What is Stalling your Will and Trust? A Typically Topical Talk from the San Diego Living Trust Lawyer

I. The number one excuse to delay your estate plan is that

Your Family is Crazy.

TONGUE

It’s the lunatic non-fringe that delays estate planning.

You wills and trusts lawyer in sunny San Diego is sorry to say it, but your family is crazy. They all are. As a matter of fact, the word “family” derives from the Latin, insanit et familiae (literally: “insane is family”). Due to a typically-brief Roman lifespan that  favored conciseness, it was colloquially shortened to familiaea (before simply becoming “family” in the modern tongue).[1]

Over four decades of estate planning experience, your living trust attorneys in San Diego have witnessed many changes to the wills and trusts field.

Yet, the fact that your family’s whack has been a constant feature of San Diego estate planning law. The problem craziness creates is that it begs the question: who do you appoint to carry out your wishes?  Who will manage your will, living trust, power of attorney and advance health care directive, the docs your faithful estate planning lawyer puts together?

II. Get Your Estate Plan Started and Why Keanu Reeves Matters

CALL US
Hi, I’d like to set an appointment for my family’s living trust. 8am? Anything earlier? I’m up at 5 and ready to go!

When you call your estate planning lawyer, he’ll explain with line-by-line instruction what you need to get your living trust started. There isn’t any guesswork.


Would you like to know more?
Contact your San Diego Estate Planning Attorney:
Call: (858) 240-6751 OR Email: admin@abramslawsd.com 


There are many taxing tasks in the estate planning client’s life: sealing supposedly re-sealable bags bought in Costco-sized bulk, knotting the Windsor necktie knot (not to mention non-clip-on bowties), selecting the best ice cream flavor… but the living trust attorney call to kickstart the process isn’t one of them.

Yet, Alas! Your estate planning lawyer cannot do it all. It’s up to you, the estate planning client to assign the “functionaries” to carry out your estate plan (if you are incapacitated or upon death), including a successor trustee to administer your trust, executor of your will, attorney in fact (holder of power of attorney) and agent for your health care directive.

In assigning these roles (and despite herself), the living trust client routinely looks first to insanitae familiaea. 


Read More: Who’s Who in the Estate Plan: Who’ll Manage Your Trust When You’re Gone


Now before it moves on, your living trust attorney blog brings you this moment from blockbuster film history:


Though not as thrilling as seen In the above seminal scene from the now-twenty-year-old(!) flick, Speed (twenty years–how time flies with such, ahem speed) selecting one’s fiduciary (entrusted) peeps for the estate plan likewise begs the question

What do you do? What do you do?!

III. Choosing Who You Trust for the Revocable Living Trust

Thus, the estate planning client wonders:

Whom do I appoint to respectively carry out my will, living trust, power of attorney and advance health care directive?
My nutty sister, Sue or slightly-less-nutty brother, Bo?
Bonkers Aunt Bea or Goofy Uncle Gary? [2]

And a litany of others from the rogues gallery we call family.

Gasp! Is this estate planning dilemma insoluble?
No! Read on, Living Trust Attorney Blog Reader!

IV. The Estate Plan and Arnold Schwarzenegger: Why there are only two choices.

The estate planning client has stalled upon the question: whom does he assign to handle finances when he is incapacitated & upon death? The San Diego living trust lawyer boils it down to two choices:

1. Put it off.

You’d rather not decide the lesser of “evils.”  In casual conversation, you mutter,

A living trust?  Yeah, I gotta get one of those. 

San Diego Wills and Trusts Lawyer Asaph Abrams cites the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Does Ah-nuld have an Estate Plan? You betcha.  Even if you have non-Schwarzennegarian-level assets (but have a modest home and financial affairs to manage), you need an estate plan.

And then… it never comes to be. But, God forbid, something happens. Then what?

Who will manage your financial affairs and health care if you cannot? Who will inherit (and who will not)? Who will manage your estate when you’re gone? Whom do you prefer to care for your kids? 

