2890 N. Main Street, Suite 206 • Walnut Creek, CA 94597

Absolute Trust Counsel Videos

Welcome to the Absolute Trust Counsel video library. We are pleased to share with you exclusive videos from our team, educating you on a wide variety of topics under each of our practice areas. We hope that these videos will help educate you on key areas of estate planning and help make you more comfortable with decisions during the planning process.

Providing For a Special Needs Loved One When You’re Gone.

Families of children with special needs face specific estate planning challenges that must be very carefully addressed. Parents, grandparents and other family members can ensure or contribute to the support of a special needs person by creating a special needs trust.

A special needs trust allows parents, grandparents or other family members to set aside money or other assets to provide for the special needs person without disqualifying them from these important government programs. Special needs trusts can be used for lifetime giving or for inheritances. If you have a child or other loved one with special needs, you may want to work with a qualified attorney to establish and administer a special needs trust.

Do Know the True Cost of Nursing Home Care?

For some clients, estate planning will also include Medi-Cal eligibility planning for nursing home care. Our goal at Absolute Trust Counsel is to plan so that seniors remain independent for as long as possible while protecting their assets against the expense of nursing home care. We offer compassionate guidance and sound legal counsel whether you are planning well in advance or your family is in aMedi-Cal crisis situation.

Thinking Beyond: What’s Important in My Estate Plan?

You have worked hard to achieve success. Now you want to make sure your assets are protected, your golden years are spent in comfort, and your loved ones are well taken care of after you are gone.

At Absolute Trust Counsel we dedicate ourselves to helping individuals and families from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds do just that. Together, we will create an estate plan for you that protects your hard-earned assets and your legacy and ensures your children’s inheritance is safe from creditors, predators, and even their own inability to handle an inheritance alone.

Not Only Would I Recommend You and Your Team, but I Have.

While some law firms offer general services meeting every conceivable legal need, Absolute Trust Counsel takes a different approach. California estate law is our specialty. It’s what we love and what we do best.

Choosing the right attorney is always a decision that should be made thoughtfully, particularly when it comes to planning for your future. You need a legal team who will take the time to listen closely to you and gain a thorough understanding of your particular situation and your most pressing concerns, goals, and hopes for your legacy. We pride ourselves on practicing that sort of personalized law. We are a law practice that will be there for you and your family today, tomorrow and for years to come — a law firm for life.

The Legal Work That Has To Happen – Trust Administration

The decision to serve as a trustee should not be taken lightly. It is a difficult, time-consuming job, and a trustee can be held personally and financially liable for failure to carry out mandates of the trust to the letter. It is advisable to consult an attorney who focuses on this area of the law.

If you are responsible for administering your deceased loved one’s trust, turn to our firm for the assistance you need.

From Start to Finish the Process was Thorough, Easy, and Efficient.

While some law firms offer general services meeting every conceivable legal need, Absolute Trust Counsel takes a different approach. California estate law is our specialty. It’s what we love and what we do best.

Choosing the right attorney is always a decision that should be made thoughtfully, particularly when it comes to planning for your future. You need a legal team who will take the time to listen closely to you and gain a thorough understanding of your particular situation and your most pressing concerns, goals, and hopes for your legacy. We pride ourselves on practicing that sort of personalized law. We are a law practice that will be there for you and your family today, tomorrow and for years to come — a law firm for life.

I Respect Not Only Kirsten, but Her Whole Team for Always Doing What was Necessary for My Needs

While some law firms offer general services meeting every conceivable legal need, Absolute Trust Counsel takes a different approach. California estate law is our specialty. It’s what we love and what we do best.

Choosing the right attorney is always a decision that should be made thoughtfully, particularly when it comes to planning for your future. You need a legal team who will take the time to listen closely to you and gain a thorough understanding of your particular situation and your most pressing concerns, goals, and hopes for your legacy. We pride ourselves on practicing that sort of personalized law. We are a law practice that will be there for you and your family today, tomorrow and for years to come — a law firm for life.

Absolute Trust Counsel Medi Cal Eligibility Planning Presentation

Kirsten Howe, Estate Planning Attorney and Principal of Absolute Trust Counsel, describes key considerations in the planning process to maximize Medi-Cal eligibility.

If you had to add an extra $8,000 – $12,000 to your monthly budget because a spouse or parent needed nursing home care, how long could you do it? With proper planning, you can stop the rapid outflow of cash before it’s all gone. Join us as we discuss Medi-Cal eligibility rules and planning techniques.

An Easy, Efficient, Knowledgeable and Wonderful Team

While some law firms offer general services meeting every conceivable legal need, Absolute Trust Counsel takes a different approach. California estate law is our specialty. It’s what we love and what we do best.

Choosing the right attorney is always a decision that should be made thoughtfully, particularly when it comes to planning for your future. You need a legal team who will take the time to listen closely to you and gain a thorough understanding of your particular situation and your most pressing concerns, goals, and hopes for your legacy. We pride ourselves on practicing that sort of personalized law. We are a law practice that will be there for you and your family today, tomorrow and for years to come – a law firm for life.

Do You Know How Complicated Probate Truly Is?

When a person dies, his or her estate executor or administrator is in charge of paying outstanding debts and distributing all remaining assets to beneficiaries as designated in the deceased’s will. This is done by means of a court process referred to as probate which can be quite time-consuming.

At Absolute Trust Counsel, we want to simplify this process for you as much as possible. With decades of experience, we are well-acquainted with California probate laws and can be a valuable asset to families during what can potentially be a very challenging time.

