugh Jackman fans because they were separating after 27 years of marriage.
  • They met in 1995 and got married a year later. They share two children.
  • Hugh is 13 years younger than Deborrah-lee.
  • In a joint statement they attributed the split to a journey now “shifting” and said they wanted to pursue their individual growth.

Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied.

  • Reports of their split surfaced in August 2023 when Natalie was spotted without her wedding ring.
  • They met in 2009 while working on the movie Black Swan, and were married 11 years.
  • They share two children: son, Aleph 12, and daughter Amalia, 6.

Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello.

Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez.

  • TMZ reported that they have been separated since January 2024.
  • They married in secret in 2021.

Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner.

  • News broke in May of 2023 that Christing had filed for divorce.
  • They had been married for almost 19 years, so the divorce was highly publicized.
  • They have two sons and a daughter.
  • Kevin is reportedly staying positive in spite of the messy split. See https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/kevin-costner-kept-positive-outlook-143455880.html

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Divorce is never easy for anyone, but we are experienced family law attorneys ready to take away the stress and fear you may feel when facing the divorce process. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in family law and can help you understand and litigate your California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.

Recent Celebrity Divorces Part 1

If you are considering divorce or currently in the process, you may be wondering what famous couples are also in your same boat. This article will list five famous couples who have split up in the last year, and some of them may surprise you. See https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/entertainment/g44441257/celebrity-break-ups-divorces/.

Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka.

  • They were together seven years.
  • Mariah is 54 and Bryan is 40, and they are said to have attributed the divorce to their different stages in life, where he wants to start a family, and she is in a different place.
  • Mariah shares twelve year old twins with her ex-husband Nick Cannon, and Bryan does not have his own children.

Cardi B and Offset.

  • The couple got together in 2017 and were secretly married thereafter.
  • Both 31 years old.
  • They share two children, ages 5 and 2.
  • Cardi confirmed in an Instagram story that she has been single “for a minute now” after fans noticed that the couple had unfollowed each other.

Meryl Streep and Don Gummer.

  • Meryl and Don were married in 1978.
  • They share four children, with the youngest age 32.
  • They have reportedly been separated for more than six years, but the long separation was only recently announced by a spokesperson in October of 2023.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith.

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas.

  • They were married in 2019.
  • They released a joint statement in September 2023 confirming that they had mutually decided to amicably end their marriage.
  • They share two daughters.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are considering divorce or if you need representation, we are here for you. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in family law and can help you understand and litigate your California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.

Family Law Legislative Updates

Family law is ever changing as new laws are proposed or passed that impact how these challenging cases are decided. This article will provide an update on legislative changes that impact family law.

Piqui’s Law, educating judges to reduce risk of children from dangerous parents.

  • Piqui was the nickname of a child who was murdered by his father in 2017 soon after his father had won partial custody rights.
  • The Law requiresjudges to go through training to better assess family custody cases where the child could be at risk if allowed to be with a dangerous parent.
  • The law also prohibits family court judges from ordering what’s called “family reunification treatments” such as camps, particularly when it involves reconnecting a child with a parent suspected of being abusive.
  • For more information, see: https://abc7.com/piquis-law-gavin-newsom-bill-signed-aramazd-piqui-andressian-jr/13911339/

 AB 665, equalizing mental health care for youth.

  • The purpose of this law was to make mental health care equally available to low income youth.
  • The existing California law allowed youth ages 12 and older to consent to outpatient mental health counseling, but previously teens using Medi-Cal had to meet a higher acuity than peers who had private insurance coverage.
  • This law corrects that problem to eliminate the inequity between those covered by Medi-Cal and those with private insurance.
  • For more information, see: https://healthlaw.org/news/governor-signs-ab-665-into-law-increasing-mental-health-care-access-for-low-income-youth/

 AB 1148, the Stable Parents Stable Children Act extending grace period from incarceration to child support payments due.

SB 343, Child Support Federal Rule Compliance.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you need an experienced family law attorney, we are here TO HELP YOU. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in family law and can help you understand and litigate your California divorce. We are ready to listen and help you achieve your goals. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.

 Psychological Evaluation in a California Divorce, Part 2

If a divorce involves children, then a court or a parent may request a Child Custody Evaluation, which is also known as a 730 Evaluation. In our previous article, we explain more about the custody evaluation process and the various data collection methods. This article will focus on the psychological testing portion, in particular the commonly used test, the MMPI-2. Today we will identify some of the red flags that the MMPI-2 is seeking to test for, but with the caveat that one of the flags that the test is supposed to identify is honesty in answers. 

Thus, this article gives information on some of the factors that are tested, but for most people, the best practice is to answer all questions as honestly as possible and not try to “beat the test,” since the test is trying to measure for people who are gaming it. This article is a very generalized summary of a complex test, so the information is intended only for general educational purposes and not as a guide on how to take the test. The source for this article can be found here: https://psychtest.net/mmpi-test-result/.  

What is the MMPI-2?

  • MMPI-2 stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. 
  • It is a 500+ questionnaire of true and false questions that individuals answer for themselves, and the responses help mental health professionals evaluate symptoms of mental illness or personality disorders. 