Do you reckon the State should answer all that? Listen to me now, believe me later: even the Austrian Oak, governator emeritus sworn to the Golden State wouldn’t stand for it. Nein!! Nimmer! Cali-fonia vill not deciiide!

The passive approach won’t do, no it won’t. Not having an estate plan will leave your loved ones with undue confusion and costs that will compound their grief.

You could argue that that would be their own fault… it’s THEIR insanity that stymied your trust. Or you could stop being silly and rationally choose option 2, which is:

2. You deal

In the end, you must decide… to decide. You’ll go with slightly-less-nutty brother. Or not. But choosing nothing instead of something ideal is throwing out the estate-plan baby with the crazy-family water.

We live with uncertainty. What if you make the wrong choice?  Well, my friend: you are going to take that risk and rest assured: what we create are living, breathing estate planning instruments. The revocable living trust is, well revocable. And amendable. If cuckoo-sister Sue someday gets a clue, you can accordingly revisit your living trust at low cost.

Estate planning lawyer Asaph Abrams: on making choices for one's estate plan.

Now you know what to do, San Diego: get your living trust started.

There you go. Crazy family is here to stay. But so is the need to plan your future today (and pray that slightly-less-nutty brother or regular-nutty sister see the light).

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our San Diego Wills and Trusts Attorney, Asaph Abrams:

 

 

 

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[1]
The more cunning of linguists might posit that this theory is blatantly false.
Disclaimer (say it über rapidly like the radio admen do): the attorneys at the Law Office of Asaph Abrams specialize in estate planning: wills and living trusts. As to etymology of Indo-European languages, opinions may possibly be purely speculative flights of estate planning lawyer fancy.
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[2]
Apologies to all Sues, Bos, Beas and Garys. Ed.
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Photo Credit (Arnold Schwarzenegger): Bob Doran; Creative Commons usage. Photo Credit (Keanu Reeves): GabboTMan of Tai Chi 07 CC BY-SA 2.0.

Who’s Who in the Estate Planning Package?

Estate Planning (wills and trusts) attorney Asaph Abrams on appointment of functionaries in the estate plan.

The (Who’s) Who of Estate Planning.

Lettuce Let us commence with your

List of Estate Planning Designees:
(Persons assigned in the estate planning instruments to carry out your directions)

Revocable Living Trust:

Durable General Power of Attorney:

Advance Health Care Directive:

Last Will and Testament:

Intro:

The proverbial “they–” or maybe only your devoted wills and trusts lawyer likens a living trust and signing of estate plan documents to the act of marriage.  It’s a stretch, but bear with your estate planning attorney, please.

I.  Weddings and Estate Planning: sort of analogous

Asaph Abrams on the Estate Plan functionaries
Jacob the Patriarch: somewhat relevant to this estate planning blog.


When women and men wed, they appoint a maid- or matron of honor and a best man, respectively.  Some say a maid of honor dates to circumstances surrounding the nuptials of the patriarch Jacob. [1]  See, his wives-to-be– Leah and Rachel arrived accompanied by their maids (for the purpose of illustration, that’s Jacob wooing Rachel, in the pic to the right).  The best man may date to when knights were sworn by grooms to shield brides from would-be kid-bride-nappers.  Then there’s the tale that groomsmen and bridesmaids–decked in similar dress to the groom and bride–were decoys to thwart evil spirits seeking to jinx the newlyweds.  The Romans gave us that one.   Finally, we posit that the wedding party was simply conceived to ensure the legal act of marriage was witnessed.