A Respite For All: A Volunteer Community-based Dementia Program

This Long-Term Housing Solution is Changing the Way Adults with Special Needs Live

The population of those with developmental disabilities is growing larger, and many in this group will need support of some kind for the rest of their lives. In most cases, this support comes from their parents, and every one of those parents worries about what will happen when they’re no longer able to provide that support. For Sweetwater Spectrum’s founder, Mark Jackson, this quandary presented an especially personal challenge — a challenge that drove him to find a way to create a fulfilling and supportive living environment for those with developmental disabilities. His own son, now 32, had been diagnosed with autism years ago and was soon to age out of his private school. In January 2013, Mark and his partners opened Sweetwater Spectrum. This three-acre farm site supports developmentally disabled individuals in downtown Sonoma to accommodate 16 full-time residents — soon to expand to 20. In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk, Kirsten Howe speaks with Mark and Sweetwater Spectrum’s Executive Director, Olivia Vain. Olivia’s proven experience with directly managing programs focused on enriching the lives of those with autism was a great complement to Mark’s acquired logistical knowledge, and both offer interesting insight into creating a supportive community for those with developmental disabilities.

How to Avoid a Chaotic “Casey Kasem” Estate Plan?

How to Access the Right Education Plan for a Child with Disabilities?

How Does the Special Olympics Change Lives Outside of Sports?

What happens if a Beneficiary Has an Objection to the Trust?

Generally Speaking, the Trustee's Job is to Turn Everything into Cash.

The Earlier You Can Find Out if Your Property will Be Reassessed Under Prop 19 the Better!

Are You a Trustee? Did You Notify the Department of Healthcare Services?

Will Your Trust Split into Two if One Spouse Passes Away? Check With Your Attorney

Often we find that many clients don’t realize what kind of trust they have and when a spouse passes away, the trust may split into two, causing more work to be done. To ensure a smooth transition, so you’re not spending extra time, money, and tax paperwork, plan ahead by talking to your attorney. [Ad] If you need help determining what type of trust you have or revisiting your trust as a surviving spouse, we can help. 925.943.2740 https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/trus… [AD] Your Trust Administration Guide Let Us Help You Get the Legal Work that Has to Happen Done Navigate the Administration of a Family Member’s Trust with Ease The job of a trustee isn’t as easy as one may think. You must give legal notices, retitle assets, file tax returns, understand a legal document, and perform a variety of tasks most people find unfamiliar. As a trustee, if you forget a step or make a mistake, you could be held liable. Protect yourself, have a plan, and find out the next steps about your specific trust. Schedule a one-hour roadmapping session with Absolute Trust Counsel. We will review your trust, answer your questions and develop an action plan to get the job done right. https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/trus… Do you need help with your estate planning now? We can help. Together our Absolute Trust Counsel team will take a look at your situation and your specific needs and develop a strategic plan that will protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what may come. Here’s a link to schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

The “No Contest” Clause and Other Myths

You’ll find no shortage of captivating stories in estate planning. Tales of barely legible handwritten notes found in obscure places detail an elderly decedent’s wish to bequeath a sizable fortune to someone they had only recently met. Accounts of a wealthy decedent becoming estranged from a family member and leaving them out of their estate, then capping things off with a “no contest” clause in their will or trust — often accompanied by a one-dollar payment that the inheritor stands to lose if they do contest the decedent’s wishes — is perhaps the example we hear most often. When taken literally, it sounds a little suspect. After all, the risk of losing a single dollar isn’t going to be much of an impediment for a scorned family member who feels left out and decides that contesting the estate plan that put them there is the only recourse. And yet, we all know that family estrangements happen fairly often. Life is complex and so are family dynamics. As we all chart our own individual courses, some family relationships fray, while others grow stronger and it’s not surprising that these shifts are often memorialized in estate plans, with some family members receiving far less than the others, or even nothing at all. So where does the truth lie? Is it really possible to freeze a family member out of an estate and insert a “no contest” clause to safeguard from challenges?? Do “no contest” clauses truly hold up in the real world, or would that aforementioned family member have recourse if they find themselves in that position? Do things change if that heir sincerely feels that the decedent had been unduly influenced, or even preyed upon by an opportunist — family member or otherwise — and can offer what they believe to be proof of this bad intent? For the answers to these questions, as well as several others that often crop up during the course of estate planning, tune into our latest episode of Absolute Trust Talk. Kirsten Howe will be speaking with trust and estate litigation attorney Jennifer Herlihy, who is unusually well-positioned to weigh in on these matters. As a partner at Walnut Creek-based Koller Herlihy, LLP, she centers her practice on trust and estate litigation, contested conservatorships, financial elder abuse actions, and other casework that’s often behind the volatility we so often hear about in trust-related cases.Do you need help with your estate planning or trust administration now? Here’s a link to schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

Free and Appropriate Public Education: How to Get One For Your Special Needs Child?

Being the parent of a special needs child is an exceedingly demanding role that comes with innumerable responsibilities geared toward helping that child navigate the world around them in the most enriching and gratifying way. The most important of these responsibilities is seeing that the child receives the best education possible, maximizing their social and behavioral skills. This is a challenging task. The term “special needs” covers a wide range of disabilities, so the nature of that education will vary considerably from child to child. However, these children all have one thing in common — the right to a free and appropriate public education. And, because the term “appropriate” is so subjective, it’s often a point of contention between school district officials who insist that they’re doing the very best they can to fulfill their obligations and parents of special needs children who maintain that the accommodations being provided just aren’t accomplishing what they need to. Maybe you’re the parent of a special needs child and have become frustrated in your efforts to secure the best possible education for that child — an education that’s guaranteed by law. Or perhaps you know someone who’s at such an impasse. If so, you’ll want to tune into the latest episode of Absolute Trust Talk as Kirsten Howe speaks with California Special Education Rights Attorney Jennifer Chang – Jennifer’s firm centers on fighting for the rights of children with special needs to get the education and services they need. In her practice, she litigates for those children and educates their parents on becoming better advocates for their needs.Do you need help with your estate planning or trust administration now? We can help. Together our Absolute Trust Counsel team will take a look at your situation and your specific needs and develop a strategic plan that will protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what may come. Here’s a link to schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

Wondering How NFTs are Changing the Future of Fine Art?

