Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour, and I wanted to make a brief video today about blended families. More and more clients are coming to me where the husband and the wife have children but sometimes the husband has his own children from a previous relationship, and the wife has her own children from a previous relationship. So this gets a little bit complicated, but let's talk about some of the possible solutions for a family like this.
One solution is to create a living trust that has all of the assets in it. We can call it the "Smith Family Trust." So the Smith Family Trust. There's the husband and there's the wife. Let's say the husband has three kids from a previous relationship and let's say the wife has two kids from a previous relationship. Well, this, as you can imagine, could be a problem. So let's say the husband passes away first. All right? Let's say the husband passes away first and everything is with the wife. Now these children down here are waiting to see what happens. Aren't they? Well what if the wife decides to change the Smith Family Trust? What if she says, "You know what? I don't really like these kids," or somebody enters her life like a new husband, maybe, or a boyfriend or whatever, and they come and they get her ear. Frankly, it could be these children who get her ear, and she decides, "You know what? I want to change the Smith Family Trust. I don't want these children to get anything anymore."
Well that's entirely possible. So what can we do? Well, I sit down with a husband and a wife and I talk about this and I tell them, "Look. Either you're okay with that," and in some cases they are. A lot of times the husband and wife say, "You know what? If my spouse wants to change everything, then so be it. That's okay with me," but then I have some clients who say, "Oh, no. That doesn't sound okay with me." So what are some other options? Well, what we can do is we can say when the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse, the wife in this particular scenario, cannot make any changes to the trust. No changes at that point. So even if somebody tried to pressure her or tell her to do something, she cannot legally make any changes to this trust. It's going to split the way she and her husband originally designed.
Another idea that we can do is the trust can split into two parts. So let's see how that one works. So here's the original Smith family trust. There's the husband and there's the wife. Let's say in this particular scenario the wife dies. What happens is we split the trust into two parts. We put 50 percent on this side and 50 percent on this side. Now it could be different percentages, but this is essentially how it works. This side is called the "A" side and this side is called the "B" side. Now sometimes we call this the survivor's trust because of the surviving spouse and sometimes we call this the decedent's trust. Either way, it's an A, B split. So we take, let's say there's $100 in the trust. We take $50 and put them here and $50 and put them here. So somebody might say, "Well, how does this help?" Here's how it helps. This trust over here, the "B" trust, you can't change. You can't make any modifications to it. It's going to distribute the way the husband and the wife originally designed it. The survivor's trust on the "A" side, the surviving spouse can do whatever he or she wants with that. So this is one solution to that problem.
Also, another way we can do it is we can say that another person will serve as a co-trustee with the surviving spouse. Like one of the kids from the decedent's side of the family maybe can be a co-trustee and make sure that the wife or the husband honor the original agreement. As you can see, things can get a little bit dicey when you have a blended marriage.
That's why it's a good idea to visit with an estate planning attorney, sit down, and map out a plan. Remember, it's called estate planning. There's a reason for that. Having a plan is better than having no plan at all. All the children from both sides of the marriage will certainly appreciate the time that you took to protect everybody involved. Please feel free to give me a call and set up an appointment if you'd like to talk about your estate plan. Thank you very much.
My thanks to Patti Handy (www.PattiHandy.com) for conducting this interview about estate planning issues after a divorce. Here is a link to the audio: https://soundcloud.com/user-535731537/estate-planning-after-a-divorce
Here is a transcript of the interview:
Patti Handy: Hi, and welcome to Money Rules 101. I'm your host Patti Handy. I'm super excited today to have my good friend Rob Mansour in house. Rob is a estate planning attorney, and we're gonna talk about starting over after divorce, and specifically regarding estate planning. And I can just speak from my personal experience, when I went through my divorce, my son was 18 months old, and first and foremost, I wanted to make sure that he was protected. If, God forbid, something happened to me and I wanted to make sure that my ex had nothing, no claims to my funds, and I wanted to make sure he was protected 100%.