Whether you subscribe to stories of patriarchs, knights or evil spirits, the appointment of a wedding party– in particular, its principal players, the best man and maid (or matron) of honor is (loosely) similar in spirit (but not evil spirit) to the appointment of functionaries within the Revocable Living Trust Package (or Living Estate Package), which include the Revocable Living Trust, Durable General Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive and Last Will and Testament. These must be persons you trust: they fulfill critical roles.  They are possibly tasked with tasks of greater import than throwing a tacky bachelorette party lovely shower or booking strippers tasteful venues for bachelor parties.  Then again, people do take weddings very seriously.  Now without further ado, I give you

II. The Estate Planning Party

Being our discussion of Who’s Who in the Estate Plan.  Since we’ve already borrowed from the Good Book, let’s start In the Beginning, with the genesis of the revocable living  trust:

1.  Settlor of the Living Trust

The creator of a trust is the Settlor; she is a proactive person who responsibly retains her faithful wills and trusts attorney to set up a revocable living trust.   The settlor must fund the living trust, i.e. transfer assets to it (e.g. real estate and financial accounts).  The transfer of assets gives substance to the living trust; it does not change ownership or control: the settlor stays in charge. Assets transferred to the living trust are described in attached Exhibits to the trust.

We name spouses as joint settlors of the revocable living trust.

The Settlor is also known as the Trustor.[2]  We’ll opt for Settlor instead of Trustor to avoid confusion with the other Tr- words: the Trust itself and the Trustee, which brings us to the

2. Trustee of the Living Trust

The Trustee, also known as You is the person named to manage the revocable living trust.  Appointment of oneself fulfills the purpose of the living trust: to preserve the settlor’s complete control of the living trust, with right to amend, right to revoke and right to read it at night to hasten one’s slumber.  After all, except for your better-half, who do you trust more than you?

We name spouses as co-trustees of the revocable living trust.

3. Successor-Trustee of the Living Trust

The Successor Trustee is the person named to assume the mantle of the living trust upon death or incapacitation of the settlor and (initial ) trustee of the revocable living trust.   You will appoint a second successor in case the first can’t serve.

The successor trustee is the person who will distribute your (the settlor’s) assets upon death, or preserve assets in the trust for your beneficiaries (e.g. on behalf of minor children), according to terms you specify within the living trust.

4. Beneficiaries of the Living Trust

Beneficiaries of the living trust are the persons chosen by you, the settlor to inherit your property.  In a state of intestacy (dying without a will or trust), inheritance (through sluggish administration absent an estate plan) follows marital ties and bloodlines, which may conflict with your wishes or the comparative needs of survivors.  In the living trust, you designate who will inherit and who will not.  Of course, treat it like the old-school imperative to Rewind (your videotape): Be Kind.

5. Attorney-in-Fact under the Durable General Power of Attorney

If the proverbial bus strikes and you become incapacitated, there is need for seamless handling of financial affairs (like writing checks); when family is distraught, caring for your person, they cannot be hampered by red tape. Advance appointment of an Attorney-in-Fact is in fact, the prudent course of action today. A successor attorney-in-fact is designated in case your go-to guy or gal can’t or won’t follow through.
In the event of extended incapacity (e.g. vegetative state), the Durable General Power of Attorney states preference for a conservator (to exercise broader powers).
If married, each spouse shall have a distinct Durable General Power of Attorney. (They would naturally appoint the other spouse as their first-in-line attorney-in-fact.)


6. Health Care Agent under the Advance Health Care Directive

The Advance Health Care Directive (which is slightly less cumbersome to say than its previous title: the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) appoints a Health Care Agent to provide direction to your treating physician or hospital if you cannot communicate your wishes (e.g. with regard to maintaining life support). Whatever the nature of the directives within the Advance Health Directive, this essential estate planning instrument affords control over matters of self-determination and dignity.
While the married sort tend to mesh in many matters and manners [3], separate Advance Health Care Directives are prepared nonetheless; the respective directives would naturally nominate the other spouse as Health Care Agent. An alternate agent is nominated in the event the Agent-spouse is unavailable.

6. Executor under the Last Will and Testament

Your estate plan will include a will (yes it will). If you have a living trust, your will includes a “pour-over” provision to ensure assets omitted from the trust will, ahem, pour over into the trust to be administered per its detailed provisions. If you don’t have a living trust, the will designates your beneficiaries. To carry out (or execute) its provisions, the will nominates an executor. If you have a revocable living trust, the executor may logically be the same person as the successor trustee; too many cooks in the kitchen isn’t good for handling hot pans or estate plans.

While directions may coincide, if you’re married, both spouses will have respective wills.