At first glance, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, would seem to have little place in the world of fine art. After all, they’ve only been around for nine years, and during that time, they’ve developed a reputation as an abstract form of digital currency only fully understood by tech-savvy early adopters. The mere mention of NFTs raises a bit of skepticism in some circles, partly because not many of us comprehend the technology behind them. Ask someone to explain NFTs and blockchain technology in layman’s terms, and you’re likely to hear plenty of stammering and double talk, but our newest episode of Absolute Trust Talk will provide a welcome reprieve from that. Kirsten Howe’s guest is Claudia Worthington Hess, who brings an unusual combination of 40 years of experience in the art market and a thorough knowledge of NFTs to the discussion. Her new book, NFTs: A Handbook for Art Lovers, results from 17 months of research on this often-misunderstood topic. In this episode, she’ll explain why NFTs and fine art — two worlds that seem to have nothing in common — are a natural fit for each other and why NFTs are here to stay, becoming more prevalent in the future.Do you need help with your estate planning or trust administration now? We can help. Together our Absolute Trust Counsel team will take a look at your situation and your specific needs and develop a strategic plan that will protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what may come. Here’s a link to schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

Is Your Loved One Really Safe in Their Nursing Home?

It’s a scenario you’d never want to imagine — let alone experience — but it happens more often than you’d think. After doing hours and hours of research and asking all the right questions to a list of skilled nursing facility candidates for a loved one who needs long-term care, you decided on what you believe was the best option. Later on, you come to find out that your loved one failed to receive the care they were promised and showed signs of abuse. If you’re like many people, you may have thought that facilities like the one you chose were guided by a sense of duty to the vulnerable and dependent residents they serve. But unfortunately, skilled nursing facilities are almost invariably for-profit businesses that put a very high premium on their bottom line, sometimes to the detriment of their residents. To find out what you can do to ensure that your loved one gets the best possible care in their nursing facility, we’re pleased to welcome Shahrad Milanfar, of Milanfar Law in Walnut Creek, who helps victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Shahrad has substantial court-tested experience with nursing home abuse cases and takes pride in being a persistent voice for clients during litigation. His selection to the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 for 2022-23 is a testimonial to his skill and knowledge in court — both of which he continues to teach as an adjunct professor at the Golden Gate University School of Law.Do you need help with your estate planning now? We can help. Our ATC team will take a look at your situation & needs & develop a strategic plan that will protect you & your loved ones, regardless of what may come. Schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

What Are Commonly Overlooked Money Issues When Splitting Assets in a Divorce?

Whether you’ve experienced it yourself or have seen it happen to someone close to you, you’re likely to agree that there aren’t many life events that are more emotionally taxing than divorce. Two lives that have been bound together — by law and through shared experiences — are severed, and with that comes the necessities required to complete that break. In a “50/50” state like California, where assets are required by law to be divided equally among spouses, it would seem like a cut-and-dry job, and in some respects, it is. But not all community assets are that easy to divide. The most obvious example of this would be the family home. In reality, arriving at an equitable division of assets after a divorce is a very complex undertaking. There are plenty of considerations to be made — many of which wouldn’t even be on the average person’s radar. But, if you’re contemplating divorce or want to provide some insight to someone close to you who is, you’ll definitely want to tune into the latest episode of Absolute Trust Talk, as Kirsten welcomes Glenn Bittner, who is not only a financial advisor with Pacific Wealth Planning but also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Glenn offers a unique blend of practical knowledge and experience that allows him to view the emotionally fraught issue of divorce from the rational, financial side. In addition to his CDFA® certification, Glenn obtained his FINRA Series 6, 63, 65, and 7 licenses. As a former mathematics major, he has a penchant for calculating the present and future valuations of a wide array of financial assets. He was born for this role!Do you need help with your estate planning or trust administration now? We can help. Together our Absolute Trust Counsel team will look at your situation and specific needs and develop a strategic plan that will protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what may come. today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

What’s Left of the Presley Estate? Lessons Learned from Elvis & Lisa Marie

Ever since the mid-’50s, when “That’s Alright Mama” hit the airwaves and marked his rise to stardom, Elvis Presley has been lauded as one of the most galvanizing figures in the history of popular music. He became a household name as quickly as anyone ever had in his pre-social media time and would go on to have an incredible 149 songs make the Billboard Top 100 Pop Chart. He would also become the ultimate Las Vegas fixture — the prototype creator of what is now known today as the “Las Vegas Residency.” Sold-out concerts, hit songs, packed theatres. Elvis generated a LOT of money. And, if you’d conclude that Elvis’s own share of this revenue led to a lavish lifestyle that very few other entertainers matched before or since, you would, of course, be right. But we’re also familiar with the cautionary tale that came with Elvis’s fame and fortune. When he died in 1977, he left behind an estate valued at around $5 million — a surprisingly small sum, considering his accomplishments. With Lisa Marie Presley’s recent unfortunate and untimely death, the Presley estate is back in the news. A closer examination of this estate will reveal that fueled by a series of interesting planning decisions over the years since Elvis’s death — some very questionable, but a few surprisingly wise — it has gone through a series of dramatic twists and turns that, in a way seem befitting of such a storied and larger than life public figure.Do you need help with your estate planning or trust administration now? We can help. Together our Absolute Trust Counsel team will take a look at your situation and your specific needs and develop a strategic plan that will protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what may come. Here’s a link to schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche….

