Archive for January, 2010

For many of us that are into our second or subsequent marriage, questions of rights to property are often complicated and do not get resolved prior to one spouse’s passing, which can make for a very complicated estate administration.  Often, spouses come into these partnerships with property, separate assets, and often children. This situation becomes even more complicated if there are children born to this new union. As always, it is important to have a frank discussion on all aspects of estate planning early on, so that neither spouse feels that they are “forgotten” later in life.

Couples can consider entering into pre or post nuptial agreements, which will spell out the reasons for the particular division of property agreed to. Remember that it is important that both sides fully disclose assets and are independently represented by counsel so if there is a challenge to these agreements later, their strength can be ensured.  The Code section also requires a seven-day waiting period prior to marriage if a spouse waived their right to a share of the estate in the other spouse’s estate.  Remember that if you do not provide for all contingencies, the law will.


Section 21610 of the California Probate Code protects a spouse who is not mentioned in estate planning documents executed prior to the marriage. The statute gives the omitted spouse a statutory share of the estate, but not if (1) the decedent’s estate plan specifically disinherits the spouse, (2) the spouse receives assets outside the estate, or (3) the spouse executes a valid waiver.

So, what this means is that after a marriage, it is imperative to speak with your estate planning professional to ensure that your future desires are properly spelled out in those important documents.  The Code specifically provides certain rules for waiving rights that must be followed to the letter.  Consult with your estate planning professional to ensure you do not have a forgotten spouse problem in the future.

Furthermore, all life changing events, such as marriage, childbirth, divorce, or death of a loved one–should trigger a re-examination of a person’s estate plan, if not an amendment of key documents.   Not amending the documents in a timely manner may indeed ensure a protracted and expensive litigation among remaining family members.

If you require a review and amendment of your estate planning documents, please call The Law Offices of Daniela Lungu for your complimentary consultation at (925) 558-2710 or by email at

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About Daniela Lungu, Attorney at Law

Daniela Lungu, founder of the Law Offices of Daniela Lungu, devotes her law practice to asset protection through estate and business planning. Ms. Lungu’s goal is to provide the people of the Bay Area and California with the highest quality, and most personalized legal services possible. Her attention to detail and a high level of communication with her clientele distinguish her from other attorneys in the field.


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