Rob Mansour: Right.
Patti Handy: So the plan was one of the first things I did post-divorce. So, Rob, start us off with some of the things that you, when you talk to your clients, what you share.
Rob Mansour: Well first of all, let me say I'm very happy that you're super excited, because estate planning is rarely super exciting, so it's always nice and refreshing to have somebody super excited.
Patti Handy: I'm always excited to see you, Rob.
Rob Mansour: Well, thank you. Most people are very excited to see me. But, that aside, one of the things ... I get calls all the time, clients, either they had a divorce, or they are going through a divorce. It's easier to handle the estate planning part if they're coming to me after the divorce. Because things have kind of finalized, the dust has settled. And now they kind of want to get their house in order. There's not so much I can do during the divorce because there's, California law basically puts a hold, if you will, on estate planning while you're going through a divorce. You can't make changes to wills, changes to beneficiaries, changes to executors, trustees, while your divorce is going on. So, it's better sometimes just to wait until after you're done.
So if you've had your divorce, and now you've separated from your spouse, and you have your assets, one of the first questions I talk to my clients about is, what assets do you have? So the divorce is final, okay, he has his stuff, you have your stuff. What is your stuff? What do you own? Where are your bank accounts? Do you own any real estate? Do you have any retirement accounts? Because the advice that I give the client has a lot to do with what assets they have at the end of the day.
Patti Handy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Mansour: We might find that a simple will is good enough. Or we might say, you know what, I think a living trust would be more appropriate for you. Also, with respect to every asset, we have to look at how title is held to those assets. So, if let's say a gal named Sally comes to see me, and she says, "I just got a divorce." And then we see that her sister's on all of her accounts.
Patti Handy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Mansour: I would tell her, "Well Sally, that means when you die, your sister gets all of those accounts." And that may not be exactly what they have in mind. Or some people will put their children on all their accounts, again, not a very wise idea. That may not be what they want to do. So we have to examine title to all the assets, and then once we've done that, then we can make recommendations to the client. If they don't have an estate plan, the client never had a will or a trust or anything like that, they really should get one. I mean you, Patti, saw the wisdom in setting yourself up and taking care of your house. Putting it into order to protect yourself and your son. Especially because you didn't want everything to be controlled by your ex-spouse.
Patti Handy: Right.
Rob Mansour: So, that's a very important reason. You want to get an estate plan in effect if you don't have one, if only to protect yourself and your children, if you have any. Also, we have to ask ourselves, is there a divorce decree? So at the very end of the divorce, there's a court order signed by a judge, and it says XYZ. So we can't always just do whatever the heck we want to do. We have to sometimes take a look at that divorce agreement, and see, make sure that whatever we are doing with your estate plan doesn't run afoul of what your divorce papers say.
Patti Handy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Mansour: So that's something that I also consider when a client comes in. The estate plan of course, we talked about wills and living trusts, but there's other parts of it too. For example, power of attorney. Who has the legal authority to act on your behalf after your divorce? So perhaps if you already had an estate plan, maybe your ex-husband is still on those documents. Maybe your ex-husband still had the authority to make healthcare decisions for you.
Patti Handy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Mansour: For your advanced healthcare directive. That's probably not what you want.
Patti Handy: Right. Right.
Rob Mansour: And if you have other people in mind, you really should revoke those prior documents and start new documents with the people that you want. Now you also may have some accounts, like retirement accounts, and life insurance policies, where you have what's called a beneficiary on those. And so you want to make sure you revisit all of those accounts, and make sure that you don't have your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.
Patti Handy: Yeah.
Rob Mansour: I recently had a client who passed away, and she had an IRA. And she passed away, and her husband was still the beneficiary of that. It was not exactly an IRA, but it was a retirement account through her work, and he got all the money after she died.
Patti Handy: The ex-husband?
