Power of Attorney – Who Needs It?

This document is for general information purposes only. The production of copies for anything other than free distribution is prohibited. 1. What is a power of attorney? There are two primary types of power of attorney documents. One is the “Advanced Directive” also known as the “Power of Attorney for Health Care”, which allows your agent to make your health care decisions when you can no longer think competently and communicate your wishes. The other type of power of attorney is a General Power of Attorney. It allows the “agent” to make decisions for the “principal” according to the limitations laid out in the document. 2. Who needs power of attorney documents? Anyone who might become sick. Or have a heart attack. Or an auto accident. Or who could fall in their home. In a word, everyone needs to have power of attorney documents. If someone does not have a power of attorney and there is a need for someone else to make their financial decisions they may have to go to court and get a “conservatorship of the estate”. Court proceedings are expensive (upwards of $1,500 plus costs), and unnecessary if some advance planning has been done by signing a properly drafted power of attorney document. Alternatively, someone might also have to go to court to get a “conservatorship of the person” in order to make your health care decisions for you. In addition to the cost there is the stress and uncertainty that goes along with any court proceeding. All of this can be avoided if we act responsibly while we are still competent to do so....

Living Trusts as a Means of Avoiding Probate

This document is prepared for general education purposes only. The production of copies for anything other than free distribution is prohibited. A word about the speaker: Brian Sheppard is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the San Fernando Valley Estate Planning Council. He has worked with seniors and their legal issues since 1990 and is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. He focuses his practice on Elder Law issues, including Wills & Trusts, Conservatorships and Probate. A word about the talk: The following talk is meant to be a general overview only. For specific questions contact an attorney or the agencies mentioned later in this talk. If you believe you have been a victim of a fraudulent trust sales scheme contact the California Attorney General, at 300 South Spring Street, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA, or the Estate Planning Fraud Hotline at (888) 460-7364. 1. Correcting some misimpressions about trusts. Many people think they do not need a trust if they have less than $600,000. This is a confusion about the need to probate the property and the “Exemption Equivalent” (which until recently was $600,000, but is now $1,000,000). Your heirs can benefit from a trust even if you only have a house worth $101,000. A trust is not always necessary to avoid estate taxes. If you have less than the amount of the Exemption Equivalent, (currently $1,000,000), there will not be estate taxes even if there is not a trust. If you are a single person, having a trust will likely not affect the amount of estate...