AB Trust: Do You Have One? Do You Need One?

Ever open a closet drawer only to discover something from your past that’s long since been rendered obsolete? More often than not, this obsolescence comes by virtue of outdated technology — or, in the case of clothing, because of a shift in what’s considered fashionable. Think VHS players, a Sony Walkman . . . parachute pants. While you probably wouldn’t expect to find any such relics within the realm of estate planning, they might just exist there too. If you’re married, an excellent case in point is the AB trust you’ve been holding onto for quite some time — maybe without even knowing it. And like those archaic electronic devices or that “of its time” fashion, it may be time to kick it to the curb. At one time, AB Trusts were very common. They harnessed a specifically designed structure to minimize exposure to the California estate tax laws that included a surprisingly low exemption — as low as $1 million dollars. So, if a couple had a worth of $2 million and one spouse died, the remaining spouse was often saddled with a substantial estate tax liability. But, in 2013, those estate tax laws changed dramatically. That exemption mentioned above was bumped up by a multiple of more than 12 times — meaning that it now shielded a far greater number of estates from estate tax liability and, for many couples, also rendered their AB Trust obsolete. Are you one of these couples? Tune into the latest episode of Absolute Trust Talk to find out. Kirsten Howe and associate attorney, Madison Gunn, will take a close look at AB Trusts, including the reasons why they became such a “go-to” strategy for so many married couples, why this type of trust can be more trouble than they’re worth for some, and how they still offer specific protection that may make them invaluable for a few others. Can you do a petition to modify many years after the first spouse dies? Yes, you can. Do you need help with your estate planning or trust administration now? We can help. Together our Absolute Trust Counsel team will take a look at your situation and your specific needs and develop a strategic plan that will protect you and your loved ones, regardless of what may come. Here’s a link to schedule your free discovery today https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/sche…. Kirsten Howe & Madison Gunn Can Be Reached at 925-943-2740 or Info@AbsoluteTrustCounsel.com.

Two Years After its Passing, Has Proposition 19 Delivered on its Promises to California Homeowners?

California’s Proposition 19 was passed as a constitutional amendment about two years ago amid quite a bit of confusion. A large part of this stemmed from the misleading rationale that positioned it mainly as a means to extend a financial lifeline to Californians whose homes were destroyed by wildfire or other natural disasters. This paved the way for them to transfer their property tax base to a new home in any of California’s 58 counties and thus rebuild their lives after such a tragedy. Obscuring further were also some takebacks from the homeowner benefits offered, which largely replaced — Proposition 58. These takebacks from Proposition 58 centered mainly on the property tax benefits available when a primary residence was passed from parent to child. Now, it only covers the primary residency or family home. If it is transferred to a child, that child must make it their primary residency within one year after the transfer, and the property must remain their primary residence. Any other type of move will essentially trigger a reassessment. And many clients are still surprised about this. Luckily the Board of Equalization has come out with clarifications and guidance on how Prop. 19 is supposed to work. So, if you’re wondering if the proposition has been a net gain or a bust, we are taking a closer look at both the good and the bad and reviewing the new instruction in this episode of Absolute Trust Talk. Kirsten and Madison will weigh in on the proposition’s changes and what those changes mean for the citizens of California and share some insights from the impacts we’ve been seeing with our clients here at Absolute Trust Counsel.

Bay Area Housing Market: Prices, Trends, and What's Next for 2023

For most of us — especially those nearing retirement age or are already there — our home is our most valuable asset, so it’s impossible not to focus on the many factors that affect its worth. While prices tend to go up over time, it’s short-term, as of late, that have caused some rather dramatic changes. When the pandemic hit, the primary residence became a hot commodity. Why? Because people were spending 24/7 in their homes, working, and living in one space. In the Bay Area, that caused a roughly 20% appreciation in specific areas like Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. A stark contrast to the typical national average of 3.6% per year. Most recently, we’ve seen the Fed hike the interest rates, which caused another 20% increase. With all that said, we can’t help but wonder where things stand in the Bay Area housing market now and what we have to look forward to in the coming year. To get an insider’s perspective, we’re thrilled to welcome long-time Bay Area resident and RE/MAX real estate veteran Mark Shaw, a returning guest, to the show.

MyHealthAngel Webinar with Madison Gunn: Top 6 Legacy Planning Questions

Our fabulous associate attorney, Madison Gunn, collaborated with the MyHealthAngel team for the third time to discuss some of the most pressing legacy planning questions. If you haven’t heard of MyHealthAngel, their mission is to provide “a modern community for seniors that connects and inspires the ageless.” Why? Because staying connected and engaged is proven to promote happiness and better overall health and well-being. The MyHealthAngel network provides a variety of weekly Zoom activities aimed to motivate and encourage productivity so that all who are on their journey in aging can thrive. It’s an honor to be a part of the MyHealthAngel mission and support their community, and we’re excited to share this next installment with you.

In this presentation, Madison goes over the top six most asked questions regarding legacy planning. And then, she dives into the most important topic, the audience Q&A. We love this portion of the presentation because while we enjoy covering the bigger, broader topics that everyone needs to know, we also love digging in to help find some insights that are a little more personalized and spark some different thought processes around your own planning.

Essential Conversations to Have with Your Family Now for No Surprise Estate Planning

Notifying your family members of your wishes as clearly as possible is the best way to avoid surprises and the potential fallout that might result from them. And while it’s a great idea to get family input on several aspects of your estate plan, this input shouldn’t be the only factor in shaping your decisions. You shouldn’t have to ask your children for permission to create your estate plan as you see fit.

