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Living Trusts vs. Wills: Which Is Right for You?

When it comes to estate planning, one of the most critical decisions you’ll make is choosing between a living trust and a will. Both tools serve the essential purpose of distributing your assets after your death, but they do so in different ways and offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the nuances of each can help you decide which option aligns best with your needs and goals.

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is a legal document created during your lifetime that places your assets into a trust for your benefit while you are alive. After your death, these assets are transferred to your beneficiaries according to your instructions. One of the main benefits of a living trust is that it allows your estate to bypass the probate process, which can be lengthy and costly. Additionally, a living trust can provide privacy since its contents are not made public record. It also offers continuity in managing your affairs if you become incapacitated, as your appointed trustee can step in and manage your assets without court intervention.

Related: “How to Set Up a Trust Fund?”

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death. It also allows you to name a guardian for your minor children and an executor who will ensure your wishes are carried out. Unlike a living trust, a will must go through probate, a court-supervised process that validates the will and oversees the distribution of your assets. While this process can be time-consuming and potentially expensive, it provides a level of oversight that can be beneficial in preventing fraud or mismanagement. Wills are also generally simpler and less expensive to create than living trusts.

Picking the Best Option

Deciding between a living trust and a will depends on your specific circumstances and goals. If you want to avoid probate, maintain privacy, and have a plan for managing your assets if you become incapacitated, a living trust may be the better option. However, if your estate is straightforward, you have minor children, or you prefer a simpler and less costly solution, a will might be sufficient. It’s also possible to use both documents in your estate plan, utilizing a will to handle certain matters that a living trust cannot, such as naming guardians for minor children.

Related: “The Importance of Estate Planning for Blended Families”

Consult With Us

At Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates, we understand that estate planning can be complex and overwhelming. We’re here to help you navigate these important decisions and create a plan that meets your unique needs. Contact us at (949) 951-9529 or visit our website at to schedule a consultation and ensure your assets are protected and your wishes are honored.

Does California Recognize Cohabitation Agreements?

More young couples are opting to live together without getting married. Many choose to skip the traditional marriage ceremony for personal reasons and instead sign cohabitation agreements. California is at the forefront with its progressive stance on this trend. In this month’s blog, we’ll explore the ins and outs of cohabitation agreements in California, discussing their recognition and what you need to know if you’re living with your partner.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a contract between two people in a romantic relationship living together but aren’t married. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of each partner, covering everything from property division to financial support. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement, but for those who aren’t walking down the aisle.

Are Cohabitation Agreements Recognized in California?

The short answer is yes but with some caveats. California does recognize cohabitation agreements, but they aren’t as straightforward as marriage-related agreements. The courts won’t handle a child custody case as they would in a divorce case for a married couple. In essence, these agreements are treated like any other contract, as long as they are clear and consensual. 

Related: Learn more about the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents in California here.

Cohabitation Agreements vs. Common Law Marriage

The Golden State doesn’t recognize common-law marriage, but some rights are now afforded to “cohabiting couples” of any gender, who live together. Previously, entering a domestic partnership required the partners to be over 18 years old. However, these restrictions were lifted, allowing any individual, even under 18, to legally enter into a domestic partnership if they meet the requirements.

This means living together for a certain period doesn’t give you the same rights as a married couple. This is where a cohabitation agreement can come in handy. It offers a way to protect yourself and your assets without the legal bonds of marriage.

Related: Learn more about types and implications in California here.

Why Bother with a Cohabitation Agreement?

You might wonder why you’d need a cohabitation agreement if you’re not tying the knot. Here’s the deal: living together can create financial entanglements and potential disputes if the relationship goes south. A cohabitation agreement can help smooth things over by clearly defining expectations and responsibilities. It can address:

  • Property Rights: Who owns what and how property will be divided if you split up.
  • Financial Responsibilities: How bills and expenses will be shared.

Related: Learn more about defining unfit parenting and the power of documentation here.