What were the recommendations explained in more detail in the first article?

  • Answer all of the questions, do not be surprised to see health related questions as this test is not used exclusively for divorce cases. Do not try to trick the test by answering all true or all false. Be aware that the test may have the same or similar questions early and later in the test to try to flag people who are answering inconsistently. 

 Psychopathic Deviate Testing. 

  • Some questions are designed to identify people who are impulsive, strive for immediate gratification, are impatient, easily frustrated, have poor judgment, high risk-taking, are self-centered and selfish. The psychopathic deviate has a paradigm of using others for their own purposes.  

 Paranoia. 

  • Some of the questions are designed to flag people who show psychotic behavior, disturbed thinking, delusions of persecution, or ideas of grandeur. They look for people who are impulsive, impatient, have poor judgment and risk taking and who feel mistreated and picked on, angry and resentful, who harbor grudges and use projection as a defense. 

 Other flags to watch for:

  • Anxiety – sleep difficulties, worries, poor concentration.
  • Fears – many specific fears such as blood, germs, high places animals, natural disasters, etc. 
  • Obsessiveness – difficulty making decisions, counting a lot, saving unimportant things, worrying a lot, being overwhelmed easily. 
  • Depression – depressive thoughts, feeling sad, being uninterested and uncertain in the future, being unhappy, crying easily, feeling hopeless and empty. Thoughts of suicide or wishing they were dead. Thinking people have unpardonable sins. 
  • Health concerns – many physical systems across several body systems.
  • Bizarre Mentation – any type of hallucination, feeling plotted against, thinking someone is trying to poison them. Thinking they have special powers or a special mission.
  • Anger – hothead, impatient, grouchy, feeling like being violent. 
  • Cynicism – expecting the worst of others, thinking people are not trustworthy, generally negative attitudes about people.
  • Antisocial practices – behavior problems in the past, trouble with the law, belief that it is ok to break the law. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we are very familiar with the custody evaluation process and the psychological testing aspect of the 730 Evaluation. We have extensive experience in family law. We can help you feel confident in achieving your goals in a California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

 Psychological Evaluation in a California Divorce, Part 1

If a divorce involves children, then a court or a parent may request a Child Custody Evaluation, which is also known as a 730 Evaluation. A custody evaluation can consist of interviews with the parent and the children, psychological testing of the parents of the children, interviews with interested third parties such a teachers or babysitters, and a review of relevant documents, such as court records or criminal history.  The evaluator makes recommendations to the court about what is in the best interest of the children based on the totality of the data collected and reviewed. 

There are a variety of psychological tests that can be administered, but the MMPI-2 is commonly used in California.  This article will focus on the psychological testing portion, in particular the commonly used test, the MMPI-2. It is a true/false paper test that is used to assess a parent’s mental fitness and ability to parent effectively.  

Thus, this article gives information on some of the factors that are tested, but for most people, the best practice is to answer all questions as honestly as possible and not try to “beat the test,” since the test is trying to measure for people who are gaming it. This article is a very generalized summary of a complex test, so the information is not legal advice and should be used only for general educational purposes and not as a guide on how to take the test. 

What is the MMPI-2?

  • MMPI-2 stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. 
  • It is a 500+ questionnaire of true and false questions that individuals answer for themselves, and the responses help mental health professionals evaluate symptoms of mental illness or personality disorders. 

Answer all of the questions. 

  • If you do not answer all of the questions, this is a red flag for this type of test. If you fail to answer a substantial number, then the test may not even be valid. 

 Do not be surprised to see health related questions. 

  • This test is not used exclusively for divorce, and it is also commonly used for personal injury or disability claims. For that reason, there are a number of health-related questions that may seem irrelevant to a divorce but be sure to answer them. 

 Do not try to trick the test by answering all false or all true. 

  • For other types of tests, a strategy might be to answer all the questions as true of all the questions as false. This strategy will not work for the MMPI-2, and answering all the questions one way is a big red flag for this test that you are trying to game the system. 

 Be consistent throughout the test in your answers. 

  • The test measures consistency, so do not be surprised to see the same or similar questions early in the test and later on. The purpose of this is to see whether you are consistent in your answers. Be aware that inconsistency may be measured as dishonesty. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we are very familiar with the custody evaluation process and the psychological testing aspect of the 730 Evaluation. We have extensive experience in family law. We can help you feel confident in achieving your goals in a California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

California Divorce and AB-957

AB-957 is a bill, which the California Senate and Assembly approved, and as of the writing of this article, September 13, 2023, it is awaiting Governor Gavin Newsome’s signature.

Where can you see the text of the bill?

What does the bill change?

  • The law has been that the court makes a determination in the best interest in the child, which includes considering the health, safety and welfare of the child. 
  • The bill adds that the health, safety and welfare of the child includes, among other factors, a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identify or gender expression. 
  • The bill also states that affirmation includes a range of actions and will be unique for each child, but in every case must promote the child’s overall health and well-being. 

 Does this require the court to award custody to the gender affirming parent?

