Saturday, 20 July 2024


Dissolving one’s marriage creates many complications, including the need to change one’s estate plan to make it current.

This should not be neglected because should one die during the divorce proceedings the surviving spouse can still inherit under the deceased spouse’s will, if named as a beneficiary.

Likewise, the surviving spouse may still inherit if named as a designated death beneficiary on any pay-on-death policy – such as life insurance, retirement plans, etc. – notwithstanding a decree of legal separation; the decree does not terminate the marital status.

Filing the dissolution petition, however, limits each spouse’s ability to change their estate plan.

Prior to filing, a married person can unilaterally control the disposition on death of their one-half share of any community property assets and all of their separate property assets.

Upon filing the dissolution petition and issuance of a summons, however, the automatic temporary restraining order (“ATRO”) immediately imposes four different rules. Let us examine these rules.

First, the ATRO absolutely prohibits each spouse from cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage, including life, health, auto or disability, held for the benefit of the spouses and their children for whom support may be ordered. This is to prevent either spouse or their children from being harmed from any detrimental changes to insurance.

Second, the ATRO also restrains each spouse (1) from transferring any property, real or personal (except in the usual course of business or for necessities of life); and (2) from changing the death beneficiaries named on any nonprobate asset (such as retirement plans, annuities and revocable living trusts).

Either the prior written consent of the other spouse or a court order is needed to accomplish any changes.

Third, the ATRO, however, still allows each spouse to revoke a revocable living trust, or other nonprobate transfer, and also to sever a joint tenancy, provided that notice of any such change is filed with the court and is served on the other spouse before the change takes effect.

Severing the joint tenancy, and thereby creating a co-equal tenancy in common, is important to prevent the other spouse from inheriting the entire joint tenancy estate should one spouse die while the joint tenancy remains in effect.

Fourth, the ATRO also allows each spouse, without notice or permission, to create, modify or revoke a will; create an unfunded revocable or irrevocable trust; and otherwise modify a nonprobate transfer, such as a trust, in a manner that does not affect the disposition of the property – for example, changing the designated successor trustee of an existing trust.

Thus, either spouse – without the permission of the other spouse or a court order – can create an unfunded living trust that would be funded on death by way of a pour-over will in order to effectuate estate planning changes.

The drawback is that a probate of the pour-over will is needed in order to transfer assets into the trust.

In summary, persons getting divorced are well advised to update their estate plan in case they should die prior to the decree of dissolution of marriage, and their existing estate plan in favor of the estranged spouse be given effect.

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LAKE COUNTY – While there are several highly contested local races on this year's ballot, voter registration numbers in Lake County don't appear to show any big changes, unlike previous election years.

Races for sheriff, district attorney, superintendent of schools, and District 2 and 3 supervisorial seats all are contested in 2010. In 2006, the sheriff and district attorney's races were single-candidate races.

Locally, voter registration has grown modestly since 2006, with a notable spike in 2008, which Lake County Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley said is common during presidential election years.

As of April 15, Lake County had 32,215 registered voters, Fridley said. That number is up only slightly from voter registration numbers four years ago.

For the primary election on June 6, 2006, the county had 32,005 citizens registered to vote, according to numbers Fridley provided.

Five months later, for the general election on Nov. 7, 2006, voter registration numbers actually edged down, to 31,564, she said.

During 2008, there were 33,143 registered voters for the June 3 primary and 35,154 for the Nov. 4 presidential election, according to Fridley.

Since then, Lake County has lost about 3,000 voter registrations. Fridley said the only reason to remove voters from the rolls is when they move or when they're deceased.

“We don't have very many people who just cancel the registration,” Fridley said.

The number of registered voters is fluid and continues to change. Fridley said that on Wednesday her office received 125 new registrations, which she believes is because of the ongoing initiative drives for the November ballot.

Absentee – or vote by mail – ballots in recent years have shown more significant growth and interesting changes, with more Lake County voters casting ballots by mail than showing up in person at polling places.

Of the ballots cast in June 2006, 23.8 percent were absentee, versus 18.2 percent at voter precincts. By November 2006, the vote by mail numbers had grown to 32.7 percent of the total votes cast, with precinct votes totaling 29.9 percent, Fridley said.

The percentage of votes cast by mail slid backward in June 2008, when Fridley said 22.4 percent of all ballots were cast via vote by mail and 11.6 percent of votes were cast at precincts.