With all this in mind, planning your estate, so things go as smoothly as possible when it comes time to carry out your wishes seems pretty challenging, doesn’t it? It often is, but let’s see if we can make it a little less daunting. Join us for a new episode of Absolute Trust Talk, as Kirsten Howe and associate attorney, Madison Gunn, take a closer look at several ways to take the surprise element out of estate planning to reduce the chances of resentment that can drive a wedge between family members.

Tips on How to Buy a Home Despite Rising Interest Rates

Since, for nearly everyone, a home mortgage represents the biggest — and most important — loan of all, rising interest rates have made home buying more of a challenge. But if you are a prospective homeowner, that’s no reason to give up. The connection between the Fed raising interest rates and experiencing more pain in your wallet when you apply for a home loan is often misunderstood — the relationship isn’t quite as direct as you might expect. And while you can’t help but notice that home loan rates are higher than they were just a few months back, from a historical perspective, they’re still pretty low. More importantly, there’s some upside to the recent shifts in the home loan market that you might not have already considered.

Sound more encouraging? Then join us for our milestone 100th episode of Absolute Trust Talk as we speak to Janice Nugent, a certified mortgage planning specialist with Compass Mortgage Advisors. She’ll provide a fresh perspective on home ownership — whether for a primary residence or investment purposes — and give you a logic-based overview of the home loan market as it currently stands, as well as the opportunities that still exist for prospective home buyers.

Living Unlimited: A Creative Solution to the Special Needs Housing Challenge

Caring for someone with special needs is not only challenging but often isolating as well. The responsibilities that come with this role are emotionally heavy and offer no real “time off,” so caretakers spend a big part of their lives feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of their everyday lives. These responsibilities are usually for the long haul, and a good deal of the strain that comes with being a caretaker for someone with special needs centers on making the proper long-term preparations. Future housing considerations certainly top that list.

Susan Riggle, our guest on the newest episode of Absolute Trust Talk, is the mother of twins — one of whom remains unable to say his own name, ask a question, or tie his shoe. Riggle began her journey to find an appropriate and effective housing solution for her special needs son in response to one very poignant question posed by his twin sister: “What’s going to happen to Tommy when you’re gone?”

Living Unlimited was created to provide special needs adults with a comfortable and rewarding housing situation capable of extending beyond their parents’ lives.

We're Examining Some of the Most Common Estate Planning Myths

Considering what might potentially hang in the balance, logic would suggest that when it comes time to prepare an estate plan, nearly all of us would stick to a “just the facts” approach, steering clear of secondhand and ill-conceived advice from friends or flat-out inaccurate information that’s been handed down from generation to generation. But let’s be honest, estate planning can have its complexities and be confusing, so often, the information we have from our peers might be all we have.

The problem is, when it comes time to put an estate plan into action, it’s usually too late for do-overs. And, if that estate plan is built on faulty information or incomplete follow-through, the financial consequences can be substantial — even life-changing.

With all the misinformation surrounding estate planning that’s circulated over the years, it might be hard at times to separate fact from fiction, but we’re here to help! Join Kirsten and Madison as they clear up some of the most common estate planning myths they’ve encountered during their careers and replace these falsehoods with actual facts.

When It Comes to Estate Planning, Many Celebrities Are Very Much Like Us

It’s hard to deny that we now live in a celebrity-centric society. Considering the financial resources at their disposal, you’d think that most celebrities would have a legion of financial experts at arm’s reach to not only maximize their income but also build estate plans that leave nothing to chance when it comes time to transfer all that accumulated wealth to the heirs of their choosing.

As it turns out, that’s often not the case. In our newest episode of Absolute Trust Talk, Kirsten Howe and associate attorney, Madison Gunn, take a closer look at some of the surprising missteps — ranging from poor planning to outright avoidance — that many members of the rich and famous have made when planning for that time when they’ll no longer be around.

What Happens When the Administration of an Estate Plan Involves the Inheritance of a House

Planning for the time when you’ll no longer be around is a difficult topic for many of us to discuss. After all, who wants to be reminded of their own mortality? But, regardless of the discomfort, it’s a topic that needs to be addressed. Avoiding it can only bring confusion and hostility among your heirs and the possibility that your hard-earned assets won’t be passed on as you would have intended.

When the administration of an estate plan involves the inheritance of a house, as many do, the potential for problems grows even greater. While most situations go smoothly, just as many don’t, and the decisive factor between the two outcomes almost always boils down to how much forethought goes into the succession plan — who gets what when you’re no longer here?

Because of the emotions almost always attached to a home, whether it’s a primary residence or a vacation cabin — as well as the potential financial implications — deciding who will inherit your home and how it will be inherited is tricky territory to navigate. No two families share the same relationships among their members. When an asset as substantial as a property is involved, emotions can overtake logic, leading to tensions that can last for a long time. All the right “what ifs?” must be asked — regardless of how uncomfortable these questions might make everyone feel.

In our newest episode of Absolute Trust Talk, Kirsten Howe and associate attorney Madison Gunn will closely examine the many factors that should be considered when you’re passing real estate on to your heirs.

Special Needs Planning: Not Just Legal Documents

Planning for a disabled child is about so much more than just legal documents. We create the legal framework so that others will be able to follow the plan after the parents’ deaths or incapacity. And that’s definitely important, but we also have to take into account other very important factors: what kind of care is going to be needed; and how much that will cost (and how will it be paid for). We need a care plan and a financial plan, and getting the right professional help is critical to success.

