Cleaning Up Your Estate Plan

We write our estate plans to stand the test of time. We include clauses that cover digital life, pets and even heirs and beneficiaries that haven’t been born yet. If you never looked at your estate plan again, you would still be protected.

But it never hurts to look at it again and update it.

First let’s review what an estate plan is. An estate plan is a group of different legal documents that work together to protect you in case anything should happen.  There is a Power of Attorney if you become incapacitated, and a Healthcare Directive, for your end-of-life decision, plus much more.

The whole plan works together. If one piece is out of date, you should review the whole plan and update any part that may be out-of-date or no longer reflect your wishes.

Continue reading “Cleaning Up Your Estate Plan”

Can a Creditor take Assets Held In Your Revocable Living Trust?

The answer is YES. Yes they can.

A revocable living trust does not provide protection from creditors, lawsuits or divorce.

There are many advantages to a Revocable Living Trust, but protection of assets isn’t one of them.

A creditor or judgment holder or even an ex-spouse can take property owned by your revocable living trust because the trust is revocable. It is not necessarily permanent, you can change the terms of a revocable living trust agreement at any time. You can put assets into trust and take them out. A creditor, judgment holder or divorce court can force you to take property out of trust to pay off judgments or other types of debt and obligations.

There are other options for asset protection. Here are two suggestions:

  1. Setting up a limited liability company (LLC) or limited partnership and transferring the ownership of assets into these legal entities. It is a good idea to contact an attorney who knows about this, and they can help you set up one of these corporations.
  2. Creating one or more irrevocable trusts – these do provide asset protection. But you are essentially giving the assets away to this trust. Be very careful when choosing his options, it is always best to consult an estate planning attorney who knows about Irrevocable Trusts before doing this.

Even though a revocable trust does not offer asset protection and cannot protect your property from the claims of creditors or a divorcing spouse, there are still options. Speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the steps you can take to create a comprehensive asset protection plan that goes along with your estate plan.

Call our offices for any questions 818.887.9401

Should You Write Your Own Revocable Living Trust?

People have attempted to write their own documents, and we can honestly say every attorney we speak with agrees that writing your own Living Trust is a bad idea.

Here are four reasons why writing your own Revocable Living Trust is a BAD IDEA:

Estate Planning is not a one-size-fits-all or even most.

There are many books and online programs that can help with generating estate planning documents. But they are designed to cover only the most basic estate planning needs.   These generic forms are also deliberately kept as simple as simple as possible in order to comply with the law of all 50 state and D.C. Complying with the laws in Arkansas wont help a family who needs estate planning in Seattle. Estate planning is kind of like fingerprints, no one is a like, and using a generic software or book wont help your loved ones in the future.

Trust Laws Vary from State to State

Stat laws are all different when it comes to issues like probate, state estate tax, inheritance tax and even Trusts and wills.   There are so many different and specific issues it is best to speak with an attorney regarding your states laws. Probate in California is very different then probate in Michigan and can impact your loved ones after you pass. If you write estate planning docs yourself, they may not include provisions or topics that need to be addresses in your state. Here are some specific issues that can impact a Trust from state-to-state: definition of descendants, anti-lapse statutes, community property laws, homestead rights, common law marriages and many more. A generic trust cannot properly address all of these specific state law issues.

The Disclaimer

Books, software programs and online DIY websites all have the same type of disclaimer – “The information contained in the book/program/website is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, consult with an attorney.” We recommend just that, consult an Attorney!

You Get What You Pay for

Would you fix your own car? Repair your own computer? Perform your own surgery? I doubt it. While doing things yourself can save time and money in the short term, when it comes to estate planning, it’s the long term you need to worry about.

Here’s a brief story from an attorney who handled a Trust Administration for a family who did it themselves. A couple brought in their family’s trust. The elder couple had used a well-known attorney’s estate planning website to generate their own docs. When the family brought in the Trust, it stated on the first page that it was governed by Nevada law. I am a practicing attorney in Florida. What is the problem here? Nevada is a community property state and Florida is a separate property state. That was the first of many problems I faced.   It was very clear the couple didn’t understand what they were doing when they used the software. There were many contradictions in the Trust, which made administering it a long and expensive process due to the amount of time it took to try to understand what their intentions were.

Give Hornstein Law Offices a call to discuss estate planning and Trust administration. Doing it yourself will leave your family with a big mess if done incorrectly, and could potentially cost you and your family thousands of dollars. 818.887.9401.