Protect Yourself During Cohabitation with Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates

Since there are not many laws in California protecting cohabiting couples, it is advised to take your future into your own hands. We will create a legally enforceable cohabitation agreement with your partner. Visit our website or contact us at (949) 951-9529 to learn more about how we can assist you.

Safeguarding Children: Defining Unfit Parenting and the Power of Documentation

Safeguarding the well-being of children is paramount in any family law case, particularly when it involves determining parental fitness. Defining what constitutes unfit parenting and documenting evidence are crucial steps in protecting children from potentially harmful situations. By understanding the nuances of these concepts and harnessing the power of documentation, families can navigate legal challenges with clarity and purpose.

What is Unfit Parenting?

Defining what constitutes an unfit parent is a complex and sensitive issue that family courts take very seriously. Generally, an unfit parent is someone who fails to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for their child. This can manifest in various ways, including neglect, abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), substance abuse issues, mental health concerns, lack of parental supervision, or a history of domestic violence. Courts consider the best interests of the child when determining parental fitness, prioritizing the child’s safety and well-being above all else.

Here are the factors that are taken into account when determining unfit parenting:

  • History of domestic violence or abuse.
  • Substance abuse or misuse.
  • Failure to understand or respond to the child’s needs.
  • Low involvement and absence.
  • Lack of social function and interactions.
  • Inability to co-parent.
  • A negative relationship with the child.
  • Mental or psychiatric illness.
  • Lack of age-appropriate decisions.

Related: “Understanding Domestic Violence: Types and Implications in California”

The Importance of Documenting Evidence

When navigating a family court case involving allegations of unfit parenting, documenting evidence is crucial to presenting a strong case. Start by keeping a detailed journal of specific incidents or behaviors that raise concerns about the other parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child. Note dates, times, and descriptions of any relevant events, such as instances of neglect, substance abuse, or domestic violence. This written record can serve as a powerful tool in illustrating patterns of behavior that may be harmful to the child.

In addition to written documentation, gather any physical evidence that supports your claims of unfit parenting. This could include photographs of unsafe living conditions, medical records related to injuries or neglect, or text messages and emails that demonstrate concerning behavior. Make sure to keep this evidence organized and in a secure location, as it may be crucial in building your case in family court.

Lastly, consider obtaining witness statements from individuals who have observed the other parent’s behavior firsthand. Teachers, neighbors, family members, or mental health professionals may be able to provide valuable insight into the parent-child relationship and any concerning behaviors they have witnessed. These testimonies can add credibility to your case and offer additional perspectives on the parent’s fitness. By documenting evidence thoroughly and thoughtfully, you can better equip yourself to navigate the complexities of family court and advocate for your child’s well-being.

Related: “Can a Child Choose Custody?”

Consult With Us

At Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates in Lake Forest, CA, we are dedicated to helping families navigate complex legal matters with compassion and expertise. If you are facing challenges related to unfit parenting or child custody issues, we are here to support you. Contact us at (949) 951-9529 or visit our website at to learn more about how we can assist you in safeguarding your children’s best interests and securing their future. Let us work together to protect what matters most—your family.

Understanding Domestic Violence: Types and Implications in California

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects many men and women across the world. According to CDPH, one in five women and one in seven men have reported facing domestic violence. However, it is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior, and it takes various forms. In this month’s blog, we will take a closer look at this important topic, its legal implications, and the resources available for victims.

Defining Domestic Violence in California

While it often goes unreported, it is important to understand what domestic violence is, as well as why you may need to act. California law defines domestic violence as any form of abuse committed between individuals who have a close relationship, such as spouses or former spouses, cohabitants, individuals in a dating relationship, or parents and their children. This includes threatening to use force against him or her or any physical force that requires a restraining order.

Related: Learn more about restraining orders in California here.

Domestic Violence Penalties in California

In California, penalties for domestic violence typically vary between misdemeanor and felony charges, making them what’s known as “wobbler” offenses. The decision on whether to classify the crime as a misdemeanor or felony is based on factors such as the individual’s prior criminal record and the extent of the victim’s injuries.