However, for the November 2008 presidential election, absentee voters cast 39.2 percent of all ballots, with 34.4 percent of votes cast at precincts, Fridley reported.

While absentee voters have been responsible for a larger response during recent elections, they still trail the numbers of those registered to vote at precincts, according to Registrar of Voters records.

Of the people currently registered to vote in Lake County, Fridley said those who have signed up to vote at precincts total 51.2 percent, versus 48.7 percent who are enrolled for voting by mail.

Some of those registered to vote by mail include 62 people are in the military and stationed in the United States, 36 who are active military personnel stationed overseas and 118 civilians living in other countries, Fridley said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

NICE – On Wednesday a Lake County jury acquitted a Northshore man in an elder theft case.

Leland Buckmaster of Nice was found not guilty of five theft, contracting related and elder theft counts filed by the Lake County District Attorney’s Office.

Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson charged Buckmaster with theft from an elder, grand theft, embezzlement, contracting without a license and charging in excess of $1,000 for a deposit on a contract, according to a statement from Buckmaster's attorney, Doug Rhoades.

Following two days of testimony, the jury took only 45 minutes to return not guilty verdicts on all counts, Rhoades said.

The jury foreperson, who did not authorize use of a name, stated the case was such that no proof of the charges sufficient for a guilty verdict had been provided by the prosecution.

“This case should never have been filed or prosecuted” was the opinion of the foreperson.

Buckmaster had been charged based on an agreement to provide a water filtration system which was not completed in a timely manner.

After the not guilty verdicts, the defendant thanked the jurors as they exited the courtroom.

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LUCERNE – California Water Service Co. and the California Department of Public Health are advising customers served by the Lucerne water system to use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking until further notice.

The company and the agency issued the advisory on Friday as a precautionary measure because the water was not properly disinfected due to a mechanical failure at the treatment plant on Thursday evening, April 15, through Friday morning.

Officials reported that, although the water has been filtered, chlorine was not added for a period of 12 hours.

Plant operators have increased disinfection at our storage tank and resumed normal operation of the treatment plant.

All tap water used for drinking, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation should be boiled rapidly for at least one minute. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms and is the preferred method to assure that the water is safe to drink.

Customers also should discard ice cubes made from tap water or their refrigerators' water lines and boil water given to pets to drink. Tap water is safe for showering, bathing and other non-consumption use.

The notice said officials are collecting water samples for water quality testing and will notify residents as soon as test results confirm that the water meets all federal and state water quality standards.

If water quality was affected by this incident, failure to follow this advisory could result in stomach or intestinal illness. Results are expected to be available by Monday, April 19.

Inadequately treated water may contain disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and headaches. However, these symptoms can be caused not only by organisms in inadequately treated water, but from other sources as well.

Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms on a persistent basis may want to seek medical advice. People with severely compromised immune systems, infants and some elderly may be at increased risk and should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

If you choose to purchase and use bottled water during this advisory, you may save your receipts for reimbursement by Cal Water.

For reimbursement, please bring your receipts to our office, located at 6125 East Highway 20, Lucerne, CA 95458, or mail them to P.O. Box 1133, Lucerne, CA 95458, to the attention of Gay Guidotti.

The company apologized for the inconvenience.

Customers needing more information can call California Water Service Co. at 707-274-6624 or watch for updates.

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LAKE COUNTY – Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines for the first annual Poker Run benefiting Lucerne Senior Center Meals-On-Wheels recipients.

All interested adults age 21 and older are invited to participate on May 2, starting at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine.

Ticket donation is $15 presale, and $20 at the door. Clubs with 20 plus participants can donate $15 per member at the door.

Only 250 tickets will be sold. Ticket price includes barbecue lunch, tea and coffee.

Registration is 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Lucerne Senior Center dining room, 10th and Country Club, Lucerne. During sign in, pancake and sausage breakfast will be available for $2.

All cars and bikes are welcome. Kick stands up at 10:30 a.m. for a scenic ride through hills of Lake County.

The route leaves Lucerne Senior Center, moves to The Driftwood in Lucerne, goes through Lower Lake to Noble’s Saloon in Middletown, then up Highway 175 through Cobb Mountain to the Roadhouse, and on through Kelseyville, Lakeport, and back to Lucerne Senior Center for lunch and party.

At each of five designated stops, a card is drawn and the participants’ poker score sheet is stamped. If participants choose not to visit all stops, cards can be drawn at Lucerne center. Participants choose to ride in the pack or not. The purpose is to enjoy the scenery and comradeship, and maybe draw a winning hand of poker.

