This if often done, particularly with the elderly to add children or trusted friends to the account for convenience in paying bills or other reasons. What most people fail to realize is that this could lead to unintended or unexpected results. \. Disputes, including litigation, are common between the estate of the original owner and the surviving joint tenant as to whether the survivor’s name was added as a matter of convenience or management or whether a gift was intended. Another common mistake is that the person has a will thinking that the asset will pass according to the will, but title is everything and if the account is joint, the will is meaningless. A common situation is when one child is on the account, but the parent wants to leave the account to all of their children. Guess what, that is not going to happen – the one child will get everything! If you want to see unhappiness and resentment this is the way to cause it.
You really need to understand the consequences of each property title and its effect in order to have a good estate plan.
A federal law protects the privacy of your medical information, but you can expressly permit disclosure to a named representative or family and friends (also known as an HIPAA representative). If you create a health care power of attorney, your named agent is automatically deemed a HIPAA representative. However, some states limit this power to a period of your incapacity, so you may want to appoint a HIPAA Representative, who will help you the rest of the time.
Please note that many states do not allow your agent to make gifts of your property, change beneficiaries, or create, amend or revoke your will or trust.
After your death, your agent is required to file the will with the court for possible probate. Simply put, probate just means the need to prove the authenticity of your will. Your agent is also required to pay legally enforceable claims such as debts and taxes on your estate, as well as take care of the distribution of property.
Does the person have the skills, time and commitment to perform the duties required?
Will this person be discreet with my medical and financial information?
Will this person truly follow my wishes?
Is the person willing to take on the tasks?
Are all my documents in order (powers of attorney, living will, will, trusts, etc)?
A revocable living trust functions much like a will, although is far more flexible in what is allow you to do. It allows you to achieve significant personal goals with your assets that you would not otherwise be able to achieve. Perhaps most important, it allows your heirs to avoid probate on almost all property your own — real estate, jewelry, heirlooms, bank accounts and more.
In addition to the points made by the other attorney that advised her, there are other reasons for utilizing a trust based estate plan. For example, using designated beneficiary on assets instead of using a will or trust to pass them has potential pitfalls that may cause her plan to fail. Another major issue to address is how her property will be managed and controlled in the event she becomes unable to makes decisions for herself. A designated beneficiary does not avoid that issue whereas a trust can facilitate those matters better in many cases.
Even though a living trust may be able to avoid much of the probate process, a simple will is still needed to pass over any property that has not been transferred to the trust during your lifetime. Taxes and fees are still administered through probate.
How can you find out if a trust fund exists /has been established with a trustee that you believe to be fraudulent?
A few years ago, someone I know contacted me and was afraid that an individual in her family was taking advantage of her elders. She thought they had been manipulated into establishing a trust fund with a particular individual as the trustee — that person was apparently now receiving proceeds from this fund.
Arizona law makes it illegal to abuse, neglect or exploit a “vulnerable” adult. In addition, the law imposes an affirmative duty on some individuals to report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation to the authorities. “Exploitation” refers to one individual taking financial advantage of another. Financial exploitation must be reported to either of those agencies or the appropriate county’s Public Fiduciary.
If you believe that the elders are being financially exploited then you must consider notifying the Attorney General or Public Fiduciary. Without that, Trusts are private documents and people are free to do what they want with their property unless they are being exploited.
This site is provided as a public service by Poulos Law Firm. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not legal advice or legal representation. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance upon outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein. If you have questions or concerns, please call us directly and schedule a time to talk.