Rossmoor Presentation: Documents Everyone 55 & Up Should Have Completed

Did you know that right around age 55, there are certain pivotal documents that you should complete in anticipation of your later years in life? And because these documents can have a profound bearing on your affairs when you’re no longer around or if you become incapacitated, it’s critical that you don’t wait to complete them. They include an advance health care directive, a general durable power of attorney, and a will — preferably a will AND a trust.

To help get you started, we’re proud to share this presentation from Absolute Trust Counsel founder and managing attorney Kirsten Howe. She recently spoke at a Rossmoor Counseling Services conference as part of its Optimum Wellness Lecture series to discuss the importance of these documents and the decisions you need to make when completing them to help ensure that your wishes are properly carried out.

Some of the key topics that Kirsten covers in this special Rossmoor presentation are:

  • The role that three pivotal documents — the advance health care directive, general durable power of attorney, and will — play in determining how your personal, medical, and financial affairs will be handled in the event of your death or incapacitation.
  • Why it’s important to have an honest, open conversation with potential agents, you’re considering, especially for your advance health care directive and general durable power of attorney.
  • A list of some of the most important “what if” questions you should ask yourself when having your trust written.
  • The myriad circumstances that can lead an estate into probate, even if a trust has been created. Fortunately, these circumstances can be planned for if you know what factors to consider. Don’t worry, Kirsten will explain!

And more!

Few of us would consider facing our own mortality to be a pleasant undertaking, but properly planning for that outcome can alleviate a lot of chaos, hard feelings, and legal delays down the line. We’re confident that this presentation will provide valuable insight on this often-avoided subject, and we hope you’ll share this Rossmoor presentation with your friends, family, or whomever else you think might benefit from it.

Get a copy of the PowerPoint from this Rossmoor Presenation to take notes or reference as you follow along.

Big Three from Kirsten’s Rossmoor Presentation

  1. Life is uncertain, and no one can predict the future. While most estate planning centers on how your estate will be distributed when you die, all too often, planning for potential incapacity is either ignored entirely or not given proper consideration.
  2. Because the vital documents discussed in this presentation all carry different spheres of influence, they must all be completed with plenty of forethought regarding a lot of “what ifs.” An advance health care directive appoints someone you trust implicitly to make medical decisions on your behalf, a general durable power of attorney allows you to confer legal authority to your designate to act on your behalf should you become unable to do so, and a trust not only spells out what you want to happen when you die, but is also a repository for most of your assets.
  3. If you’re like the vast majority of Californians, a will on its own won’t provide sufficient protection to keep your out estate out of probate — especially if you own real estate. For any estate worth more than $184,500 — and that’s counting your home, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings — you’ll need a trust to avoid probate, which not only is a long and expensive process involving judges and attorneys, but also means that your financial affairs become public record.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

0:00 Introduction

6:42 Wondering what an advance health care directive is? It’s a document that everyone over the age 18 should have that outlines your health care wishes in the event of incapacity. It also names your health care agent.

7:32 Your designated health care agent’s main responsibility is making medical decisions for you. Listen in as Kirsten breaks down their specific duties.

9:33 The general durable power of attorney has become a more important document than ever before, because people are living longer, and when you need access to your money or other decisions made, you don’t have time to wait.

10:58 The general durable power of attorney document is aptly named. It confers a lot of authority, because you are giving your agent a very broad range of powers.

15:54 Financial institutions are required to accept a properly executed general durable power of attorney document, but they can push back, so it’s smart to complete the power of attorney from the financial institution as well — it can help save time and money.

18:03 The vast majority of Californians should have a trust and not just rely on a will. Here’s why creating a trust is so important.

21:16 These are the two essential functions of a trust: It says what you want to happen when you die, and it owns your assets.

23:46 A trust is a very comprehensive document. Here are some of the many “what ifs” you should consider when creating one.

24:38 Here are some examples that illustrate why details really matter when wording your trust.