So there you have it, the functionaries, appointees, nominees, designees or simply put: the members of the estate planning party.  Now, in selection of bridesmaids and groomsmen– the wedding party, newlyweds consider persons who look flattered by frilly outfits, are skillful event-planners, and able to propose composed and sober toasts.  In selection of the estate plan party, we consider attributes of reliability, integrity and shared values.  If they also happen to look good in tuxes, throw a good party and drink in moderation, then that’s helpful too.

III.  The Estate Plan Signing

We touched upon the historic imperative to witness nuptials; it had (perhaps) the primary part in the invention of bridesmaids and groomsmen: those awkwardly attired friends and family members, bearers of bouquets and rings surrounding the happy couple on wedding stage or under chuppah.  The estate plan likewise features witnessing together with singing and notarizing of its essential instruments.  Witnesses needn’t be the functionaries of the will, living trust, etc.; there isn’t need to schlep.  Good folks from the wills and trusts attorney’s office will suffice.  A notary public is summoned  too.  After witnesses and notary put down John Hancocks and stamps, you’ll have in  hand an estate plan that is valid as an original or as a copy.  (The witnessed and notarized copy is a valid substitute if the original’s misplaced).  Your estate planning attorney is happy to preserve the original or you may take it, file it, safe-deposit-box it (yes: your estate planning attorney fancies awkward coinage of verbs– so be it) and there’s always the space beneath the mattress.

IV. The Dawdle Factor

With subtlety (or perchance bluntness), we’ve touched upon the obvious admonition that time waits for no one; estate planning is often put off with an off-hand remark:

A will or trust? Yeah, I gotta get one of those.

A reason it’s put off: selection of the estate planning party, of course. Because to err is human, to postpone (lest we chance mistake) is, ahem, even humaner? (Yikes!  I now invent adjectives too.)

Procrastination (for fear of error) needn’t be the case in composing a will and trust.  You may cut your nose (the “nose” of having an estate plan in place) to spite your face (the “face” that fears imperfection). What if I err in selection of functionaries for my will, trust, power of attorney and health care directive? Well, what if?  Recall that these are living, breathing documents, which may be expeditiously amended. Absent an existing estate plan, one neglects vital interests: protection of assets, direction for inheritance, care for your person when you can’t care for yourself and instruction for care of your children. Not necessarily in that order of priority.

V. The Cost Comparison

With multi-tiered cakes, flash photography and newly-ubiquitous photo-booths, weddings are expensive affairs.  A living trust or living estate package costs more than a cake (but not all cakes), costs far less than photography and… I would not know how it compares to photo booth prices (my wedding predated that trend).   In any event, estate planning is a fraction of the cost of single ingredients of the figurative feast we dub our wedding day.  Though its drafting falls short of the thrill of getting hitched (the estate plan culminates with notarization, not consummation), our wills and trusts are known to last longer than most marriages!

Our complete estate planning package averages $1,900 to $2,400 consistent with industry practice; yet the quality of our estate plan surpasses the competitive field by far. With sliding-scale pricing and installment plans, we ensure that this necessary legal step is affordable on an always-tight budget.

VI. Peace of Mind

We began by comparing elements of marriage to estate planning, which promote the same goal of certainty and assurance.  Marriage gives peace of mind (that there’s contractual obligation to faithfully put up with your foibles and flatulence).  Estate planning gives peace of mind (that there’s contractual protection from probate and clear direction to loved ones).  Through a living trust, family is spared from adding lack of preparedness to the long list of foibles that comprise our imperfect (but cherished) legacy.

Asaph Abrams on the Estate Plan designees
Jacob the Werewolf: not at all relevant to this estate planning blog.

Wills and Trusts Attorney, Asaph Abrams: offering free, no-obligation consultations in San Diego. Visit us online or call 858-240-6751. E-mail admin@abramslawsd.com to set an appointment.  Se habla español.