Types of Domestic Violence in California:

1. Physical Abuse:

This includes hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, choking, or any form of physical harm inflicted on the victim. Bruises, broken bones, and other injuries are common outcomes of physical abuse.

2. Emotional or Psychological Abuse:

This type of abuse is often less visible but equally damaging. It includes verbal threats, insults, humiliation, manipulation, and isolation from friends and family.

3. Sexual Abuse:

Sexual abuse involves forced or coerced sexual acts, including rape, unwanted touching, and sexual degradation. These are also all harassment, and you have the right to get a restraining order to avoid any arguments.

Related: Learn more about how to deal with ex-spouse harassment here.

4. Financial Abuse:

Financial abuse occurs when the abuser controls the victim’s finances, restricts access to money, or sabotages their employment or financial stability. This can leave victims financially dependent and unable to leave the abusive relationship.

5. Digital Abuse:

With the rise of technology, digital abuse has become increasingly common. Examples of digital abuse includes: revenge porn, sexually harassing a partner online, controlling a partner’s social media accounts, requiring that a partner keep their phone with them at all time to respond to calls and texts, and using technology to monitor the other person’s actions both on and offline.


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you don’t have to face it alone. Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates is here to provide compassionate support and expert legal guidance through this challenging time. Our experienced team understands the complexities of domestic abuse cases and is committed to advocating fiercely for your rights and safety. We offer a safe and confidential environment where you can discuss your situation without judgment. Don’t wait any longer to seek help – contact us today at (949) 951-9529 to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards reclaiming your life.

A Guide to Restraining Orders in California

Navigating the complexities of restraining orders can be a challenging and overwhelming process, especially when dealing with issues of safety and protection. In California, restraining orders are legal tools designed to provide individuals with protection from harassment, abuse, or threats from another party. Understanding the different types of restraining orders available and the legal procedures involved is crucial for those seeking legal protection in times of distress. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide to restraining orders in California to help shed light on this important legal aspect.

The Different Types of Restraining Orders

In California, there are various types of restraining orders, each serving specific purposes and providing different levels of protection. Understanding the nuances of these different types of restraining orders and their legal requirements is essential for victims.

  1. Domestic Violence: This restraining order is sought by an individual who has been subjected to abuse, threats, or harassment by a current or former intimate partner or family member. It aims to protect victims of domestic violence and their children from further harm, requiring the abuser to stay away from the victim and cease all forms of contact.
  2. Civil Harassment: This restraining order is used in cases where an individual is being harassed, stalked, or abused by someone who is not related to them. It provides protection against non-intimate partners, neighbors, acquaintances, or strangers who pose a threat to the victim’s safety or well-being.
  3. Elder Abuse: This is designed to protect elderly individuals (65 or older) or dependent adults from abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, or any form of mistreatment. It is crucial in safeguarding vulnerable older adults from harm and ensuring their safety and well-being.
  4. Workplace Violence: This restraining order is sought in cases where an individual poses a threat or danger to others in a work environment. It protects employees, employers, or other personnel from potential acts of violence, harassment, or intimidation in the workplace.
  5. Gun Violence: A gun violence restraining order is issued when law enforcement has reason to believe that an individual poses a risk of harming themselves or others with a firearm. This legal measure restricts the individual from purchasing or possessing a gun for a specified period. However, it does not have the authority to mandate the individual to stay away from someone.
  6. School Violence: This restraining order protects students, teachers, or school staff from threats, harassment, or violence within an educational setting.

Related: “4 Benefits of Getting a Restraining Order”


When faced with the need for a restraining order in California, it is crucial to seek legal guidance and support from experienced professionals who can navigate the legal system effectively. At Family Law Richard E. Young & Associates in Lake Forest, CA, our team of dedicated attorneys specializes in family law matters, including restraining orders and legal protections. Visit our website at or call us at (949) 951-9529 to schedule a consultation and explore your legal options. Let us help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of obtaining the legal protection you need.

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