Great prizes, raffles, 50/50 drawing, live music, dancing, and no host bar will add to festivities. Eat, drink, and be merry—all to benefit seniors and users of the center.

Volunteers organizing and staffing the run hope to make this a cost free event, so that 100 percent of poker run ticket sales can benefit Meals-On-Wheels. Individuals and businesses can donate cash, copy paper, raffle prizes, paper goods, and food items to help meet this goal. Contact Lee Tyree or Carol Brown at 707-274-8779 for details.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get creative,” said Lucerne Senior Center Board President Lona Jeppesen.

The center’s fundraising committee consists of Roberta Funkhouser, Treva Ryan, Lona Jeppesen, Flo Westerfield, Ken Kent and Carol Brown.

“We are working hard to find new ways to finance center services in the wake of budget and staff cuts,” says Jeppesen. “We hope many people and businesses will support this event. After all, the center is not just for seniors, but a resource for all community members, and Meals-On-Wheels is a critical service which we provide.”

Lucerne Senior Center is located at 10th and Country Club, Lucerne, telephone 707-274-8779.

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CLEARLAKE – No doubt you’ve heard by now that Census 2010 is well under way – Census Day was April 1 – and that if you don’t return a questionnaire for your residence by the end of April, you can expect a visit from a census worker to be sure that you and the rest of your household are properly counted, per Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

And no doubt you’ve heard that the US Census count drives not only how many congressional and state representatives we have working in our behalf but the distribution of some $400 billion a year for important programs in education, health care, transportation and other areas that define our quality of life.

You’ve stayed on top of how Lake County’s budgets were cut this last decade and want to do your part to be sure it gets no worse – but what if you never received a form? Well, grab your coat or grab your phone – your choice!

If you’re not busy this Saturday, April 17, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., you can join Lake County’s March to the Mailbox at Austin Park in Clearlake.

Pick up a form or get help completing it from a sworn census worker, score some census memorabilia, munch down on a tasty hot dog and groove to the sweet sounds of the Lower Lake Jazz Band – all courtesy of Lake County’s own Complete Count Committee.

Other community organizations will be there to provide you with information you can use and, starting about noon, you can dialogue with local dignitaries and census representatives about the importance of Census 2010 and how it was conducted.

Not your cup of tea? Then grab your phone and call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance line. One quick phone call and a Census 2010 form will be mailed to your residence or post office box – again, your choice – so that you can complete it in the privacy of your own home.

Whichever way works best for you – if you haven’t completed a Census 2010 Questionnaire, now is the time to do it. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s important to how our next decade here in Lake County “shapes up.”

Stand up for your community – be counted!

For more information about the March to the Mailbox event, call Melissa Swanson at 707-994-8201 extension 106.

To request a new form – mailed to your home or post office box – call 1-866-872-6868 (English), 1-866-928-2010 (Spanish), 1-866-783-2010 (TDD) or another of the language-specific lines posted at

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MENDOCINO COUNTY – A Daly City man died Friday morning while driving for abalone near Pt. Arena.

The body of Raymond Chin Pang Shue, 33, a commercial truck driver up from the city to go diving, was recovered from the ocean on Friday morning, according to Lt. Dennis Bushnell of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

At 8:30 a.m. Friday Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Moat Creek at Point Arena regarding a diver in distress, Bushnell said.

On arrival fire and rescue personnel recovered Shue's body from the ocean with the assistance of US Coast Guard and Sonoma County Sheriff's helicopter, according to the report.

Bushnell said that a witness at the scene reported that Shue was diving when he was struck by a large wave, and that he began to struggle.

The witness couldn't get to Shue and called 911 for assistance, Bushnell said.

Bushnell said the the Mendocino County Coroner's Office is investigating Shue's death.

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LAKE COUNTY – Census officials say that it's time to turn in 2010 Census forms.

For those who have not completed and mailed back their 2010 Census forms, Friday, April 16, is the to do so.

As of Thursday, April 15, the nationwide participate rate was at 68 percent. In California, the rate was 66 percent, down from the 73 percent reported in 2000.

Lake County's participation rate so far, 56 percent, has surpassed the 54-percent rate for 2000, the US Census Bureau reported.

Lake is among only four California counties – including Lassen, Plumas and Tuolumne – that have improved their rates over the 2000 Census, according to the most recent statistics. One county, Calaveras, has tied its 2000 return rate of 54 percent, while the rest of the state so far is showing slightly lower returns.