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[1]
Not to be confused with Jacob, the Werewolf.
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[2]
The Settlor is also know as You, Dear Reader, to whom this discourse is addressed.
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[3]
Exhibit “1” under  “Mortifying Circumstances of Marriage”: Absent advance coordination in the closet, long-married mates shall inevitably and unconsciously conform to matching selection of textile color-schemes. If my better half, the lovely Robin and I both dress in blue jeans and black tops, one of us will be dispatched to change (his) ensemble stat.
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Estate Planning: Dawdle Not!

The Estate Planning Clock (is Ticking)

“A Stitch in Time Saves Nine”Wills and Trusts and Estate Planning Attorney Asaph Abrams on Getting the Will to Get a Will

“Kate,” an affable Aussie know-it-all at Yahoo! Answers says this saying is of French origin, namely a nautical concept concerning sufficient stitching of shrouds for burial at sea, with sacks weighed down by 9 pounds of shot.  Whatever.  Outside of Oz, the adage is commonly credited to Benjamin Franklin, one of two dead non-Presidents on U.S. paper currency. [1]  Franklin was what you’d call a polymath: inventor, author, theorist, printer, politician, postmaster, scientist, statesman, civic activist, diplomat, humorist and… incorrigible cad. [2]

Though the adage is three-centuries’ old, it has yet to take: at least one thing Homo sapiens never escape is a proclivity to procrastinate. Franklin’s (forget the French) aphorism connects to the common avoidance of estate planning– the execution of a Will, Living Trust, Advance Health Care Directive and Durable General Power of Attorney.   While we always aspire to obtain bills that bear his visage, we can’t touch Franklin’s productivity.  And when it comes to the inescapable concepts of taxes and death, putting it off is especially easy to do.   But taxes and death differ: (personal) income-tax filing may be deferred from April to October; yet, when it’s due, there’s no extension for death, which is why it merits planning.  Now that we’re sufficiently shamed by the prolific Franklin, we will woman- or man-up, we will deal, we won’t dawdle, we will address death by timely attending to our estate.  It’s a selfless act to ensure families aren’t compelled to guess at our wishes for management of health- and financial-affairs.  It’s a selfless plan to preserve our property so that heirs aren’t shortchanged.

Why Fearing the Reaper Isn’t… Cheaper

We are- and remain reticent about estate planning (or any proactive plan pertaining to incapacity and end-of-life).  Yet, ironically (in the actual sense of ironically) the average person (being the non-estate-planner) is not shy of the Great Unknown; she seeks it out!  Or at least that would appear to be the case judging by common attraction to the macabre: we test our fears by watching and reading horror; we revel in gory accoutrement on Halloween.  Yet, constructive treatment of death through simple estate planning is avoided.

Arguably a gory Halloween costume and tickets to see Saw XVI are cheaper than creating a trust.  But not by much: estate planning is obscenely economical.  Not as obscene as some costumes on Halloween or seeing Saw XVI (if Saw XV is any indication), but still.

A sound and solid estate plan (with or without a living trust) has 2 main goals:

1) Protecting Property; and 2) Achieving Certainty plus Peace of Mind.  Let’s succinctly sum these up starting with protection of property:

Absent a living trust, once we shuffle off the mortal coil, our home and real estate pass through probate, a public superior-court proceeding, which stalls (typically for one-year-plus) distribution of our assets; probate is triggered if the aggregate gross value of assets exceeds $150,000 (virtually always the case if one’s a homeowner).  Through court-appointment of an executor (and their attorney), exorbitant fees are deducted from the gross value of one’s property.  In dollars and sense it means this: if your home is valued at say, $500,000, then (regardless of existing liens), probate can exact $26,000 from its value.  Why would one needlessly bid two hundred and sixty Benjamins adieu?  And it’s not our money that’s lost: aye, there’s the rub!  Our children, heirs and beneficiaries shall simply receive less.  ‘Nuff said.  Now on to that most elusive state: peace of mind,

While we’ve dwelled herein on death, the living trust or living estate package is an, ahem, living instrument.  It provides for delegation of health care decision-making if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your preferences.  The estate plan instates a power of attorney to ensure vital financial affairs for your family may be seamlessly handled by a preferred agent.  If you’re debilitated, your family must contend with grief and worry; they don’t deserve an added burden of guessing at your desires.  Who will decide issues of prolonging life?  Who will manage your property?  Left open to linger, these questions can compound families’ pain.  In that sleep of death, what dreams may come if loved ones are deprived and directionless?  Estate Planning (wills and trusts) attorney Asaph Abrams says not to dawdle.