26:50 Is your childing living in a rental property that you own? Are you cutting them a deal on their rent? If you want that to continue in the event of your incapacity or death, you must spell it out.

28:38 Considering who should be your trustee? The qualifications vary considerably depending on your circumstances. Here’s what to consider and why you may end up choosing two separate people for the role.

33:46 In certain situations, opting for a professional trustee may make the most sense.

37:56 It’s very important to have an open, honest conversation before you choose a family member as your trustee.

38:54 When creating your estate plan, it’s important to think about who else might benefit or need your help — and that doesn’t just mean money.

42:30 A properly worded trust should also consider “what ifs” regarding the life of the beneficiary you designate.

43:44 Providing for beneficiaries with special needs creates an additional challenge when planning to ensure the person keeps their government benefits.

45:33 The next “what if” relates to leaving money or assets to a child with a spouse or partner you don’t like.

47:15 Even a properly worded trust won’t keep your estate out of probate if you leave some assets outside of your trust.

48:34 The assets that should be kept inside of your trust include all of your real estate, most of your bank accounts, investment accounts, businesses or partnerships, etc.

50:46 By contrast, here are some commonly held assets that are usually best left outside of your trust.

54:02 The passage of Proposition 19 has created a number of problems — especially for parents who wish to pass their real estate holdings on to their children. Here’s why.

57:36 Think that there’s no reason to include your checking or savings account in your trust? Then there is no cash available for your trustee to use.

58:31 Couples who marry later in life may be best served by having several trusts because of different views they may have regarding what they want after they pass.

1:00:38 A/B trusts were considered a necessity, but this change in the tax code has rendered them mostly obsolete.

1:02:03 If your trust was updated before 2013, it’s important that you go back and ask your lawyer to update it.

1:03:20 Here are some other life events that may signal that it’s time to revisit your trust.

1:07:42 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: What is a reasonable fee for trust administrators — whether they’re professional or not?

1:09:56 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: Can I name my daughter as my agent but stipulate that she must consult with a group of my close-knit friends?

1:11:46 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: Can I have another attorney look at and update my trust if I’m not comfortable with my present attorney?

1:12:56 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: What will happen if I fill out my financial institution’s power of attorney and later change my designated power of attorney before contracting dementia?

1:14:33 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: Is there any difficulty with naming a U.S. citizen who lives abroad as my trustee?

1:15:37 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If I already have a trust but want to make revisions or adjustments, does the trust need to be rewritten?

1:19:26 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If I’ve purposely left one of my sons out of my estate plan, can he go after my assets once I die?

1:23:04 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If my mutual fund has beneficiaries that differ from those named in my trust, does one override the other?

1:24:36 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: How do I plan to fund a special needs trust for my son with severe autism?

1:25:33 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If a sibling passes and there person that died doesn’t have children or spouse, are the other siblings entitled to see the will or the trust that was created?

1:28:26 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If an estate includes an IRA that has been untapped, is the tax status or income level of the beneficiary affected?

1:29:33 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If I decide to move my primary residence, what does that entail as far as my trust goes?

1:30:30 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: Is there a disadvantage to putting a checking account in a trust?

1:33:16 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: Pertaining to Proposition 19, if you have a non-family member whom you would want to leave your home to, would they get that tax advantage through a will or through the trust?

1:34:05 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If you have funds in an IRA or a 403, is it correct that they shouldn’t go into the living trust?

1:34:38 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: If you had a trust made but can’t find any papers and your attorney has since retired, does that trust have any value?

1:35:33 Rossmoor Presentation Q&A: Can a bank account or IRA list my trust as the beneficiary?

Interested in having Kirsten speak at your next event or webinar? Send us a message through our Contact Us page and we’ll reach out to you to discuss your needs, or feel free to call us at 925.943.2740.

Get in touch with Penny!
Penny Reed, Supervisor
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Rossmoor Counseling Services
(925) 988-7752

Resources/Links Mentioned in this Rossmoor Presentation:

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