Rob Mansour: The ex-husband.
Patti Handy: Oh, dear.
Rob Mansour: And she had wanted that to go to her children. Unfortunately-
Patti Handy: Ugh.
Rob Mansour: I mean, it wasn't a tremendous amount of money. It was about $20,000, which is a lot. But that went to her ex-spouse because she didn't bother to revisit her beneficiary designations on all of those accounts. And then of course, the other very important issue is the minor children, if there are any minor children. I had a client one time, his name was Tim, and then he says, "Listen, what if I do nothing?" I said, "Well, if you do nothing, and you stay unmarried, everything is gonna go to your child." And he's like, "Super, that's fantastic." And he started to walk out the door. And I said, "Wait a minute. How old is your kid?" He goes, "Oh, she's eight years old." I said, "Well, the life insurance isn't gonna pay $500K to an eight-year-old. They're gonna pay it to the guardian of that eight-year-old. And who is that?" He says, "Oh, that's my ex-spouse."
Patti Handy: Oh, dear.
Rob Mansour: So I said, "Okay, that's obviously not what you want, so we need to set up something so that somebody else controls the money for your child, not your ex-spouse."
So, and the last thing that you might want to do after a divorce is make sure that you have the proper guardianship nominations for your children, because you may not want your children ... especially if ... I don't know what the custody arrangement is after the divorce, but you may not want your child going to your ex-spouse for one reason or another. You may have somebody else in mind to raise your children.
Patti Handy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Mansour: And you should put that in your will or your nomination of guardian at some point. You should make sure that you nominate who you want to care for your children, so that at least you have a voice in the matter after you've, if you should pass away.
Patti Handy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rob Mansour: So those are the kinds of things that I review with a client after a divorce. Dot our i's and cross our t's.
Patti Handy: Yeah. Great advice. You know, it's so important, especially like you said, with minor kids who can't speak for themselves.
Rob Mansour: Right.
Patti Handy: It's just that they're really tiny, like two, three, four years old.
Rob Mansour: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Patti Handy: They can't speak up. And then having that guardian in place just gives you peace of mind, knowing that it's not going to the ex, if that ex was abusive or ... you know, there was issues with drugs, alcohol, or whatever.
Rob Mansour: Yes.
Patti Handy: That's-
Rob Mansour: As a matter of fact, there's something ... we kind of call it anti-nomination. Where for example, in your nomination for guardian, you could say, "I want my sister Mary to be the guardian of my minor children. And I don't want the guardian to be my ex-spouse for the following reasons." And you can list out those reasons. He was abusive, or he was verbally abusive, or demeaning to my children. Whatever you ... he was arrested several times, whatever the case may be. You can sometimes explain why you don't want your child going to the ex-spouse in that nomination of guardian.
Patti Handy: Yeah, nice. That just gives you peace of mind as mom or dad.
Rob Mansour: Sure.
Patti Handy: I think that's great advice.
Rob Mansour: You do your best.
Patti Handy: Yeah. Great advice. Thank you, Rob. So, I know there's gonna be so much more to talk about this, and people may want to reach out to you personally. So how can they reach you?
Rob Mansour: Well, my website is always available 24/7, which is nice. 'cause I do have to sleep sometimes. But it's ... you can find that in www.MansourLaw.com. So that's my last name Mansour, spelled M-A-N-S-O-U-R, the word law, dot com. Or they can call the office at 661-414-7100.
Patti Handy: Wonderful. Thanks so much, Rob.
Rob Mansour: Thanks, Patti.
Hello, everyone. This Robert Mansour, and today I want to talk about making changes to your living trust. Let's say you have a living trust that says what happens with your assets and things like that after you pass away, who manages your assets if something should happen to you etc. Let's say you want to make a change. What do we call that? That's called an "amendment" to your living trust. If you make an amendment to your living trust, that's fine. Basically, you can say "Paragraph C, section four, shall now read as follows..." and you get rid of the old section C subsection four and you put in the new paragraph. Then a couple of years later, you do another amendment and you say paragraph D is going to be changed.
