Has your trust been updated since 2004 the law changed!

22 07 2015

DOES THE NAME TERRI SCHIAVO RING A BELL?  All of us watched the unfortunate events on the news BACK THEN involving one family’s struggle with the right to die with dignity.  Regardless of how you felt about that situation, everyone agrees your wishes should be stated in your estate planning documents.  Because of a change in the law effective in 2004, YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE NECESSARY LANGUAGE IN YOUR DOCUMENTS.  The new law is called the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” or “HIPAA” for short.  The problem is the new law does not allow your loved ones to get your medical information if you are incapacitated.  To review, in a living trust there are four documents: 1) the living trust (for assets titled in the trust), 2) the will (for assets accidentally not titled in the trust), 3) the health care document (for medical decisions), and 4) the power of attorney (for other important decisions).  If your trust has not been undated since 2004 we need to amend your living trust so your “successor trustee” can get medical information to show that you are incapacitated. We need to prepare a new health care document so your “health care agent” can get medical information to make the right decision if you are incapacitated and finally, we need to prepare a new Durable Power of Attorney for Assets so your “attorney in fact” can get medical information to show that you are incapacitated.


What You Need and How to Start

23 02 2015

We want to help your family avoid court when you die or become incapacitated.  You need several estate planning documents.  Click on the “living trusts” button to learn about it.  What makes us different from other law firms is that our documents are written in plain English, we charge flat fees instead of by the hour, and we offer free telephone and email support to you and your loved ones.  We will analyze your situation and explain to you what it means to your family in dollars and cents.  Call Judy at 775 832 7006 or email Frank at trusts@spees.com to get started.

The Law has Changed: We need to change your living trust to save you money

25 08 2014

Here’s why we have to change your trust:

1.  The law used to say you could give away $600,000 without Federal Estate Taxes.
2.  That’s why you have an “AB” trust so you could double that amount by preserving the “credit” of the first spouse to die.
3.  The problem is this would cause trouble for the surviving spouse because she would have to:
*pay for legal and accounting advice on “splitting” the trust into two parts (this could cost $2,000 to $20,000)
*account to the beneficiaries every year until her death ($100 to 500 per year), and
*file a second tax return every year until her death ($500 to $5,000 per year).
4.  THIS WAS THE BEST ADVICE AT THE TIME BUT ALL OF THESE COSTS CAN NOW BE AVOIDED because the law changed so that you can NOW give away $5,450,000 (and growing each year) without paying Federal Estate Taxes.
5.  We can AVOID THESE COSTS for the surviving spouse by amending your trust (BUT ONLY WHILE YOU ARE BOTH STILL ALIVE) so that it does not have to be split.
CONCLUSION:  IF you expect your estate to be worth less than $5,450,000 (and growing each year) call Judy with your credit card information at 775 832-7006 and we will do it for you for $490.

Will Your Trustee Want The Job?

25 08 2014

If you have a trustworthy, unbiased, knowledgeable and experienced family member you have chosen as your trustee you are one of the lucky ones.  This is rare.  Congratulations!  But consider this:  Will your trustee want the job?

Your trustee must perform all of the following duties or beneficiaries may SUE:
*obtain, control and safeguard the trust and other important documents.
*establish possession of, control and safeguard ALL trust assets.
*prosecute or defend all claims for or against the trust and YOU.
*make correct and appropriate investment decisions to obtain a REASONABLE RETURN and have enough cash available for distributions to beneficiaries.
*actively MANAGE any real property or business interests.
*make required distributions and use discretion to REFUSE distributions where appropriate.
*prepare and deliver informative and accurate annual ACCOUNTINGS and reports to beneficiaries.
*keep trust assets SEGREGATED.
*prepare and file TAX RETURNS.
*pay all trust bills and MINIMIZE trust expenses.
*refrain from delegating all of the trust duties to other people.
*make decisions to benefit the beneficiaries and NOT in the interest of the Trustee.
Beneficiaries are typically “back seat drivers” and often sue the Trustee over failing to safeguard personal property, failure to prosecute claims, failure to obtain a reasonable return on investments, failure to properly manage real property, failure to make distributions or failure to refrain from making distributions, failure to account and report, commingling, failure to minimize expenses, delegating too little, delegating too much, and making decisions which benefit the trustee.
So will your trustee want the job?  And if your trustee wants the job, is this the best choice?  Choosing a trustee in a state with income tax may cause the trust assets to be taxed in that jurisdiction between your death and final distribution.  California, for example, has that law on the books (California Revenue and taxation Code Section 17743).  Does your trustee have the time, financial knowledge, experience, strength to stand up to the beneficiaries and disposition to communicate with the beneficiaries?  Since your trustee is allowed a “reasonable” fee, will it be to much?  Will your trustee be around long enough in good mental and physical health to see the job through?
Again, if you are lucky enough to have a trustee who wants the job and is the best choice for the job, then congratulations!  If you do not have such a person available, then consider using the Law Firm of Spees & Spees as your trustee.  We have experience in every aspect of trust administration and currently serve as trustees over many estates.  We secure all trust assets and documents, manage trust assets including investments and real estate, prosecute and defend claims, prepare tax returns, communicate, account, and report to beneficiaries, and make approriate distributions.
 With the addition of our latest attorney, our daughter Kristen, we can safely say we will here to administer your trust as long as it takes.
I you would like us to serve as your trustee at your death, we will amend your trust at no charge to make this change only.  Email Frank at trusts@spees.com to get started.

Added Value of Our Law Firm and recent articles

14 10 2013

The added value at our law firm is our years of experience, our continuity, now that our youngest daughter has joined the firm, our easy to read and understand legal documents, and our policy of not charging for calls and emails in the future to keep the lines of communication open without charge. There are no surprise bills at our law firm. You pay only the fixed price you agree to at the inception of our representation of you. We will be there for your children, who will someday call our law firm and ask what needs to be done. Unlike other firms, we will talk them through the process by email and telephone without charge, in most cases. You might want to take a look around our website. You might also want to take a look at two recent articles posted here: One on whether or not to gift assets to your children and grandchildren and one on the death of the Defense of Marriage Act and what it means for same sex couples.

Get Rid of Your Safe Deposit Box!

28 02 2013

The conventional wisdom is to put your loved ones on the safe deposit box or title the box in the name of your living trust. The problem is, when you die your loved one goes to the bank and says, “My mother died and I have to get into the box!” That’s when everything stops and they are not allowed into the box without a lot of hassle, and sometimes a probate. So we advise out clients to get rid of the box before you die. Make sure your loved ones know where your estate planning binder is and make sure we at Spees & Spees have a copy of all documents for safekeeping, in case yours becomes lost. Again, get rid of the Box!

Make It Easy For Your Family

21 02 2013

We’re finding the number one reason for the living trust is so that your loved ones don’t have to deal with courts and attorneys. If you don’t have a living trust, chances are your loved ones will have to go through the court procedure called “Probate.” Sure, probate is costly and time-consuming and a violation of your privacy, but the biggest problem is that you are subjecting the people you love to going to court and dealing with attorneys. And if you have property in more than one state, there may be multiple probates. So for most people the solution is a living trust (protects all assets titled in the trust from probate and guardianship) with a pour-over will (probates assets you neglected to put into the living trust), a health care document (says who will make health care decisions if you can’t) and a springing power of attorney for assets (says who will handle non-trust assets like retirement plans if you become incapacitated). Use a living trust to avoid probate. Where there’s a will…there is a probate! Don’t make your loved ones go through it!