ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Margaret A.M. Heine started her career in the international business community. After working with international trade issues, government requirements, and import and export regulations, she found that many businesses needed additional support. Her practice grew to include corporate formation, transactional work, and real estate, all of which was essential for her business clients. Her passion for people and community service opened the fields of conservatorships, guardianships, probate, and estate planning.
In addition to being a member of the California Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, and American Bar Association, she is actively involved in community organizations including Organization of Women in International Trade and Soroptimist International.
Ms. Heine is licensed in California, Washington, and admitted to practice before the United States Court of International Trade, United States District Court for Central District of California, United Stated Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
HOW MANY NEW LAWS?
California passed over 825 new laws in 2015 to go into effect in 2016. Most of the laws will not affect our day to day lives and will quietly go into effect. Many will only be recognized when we vote as many affect voting districts, determination of districts, and the validity of votes. Medical marijuana continues to be a source of such legislation as the new laws attempt to set definitions and boundaries regarding the use of medical marijuana. Another area of significant litigation is the extension of programs which were set to expire on January 1, 2016, and continuing them into the near future. A few laws will have an impact which will be felt immediately.
There are a series of new laws starting with AB91 and AB92 which deal with funding of drought relief and the continuation or expansion of water projects to deal with the drought. These laws were all effective when passed, and started mid year 2015. AB 28 specifically deals with the use of bicycles in response to greener modes of transportation. The law REQUIRES that bicycles be equipped with the following:
(1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.
(2) A red reflector or a solid or flashing red light with a built-in reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.
(3) A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.
(4) A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors. Remember, the operation of bicycles requires compliance with the Rules of the Road, and any violation of these laws or the safety equipment laws could result in ticketing of the person riding the bicycle!
AB 139 creates a new type of transfer of real property: Revocable Transfer on Death Deed. This may replace the use of trusts in some instances to provide for the nonprobate transfer of real property upon death to a designated beneficiary. This would protect the property from any being liened on behalf of a beneficiary, and keeps all interest in the grantor until their death. Therefore, unlike joint tenancy, the grantor would not need the beneficiary to agree with any transfers, mortgages, or other liens on title as the interest would only become effective at death.
This bill would only provide this method of transfer until January 1, 2021, create the revocable transfer on death deed (revocable TOD deed), as defined, which would transfer real property on the death of its owner without a probate proceeding.
New law AB 380 is interesting because many people erroneously believe that California has common law marriage. In California, if parties have a good faith belief that they are married or have a valid marriage, they are given the status of “putative spouses”. This means that generally a court will view the relationship and assets of the relationship as though they were in fact married. Under the new law, the court may only divide assets that are deemed to be “quasi-marital property”—meaning that the assets would have been community property if the parties had legally married, if the putative spouse asked the court to divide the assets. Otherwise, the court has no jurisdiction or power to divide the assets in the relationship. The request does not need to be made when the marriage is deemed void or voidable, it can be, but the request can also be made after the judgment for dissolution is entered.
In the Conservatorship arena, there have been clarifications made in handling of conservatees who have dementia under AB 436. Interestingly, they acknowledge that drugs used to treat dementia can be misused and that persons with dementia are entitled to a higher degree of protection. The conservatee is generally protected by the court appointing an attorney to represent their interests solely while they are determining whether conservatorship powers should be granted to a petitioning party. The revision, still keeps that procedure, but adds that the attorney for the conservatee, who was court appointed, is dismissed upon granting powers to a Conservator to care for the conservatee with dementia. The law also sets out criteria that must be met before dementia powers are given to a Conservator, including proving that the person is unable to care of themselves, unable to give informed consent, that the proposed medications would be beneficial to the person, and that a physician has declared and explained by the conservatee requires this form of treatment. As the year begins, it will be interesting to see what interpretations are given to the new laws. We did not cover any of the new employment laws yet, but will in the coming months. You may review the new 2016 laws more in depth by visiting www.californius.com.
Millions of Senior Citizens Ill-Prepared to Live Alone. Eight in ten Americans are Concerned about the Safety of Older Loved Ones and Most Not Doing Anything about It.
For more information, www.margaretamheine.com.
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Margaret A.M. Heine is the principal counsel at Heine Law Group in Fullerton, California.
She is licensed in California and Washington, and has authority to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and the United States Court of International Trade. Her practice includes estate planning, wills, trusts, and probate as well as business, real estate, and civil litigation.