Then two or three years later or five years later, you decide to make another amendment. If you keep doing this as the years go on, it starts to get very complicated. Then the next thing you know, you've got 10 or 15 different documents and you're trying to figure out what's what. That makes things very difficult for your family and for your trustees to manage.
At some point, I might recommend, as well as other lawyers might recommend, something called a "restatement." A restatement is basically one massive amendment that "restates" all the terms of your living trust from scratch. Let's say you have the "Smith Family Trust" from 1985 and you want to change the whole thing or you've had way too many amendments and now it's like putting patches on pants.
If you have too many "patches" on your to fix a hole here and to fix a hole there, at some point it makes a lot of sense to buy new pants. That's what a restatement is. It's a brand new living trust. Now even though all the provisions of the restatement are different or new rather (all the provisions are new), there is one thing that stays the same - the name of your original trust. It's still called the "Smith Family Trust" dated such and such 1985 and you'll still hold all your assets in the same name, but all of the provisions of the trust have been restated. That's why we call it a restatement or a restated amendment.
If your trust really needs to be gutted, and you need to start over, sometimes it makes sense to do a restatement rather than do yet another amendment. I hope you found this video helpful. My name Robert Mansour and thanks for watching.
Excerpt from Santa Clarita Local Leaders audio broadcast. Click here to download the complete MP3 audio.
Rebecca Robins: Well, that's wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us, Rob. Now I'd like to actually focus on probably what you were referring to earlier, was that estate planning. Can you explain to us what is meant by estate planning?
Robert Mansour: Of course. I think the first thing that we should do is talk about this word estate. That, I think, turns a lot of people off, and they figure, "Estate planning is not for me." Because the first thing they think of when they think of the word estate, is they think of somebody living in a big mansion, somebody who is very, very wealthy, who plays polo on the weekends, and speaks with a fake British accent. That is not, the word estate, I think, tends to mislead a lot of people.
The way I tell people is to think of the word estate as simply being equivalent to the term stuff. Everybody has stuff. You might have $50 to your name. You might have $50 million to your name. That is your stuff. It could include real estate. It could include checking accounts, savings accounts, any kinds of bank accounts, investment accounts of any sort, jewelry, clothing, all of the things that you own. Stocks, bonds, all of those things, are part of your "stuff."
That's all estate planning is. It is planning what to do with your stuff, and there's two components, essentially. Number one, planning who is going to be in charge of your stuff, if you will, if something happens to you. Nevermind the issue of death. Most people think of estate planning, and they think about dying. It's really about a lot more than that. It's about empowering people to act on your behalf in case something ever happens to you, whether it is a car accident, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, a coma, something happens where you're no longer able to handle your affairs, you want to make sure that you give people the legal tools that they need to be able to assist you.
Then, of course, the other component is after you pass away, you get to control where your stuff goes, and to whom it goes, and in what manner. By preparing these legal documents in advance, by creating this estate plan with your stuff, you get to control a lot more of what happens, rather than just leaving things to chance.
Let me just also address one more thing here, Rebecca. People always say, "Isn't this what wealthy people do? Don't wealthy people do estate planning? Why should I?" I say, look, yes, wealthy people do estate planning. Wealthy people know how to stay wealthy. That's one of the things that they do very well. We, as average folks, if there are any average folks listening to this, I consider myself average folks, we need to learn from the wealthy people. We need to do what they do. They are using the very same legal tools that are available to everyone. But most people don't think it's for them.
Then what happens in this country, I read an interesting article, most of the wealth in this country, especially in the middle class, is lost between one and two generations. It's gone. That is because the average people don't know how to transfer wealth from one generation to another. They don't know how to preserve it. They don't know how to ensure against problems and things of that nature. Wealthy people know how to do that, and we need to learn from them and do what they do, and preserve the wealth in our family and make sure that it gets to the right people.
