Ardent Business Spring 2015

Page 23

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estate plan

If Bruce would have asked me to prepare his estate plan, it would have been a priceless gift to the women in his life. However, every time I would urge him to prepare his estate plan, he would say that it was on his “to-do” list. Unfortunately, his time ran out... much too soon.

death out of the hands of his daughters – these documents would have empowered the daughters and/or the fiancée to take the action Bruce would have wanted. I call these documents priceless gifts that you give to your loved ones. With my assistance, Bruce’s Trust would have held all of his assets, either by retitling the asset into the name of his Trust, or by naming the Trust as a beneficiary to receive the asset upon his death. As such, the proceeds from the life insurance, the funds in the retirement accounts, all of his cash accounts, and the house would have been in the Trust. During his lifetime, it would have been business as usual. But his trust would have held all of his assets, so that in the event of his disability and death, the Trust would spring into action without having to go to court. His successor Trustee would then manage and distribute the assets, according to Bruce’s specific instructions. Bruce would have been able to control how his assets were distributed, when the assets are distributed, who the assets would go to—without having to go to court. Had Bruce yielded to my urging to prepare his estate plan, his daughters would not have to go to Probate Court –thus, saving his daughters' time, publicity, court supervision, and costs, as well as the stress and strain of going through the probate process. Probate in Sacramento County takes approximately nine months to two years to go through the process, and it is public. When they open a probate file, it lists your information, the information about your beneficiaries, their name and addresses, in addition to your property. It’s a public file, so I can look at it, your next door neighbor can look at it, and more importantly—a con person can look at it. I always say that if you let your loved ones go through the probate process, it’s like putting a red bulls-eye on the back of your loved ones. Probate is court supervised, which means that you have to seek court permission, or approval for everything. Probate is also expensive— the rules are set by statute. To probate Bruce’s retirement fund, it cost his daughters over $10,000. If he would have had me prepare his estate plan—it would have been a priceless gift to the women in his life. I think Bruce believed he had more time to prepare his plan—every time I would urge him to prepare his estate plan, he would say that it was on his “to-do” list. Unfortunately, his time ran out much too soon. **Names and events were changed to protect privacy Theresa Carter Geoffroy www.geoffroylaw.com (916) 572-1998 9401 East Stockton Blvd., Suite 149, Elk Grove, CA.

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