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Old 04-29-2016, 08:20 AM   #21
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I had a nice little will once.
The attorney that drew it up had language in the will that allowed the ex wife a portion of everything I owned from the time I was born.
No thanks.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:21 AM   #22
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Whenever I go to a medical center for tests these days, even routine stuff, they ask if I have a POA and Healthcare Directive. It's nice to be able to answer "yes".

I wonder when they'll start asking about a DNR.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:39 AM   #23
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I have a fair amount of knowledge so am happy to share. This would be relevant in California and perhaps some other states. General free advice so take it for what it cost you.

If you have any real property (even a timeshare) you should probably consider a living trust. In California all interests in real property require trips to the probate court after death. If the value is less than $150k there are abbreviated probate court options but it's still probate court and it's still much more expensive than a trust.

Also, payable on death accounts are ok but that is only death planning. What about if you become incapacitated? You want it to be easy for your trusted person to pay your bills. A trust is superior. The problem is a lot of financial institutions do not honor, or only honor after a fight, powers of attorney. They honor trusts but not powers of attorney; I am not sure why. Unless you use their specific POA form from the financial institution.

Also, in addition to the trust, you should have a will, a POA, a health care directive (or called living will or maybe called health care POA), a HIPPA release, a certified extract of trust and a general transfer statement which indicates your intent for your assets to be in your trust. This last document is important in California as it can help transfer assets to a trust after death without a full probate.

IRAs and retirement accounts are a totally separate issue due to tax implications. Can be better to name individuals directly rather than a trust. However, if minor children then name the trust.

Above all else... MAKE SURE YOUR ASSETS (other than retirement accounts) ARE ACTUALLY TITLED IN YOUR TRUST!
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:51 AM   #24
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I wonder when they'll start asking about a DNR.
The DNR is the fun one for me. At 51 I went to the ER (emergency room) because I had syncope. When they finally figured out the cause, they added defib patches (containerized for defibrillator connection). A few days later they installed a pacemaker and I'm good to go.
For me, if the resulting live after resuscitation was of very low quality, I would not want them to resuscitate me. However, for something like what I had above, I would.
For me, getting the terms of resuscitation or not is critical. I would not like go to something that is simple at a young age.
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:55 AM   #25
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The DNR is the fun one for me. At 51 I went to the ER (emergency room) because I had syncope. When they finally figured out the cause, they added defib patches (containerized for defibrillator connection). A few days later they installed a pacemaker and I'm good to go.
For me, if the resulting live after resuscitation was of very low quality, I would not want them to resuscitate me. However, for something like what I had above, I would.
For me, getting the terms of resuscitation or not is critical. I would not like go to something that is simple at a young age.
I am glad you mention this as I forgot. You make a good point. DNR's are generally for elderly or VERY sick people. It's literally just that... they DO NOT RESUSCITATE you. Most younger people want to be resuscitated and then can always be removed from life support if things are bad. The form, at least in California, is now called a POLST. I believe the website is polst.org and it's something you would do with your doctor.
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:18 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by CaliKid View Post
I have a fair amount of knowledge so am happy to share. This would be relevant in California and perhaps some other states. General free advice so take it for what it cost you.

If you have any real property (even a timeshare) you should probably consider a living trust. In California all interests in real property require trips to the probate court after death. If the value is less than $150k there are abbreviated probate court options but it's still probate court and it's still much more expensive than a trust.

Also, payable on death accounts are ok but that is only death planning. What about if you become incapacitated? You want it to be easy for your trusted person to pay your bills. A trust is superior. The problem is a lot of financial institutions do not honor, or only honor after a fight, powers of attorney. They honor trusts but not powers of attorney; I am not sure why. Unless you use their specific POA form from the financial institution.

Also, in addition to the trust, you should have a will, a POA, a health care directive (or called living will or maybe called health care POA), a HIPPA release, a certified extract of trust and a general transfer statement which indicates your intent for your assets to be in your trust. This last document is important in California as it can help transfer assets to a trust after death without a full probate.

IRAs and retirement accounts are a totally separate issue due to tax implications. Can be better to name individuals directly rather than a trust. However, if minor children then name the trust.

Above all else... MAKE SURE YOUR ASSETS (other than retirement accounts) ARE ACTUALLY TITLED IN YOUR TRUST!
Trusts are all good and fine and thank you for your post and the information.

However, I'll take an alternative position for arguments sake.

There are no trust police and pretty much nobody is watching. Some morally challenged executors may just help themselves at the expense of the rightful successor trustees. I have personally seen, as a bystander such behavior.

In Probate (As you know) the court supervises the disbursement of assets. There is much less chance for "funny business" than with a trust.

Probate costs are not insignificant, but as a percentage of the estate, these fees are modest. So for example, In California a $2MM estate would have (normal) probate fees of $33k. that's just 1.65% of the estate value. While I agree that $33k is not chicken feed, relative to the estate it isn't all that much.

So absent special circumstances, I believe that for many estates that normal Probate (with a professionally drawn will) is the way to go.


