On Being a Fiduciary.

Lay people often agree to act as an Agent or Trustee on behalf of another family member — usually a parent — without knowing that they are agreeing to become a Fiduciary and what that means.   Becoming a Fiduciary is entering into a legal relationship that entails trust, responsibility and accountability.  There are many different […]

posted on: April 13, 2017

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Uncertainty, Estate Planning, & Peace of Mind.

          Uncertainty makes most of us uncomfortable.  It is something most wish to push aside.  Much of what happens over the course of our lifetimes, however, is uncertain until much closer to when it actually happens.  Estate planning necessarily grapples in the present with the uncertainty of what may happen to us and our loved […]

posted on: March 13, 2017

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Administering A Special Needs Trust

          Special Needs Trusts (“SNT”) are for special needs beneficiaries who receive needs based government benefits, such as SSI and Medi-Cal.  Assets held in a fully discretionary SNT do not count as available resources for determining needs based eligibility because the trustee has complete discretion over whether, when and how to distribute assets.  The purpose […]

posted on: February 27, 2017

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Trustees Who “Borrow” Trust Funds.

          Money can be a compelling temptation.  Some trustees give in to their temptation and misappropriate trust funds for their own personal use.  After the fact, when they are caught, such trustees may try to re-characterize their misappropriation as so-called “borrowing”.           Such misappropriation, of course, is not “borrowing” and repayment does not make it […]

posted on: February 11, 2017

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Life Estate for Surviving Spouse

A Life Estate for Surviving Spouse – A person may decide to give their surviving spouse the right to live in the residence for life (i.e., “a life estate”) and leave their children full ownership of the residence once the surviving spouse no longer lives there. Let us consider the issues raised by such a […]

posted on: February 10, 2017

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First Party Special Needs Trusts

         First Party Special Needs Trusts- Special Needs Trusts (“SNT’s”) preserve the beneficiary’s eligibility to receive needs based government benefits. Such as SSI and Medi-Cal.  These benefits are jeopardized when an individual receives a gift or inheritance. The individual then exceeds his or her maximum allowed resources (countable assets).            First Party SNT’s (unlike Third Party SNT’s) […]

posted on: January 26, 2017

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Estate Planning For Grandchildren.

       Estate Planning For Grandchildren-   After a decedent’s own children, grandchildren are next in line to receive inheritances from a decedent’s estate.  Grandchildren usually figure as alternative beneficiaries who inherit only if their parent predeceases their grandparent.  Grandchildren, however, can sometimes be primary beneficiaries, such as when the grandparent raised the grandchild or wants to provide […]

posted on: January 3, 2017

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Bones of Contention

         Bones of Contention- Settling a decedent’s estate can test the personal strengths and weaknesses of the surviving family members’ abilities to get along with each other.  Any preexisting distrust, jealousy, and animosity harbored by any of the surviving family members towards one another can erupt into hostility, especially when money is involved.  Let us consider some […]

posted on: December 19, 2016

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The Incapacity Trigger

       The Incapacity Trigger-   Estate planning is not just about who inherits when you die, it is also about who manages your assets, finances and health care decisions when you become incapacitated.  Incapacity planning raises the issue of whether to confer legal authority while one still has capacity or to wait until one has lost capacity […]

posted on: December 5, 2016

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