In this episode, we talk to Ann Koerner, founder, and CEO of National Care Advisors, about the wide array of services care managers, can provide to help parents plan successfully for their disabled children.

Learn to Use Technology with this Free Resource from Senior Planet, an AARP Affiliate

The COVID pandemic required many of us to up our technology game – buying new devices and learning new apps were necessary to continue many of our regular activities and to stay in touch. But for those of us who weren’t raised with a keyboard and a mouse, technology is often not intuitive. Fortunately, there is a solution. Senior Planet, an AARP affiliate, provides classes, workshops, one-on-one support, even an 800 helpline to help us out with our tech issues, and so much more.

In this episode, we talk to Ryan Kawamoto, Regional Program Manager for Senior Planet in the Bay Area and beyond. He will highlight some of the many practical resources available through Senior Planet to help us learn how to use technology. And one of the best parts – it’s all free! No need for Venmo, and don’t worry if you don’t know what that is. Senior Planet can help with that, too.

Guardianship: There’s More to It Than You Think!

Estate planning can be difficult for people to face, and unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier when guardianship comes up. Many young families struggle with the decision-making around this – no one wants to think about what will happen to their children if they are no longer around. But as much as parents try to avoid it, it is one of the most critical decisions parents can make. We often find that clients are surprised by how complex guardianship can be. It is not quite as simple as jotting down Aunt Jane’s name and moving on with your day. There are many things to consider, and you want to get it right so everyone involved can transition and maintain their lifestyle as comfortably as possible.

Is a 1031 Exchange Right for Your Real Estate Sale?

Do you own an investment property? Are you thinking about selling it but are overwhelmed by the tax implications? Well, we’ve got good news and a great podcast episode for you that might just provide a solution you may not have known was possible. Ever heard of a 1031 Exchange? (Okay, we’ll end the questions and just get to the good stuff!) In short, a 1031 Exchange allows you to swap one real estate investment property for another while deferring capital gains taxes. It sounds great, but 1031 has A LOT of moving parts you need to understand before attempting to use one. For example, an exchange can only be done with “like-kind properties,” the IRS has a lot of rules and limits when it comes to vacation properties, and there are specific time frames that can be challenging. However, we don’t want to scare you because this can be a very valuable tool if used correctly. So, to help get things straight, we’re bringing in an expert.

In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk, we’re thrilled to welcome Certified Exchange Specialist®️, Teresa Fluegel, to the show. Teresa is Executive Vice President at Chicago Deferred Exchange Company in San Ramon, California. She has over 25 years of experience working with attorneys, accountants, commercial real estate professionals, and investors seeking to defer tax using Section 1031. Teresa is a seasoned expert in navigating the intricacies of exchanges based on her involvement in thousands of transactions including: forward-delayed exchanges, reverse exchanges, and build-to-suit exchanges.

How to Support Your Parents Through a Downsizing Move with Custom Moving and Hauling

Imagine leaving the home you’ve lived in for 30, 40, or even 50 years and downsizing all of your belongings so you can move to a smaller space or assisted living. This can be a very sad and sentimental experience for many people. How do you sort through all of your belongings that you’ve collected over the years, picking and choosing what stays and what goes? If your parents or other older loved ones are facing this transition, it’s important to support them in every way possible.

In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk, Madison Gunn welcomes husband and wife team Art Lotti and Andriana Mendez, owners of Custom Moving and Hauling. Their passion is to consistently provide a custom personalized experience for seniors who are moving, decluttering, and cleaning out as they prepare for a new chapter in their lives. Their process includes talking through client goals, uncovering the challenges, and then working to provide a creative, efficient, and understanding solution via their in-house services. Having earned their Senior Move Manager Certification status, Custom Moving & Hauling continually adds training, protocols, and employee selection criteria that cohesively supports their mission: Helping you through life’s many transitions™.

Choosing a Trustee: How to Get it Right - Kirsten Howe and Madison Gunn

Who should be the successor trustee of a trust? This is a question we get, in one form or another, very often when we are helping clients with their estate planning. And it is a very important question, undoubtedly. Getting it right can have a big impact on future family relationships.

We have helped a lot of families set up estate plans and we have also helped a lot of families administer an estate plan after death. We have seen all kinds of trusts and families and how they work (or don’t) and we want to share our experiences with you.

Join Kirsten and Madison as they discuss the basic options and the pluses and minuses of each. There is no one right answer, every family is different. Only you can decide what will work best for your family, but our goal is to help you make sure the decision is based on careful consideration of all options and perspectives.

Why Your Family Might Need Lifestyle Insurance and the Latest Opportunity Benefits

What would happen to your family if you or another primary income earner suddenly became disabled and couldn’t work for an extended period of time? What if they died and their income disappeared forever? Many families would have a hard time paying the mortgage, the property taxes, the tuition, and the many other expenses involved in a family’s daily life. Yet many don’t have an adequate plan to cover all those expenses.

In this episode, I speak with independent insurance specialist Todd Wellnitz about different types of insurance that he refers to as “lifestyle insurance.” He’ll share some general rules and stories to educate us all about this critical aspect of financial and estate planning. Don’t be caught off guard in the case of disability. This podcast will ensure you’re prepared for a loss of income in an unexpected situation.

Incapacity Failures: Plan Ahead So Your Plan Works for You

Though it might seem like you’ve got everything covered within your trust document, estate planning is not just about what happens after you die. Issues can also arise in the event that you become incapacitated. Over the years we have seen all sorts of problems because not enough attention was paid to incapacity planning. If the current plan you have in place doesn’t make it quick and easy for others to step in and take over on your behalf, delays can cause your own health and well-being to suffer. It can also cause confusion and disagreement among family members leading to more time and money in court.