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In California all interests in real property require trips to the probate court after death
If title to the property is held in Joint-Tenancy then the property will pass to the other joint tenant(s) outside of probate.
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:45 AM   #27
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Interesting reading. I've been thinking about this for a while now. I'm 53, single, no kids. Financial assets include 401k, IRA, Vanguard accounts and about 50% equity in my house. Plus all my "stuff", the most valuable of which are antiques left to me by my grandparents.

If I die without a will, I believe that my estate would be divided among my dad and my two sisters. Frankly, if I made a will, that's who would get my stuff, too, although maybe I would leave some things directly to my nieces and nephews. Not sure I see the value in going to the trouble of creating a will.

I should probably do something about the health care POA, though.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:00 PM   #28
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Don't forget the "Advance Directive" (sometimes called "Living Will") which can go on file at your local hospital and doctor's office. It spells out your wishes if your agent is not available.
Or, with today's technology, store in your phone, and/or file/register with your local county clerk (in some--all?--jurisdictions).
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:54 PM   #29
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Interesting reading. I've been thinking about this for a while now. I'm 53, single, no kids. Financial assets include 401k, IRA, Vanguard accounts and about 50% equity in my house. Plus all my "stuff", the most valuable of which are antiques left to me by my grandparents.

If I die without a will, I believe that my estate would be divided among my dad and my two sisters. Frankly, if I made a will, that's who would get my stuff, too, although maybe I would leave some things directly to my nieces and nephews. Not sure I see the value in going to the trouble of creating a will.

I should probably do something about the health care POA, though.

Hi ChicagoGal,

I'm deducting from your name that you are in Illinois. Nolo has a good summary of Intestate Succession in Illinois.

Looks like in your case, without a will, your dad would get a double share.

Quote:
parents and siblings
parents and siblings inherit your intestate property in equal shares, except that if only one parent is living, that parent gets a double share
Intestate Succession in Illinois | Nolo.com
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:23 PM   #30
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For a will, are naming a Power of Attorney and naming a Health Care Agent a requirement? Or are they very important but not required documents that make the "meet my maker" process go a lot smoother?
None of them are absolutely required but they sure do make things easier for those looking after you. It is not something you do for yourself, it is something you do for them.

As MasterBlaster pointed out these are all separate documents (at least in MD and WV). We had them all done with an attorney ~two years ago and for the two of us it ran $800, which I think is reasonable.

DW and I learned about this when looking after her father. He did have a will, POA, health care directive, etc. and they made things so much easier for her when he went into the nursing home. Without the POA for example it would have taken a court order to change his address at the post office so we could forward his mail to here! With the POA it was filling out a form and showing the clerk a copy of the POA.

Dealing with the bank, nursing home, doctors/hospitals, and every other institution was made so much easier with the POA and health care directive instead of having to get court orders for every decision, no matter how minor. Not to mention the time and expense it saved DW.

Also put in there what to do with your um, remains when that time inevitably comes. If you don't decide someone else will make that decision for you. Burial or cremation or something else? In WV this is a separate document but again state laws will vary.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:29 PM   #31
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None of them are absolutely required but they sure do make things easier for those looking after you. It is not something you do for yourself, it is something you do for them.

As MasterBlaster pointed out these are all separate documents (at least in MD and WV). We had them all done with an attorney ~two years ago and for the two of us it ran $800, which I think is reasonable.

DW and I learned about this when looking after her father. He did have a will, POA, health care directive, etc. and they made things so much easier for her when he went into the nursing home. Without the POA for example it would have taken a court order to change his address at the post office so we could forward his mail to here! With the POA it was filling out a form and showing the clerk a copy of the POA.

Dealing with the bank, nursing home, doctors/hospitals, and every other institution was made so much easier with the POA and health care directive instead of having to get court orders for every decision, no matter how minor. Not to mention the time and expense it saved DW.

Also put in there what to do with your um, remains when that time inevitably comes. If you don't decide someone else will make that decision for you. Burial or cremation or something else? In WV this is a separate document but again state laws will vary.
Totally agree about the documents something you do for them and not for you. I read were expressing the same is the preparation is one of the best gifts you can give to your family. Makes honoring your wishes when the time comes so much easier.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:46 PM   #32
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We live in a small town, which is probably why it was less expensive. We paid $400 for a package for both of us of wills, POA and Advance Health Directive.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:56 PM   #33
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If like a lot of folks here you have Vanguard accounts, next time you are in your account you can set up the beneficiaries with simple mouse clicks.
Note that, per Vanguard warning, for non-retirement accounts if you specify beneficiaries that conflict with those stated in a will or trust you may upon your death open a can of worms for the conflicting beneficiaries. Tread carefully.

OTOH, perhaps that's what Sunset meant about "setting up" the beneficiaries.
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:16 PM   #34
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My sister once received a very nice check when her jerk ex-husband passed away. He had forgotten to change his beneficiary on his savings accounts.
I've heard of that happening and it was something I made sure not to overlook when I got divorced. No way am I gonna foot the bill for her next cruise!
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:16 PM   #35
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Interesting reading. I've been thinking about this for a while now. I'm 53, single, no kids. Financial assets include 401k, IRA, Vanguard accounts and about 50% equity in my house. Plus all my "stuff", the most valuable of which are antiques left to me by my grandparents.