All these directive are distilled into a tidy bundle of papers, which take their place in your file cabinet next to the grade-school art projects, birthday cards and Anniversary car– oops!  that reminds me

(And don’t worry: you’ll get the digital copy as well. Even for this paper-chasing profession, paper… is passé.)

Wills and Trusts Attorney, Asaph Abrams: offering free, no-obligation consultations in San Diego. Visit us online or call 858-240-6751. E-mail admin@abramslawsd.com to set an appointment.  Se habla español.

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[1]
He wasn’t much to look at, but French women (as in French women in France, where he “diplomated”) went wild o’er old Ben. In fact, coinage of the expression ooh la la is attributed to the time of Franklin’s tenure in Paris).  My high-school English teacher (who like Ben, was full-bodied, bald, ribald and brainy) explained that the ladies were simply smitten by Ben’s beautiful mind. Those were the days.
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[2]
So if you ever feel your time management’s inadequate, rest assured: you can feel worse by acknowledging that Ben had no-more hours in his day than you have in yours. Then again, he didn’t have Facebook.
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Just Do It: the Swoosh of Estate Planning

Why We Do it: Estate Planning (namely, a Revocable Living Trust and/or your Durable General Power of AttorneyAdvance Health Care Directive and Last Will and Testament) saves time and money: as simple as that. A Will and/or a Revocable Living Trust removes uncertainty that family and friends would otherwise face.  If you don’t need a trust (due to limited assets and/or lack of heirs), you’ll still desire a Living Estate Package including a Durable General Power of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directive and Last (but not least!) Will and Testament. It’s natural to delay when it comes to writing a will or trust.  Who (in their right mind) wishes to consider their own incapacity and passing from this world?  But… It’s important to think of estate planning in terms of the people you leave behind.Estate planning (wills and trusts) attorney Asaph Abrams points to the positive point that estate planning is for family and friends.

Our low-fee & stress-free estate planning includes a Revocable Living Trust that makes inheritance fast and simple. A living trust avoids probate (a court proceeding, which costs survivors tens-of-thousands of bucks, then takes a solid year to conclude); and (either with- or with-out a living trust), your Durable General Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive, HIPPA Disclosure Form + Last Will and Testament free your beneficiaries from being forced to guess at your wishes

What We’re About:Estate Planning Attorney Asaph Abrams explains the benefits of estate planning. Asaph Abrams and Of Counsel, Ronald F Woods are established San Diego residents and estate-planning attorneys.  Their work is informed by their commitment to community and family.  Through low-cost creation of hundreds of estate plans, we have helped save clients’ loved ones from damaging loss of resources: i.e. precious time and hard-earned money.  We’ve spared survivors calamitous grief caused by uncertainty in the absence of an estate plan.  By writing your individual or family Living Trust, your Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney, we ensure your family will know your wishes.

We offer a free consultation to explain how estate planning (the Revocable Living Trust and/or your Durable General Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive, HIPPA disclosure & Last Will and Testament) will benefit you (and those you care for).  This isn’t a bloated mill-type machine, occupied by so-called wills and trusts attorneys, associate automatons putting on off-putting airs.  You are not pressured with time-share-type sales tactics at a wills and trusts seminar; you aren’t solicited by pre-sorted mail, indifferently treated as a face (or number) in the crowd.  Because we care for your legacy as a person, our estate planning job is tailored to your wants and needs. Here you will find in your wills and trusts attorney an approachable, personable and conscientious advocate.

Wills and trusts attorney Asaph Abrams on the impetus to plan the estate

The Goddess Nike (photo credit: Maxfield, used under Creative Commons)