Estate planning lessons from other’s mistakes

On March 11, 2016 I got the call of a lifetime… and I do not mean that in a good way. I got the call from the police, in Logan, Utah, that my mother had been shot to death by her husband. This is not a post about domestic abuse, gun control or mental health awareness. That’s not the point of my webpage. This is an estate planning and probate website so let’s talk about those aspects of this horrible situation. First of all I have posted before, since my mom’s death, about some of things I learned. I want to take those posts and go a step further here. I want you to be able to learn from other's mistakes. Just last week I paid off her mortgage. You would think that would be easy to do, right? That is, I have my mom’s money, my mom owed the bank some money, and therefore 2 + 2 s
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Listing all assets in estate planning

Below I have posted a sample of the information we like to have when we do estate planning. Though we do not require the information it’s helpful to us. It’s helpful in different ways. Let’s discuss. First, the dollar amounts are certainly not required but knowing the approximate estate size helps determine what plan is right for YOU.  Often clients do not think about the true size of their estate until they put it on paper. Often it adds up to more than they thought. That is, by the time you add your IRA, 401k, life insurance, and other things to your home equity and savings accounts the value can jump up! Second, we can’t fully fund a trust if we don’t know about all your accounts.  Having the name, account number and address helps us to help you fund the trust! Third, it
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Where to file a trust petition in California

In many cases it’s easy to determine where to file your trust petition. See California probate code sections 17000-17006 pasted below for ease of reference. In a probate case you file where the decedent lived at death. That is the county, in California, where they were last a resident. This can, in some cases, be unclear. For example, we often have cases where the decedent lived in Roseville (Placer county) for 50 years but 3 months before death moved to a nursing home in Carmichael (Sacramento county). Did they move their residence or were they just staying in Carmichael temporarily? You look at things like intent to move back home, was the home rented out, did they re-register to vote, etc…. In a trust it’s totally different. In a trust it does not matter where the decedent reside
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Legal Fees for Trust Funding After Death in California

Generally speaking one of the main reasons people get trusts is to REDUCE ATTORNEY FEES AFTER DEATH.  Yes, there are other benefits to a trust but this is one of the main reasons.  People want to avoid probate.  Sure probate takes 7 months minimum but beyond that it is costly… and most of that cost is attorney fees.  Thus, a living trust should reduce fees and costs after death. However, not all attorneys agree with that.  Sadly some attorneys use death as a money making opportunity. They use the confusion of a child who has lost a parent or the complete bewilderment of a widow who has never even written a check in their life to charge outrageous attorney fees.  As sad as this statement is it is the truth. Successful attorneys make a fine living.  Successful atto
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