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Estate Planning

Original estate planning documents

Does your trustee or executor know where your original estate planning documents are? Keep your contact information up to date.

Written by the Law Offices of Jack B. Friedell.

We recently took over the practice of another attorney. One of the problems we are faced with is contacting old clients whose information has not been kept current.

It is a common practice for attorneys to hold their clients original documents. Often clients will give their drafting attorney the original estate planning documents because the attorney has a fireproof safe or some other way to keep the documents safe. But an important factor would be keeping the attorney abreast of any new living arrangements and contact information.

I am not placing blame on anyone but if I had given my attorney important information for safekeeping, such as my original estate planning documents, I would do my best to make sure my attorney could find me if necessary.The problem usually arises when the client has forgotten that they left the documents with their drafting attorney. A lot of time passes and the client believes they have their originals, probably in their safety deposit box. Little do they know they might be setting their beneficiaries up for disaster because no one knows where the originals are and the grantor or settlor has died.

Now, it may be that the client has passed on their attorney’s information to their trustee or executor, and the client did not believe it was necessary to keep the attorney in the loop in regards to a new address and/or phone number. However, my suggestion (not legal advice, just a suggestion) would be that if you move or change your phone number you will want to make sure the attorney who is holding your original documents knows your new information. And you might even go an extra step and give yourself an annual reminder to check in with the attorney to make sure all is well and that no new legislation has passed that might be relevant to your estate. That way, in case something serious happens, such as the attorney passing away or a new law passing, you can be notified.

For questions on the above content or for any other legal advice dealing with California estate planning documents, a California estate planning attorney can help. Please contact the Law Offices of Jack B. Friedell today.

The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting, or specific advice to your situation.

Why you should establish an estate plan today.

Taking the first step in establishing an estate plan

Written by the Law Offices of Jack B. Friedell

Most people we come in contact with believe that an estate plan is important. When we ask them why, they typically don’t know why but heard somewhere that it was important. Then the conversation will end and move on to other topics such as sports.

A lot of people find it difficult to talk about estate planning. One reason is due to their lack of knowledge about estate planning. Another reason is that people don’t like to think about the things estate planning involves: death, taxes, end of life planning, etc…

Here are just a few of the areas that estate planning covers:

  • Revocable trust– also known as an inter vivos trust or living trust. All your assets are placed into your trust so that your estate can avoid a costly probate upon your death. The minimal price it costs to set up a trust is small compared to the cost of having your estate go through probate. A trust also ensures privacy, where as a probate is public and available to anyone.
  • Power of attorney – who will handle your finances in the event that you cannot manage them yourself? If you do not have a power of attorney set up and you become incapacitated, then the court will assign a conservator who will have power of attorney. Having a plan in place ensures that you decide who will handle your financial affairs.
  • Pour over will – A pour over will in California will provide directions that all your assets are to be placed into your trust upon your death. Basically, any asset not included or funded in your trust will “pour” into your trust upon your death.
  • Advance healthcare directive – An advanced directive, also known as a living will, allows doctors, family and friends to know your health care wishes so that if you are incapacitated there is a plan in place. You make the decisions ahead of time so that your family and friends are spared the pain of having to make potentially life ending decisions if you cannot. This includes directions on what to do if you are in a vegetative state. As many as 30,000 persons are kept alive in comatose and permanently vegetative states.
  • Finally, any good California estate planning attorney will help you transfer title to real property into your trust. A quitclaim deed is used to transfer your real property into your trust. If you have refinanced your home recently your home may have been taken out of your trust. It is important that your property is transferred back into your trust because the title company seldom does this. You will want to make sure what is probably your biggest asset is protected from probate.

Hopefully you can see the importance of having an estate plan in place. If you still have questions you can read more about estate planning on our estate planning 101 section.  If you are single but you own a lot of assets, you might want to consider an estate plan. If you are married, then an estate plan should be at the top of your to-do list. If you own a home in California, then a properly funded living trust will help your estate avoid probate. Take the first step today and educate yourself on the importance of an estate plan.

For questions on the above content or for any other legal advice dealing with estate planning documents in California, an estate planning attorney in Carlsbad, California can help. Please contact the Law Offices of Jack B. Friedell today.

The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting, or specific advice to your situation.