Since we are at the beginning of new year now is a great time to review some basic ideas concerning Elder Law, Estate Planning and Social Security Disability. So I will start a series of blog articles which will explore some things we need to review.
Let's begin. About a year and a half ago, I had a client come in because he wanted to make some changes in this estate plan. I had not seen the client in about 7 years. I had originally prepared a revocable living trust as the primary means for transferring his property to his children. First, he was confused about what changes he wanted because he apparently had a conversation with his children and they had some ideas as to their vision as to how the property should come to them. He really couldn't explain it to me because he was not focusing on what needed to be accomplished.
My most important two question are "What are you trying to accomplish? and "Why?". Tell me that and I will give you advice and ideas on different ways of accomplishing what you want. Focus on the big picture and don't get consumed by the details like my client. We made some changes but we had a flexible plan.
My client had another problem. When the stock market dropped in 2008 he cashed and put his money into CD's. The only problem is that he put the CD's in his name alone instead of the trust we had created. In using a revocable living trust you want your assets in the trust. I didn't discover this until I started asking him about how his assets had changed in the past 7 years. The client had undone much of the good we had done by creating and funding the trust. I told him he needed to get those assets back in the trust in order to avoid probate which was one of the primary purposes in creating and funding the trust originally. A month later he unexpectedly died. He never got it done. Now we needed to open a probate estate and then also deal with the administration of the trust termination.
There are a couple of lessons. Focus on what you want to accomplish. Your children may have ideas but unless there lawyers they probably are operating under some false impressions. They may have gotten their advice from cousin Louie, the used car salesman. Next lesson, every 3 years pull out the documents and review them. If you are not sure what they mean and how they work because you have forgotten the explanation you received from your lawyer, make an appointment and go over them again. Finally, if you are going to change how title to assets is held discuss it first with your attorney.
William Wombacher, your Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist. I'll help you! http://www.wombacherlaw.com
Serving Peoria, East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Pekin, Dunlap, Chillicothe, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Canton, Galesburg, Lacon, Henry, Bloomington, Normal and surrounding cites and counties of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton and Knox Counties in Central Illinois.