Caring for an Ill or Elderly Parent

This month we are covering the subject of caring for our elderly parents.   Whether your elderly parent suffers from illness or if they are just getting older and need assistance, these steps will help you organize and care for them. This newsletter continues where we left off last time.   We discussed helping ill or elderly parents and loved ones. We ended our discussion after in-home care options. If you are interested in catching up on our newsletters they are all available on our blog. Now we will cover what are your choices when in-home care isn’t a viable option.

If the option to stay in their home is not viable for an elderly loved one you will need to start considering assisted living facilities.

Continue reading “Caring for an Ill or Elderly Parent”

Caring for an Ill or Elderly Parent

 This month we are going to cover the subject of caring for our elderly parents.   Whether your elderly parent suffers from illness or if they are just getting older and need assistance, these steps will help you organize and care for them. This newsletter will cover what documents you will need and what types of assistance may be necessary. Communicating with your loved one is the first thing you need to do and our previous newsletter covered that topic.

As we age sometimes illness and disability can come without warning. Alzheimer’s and dementia are mental illnesses that many elder adults suffer from and the onset can be sudden and rapid. These illnesses require a special type of assistance.

An elderly loved one may suffer from a fall or accident that disables them physically. This type of disability will require a different type of assistance for your loved one. It is important to know the variety of options available depending on your situation.

Continue reading “Caring for an Ill or Elderly Parent”

Musicians Who Died Without a Will

We have all heard the recent news that legendary artist Prince has passed away and he didn’t leave a Will. There has been much speculation about the battle between siblings over his estate and music royalties.

We wanted to talk about five musicians who passed away without Wills, like Prince, and what ended up happening in their battles.

Did you know Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur died without Wills? Bob Marley died after an 8-month battle with cancer, and he left no Will and nine children. Not to mention an estimated $30 million and royalties to all his music, and that was in 1981. Even with months to plan he did not make any attempt to set up an estate plan. As recently as 2012 there had been a lawsuit involving royalties of his music. And there may continue to be lawsuits in the future.

Continue reading “Musicians Who Died Without a Will”

Dying without a Will

Many people have the impression that they can die without leaving a Will and their loved ones will be fine. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. A Will is a document that directs the distribution of your assets to the right people at the right time at the right tax rate. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

As we have said many times, a Will goes through the probate process. Which means it goes through court to prove it is real and get distributed. It is a public process, and here in California it can take years in court, and that can take a lot of money.

Continue reading “Dying without a Will”

Your Estate Plan – Why You Should Plan

  1. To ensure appropriate people step in to handle their financial and health-care-related decisions upon their incapacity and death. It will help avoid court intervention such as guardianship or probate proceedings.

Most people include these documents: a will, power of attorney for financial matters, power of attorney for health care matters, a living will and revocable living trust.

These documents will ensure the appropriate people are there to handle your financial and health needs.

Continue reading “Your Estate Plan – Why You Should Plan”

When is it time to “Service” your Estate plan?

 One way to explain servicing your trust or estate plan is to compare it to your vehicle’s maintenance. We all know our cars require regular, preventative servicing in order to operate correctly and be reliable when we need them. The vehicle’s owner’s manual has a recommended schedule for service, based on either how many miles you drive or based on the amount of time that has passed. After a certain number of miles or certain amount of time your car will need an oil change, engine tune-up and tire rotation. Newer cars have “service due” lights that come on to alert you that it is time to service your vehicle. Either way, it is pretty easy to know when it is time to service your vehicle. If you continue driving your car without servicing it, it is almost guaranteed that your car will lose its reliability and not work when you need it. You could end up stuck on the side of the freeway.

Like a vehicle, your estate plan needs “servicing” if it is going to perform the way you want when you need it. These are preventative measures. Think of your estate plan as a composite snapshot of you, your family, your goals, your assets and the various laws in effect at the time it was created. All of these factors can change over time, and your plan should adapt to those changes. It is unreasonable, irresponsible and actually dangerous to assume your plan, written years ago, will be effective today without proper maintenance and adjusting.

Continue reading “When is it time to “Service” your Estate plan?”

Disputing a Charge on Your Credit Card

If you have ever disputed a charge with your debit or credit card company, you know how challenging it can be.

When you call your card company to inform them of the charge in question they generally take your word for it. Then restore the bank account temporarily or issue a credit, and then they go about their investigation. The company essentially demands that the merchant or service provider who supposedly did you wrong prove that it did no wrong at all.

Chances are you will need to use the dispute process sooner or later. If you have never disputed a charge there are a few things you should know first. The behind-the-scenes game that goes on can be tilted much more—or much less – in your favor, depending on which charges you dispute and how you go about disputing them.

Continue reading “Disputing a Charge on Your Credit Card”