Rebecca Robins: So Rob, what you're telling us is, no matter if our stuff is worth, in our mind $50 or $50 million, we should consider sitting down with someone and doing an estate plan. Is that correct?
Robert Mansour: That's exactly correct. One of the things that people tell me is they say, "Look, I don't have enough money to do estate planning. I don't have enough to protect." I tell them, the truth of the matter is, wealthy people like, let's say, the example that I often use is about Bill Gates. If Bill Gates lost a million dollars from his estate, he'd probably be okay. But if an average person loses a good portion of their estate to legal fees, or attorneys, or the court system, or hospital bills, or whatever the case may be, that will hurt that person, much more than it would hurt a very wealthy person. So you're absolutely right.
Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour, and I wanted to make a brief video today about what it means to "have" an estate plan versus what it means to "understand" your estate plan. Sometimes I get in conversations with clients and they say, "Oh yeah, we have an estate plan," or, "We have a living trust," or, "We have powers of attorney. We have healthcare documents." Then I ask them some questions about those documents and they have no idea what I'm talking about.
I'll say, "Well what does your estate plan say?" They say, "I don't know." We'll say, "What kind of living trust do you have? What features does it have?" "Oh, we don't know." "When is your power of attorney effective?" "We don't know."
That's not very good, because having an estate plan is great, but if you don't know how to use it, and if your family doesn't know how to use it, your trustees don't know where it is, your healthcare agents wouldn't know the first thing about what to do, that's not very helpful. What I do is I try to help my clients understand not only having an estate plan, but what it actually says. What does their living trust really say? What happens when someone passes away? When are these documents effective? Under what circumstances should they be used?
As a matter of fact, in most cases I ask my clients to bring their trustees and their agents and their executors to the final meeting so I can brief the entire family about what this estate plan says, what it does, how it's used. Answer all questions, because it's nice to have everybody on the team there. So again, ask yourself, "If I have an estate plan, do I even know what it says?" And shouldn't you?
So if you want to understand what your estate plan says, or you want to get an estate plan, and really know what you're doing and understand the meaning of the legal tools that you are creating give my office a call and we'll do our best to help you. Thank you very much for watching this video.
If you need help with your estate plan, call us at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can assist you.
Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour. Today I want to make a brief video about the fundamentals of estate planning. I have my handy dandy whiteboard here. I'm going to give you like a "macro view," a "flyover" view of estate planning and what the basic components are all about.
In most estate plans, there are legal tools that we can create that can help you and your family in case something goes wrong. I call this the "legal toolbox." Inside this legal toolbox are a whole bunch of tools that people can reach for in case this happens, or this happens, or you pass away, or you have dementia or Alzheimer's disease, or you're in a car accident, etc. Sometimes we need to have legal tools to help ourselves, and to help others help us. A lot of people don't have a legal toolbox. If you don't have a legal toolbox, you might find yourself in court, seeking an order from a judge. If you have all these things set up in advance, you don't need to involve the court. You already have the legal tools that you need.
There are four major tools in most estate plans. The first one is this - The living trust. The living trust is the first major tool. A lot of people think the living trust is the estate plan. No, it's not. People call me all the time and they say, "We need you to do our living trust," and I say, "Do you mean an estate plan?" They're like, "Oh no, no. Just, just the living trust." I tell clients, "That's like buying the engine of the car and nothing else. No steering wheel, no wheels, no seats, no nothing." This is just a part - It's a big part - but it is a part of the estate plan.
The living trust has three major players in it. The first major player is someone called the "settlor." If there's two of them, they're called the "settlors." The settlors are the people who create the trust. You will always be the settlor of your own trust. The next cast member, if you will, are the "trustees." The trustees are the people who are in charge of the trust. In the very beginning, you are going to be your own trustee, or a married couple would be their own trustees.
