Quick Tips on Trusts, Probate and Living Wills

Everyone older than 18 should have a trust.   Aretha Franklin, what a voice…but she died, sadly, in test ate, a fancy word for no will or trust. Emphasis on the middle syllable.

When this happens, the state is forced to make decisions for you.  And, as the sample Living Will below proves, we don’t always understand what these legal terms mean.

There is no doubt in this real estate dad of 11’s mind, it is important.  You don’t want arbitrary bureaucrats, even if they might mean well, trying to read your mind beyond this world

For example, ‘My Living Will’ shows creative ideas & strict interpretation of the law and familial needs, but I don’t think the little B’s really were born outside of wedlock.  They just interpreted mom’s comments literally but differently than she meant.

Put simply, if you don’t take care of your affairs, property and intentions, your “will”, guess what: the state happily will.  And if you trust the super majority that just bumped your gas sales tax to 45% plus come later this year (it’s only 41% today), than good luck.

Your desires and intentions must be written; a holographic (hand-written) will is a start, but you gotta defend yourself from the incessant TaxMan and someone who doesn’t know you and your kids the best, to decide for you.  This is where a living trust comes in.

Probate is the state deciding for you; a trust is you deciding for you.  Take the verbal “Living Will” pictured above; it’s more than a little humor.  Her wishes were real but misinterpreted. With legal advice, she’d better understand HIPPA and other issues.

Mom expressed her health wishes regarding the vegetative state that can happen; the kids took swift action to separate mom from wine and facebook.  So, if your will is not “contractually” housed inside a trust, as well as your bank accounts and real property, etc., a judge, who works hard to do it right, will decide usually with the aid of a good or not so good estate/trust attorney.   In America, at least, your wishes are honored after death as best as possible.

But, they can’t mind meld like Spock of Star Trek fame; the results may or may not mirror your hopes.   There are no cell phones in coffins.  Well, maybe Elvis’?  But, no, the probate judge must decide on the best information available.

Don’t assume anything nor just slap someone else on your property deeds.

Mom B says “But I put my little B, John, on my house’s title with me so there will be no probate.”  Often a BIG mistake because you just may have given away a bunch of your kids’ inheritance.  OK, on some days, you want to dump it all in the Sacramento river because the oversized adult kids drive you crazy, but averaged over time, you know you love your munchkins, whether minors under 18 or much older: you want them to benefit (read beneficiaries, another legal entity) from your blood, sweat and love.

 You decide.  Not the TaxMan.  If you have lots of kids, you can do trusts within a trust to guide future events and use wisdom not expediency.

I have been doing real estate since ’88, and part of my practice has been at the courthouse selling properties for court appointed receivers, judges and trust attorneys.

Example: partition hearings where owners disagree about selling, such as the property from three siblings, brother & sisters that co-owned but memories of who did what have oddly changed.  Or a large $100 million MediCal fraud case with 77 victims and property needing to be sold to satisfy restitution required by the excellent judge.  Among others.  The tragic and the triumph stories side by side all indicate you must make your wishes known.  Life Insurance IS a trust, where the beneficiaries can get paid without probate, since your wishes are legally specified.

My conclusion is a simple one: get with a good trust/estate attorney for a living trust; codify your wishes for your offspring and what you have acquired should be your own.  Concerned, you will resemble the Matrix, held together by wires and tubes?  Then you need a knowledgeable honest trust atty who understands medical laws AND your wishes regarding DNR (do not resusitate) or other medical needs.  BOTH are important.  Otherwise, probate and/or conservatorship (if you CAN’T physically make your own decisions) could result.

More details coming in a later Real Estate Minute Tip on Trusts.

Sure, you can go online to get forms, but that online form won’t represent your heirs or you in court when a major defect in the legal is discovered.  Or it lacks sufficiency in really recording your wishes.

What’s “PROBATE? The “little bastards” sired by Mr. and Mrs. B demonstrated a miniature probate by deciding her future based on imperfect interpretation of her audibles, her spoken will.  It was not written down, and signed with a notary, in legal format.  Recall Aretha Franklin’s four sons now must battle it out, since there was no trust. Not even a will.

Rumor has it, her longtime attorney often recommended it but she never did it.  News flash:  ALL of us will die someday and no UHaul trailer hitches on hearses.

So, now this mom in her 50s (you thought i was gonna write 90s) can’t google, facebook, tweet or link in with her world.  And, her 2010 bottle of merlot, cab or zin just watered the plastic roses on the computer table.  Yes, it is a humorous tale, but Aretha is no laughing matter.  Her life work is up for years of court battles, unless the probate judge assigns an honorable person.

A trust is a contract with specific beneficiaries; probate is a dart board with people outside the family making decisions for you.  Of course, the state is not soulless, and there are rules of succession.  But, next in line for property and personal dispositions is not the same as waiting for a Big Mac or bread and canned corn checkout.

Succession for who will be appointed to personally represent you (legal term is personal representative) could be a turkey shoot; next in line just may be Scofflaw, Jr. who frequents the casinos more than a Vegas janitor at the Golden Horseshoe.

If you don’t put your wishes in writing with a good trust attorney (we can give you the names of some): then  you don’t control much of anything.

No better proof we all need a trust:  I only have 11 kids and became a single dad when Donna went to heaven 49 days short of 49 years old; we had a trust in place and i am now updating it with an excellent trust attorney in Orange.  Which we should do even IF we have a trust, update it when life events or time ensues.

And, you don’t need to own $10.98 million in GROSS wealth for this to be important; smaller “estates” need protection because probate fees are legislated and not cheap.

Best way is to hire a good estate/trust attorney to do it right.  It’ll cost you more than a $2 independence bill but not a million; but, you will have peace of mind governor Moonbeam’s princes and princesses in the Sacramento castle won’t take your hard-earned wealth for the next Capitol soiree.  In our beautiful state of confusion, taxes are MORE inevitable than death.  Yes, we all die, but our wishes can survive our demise.

Trust me, Sacramento royalty would just LOVE to add it to the 40%+ gas sales tax rate in a California minute.  People, start your engines and get your trust going.

Len loves serving the real estate needs of his clients, practicing mainly in southern california.  A licensed broker/realtor who owns Millennium 3 Real Estate, he has taken len beckman picture with tie and blue backgroundextra training in trusts, probate, wills and conservatorship to better serve the client’s needs.  Though not a licensed attorney, he is happy to refer you to an attorney who IS able to take care of your future wishes today.

If you are over 18, a trust is a critical idea.  Problem is, you won’t find out if your procrastination devastates your hard work because you won’t be able to decide for yourself if incapacitated (conservatorship) or hit by an 18 wheeler gas truck (probate).

Life is a journey as much as a bucket list fulfillment.  Act today.

Great interactive website mastered by recently licensed Briana Beckman (taller and yes, prettier than her dad) is at http://www.M3Real.com.  Click on and stroll through it.

Len’s cell is  714-267-1413.  Happy to talk and help you with your real estate needs.  Sellers, buyers, national inquirers, local questioners, investors.  Ready to help.  And yes, he still makes house calls even with health care so costly these days.

There is NO dumb question.  Just unasked ones.





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