Blog | Estate Plan Pros

A Tale of Caution Involving a Holographic Will

My dad always said that wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes – it’s cheaper than learning from your own mistakes.  Here is a classic example to learn from: the estate of Estelle Elsa Manwell, from El Dorado County.  Ms. Manwell was well to do – according to court documents she owned real estate in Contra Costa and El Dorado County worth $1,238,848. Ms. Manwell must have known...

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Protecting Mom’s Future – Estate Planning for the Surviving Spouse

Protecting Mom’s Future – Estate Planning for the Surviving Spouse

According to the Census Bureau, 56% of surviving spouses over age 65 are women.  When it comes to estate planning for the surviving spouse, you can use your trust to give them extra protection. DirectSome couples prefer the simplicity of having everything go to the surviving spouse outright.  If that is your preference, and you have an older trust, it is worth having it reviewed. ...

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Avoid These 7 Costly Mistakes When Planning for a Special Needs Child

7 Costly Mistakes When Planning For A Special Needs Child

Children with disabilities can benefit greatly from advanced planning on the part of their parents.  Conversely, if the parents fail to plan for their special needs child’s future, that child could find themselves without resources and without assistance.  Here are seven costly mistakes to avoid when planning your estate for your special needs child. Mistake #1: Ignoring your child’s...

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Control Your Assets in a Trust

Control Your Assets in a Trust

One of the questions I get all the time is, should I put _________ (name an asset) into my trust?  The answer, of course, is that it depends on the asset, but generally speaking, everything you own should be transferred to the trust.  Which leads to the follow-up question: do I lose control of my assets when I put them into my trust?  Why Put Your Assets Into A TrustIf your goal is...

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5 Types of Living Trusts You Need to Know About

5 Types of Living Trusts You Need to Know About

Not all living trusts are the same.  And I’m not talking about quality either, though that is a major factor too.  I’m talking about the difference between minivans, pickups, and sports cars.  There are five major types of trusts that we use every day in our practice for different situations. Probate Avoidance TrustThis is the basic, direct distribution trust that is the typical...

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Buried in Paperwork?  Suffolk County Probate & Family Court Dysfunction Causes Chaos

Buried in Paperwork? Suffolk County Probate & Family Court Dysfunction Causes Chaos

Missing files.  Unprocessed checks totaling several hundred thousand dollars in filing fees.  A procedural and paperwork mess that saw pleadings as far back as 2015 not docketed or scanned.  The legal system is complicated enough, but when clerks behind the counter can’t handle the paperwork, the system doesn’t function.  And unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in the...

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If Your Trust Is the Beneficiary of Your IRA, It Could Cost Your Kids a Boatload

If Your Trust Is the Beneficiary of Your IRA, It Could Cost Your Kids a Boatload

If you have the wrong kind of trust, naming it as the beneficiary of your retirement account could cost your kids a lot in extra taxes.  How?  It happened because you’ve just forced your heirs to report the entire amount as income.  When you inherit a retirement account, several things change immediately.  The first is that the account will look at the new owner to re-...

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Michael Jackson’s Intent or Opportunists – Court Sends Ex Business Partners Packing

Michael Jackson’s Intent or Opportunists – Court Sends Ex Business Partners Packing

It's 2006, Michael Jackson and his partners are meeting in a hotel.  Jackson promises his partners shares in his company for their loyalty.  Flash forward to today, and the business partners were in court, trying to get their agreement enforced against the estate.The court had no problem sending them home empty-handed.  The problem?  Besides waiting 5 years after Michal...

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Naming A Minor Child as a Beneficiary?  Not so Fast.

Naming A Minor Child as a Beneficiary? Not so Fast.

Planning for worst case scenarios is the reason why we get life insurance in the first place.  But could some simple wording changes on your life insurance beneficiary form make a big difference?  It could make the difference between the court sitting on the money until the child turns 18 instead of the person you trust being able to immediately use those funds for your child’s benefit....

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ABLE Act vs. Special Needs Trusts

Will the ABLE Act Replace Special Needs Trusts Until now, disabled individuals have had very few options to keep money in their control and maintain SSI and Medi-Cal (Medicaid) benefits. With the signing into law of the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act by President Obama on December 19, 2014 disabled individuals and their families have an interesting new option available. The...

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Next in line to be a successor trustee?

What To Do When The Current Trustees Become Disabled

Are you next in line to be a trustee for a family member?  Or, your spouse, who has taken care of everything, is suddenly unable to carry on as before.  With proper planning, you should be equipped to take over immediate medical and financial affairs.  This checklist is for you– what you need to do when neither parent is able to continue caring for themselves or each other. First a...

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Will Airs Dirty Laundry

Why A Will Airs Your Dirty Laundry

Ever wonder why you get to hear about all the details around a star’s estate, like Prince?  It can be fascinating, learning the details of family rifts, and of course, who will inherit the mansion.  Don’t be distracted, though, because you could be exposing those same details to the world for your family.  How?With very few exceptions, all court cases, including probate cases, are...

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California Tax Tricks for Seniors

California Tax Tricks for Seniors

Looking for property and income tax breaks?  California has a few options for seniors that could keep money in your pocket. Property Tax DeferralsWhile not eliminating property taxes, seniors 62 and older or disabled individuals with an annual household income of $35,500 or less can apply for postponement of property taxes on their home.  Information and the application are posted on...

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Three Essential Steps To Creating An Effective Estate Plan

Three Essential Steps To Creating An Effective Estate Plan

Have you ever left the house and discovered that you've forgotten your keys... or your wallet... or that important report sitting on your counter? Sometimes you discover that vital missing thing too late to go back and get it, requiring some last minute scramble. An effective estate plan can help your family avoid costly last minute scrambles. Create...

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Rogue Social Worker Trumped By Dad’s Health Care Directive

Rogue Social Worker Trumped By Dad’s Health Care Directive

Imagine having the court system force treatment on you that you don’t want.  That was the situation in which Dick Magney found himself.Dick Magney was in the hospital and receiving palliative care.  He and his doctor and his wife had agreed that further medical procedures would be counterproductive, when a Social Worker showed up with a temporary treatment order from the court,...

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