New Year’s Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Resolutions time, an ideal opportunity to get our legal and financial houses in order. Here are some resolutions we can all accomplish: 1. Organization: • Label and store all closed bank and financial accounts. • Place an up-to-date summary of your...

The Spouse in the House

Tom Trustor was a 65-year-old widower with three grown sons. He lived in a house he’d bought ten years ago, after his wife died. According to the terms of Tom’s revocable living trust, after his death, all his assets would be distributed to his three sons, share and...

Travel Time Checklist

 You’ve planned your summer vacation. Now let’s do a checklist: 1. Clothing: List generically, per day. Then lock in specifics. Some clothing can be rinsed out in hotel rooms or sent to a hotel’s laundry. 2. Accessories: List cameras, tripods, binoculars, cellphone...

Loose Ends

 Hoping to save his children the cost and inconvenience of a probate proceeding after he died, Joe Client had executed a living trust. He had funded his trust, taking title to his assets as trustee of his trust. Later, Joe re-financed his house. He took the house out...

A Data List for Successor Trustees

What if you have a living trust but you become seriously disabled or die and you have been living alone? How will your successor trustee know what to do, who to contact, and how to locate and access your trust documents, accounts and other assets? You should consider...

Living Trusts: The Cast of Characters

 One of the most useful, flexible and cost-effective legal devices available is the Revocable Living Trust. If properly drafted and funded, a Trust can enable us to avoid probate and perhaps save hundreds of thousands of dollars of Federal estate tax. Its successful...

Leaving It to the Kids

Jared Client, age 45, was divorced. He shared custody of his two daughters, age 10 and 12, with his ex-wife. (She was a loving mother, but Jared didn’t trust her with money. Her well-developed talent for spending was not matched with a talent for budgeting or saving....

Taking Care of Business

 Estate Planning isn’t a fun topic. No one wants to contemplate his own mortality. Nevertheless, most of us do care about what would happen to our loved ones if we were gone. Most of us have worked hard to acquire assets and build whatever estate we have. Most of us...

Estate Planning: A Cautionary Tale

 Grandpa committed an act of kindness: He executed a living trust. He knew    that this would insure that, after his death, his assets would be distributed in accordance with his wishes, without the expense and inconvenience of probate proceedings. He didn’t want to...

Pitfalls, Pratfalls and Shortfalls

Mom and Dad had a revocable living trust, prepared many years ago by an experienced attorney. At that time, it was fully funded: their house and financial accounts had been re-titled to Mom and Dad as trustees of their Trust. Recently Mom and Dad died (on different...

Loose Ends

 Hoping to save his children the cost and inconvenience of a probate proceeding after he died, Joe Client had executed a living trust. He had funded his trust, taking title to his assets as trustee of his trust. Later, Joe re-financed his house. He took the house out...

Anatomy of a Probate Lawyer

 What is probate? Probate is the court procedure whereby we establish the authenticity and sufficiency of a decedent’s will, if any, identify and evaluate the decedent’s assets, pay administrative expenses and approved claims of creditors and distribute the remaining...

The Power of a Power of Attorney

 One of the most useful, easy to access, inexpensive and misunderstood legal documents is the Power of Attorney. This document is used to vest another person with the right to do business on behalf of the grantor (i.e., the person who “gives” someone else his/her...

Successor Trustees

 Allan and Barry Client were twin brothers who lived in Ventura. Longtime business partners, they sold their manufacturing company, cashed out and retired by the time they were in their late sixties. Neither had ever married, and neither had children. When they were...

An Alternative to Probate

 This article is not for you if: you have nothing; or you have no one to leave anything to; or you don’t care whatever happens to your money and real estate and stuff after you die; or you like the idea of paying money (lots of money) to lawyers and courts; or you...

Funding Choices in the Estate Plan

 John and Josie Grantor have a revocable trust, of which they are the co-trustees and co-beneficiaries. If something happens to either of them, the survivor will have access to the interest and principal for the rest of his/her life. The Grantors have two children, 20...

New Year’s Resolutions

 It’s New Year’s resolutions time, an ideal opportunity to get our legal and financial houses in order. Here are some resolutions we can all accomplish: 1. Organization: • Label and store all closed bank and financial accounts. • Place an up-to-date summary of your...

Probate: Why Does It Take So Long?

 Why does probate take so long? Let’s follow the time line of a typical probate: After the decedent’s death, as soon as the identities and addresses of all the beneficiaries and heirs can be determined, a Petition for Probate is prepared and filed. Six to eight weeks...

Procrastination and Your Will or Trust

 Many people (perhaps including ourselves) want to do something to protect their loved ones, such as prepare a will or trust, but procrastinate with excuses, such as: “I’m waiting for the house to sell,” or, “I’m waiting to buy the new house.”v“I’m going on a trip, so...

Revocability and the Remarried Spouse

Sidney and Sally are 40-somethings. Married 20 years, they have two teen-age children. They own a house, two cars, a rental condo, and financial accounts. Their combined net worth is two million dollars, all earned during their marriage. They intend to form and fund a...