In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk Live, attorneys Kirsten Howe and Madison Gunn sit down to discuss the types of trust failures and challenges that may be experienced from a lack of planning for incapacitation. They will share some important documents and items that you need to include in your estate plan, as well as tips and strategies to make that plan work seamlessly for you and your family if someone else ever has to step in.

Driving Assessment for Seniors: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late!

One of the most difficult tasks for families is dealing with how to tell a parent or loved one that they might not be as safe as they once were behind the wheel. Whether it be cognitive impairment or side effects from medication, how do you tell a family member? And how do you know for sure? Your loved one may have their own hesitations or fears based on a lack of driving over the last couple of years.

In this episode, we talk to Melanie Henry of Driver Cognitive Assessment Center as she tells us what services she can provide to seniors and their families either to reassure them or to confirm their fears about their loved one’s driving skills.

Trust Failures: Don’t Let This Happen to You! (Continued!!)

Almost every trust administration reveals some planning failure. Usually, the failures are small and can be fixed fairly easily. But some seemingly small failures can only be fixed by extreme measures, meaning very expensive, very protracted, or both. Sadly, all of these failures could have been avoided with proper and comprehensive planning.

Join Kirsten and Madison in their continuing quest to help families avoid expensive mistakes by sharing some of the most disastrous trust failures they’ve had to fix.

Estate Planning Changes Late in Life: Is it Real or Is it Elder Abuse?

Most of the time, when an elderly client changes their estate plan, they are doing it because they have changed their mind, they understand fully the consequences of the change and they do so knowingly and deliberately. Sometimes, though, an elderly person makes the change because they are pressured by someone taking advantage of the elder’s vulnerability and trusting nature in order to benefit themselves. This is called undue influence, it is a form of elder abuse and it happens – a lot.

In this episode, we will be talking to Scott Rahn, an expert trust litigator who sees family disputes arising from allegations of elder abuse based on changes made to estate plans all the time! He will help us understand how to recognize elder abuse and what to do if we suspect it. We’ll also talk about what an elder can do to protect their legitimate changes from being challenged.

Make Sure Your Estate Plan Still Works for You and Your Family - A Place of Possibility Interview

According to a 2022 survey done by Caring.com, 1 in 3 Americans who do not have a will or a living trust claim they don’t have enough assets to leave behind. We call that crazy! Now we get it. Estate planning is not something that is top of mind. No one wants to think about dying or a future without them, but the reality is that estate planning is so much more than just preparing for when you’re gone. What about incapacity or special needs? How about qualifying for Medi-Cal or Medicaid and long-term care planning? And getting back to the “after death” part, do you really want your heirs to spend months or even years in court, potentially fighting and wasting the money you left behind? No! Estate planning is for everyone regardless of your assets. Building the right estate plan and staying on top of it helps you avoid costly mistakes, and ultimately, it protects the best interest of you and your loved ones.

I was thrilled to be invited on Richard Del Monte and Angela Wright’s podcast, A Place of Possibility to discuss why everyone should have an estate plan no matter how much wealth they have, why they should keep their estate plan up to date how to avoid trustee/beneficiary conflict and more.

Coming Soon: Medi-Cal For All!

This summer, California will begin rolling out changes to the eligibility rules for Medi-Cal. What does this mean for you? In the not-too-distant future, many more Californians will qualify for Medi-Cal to help pay for nursing home care without having to spend down their assets or do complicated asset transfer planning. Join the conversation as Kirsten and Madison discuss the timing, how you might benefit, and what to watch out for.

Living Better With Parkinson’s Disease

Advances in medications to treat Parkinson’s Disease are helping many patients live longer and better with Parkinson’s. Research shows that there are many other things Parkinson’s patients can also do to enhance the quality of their everyday lives. The Brian Grant Foundation, established by former NBA player and Parkinson’s patient, Brian Grant, provides education and resources to enable patients to live their best lives.

Join us as we talk to Katrina Kahl, the Executive Director of the Brian Grant Foundation, about effective tactics and the resources available (for free!) through the Brian Grant Foundation.

ATT Live 3 10 22 Madison Gunn with Guest Carmen Perry

As we age, the goal for many of us is to stay in our homes for as long as possible. Sure, we might need some help down the road, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, right? That sounds great in theory, but we don’t think about all the extra costs and the challenges we may face in obtaining home care. Often, calls are made to home care services with urgent requests for help, but knowing what benefits and aid might be available in advance can help you plan and even improve quality of life by avoiding urgent health care situations – this includes veterans and their families. In addition, our wartime heroes face a variety of even more unique health care needs as they age due to training and experiences on the battlefield.

In a new episode of Absolute Trust Talk, Absolute Trust Counsel attorney Madison Gunn guest hosts a conversation on benefits for vets and their unique aging journey with Carmen Perry. Carmen has more than 20 years of hands-on experience in the senior care industry. As the Vice President of National Accounts at Veterans Home Care, she works with VetAssist – a unique and exclusive program that “helps veterans or their surviving spouses apply for little-known Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to pay for assistance with daily living.

Madison Gunn's Interview: National Aging in Place Council Podcast: Conversations with Tara & Ryan

Absolute Trust Counsel Associate Attorney Madison Gunn was recently asked for an interview on the National Aging in Place Council Podcast, Conversations with Tara & Ryan. The National Aging in Place Council is a senior support network that helps older Americans remain as independent as possible while they age in their homes. This podcast supports the organization’s goals and mission as it works to highlight members and partnering experts in the healthcare, financial services, elder law, design, and home remodeling industries. In addition to being an associate attorney here at our firm, Madison is also the Chair for the San Francisco/Bay Area chapter of Aging in Place.