Completing and mailing back the census forms now will not only save taxpayers up to $60 per house, but also a census taker knocking on their doors – an interruption of their quality time – while they are eating dinner or watching their favorite TV shows.

It costs taxpayers only 42 cents to mail back the postage-paid census form, but it costs $57 to recruit, hire, train and send a census worker out to collect information from the same 10-simple questions for each and every non-responding household.

Next week, the U.S. Census Bureau will begin to compile the address lists and maps of households that have failed to send back their census forms.

An approximately 800,000 census workers will fan out across the nation to collect information from an estimated 48 million households beginning May 1.

In some areas, this door-knocking operation may begin as early as April 29.

It's a huge operation that takes time to compile and print millions of addresses and maps; therefore, we need to have received the completed census forms as soon as possible.

A special “March to the Mailbox” event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Austin Park in Clearlake. For more information about that event, click here: Community invited to Saturday Census 2010 event .

For more information about the US Census, visit

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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A teenage driver suffered major injuries on Monday morning when she was broadsided while pulling out from a stop sign near Hidden Valley Lake.

The crash that injured the 16-year-old female – and also left her 17-year-old passenger with minor injuries – occurred at around 8:30 a.m. Monday in rainy conditions, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay. Neither of the teens were identified due to their minor status.

Tanguay said the teen driver, in a 1994 Honda Accord, was at the stop sign on Hartmann Road at Highway 29 when she pulled out in an attempt to turn left.

Thomas Lamburth, 35, of Middletown was driving a 2007 Ford F-350 northbound on Highway 29, approaching the intersection, when the Honda Accord pulled out in Lamburth's path, Tanguay said.

Tanguay said Lamburth was unable to avoid a collision, with the front of his truck hitting the Accord's driver's side.

South Lake County Fire Protection District and CHP responded to the scene. Both vehicles sustained major damage, and Tanguay said the Accord's driver had to be extricated from the vehicle before she was taken by ground ambulance to St. Helena Hospital Clearlake, where she was treated for major injuries.

Due to the weather conditions, emergency personnel had been uncertain that they could safely fly the young woman out to the hospital, Tanguay said.

The teenage passenger also was injured, but Lamburth was not, Tanguay added.

Highway 29 remained open during the course of the investigation. Tanguay said CHP Officer Brian Engle is the lead investigator on the incident.

The report noted that Lamburth and both teens were wearing their safety belts.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

SANTA ROSA – This week a Santa Rosa man was sentenced to six years in prison for the rape of an elderly woman in a nursing facility.

Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua announced today that on Wednesday Humberto Carrizales Rodriguez, 50, was sentenced by Judge Arthur Wick for the crime. Rodriguez also was convicted of elder abuse of an individual under his care.

Rodriguez had previously pleaded guilty to these charges on Sept. 17, 2009.

“The forced rape of a woman is always a heinous, callous and cruel crime,” Passalacqua said. “The fact that this was also committed against an elderly woman living at a residential care facility makes it even more atrocious. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who abuse seniors.”

Rodriguez was a caretaker at the Wild Rose Living Facility in Santa Rosa and the victim, Jane Doe, was an 88-year-old resident living at the facility.

On August 7, 2009, after the victim had gone to bed, the defendant forcefully had sexual intercourse with her while she repeatedly told him to stop.

Two of the victim’s children addressed Judge Wick at the sentencing hearing and explained how the crime has impacted not only their mother’s life, but their lives as well.

The victim’s children spoke about how their mother’s condition has worsened, mentally and physically, since the night of the assault. They find her crying for no reason at all and stated that, since the attack, she is now frightened of other males who work and live at her facility.

Deputy District Attorney Tania Partida argued that no one should go through life only to reach the age of 88 and become a victim of a sexual assault.

Partida also noted that at no time during the defendant’s interview with the probation department, or his letter to the court, did he express any remorse for his actions. Instead he blamed the victim, in essence stating that she enticed him into bed.

The lead detective was Joel Pederson of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

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LAKE COUNTY – Proposed cuts in the governor's budget have raised concerns about the possible impacts on caregivers and recipients in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

As the state's fiscal crisis has deepened over the last several years, social services programs – including IHSS – have been suggested for cuts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and this year is no different.

In his January budget, Schwarzenegger proposed capping the state's share of IHSS workers' compensation, which the California Budget Project estimated could cost the state's 370,000 IHSS workers $1.2 billion between this coming June and June 2011.

