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Santa Ana Estate Planning & Probate Blog

Why banks may reject a power of attorney

It seems that everything is set in place for your estate. You have signed up a competent and trusted individual to assume power of attorney in the event you are disabled and can no longer make plans for your estate. But what if the person with your assigned power of attorney goes to your California bank to handle an issue with your account only to be turned away? Unfortunately, finanical institutions rejecting people with power of attorney is a real scenario that people are experiencing to their confusion and frustration.

According to The New York Times, a person with a power of attorney for an older relative went to a bank ready to consolidate the relative’s accounts only to be turned away. The bank required the original account holder to sign a longer state form than the holder had signed three years ago. However, the older relative had since developed dementia and was no longer fit to sign new paperwork. The New York Times piece points out that many banks and financial institutions require their own forms to be signed for power of attorney to be recognized, but in some cases, the original account holders at these institutions were too incapacitated to sign new forms.

3 reasons a will may not be enough for your estate plan

A lot of people think that estate planning consists solely of making a will. While creating a will is important, this should not be the extent of your estate plan. Many of your assets do not hinge on your will, and there are other aspects of your life for which you need different documents. 

Your estate plan should be more robust to cover more of your assets and concerns. Here are some reasons you should have more than just a will. 

What is a pour-over will?

If you have a California living trust, you also may wish to execute a pour-over will so that your will and your trust work together in the most effective manner. As FindLaw explains, your pour-over will instructs your executor to pour over all of your assets into your living trust.

Basically, your pour-over will is your catch-all legal document that ensures that any asset(s) you inadvertently neglected to add to your living trust will go there at your death. Pour-over wills have many advantages, including the following:

  • You have the peace of mind knowing that your living trust ultimately will contain all of your assets by means of your pour-over will.
  • You need not constantly update your living trust with new and additional assets.
  • You maintain your financial privacy as much as possible.

What is an executor's role in probate?

As an executor in California, it's your duty to oversee many different aspects of your loved one's estate. This includes going through probate if necessary. Though probate can be tricky, the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai is here to help you through it.

As the executor, you play a key role in probate. Unless you're unable to fulfill your duties for one reason or another, probate can only be initiated by you. Not only that, but if you're working with a high-asset estate, the legal process becomes even more complicated. A few of your necessary duties include:

  • Determining which assets of the estate need to go through probate
  • Handling taxes
  • Appraising the assets
  • Distributing the assets
  • Prepare the required documents for handling probate

How can I help my parents age with dignity?

None of us want to think about our parents getting old and passing away, but it is an inevitable fact of life. For many senior citizens in California and elsewhere, the golden years can be full of uncertainty, sadness and loneliness. They may feel less useful than before and that their younger family members are leaving them behind as they live busy lives. Fortunately, you can show your parents that they are just as important to your family as they always were.

Focus on the Family stresses that it is vital to involve your elderly loved ones in your everyday lives, regardless of how often you see them. This is especially important if they have physical or cognitive impairments that limit their independence. Asking them to share their stories in a journal or through emails is a good start - even better if you bring over their grandchildren and record your parents as they talk about their memories, life lessons and funny moments they have experienced. This can help your children bond with their elders and want to participate more in their lives. Consider inviting your parents to dinners out, plays or crafting events to keep them socially and mentally active. If they are still mobile, you might also want to include them on walks or bike rides or enroll in a water exercise class with them. Regular exercise can help delay both physical and mental decline.

Establish a trust for special needs children

When children have special needs, California parents usually devote many resources to their care. Sometimes children may need care for the rest of their lives. In this situation, parents may want to set up a trust.

People may sometimes want to establish a supplemental needs trust if their child has special needs. According to U.S. News, this kind of trust usually does not keep special needs children from receiving government benefits but still provides a way for parents to take care of their children for years. Setting up this kind of trust can sometimes be complicated. As parents establish a plan to care for their child, they should usually consider a few factors, such as where their child will live. A special needs trust may not always cover the food and housing a child needs, so it is important for parents to make sure their child will have an affordable place to live. Additionally, parents should also consider whether a family member will act as the co-trustee and make decisions for the child.

The three core responsibilities of a trustee

If you are a trustee, you may have a lot of questions about your role. As a trustee, you are the legal owner of the assets in the trust. Your core responsibility is to handle all manners involving the assets, including distributing them to beneficiaries.

Although you may feel overwhelmed and confused right now, being a trustee does not need to be scary. Your duties mostly fall into three main categories: management, investment and distribution. 

Recognizing the signs of elder financial abuse

It can be difficult to accept the fact that cognitive ability declines for some senior citizens, especially those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. At the early stages of these conditions, many seniors are still living independently and have full control of their finances. Our team at the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai has seen the heartbreaking results of older and vulnerable Californians who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. If your parent is beginning to show the symptoms of a cognitive disorder, you may worry how to protect him or her from being targeted in this manner.

The National Adult Protective Services Association warns that financial abuse happens to about one out of every 20 senior citizens across the country, making this a disturbingly common practice among scammers and others who want to get their hands on seniors’ assets and funds. Senior citizens with the early stages of dementia or who lack a sophisticated knowledge of modern scams or Internet technology can be easy prey for identity thieves and crooks. Your parent might be targeted by the following methods:

  • A letter in the mail falsely claiming the recipient has won the lottery and must pay a fee before receiving the winnings
  • IRS or utility company scams demanding immediate payment to avoid being arrested or having utilities disconnected
  • Door-to-door home repair salespeople who accept monetary deposits, only to disappear
  • An email claiming to be a family member who is stranded or in jail and needs money

Why should you consider setting up a trust?

When you establish your estate plan in California, you may think that a will is sufficient. There are some times, though, when it might be beneficial to set up a trust.

Although your children can usually receive assets through your will, a trust might be a better option for handing down these assets if one of your children has special needs. Forbes says that this is because your child may sometimes be unable to receive government assistance if he or she receives an inheritance. Additionally, your child might need someone else to control these assets. Setting up a trust can help you ensure that your child has the financial support he or she needs.

What are the duties of a probate estate executor?

As the executor of someone’s California probate estate, you must perform many duties. Depending on the estate’s size, extent and complexity, you may well find that administering it takes substantial time and effort on your part.

As Kiplinger recently reported, your duties as executor generally fall into the following five stages:

  1. Find the will, protect estate property, obtain death certificates
  2. Submit the will to the court
  3. Administer the estate, including paying all its bills
  4. Pay the beneficiaries and yourself
  5. Close the estate