After you pass away, or you can no longer handle your own affairs, you name people called "successor trustees" to manage your trust. The person who is the trustee, they get to manage every thing inside the circle. When I say "inside the circle," I mean that title to the asset actually says, "Smith family trust" or "Johnson family trust." The title on the asset has to be changed in order for something to be "in" your living trust.
The final cast members of the living trust are the people called the "beneficiaries." The beneficiaries are the people who benefit from the living trust. In the very beginning, that's going to be you, whoever sets up this trust. You're the settlor, the trustee, and you are also the beneficiary.
Before I get to the next one, I want to talk about three main reasons people set up a living trust. The first reason is this: Everything in the name of your trust avoids the court system. The reason it avoids the court system is because you've taken care of things in advance. Number 2: Your successor trustees (the people that you name) in the order that you name them are allowed to manage everything in your trust - Not anybody who wants the job, only the people that you've named. Finally, number 3: There are rules of your trust. At the end of the day, this is a legally enforceable document. What it says has to be followed. You get to set out the rules as to who gets what, and how they get it, and when perhaps they don't get it. The living trust can be a very powerful tool.
The next tool in our toolbox is something called the will. The will that goes with the trust is not any kind of will. Most people have a will that says, "Johnny gets this, Sally gets that, Vinny gets this, my brother Skippy gets that." Your will is going to do one thing only. It's going to direct everything back to your living trust. In fact, we call this type of will a pour-over will because everything "pours over" back into the trust.
People say, "Why would I even need this thing?" Here's why: Remember, I told you that assets in the trust avoid the court system. However, sometimes you might find an asset that was not in the trust. For some reason or another - a clerical error, you forgot, you didn't get around to moving that asset into the trust. The will catches that and directs it back into the trust. The person in charge of your will, by the way, is called your "executor." The person in charge of the trust is the "trustee." The person in charge of the will is the executor.
The next major tool is something called the power of attorney. The power of attorney is the next major tool. This person is called your "agent." Power of attorney simply means the following: You appoint someone, usually your spouse or a friend or a family member, as your agent. They get to act on your behalf in many different circumstances. Sometimes people tell me they say, "Wait a minute. That sounds like the trustee. Isn't the trustee acting on my behalf?" The answer is yes, they are. However, there are many things in our lives that have nothing to do with our trust. For example, let's say my wife needs to speak to my former law firm, my former employer, and she needs to get information. That's not part of the Mansour family trust. That's just some kind of HR file. She needs to act on my behalf. She can do so with a power of attorney. Or she needs to speak to a credit card company, or you need to help somebody with X, Y, or Z. You may need to use this tool to do that.
The final tool in the toolbox is called the Advance Health Care Directive. As the name implies, this person is also called your agent, this person makes health care decisions for you if you cannot. The thing that most people think about when I talk about this is they say, "Oh, this is the 'pull-the-plug' person." I'm like, "Well, kind of...I would say it's about 20% 'pull-the-plug' and 80% 'advocate'." There are going to be times when you are sick, when you need people to advocate for you. You need people who are going to get answers, talk to doctors, talk to hospital staff, make difficult decisions. These people that you've chosen, in the order that you choose them, get to serve in that capacity. Sometimes this is a very tough job.
There you have it. This is a macro view of the basic components. There are others, but these are the big four tools that go into most estate plans. I hope you found this helpful. If you'd like, you can call my office at (661) 414-7100 and set up an appointment to set up your own estate plan. Thank you very much.
When married couples create their estate plan, an issue that sometimes arises is whether or not certain assets are "separate" property or "community" property. In fact, the characterization of property can lead to disagreements.
Simply put, assets accumulated during a marriage are generally presumed to be community property, meaning the property belongs equally to both spouses. For example, lets say John and Sally buy a house together during their marriage. One day, John decides that he wants the house to go to his brother Stan after John passes away. John even goes to a lawyer and creates a will that says, "My house shall go to my brother Stan after I pass away." You see, that's not going to work because the house also belongs to Sally too. John can't simply give that house away unilaterally. It's not his to give away. The house is community property.