The report stated that Lake County's estimated 1,560 IHSS workers could lose more then $2.6 million

in that one-year period, a number that's more than half a million dollars higher than a local Social Services official believes it could be.

The California Budget Project reported that 450,000 low-income seniors and those with disabilities receive services through the IHSS program.

Because of the care they receive – help with dressing and bathing, house keeping, meal preparation, shopping and other domestic tasks – IHSS care recipients are able to remain in their homes.

The federal government pays 61.6 percent of IHSS costs, the state pays 25 percent and counties pay 13.4 percent, the California Budget Project reported.

In February 2009 the state Legislature capped the state cost of IHSS workers' wages and benefits at $10.10 per hour, including $9.50 an hour in pay and $0.60 an hour in benefits, but the California Budget Project reported that a federal district court has issued an injunction to stop the implementation of that plan.

Schwarzenegger's recent plan, which would take effect June 1 if approved, proposes to go deeper, capping the state's IHSS contribution at the California minimum wage level of $8 plus $0.60 an hour for benefits.

Forty-five of California's 58 counties – including Lake – pay combined wages and benefits above the $8.60 level, according to the report. The highest compensation in the state is $14.84 an hour in Santa Clara County, while the lowest is minimum wage, found in several counties including Colusa, Humboldt and Lassen counties.

Carol Huchingson, director of Lake County Social Services, said Lake County currently pays $8.75 an hour in wages, plus $0.60 for benefits, for a total of $9.35 hourly.

Huchingson said she found the California Budget Project estimate of $2.6 million in lost compensation for local IHSS workers over the coming year to be high.

She estimated it would actually be just under $2 million, a number based on her estimate of 2.6 million recipient hours for the coming fiscal year.

She said the governor also has proposed reducing the eligibility for IHSS recipients based on the level of disability.

However, she said many of those proposals – like the previous cap on wages – were stopped by litigation.

Even if the new proposals moved forward, she said advocacy groups typically are the next line of defense and will take the proposals to court.

Still, the state's fiscal crisis adds to the uncertainty. “I do question at what point does the whole thing just go over the top because the state has no money,” said Huchingson, who added that she doesn't believe that the wage cuts will be upheld this year.

Tristan Brown, political director for California United Homecare Workers – the union that represents local IHSS caregivers – is concerned that the threat of cuts remains very real.

He said there also have been suggestions that IHSS be completely eliminated – which met opposition in the Legislature – or that an 80-percent cut in “nonmedical” services be instituted. Such services include shopping, housekeeping and other important kinds of care.

He called that proposal a “devastatingly massive cut.”

Likewise, Brown said the suggestion that assessments of disabled clients be used to limit eligibility will hurt people in need.

With the state looking at a huge deficit, Brown thinks that when the governor's May revise comes out IHSS will still be facing cuts. That's because he said priorities appear to be shifting elsewhere; he pointed to a stand being taken by legislators around education money.

The federal portion of IHSS – at nearly 62 percent – is the highest it's ever been, and Brown suggested that any program that brings that kind of federal money into counties shouldn't be on the chopping block. Cutting IHSS could cause the state to lose that money altogether, he added.

Brown said there's a general sense in Sacramento that people are bracing for the cuts to come.

“Any cut to this program is devastating to people,” he said, adding that the union believes that the proposals for scaling back services are a matter of life and death for some IHSS recipients.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

ANDERSON SPRINGS – A 3.3-magnitude earthquake rolled through Anderson Springs and areas of Cobb Mountain late Tuesday evening.

The quake, reported at 11:02 p.m., occurred at a depth of less than one mile, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was centered two miles west southwest of Anderson Springs, five miles east southeast of The Geysers and five miles south of Cobb, the agency reported.

The US Geological Survey received shake reports from Middletown, Sunnyvale, Durham and San Jose.

Cobb resident Roger Kinney reported being able to hear the quake before it hit. He said it was a shaking and rolling type of temblor which didn't get as big as he expected.

The 3.3-magnitude quake was followed about a minute later by a 1.8-magnitude aftershock, centered in the same location, US Geological Survey records showed. At 11:04 p.m., a 1.4-magnitude temblor occurred two miles west southwest of Anderson Springs and five miles east southeast of The Geysers.

A 3.1-magnitude earthquake occurred near The Geyser geothermal steamfield on April 10, as Lake County News has reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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