  • According to Scott Alman, who is a family law professor at the University of Southern California, the bill “does not announce any bright line rules forbidding the judge to award custody to a denying parent or mandating that the judge award a child to an affirming parent.” 
  • In Altman’s opinion, as quoted by the AP.com article, while the bill sends signals that affirming is generally better than denying a child’s gender identity, it does not mark a dramatic legal shift because courts have long been tasked with resolving custody disputes involving LGBTQ+ children, and judges already consider multiple factors. 

How impactful will this bill be on custody disputes in the future?

  • As this change is new, it is unclear how extensive, if any, the impact will be in custody cases in California.
  • The arguments for and against are explained in detail and can be viewed by clicking “Assembly Floor Analysis”.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

If you are anticipating custody issues in your divorce, contact us at the Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with family law and can help you navigate the legal system. We will craft compelling arguments in favor of the plan that you think is best for your children and assist you in strategizing how to achieve your divorce goals. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 



Long Term Care Insurance as an Estate Planning Tool

Long term care insurance is one of the many estate planning tools that may be considered as you prepare for the future. Although it typically isn’t the best tool for most people, it is an option you can consider and discuss with your estate planning attorney. At the Law Offices of David Knecht, we customize your estate plan to your needs, and we are happy to discuss the pros and cons of many estate planning tools. This article will provide an overview of what long term care insurance is, how it is used, and cost factors with information summarized from an article published by smartassets.com.  

What is long-term care insurance?

  • Long-term care insurance helps cover the costs of long-term care services, such as an assisted living facility, adult daycare or a nursing home when you can no longer perform independently, the basic activities of daily living. 

Why would someone consider long-term care insurance?

  • Of that group, 20% will need it for more than 5 years. 
  • Often health insurance does not cover these costs and Medicaid and Medicare have limitations that can impact your savings and assets.

 What are the pro’s of long-term care insurance?

  • Asset preservation – An insurance policy may protect your savings, but keep in mind that the policy typically does not cover everything.
  • More care options – the goal here is to enable you to pay for the type of services that you need when that time comes. 
  • Family concerns – you may want to prepare to avoid putting a burden on your family to care for you in the future.

How much does long-term care insurance cost?

  • An example illustrates the high cost: 55 year old man in the U.S. can expect to pay a premium of $2,220 per year according to a 2022 price index survey conducted by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.
  • In the example, the coverage would be $165,000 in benefits when the policyholder takes out the insurance and $400,500 at age 85.
  • Long-term care insurance costs vary widely depending on factors such as health condition and age. 

How should I plan for long-term care?

  • Planning for your long-term care needs in not simple. The best plan will consider your specific assets, health, circumstances and family needs. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Firm

If you have questions about any estate planning issue, we are here to help. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience with estate planning and look forward to exploring all your options for estate planning with you to create the best plan for you and your loved ones.  Contact us at 707-451-4502. 



Celebrating National Estate Planning Awareness Week!

Did you know that the third week in October is National Estate Planning Awareness Week? This commemoration was set up back in 2008 to encourage all Americans to protect themselves or their families in the event of sickness, accidents and untimely death.  

This article will summarize the text of the bill creating National Estate Planning Awareness Week to explain why this special week was created and help you understand why Americans commemorate estate planning awareness annually. 

What were the reasons why National Estate Planning Awareness Week was created?

  • A poll referenced in the text of the bill related to this holiday revealed that a large number of Americans believe they lack the knowledge necessary to adequately plan for retirement and that they are unfamiliar with basic retirement tools, such as a 401(k) plan. 
  • What are the benefits of estate planning?
  • Careful estate planning can greatly assist Americans in preserving assets built over a lifetime for the benefit of family, heirs or charities. 

 What are some of the important considerations relating to estate planning?

  • Safekeeping important documents
  • Documentation of assets
  • Preparation of legal instruments
  • Insurance
  • Availability of trust arragements
  • Charitable giving
  • Care of the benefactor during life

 What are some of the decisions that can be involved in estate planning?

  • Decisions about the method of holding title to certain assets
  • Decisions about the designation of beneficiaries
  • Decisions about possible transfer of assets during the life of the benefactor

What were some of the concerns that prompted the bill creating this estate planning holiday?

  • Many Americans are unaware that lack of estate planning and “financial illiteracy may cause their assets to be disposed of to unintended parties
  • Lack of careful planning may lead family members or other beneficiaries to being subjected to complex legal and administrative processes requiring significant expenditure of time
  • Lack of planning can lead to confusion and even animosity among family members upon the death of a loved one
  • Failure to prepare may lead to favorite charities being overlooked and benefactor’s gift-giving goals frustrated. 
  • Many Americans may want to have a plan for organ donation and use of life support functions, which intentions may be unclear without proper estate planning

Where does implementation of an estate plan start?

  • The first steps are education and planning and then the proper drafting and execution of appropriate legal documents, which may include will, trusts and durable power of attorney for health care. 

CONSULT THE LAW OFFICE OF DAVID KNECHT

Estate planning does not have to be a chore you dread or procrastinate. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have years of experience with estate planning and can help make the process easy for you. In honor of Estate Planning Awareness Week, take a step today for the good of yourself and your loved ones, and call us today at 707-451-4502.