I got my court’s calendar notes today for my recently filed Heggstad petition where the decedent had done a Suze Orman trust. Different counties call them different things – calendar notes, tentative ruling, etc… but basically it’s the Court’s preliminary thoughts on the case after reviewing what has been filed. It says:
Settlor executed a pour-over will, property is specifically distributed in trust.
No general transfer or assignment/property is titled in decedent’s name.
For court review.
Now what does this mean?
Settlor, the decedent in this case, executed a pour over will as she should have done and she mentioned the property specifically in the trust as a gift. Those are both good. For that Suze gets an A!
No general transfer or assignment means that Suze apparently did not prepare a general transfer or other generic written statement of intent. Court’s in California like having that back up document, even though it’s generic and general, that says something like “I intend for all assets to be in my trust and do hereby transfer them into my trust… and also any future assets….” I am paraphrasing here but that’s the basics of it. The courts like to see this in a separate document rather than a sentence in a trust. As far as I know Suze did not prepare such a document in this case or maybe it was lost!?
Then the dreaded words, “for court review.” This means the file examiner (in this case a licensed attorney who works for the court) has reviewed the file and can not say, without exception, that the matter should be approved. Perhaps if Suze had prepare a general transfer document the probate notes would say “RFA” (or “Recommended for approval”) which is what you want it to say.
To be clear I am not blaming Suze or even singling Suze out as maybe she did prepare a general transfer and the decedent lost it!? Or maybe she just doesn’t prepare those with her estate plans!? I do not see a reference to it when I tried googling general transfer with Suze’s name so it doesn’t look good. Also remember that a lot of attorneys, for some unknown reason, do not prepare general transfers with their estate plans. Or maybe the decedent lost the general transfer document!?
Also, so it’s clear I do not do estate planning so am not trying to get your business. Go to Suze, go to another attorney, go to Legalzoom if you want. I am just saying MAKE SURE YOU GET A GENERAL TRANSFER DOCUMENT WITH YOUR CALIFORNIA LIVING TRUST PACKAGE!
Until next time I remain THE California Probate Attorney!