If I die without a will, I believe that my estate would be divided among my dad and my two sisters. Frankly, if I made a will, that's who would get my stuff, too, although maybe I would leave some things directly to my nieces and nephews. Not sure I see the value in going to the trouble of creating a will.

I should probably do something about the health care POA, though.
Assuming you are in IL.
You can write out your own will - there is will software available (lawyers use software too), just be sure to get it signed by 2 folks who are not in the will. Notary is not needed.
(I'm not a lawyer).
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:58 PM   #36
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Interesting reading. I've been thinking about this for a while now. I'm 53, single, no kids. Financial assets include 401k, IRA, Vanguard accounts and about 50% equity in my house. Plus all my "stuff", the most valuable of which are antiques left to me by my grandparents.

If I die without a will, I believe that my estate would be divided among my dad and my two sisters. Frankly, if I made a will, that's who would get my stuff, too, although maybe I would leave some things directly to my nieces and nephews. Not sure I see the value in going to the trouble of creating a will.

I should probably do something about the health care POA, though.
Note that the whole issue depends on the state involved as do the lawyer fees. In Tx there is the independent executor, where once you get the will accepted, all you have to do is provide an inventory to the court.
But consider that you will have to do a probate of some form for the real property. (be thankful you don't have property in 2 or more states, as that means a subsidiary probate in each state involved).
A local lawyer could also compare the costs of a trust to that of probate. When my parents made their wills the lawyer (who was also a cpa) did not recommend a trust.
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:13 PM   #37
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If I die without a will, I believe that my estate would be divided among my dad and my two sisters.
Ah, but do you know for sure what the law of intestate succession is for your state? Going by this site it seems that you are correct (assuming IL).

Still, having a will removes any doubt about what your intentions were and will probably speed up the probate process since you can name the executor in the will instead of waiting for a court to appoint one.
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:23 PM   #38
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The ex spouse thing is real. My brother didn't update his beneficiaries - and his ex wife got his 401k and state employer provided life insurance. That wasn't enough - she tried to get all sorts of other assets and we had to keep reminding her (and sending her copies) of the signed divorce settlement agreement that showed she was not entitled to these assets. She even tried hard to get some family jewelry that she had been specifically compenstated for in the divorce decree to void any claim she might have. (My great grandmother's engagement ring.)

Thankfully, after my brother's estate was settled, we didn't hear from her again. It irks my sister and I that she received the money she did. (Disclaimer - Bro left his estate to his church, not us... but we had to deal with her greedy demands.)
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Old 04-29-2016, 06:50 PM   #39
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Trusts are all good and fine and thank you for your post and the information.

However, I'll take an alternative position for arguments sake.

There are no trust police and pretty much nobody is watching. Some morally challenged executors may just help themselves at the expense of the rightful successor trustees. I have personally seen, as a bystander such behavior.

In Probate (As you know) the court supervises the disbursement of assets. There is much less chance for "funny business" than with a trust.

Probate costs are not insignificant, but as a percentage of the estate, these fees are modest. So for example, In California a $2MM estate would have (normal) probate fees of $33k. that's just 1.65% of the estate value. While I agree that $33k is not chicken feed, relative to the estate it isn't all that much.

So absent special circumstances, I believe that for many estates that normal Probate (with a professionally drawn will) is the way to go.



If title to the property is held in Joint-Tenancy then the property will pass to the other joint tenant(s) outside of probate.

Your thoughts aren't totally off base but in my real world experience....

1) I had a client last year, in the fiduciary position, gamble over $500k away during administration. That was a court "supervised" probate. Yes, not a trust. GONZO! FIVE HUNDRED K! Nice job by the probate "police" there.

2) If you have a simple situation on a $2m case an attorney fee of $33k in probate or maybe $1k or $2k for simple trust admin. As an attorney I MUCH prefer the probate but for my clients I think the latter makes a tad more sense.

Each state is different but in California it's a no brainer. Just pick a good trustee so you don't need the trust police.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:16 PM   #40
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Your thoughts aren't totally off base but in my real world experience....

1) I had a client last year, in the fiduciary position, gamble over $500k away during administration. That was a court "supervised" probate. Yes, not a trust. GONZO! FIVE HUNDRED K! Nice job by the probate "police" there.

2) If you have a simple situation on a $2m case an attorney fee of $33k in probate or maybe $1k or $2k for simple trust admin. As an attorney I MUCH prefer the probate but for my clients I think the latter makes a tad more sense.

Each state is different but in California it's a no brainer. Just pick a good trustee so you don't need the trust police.
We don't do much work in this area, but fell into a case that ended up involving probate/conservatorship. Long story short, the quality of people/lawyers who tend to be appointed by our local courts in that area is abysmal. We are now representing client in somewhat uphill lawsuit against the court-appointed trustee/administrator after a grossly bungled disposition of the main property in which the estate had an interest...
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