However, let's say that Sally's parents pass away and she inherits their vacation condo in Big Bear. In California, anything one inherits or receives as a gift is generally presumed to be the separate property of that person. Sally takes title to the condo but keeps it in her name. In Sally's will, she gives the condo to her cousin Fred if Sally passes away. Can she do that? She probably can because the condo is Sally's separate property. Generally speaking, a husband and wife can dispose of their separate property any way they wish. Sometimes, a husband or wife in a married couple inherits property and they want to make sure it stays on their side of the family. Characterization of property is very important.
Recently, I met a lovely lady named Susan. She had two children from a prior marriage. Many years ago, Susan's husband died. A few years later she married Tom and they lived together in Susan's house for 20 years. However, during that time, Tom made many improvements to the house, paid for repairs, helped pay the property taxes, etc. Susan wanted the house to go to her children after she passed away. I told her that would be fine, but it would be best to make sure that Tom agreed the house was indeed her separate property. It's not that Tom would have made a stink about it, but he had children of his own and I was concerned Tom's children might try to lay some claim to the home after all the money and time Tom spent on the house. Tom agreed and signed the separate property agreement. Susan's living trust provided that if she died first, Tom could remain living in the house until he died or decided to move out. Then the property would indeed be distributed to her children.
The inverse is also true. Roger and Betty got married late in life. When Roger died, his brother Skip showed up and tried to get all of Roger's artwork. Skip told Betty the paintings were owned by Roger before he got married to Betty, and therefore, the artwork belonged to Roger's side of the family. Well, when creating their estate plan, Roger and Betty had signed a community property agreement that specifically stated that all their belongings, including Roger's paintings, were "community property" and therefore belonged to Betty after Roger died.
A property agreement between spouses can be a very helpful legal tool when it comes to clearly designating property as community or separate. If your estate is facing similar issues, call our office to see if we can help.
We've all seen the movies - the old rich person is laying on their death bed, signing a will and other legal documents with the lawyer standing bedside. The entire family is waiting in the hallway, biting their nails.
In fact, most people think estate planning is for old people. Here's the truth - estate planning is not for old people. It's for wise people! Estate planning is about "planning" - creating legal tools that will be available in case something happens to you. You could be in your 20's, 30's, 40's. It doesn't really matter. You've got to sit down and come up with a plan for your estate. How are you going to protect yourself? How are you going to protect your family? These are questions that are not exclusive for "old people" or "rich people."
One reason people most people who create an estate plan are "old" is because they keep procrastinating. Some people think if they create their estate plan, prepare a will or living trust, they're going to die sooner. I have news for you - you're going to die anyway so you might as well make sure you are ready for it and you have a good plan in place so that you're protected.
Here's another myth I hear all the time - "Estate planning is for rich people." This is probably the biggest misconception. Estate planning is not just for rich people. While "rich people" do indeed create estate plans, we need to learn from their example. They're not rich by mistake. They are rich for a reason. They are rich because they use the very same tools that are available for average people. Average people just don't take the time to do it, and so most "average" people generally lose their family wealth within one or two generations. They think estate planning is for rich people and therefore, they don't bother learning about it.
Finally, there is a condition called "paralysis by analysis." Sometimes people can't agree on who their trustees are going to be, who their executors are going to be, or who they're going to name as guardians for their children. They spend so much energy "analyzing" things, they become paralyzed. Too much analysis leads to paralysis which leads to absolutely nothing. Thinking about creating an estate plan is not the same thing as actually sitting down, rolling up your sleeves, and creating one.
So here is my message to you: Estate planning is not only for "old" people or "rich" people. Those are common myths. Consult with an estate planning lawyer and learn how these legal tools can be used to protect you and your family. Yes, there will be tough decisions, but don't spend too much time analyzing everything or you risk doing nothing at all. You can always fine tune your plan as the years go on.
If you want help or wish to learn more about estate planning, call our office at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can assist you.
Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour and today I wanted to make a brief video about a special kind of will that works in conjunction with your living trust. A lot of people ask me, they say, "Well wait a minute, I thought if I have a living trust why do I also need a will?" Sometimes they think it's one or the other, but then I explain to them that there is a special kind over will called a pour-over will.
You see most traditional basic wills essentially go into effect after you die, and they basically says Johnny gets this, Sally gets that, Billy gets this, my cousin Louie gets this. When you have a living trust you're going to have a different kind of will that works with the living trust. What kind of will is it?
It's called a pour-over will. Why do they call it a pour-over will? Think of this type of will as a net that sits under your living trust. Anything that is not in the name of your living trust may end up in court. It may end up outside the trust and therefore subject to the probate court. The first thing the judge wants to see if you got to probate court, is they want to see the will. Why does the judge want to see the will? Because in effect, the will is a letter to the judge. It basically says the following, "Dear Judge, I am dead. This is where I want you to put all my stuff."
Now remember, most wills say Johnny gets this, Sally gets that, et cetera, but the pour-over will does one thing. It says, "Your honor, everything pours over into my living trust," and that's where we get the term pour-over will. Everything pours over as if you're pouring it into your living trust.
If everything is properly titled in the name of your living trust or otherwise, the will is never going to see the light of day. It's going to be a nice tool that sits in your tool box and will never be necessarily used. However, if you do have to go to court your executors going to have your will and your will directs everything to your living trust. It pours over into the living trust.
The reason that you want everything to go to your living trust is because your living trust has all the rules about distributions of your assets. Who gets what and how do they get it and when do they get it and when do they not get it. Once again, that's why people will have a will as well as a living trust, but what you should realize is that it is a special kind of will. It's not a basic standard will, but one called a pour-over will. I hope you found this video to be helpful. My name is Robert Mansour, if I can be of assistance please don't hesitate to contact my office. Thank you very much.
Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour and today, I wanted to talk to you about a special tool in the toolbox, the legal toolbox, known as the estate plan. I want to talk to you about something called a durable power of attorney. The legal toolbox is called the estate plan and it has many different tools in it and one of those tools is the durable power of attorney.
The person in charge of the durable power of attorney is somebody called your agent. It's not your trustee, it's not your executor, but somebody called your agent. Now, it might be the same person that you've designated for another job like trustee or executor but the hat that they are going to wear is the hat of the agent. Sometimes they use the term this person is my attorney in fact. I'm not a big fan of the words attorney in fact because people sometimes think that it actually has to be a lawyer. It does not have to be a lawyer. Hence, I like to use the term agent.
This person that you designate in your power of attorney can act as your alter ego in many, many different circumstances. People say, "But wait a minute, that sounds like my trustee. Aren't they acting on my behalf as well?" The answer is yes, they are acting on your behalf but only with respect to living trust matters. There's a lot of things in our life that had nothing to do with living trust. For example, this person can act on your behalf by talking to your credit card companies, by dealing with your human resources department at your job, by talking to your attorney or CPA, a variety of situations where you might need somebody to act on your behalf yet have nothing to do with your living trust.
Now, some people might say, "Well, that sounds like the person who makes health care decisions." That is a different tool in the toolbox. That's called an advance health care directive. That person is also called your agent but they are making decisions on health care matters. The way I explained it to clients is the person with power of attorney, the person as your agent under power attorney acts on your behalf with all matters that do not directly deal with health care and do not directly deal with your living trust. Essentially, that person is going to be acting under the durable power of attorney. That's one of the legal tools in the legal toolbox known as the estate plan.
I hope you found this video helpful. If you need any assistance with your estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Thank you very much.