Hosted by Tara Ballman, Chair of the NAIPC, and Ryan McEniff, Chair of Aging in Place, Massachusetts, this episode dives into the world of estate planning. As many of us know, planning for the future can be nerve-wracking, challenging, and even uncomfortable. No one enjoys thinking about life after death, but it’s important to consider when it comes to protecting assets and providing for the family we leave behind. For example, what will become of your children? How about your home? What if you have a pet that you want to ensure is taken care of? There are so many factors to consider, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Sandwich Generation Issues: Avoiding Heartache & Creating a Legacy - Cal State East Bay's Webinar

We at Absolute Trust Counsel are honored to be part of Cal State East Bay’s Alumni Financial Literacy Series which explores factors that may affect financial and estate planning decisions. The event was hosted by the very generous Penny Peak, Development Director at Cal State East Bay.

Life often consists of juggling different responsibilities, some old and some new. Finding yourself in a “sandwich generation” means that you are caring for multiple generations of family members, which can be a large load to take on. It can bring on feelings of stress and anxiety if you aren’t sure what your next steps are. For example, when creating an estate plan there’s the responsibility of understanding types of wills, nominating guardians, and being able to distinguish the different types of paperwork that goes into providing for your family’s future.

In a new episode of Absolute Trust Talk Live, special guest Madison Gunn breaks down the different components of estate plans while finding yourself in a “sandwich generation.” Gunn graduated with the class of 2014 from California State University, where following graduation she then began her work as an Absolute Trust Counsel Associate Attorney. Gunn was asked to present her presentation, “Sandwich Generation Issues: Avoiding Heartache & Creating a Legacy” to the College of Business and Economics, California State University, East Bay.

Navigating Senior Transitions, Rossmoor's Counseling - Absolute Trust Talk

Life is full of changes, and we all experience transitions that can impact our lives in significant ways, whether they are big, small, planned, or unplanned. As an older adult navigating a journey in aging, adjustments often bring on feelings of anxiety and stress, even if they are positive. Whether you’re retiring and slowing down, grieving the loss of a spouse, or moving to a new community that will better meet your lifestyle needs, it can be a challenge to integrate and meet new people.

In a new episode of Absolute Trust Talk Live, Kirsten is joined by guest Penny Reed of Rossmoor Counseling Services. Penny is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience and expertise in geriatrics, mental health, and the impact of chronic disease on individuals and their loved ones. Penny’s social work background also includes program management, program development, and psychotherapy through various agencies. In this discussion, Kirsten and Penny will be diving into some of the common struggles her team sees among Rossmoor residents, both freshman and senior residents, and how Rossmore Counseling helps.

Whether you have a senior family member who has recently undergone a transition in life or you find yourself going through one, this is an episode that everyone will find some comfort in because you’re not alone! So, grab a pen and paper, take a seat, and press play.

Music as Medicine with Dan Cohen - Absolute Trust Talk

We all know that music can affect our mood. An upbeat tune can cheer us up or a sad song can feel comforting when we are sad. What we also are now understanding is that music can affect our experiences in many other ways. Music can be particularly effective in reducing many of the negative aspects of aging: it can reduce incidents of falling and pain.

Our discussion today is with Dan Cohen, the founder, and CEO of Right to Music, which advocates for integrating music-based interventions into healthcare, especially long-term care, and for all persons with dementia. Join us as we discuss some of the amazing results that are possible through music, including the extraordinary documentary Mr. Cohen made with dementia patients, “Alive Inside”.

Home for the Holidays: Time for The Talk With Elderly Parents - Absolute Trust Talk

Many of us will be traveling to visit family for the first time in a LONG time this month. If you have elderly parents, you might need to be prepared to see changes in their health, mobility, self-sufficiency, or safety. And you might be tempted to roll up your sleeves and Get Things Done. Resist that impulse. It can lead to resistance and family friction and may not be the most effective approach.

Instead, listen as our guest, Linda Fodrini-Johnson, discusses her new book, The Empowered Caregiver, based on her many years as a geriatric care manager. It is full of suggestions for how to handle these difficult situations with thoughtful, effective conversations.

Retirement and Renewal for Career Women

Thanks to the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and ’70s, for the first time in our history a very large number of career women are retired or soon to retire after long, careers doing meaningful work. For many the new or impending loss of structure, purpose, and even identity that results from retirement is challenging. The generations before faced their own challenges, but not this one. There is no role model or template for today’s retiring career women.

Our guest, Helen Dennis, has been focused for years on creating support systems for women contemplating, transitioning into, and living in retirement. Join us as she shares some of her valuable insights and her method for helping women navigate the retirement transition.

Retirement Planning for Your Brain

For most of us, being able to enjoy our retirement years requires planning ahead to make sure we have a comfortable nest egg. But we also need to plan ahead to preserve our brain function, not just to be able to enjoy the retirement we’ve been saving for, but also because good brain function in retirement makes good financial sense. Our guest Dr. Quinn Kennedy will discuss some of the strategies that work (and some that don’t work) to preserve our brain function. We’ll also talk about lots of resources available for anyone concerned about their own brain function and some recent medical developments relating to dementia.

Don’t Let an Inheritance Destroy Government Benefits Eligibility

For most people, receiving an unexpected inheritance from a friend or family member is a delightful surprise. But for people receiving and dependent upon certain government benefits, receiving an inheritance can be a headache, or worse. This is because certain government benefits for people with disabilities have resource limits: if you have too many resources you are no longer eligible. In this episode, Kirsten and Madison will discuss the different strategies we use to deal with these problematic inheritances. More importantly, we will discuss strategies you can use to prevent problematic inheritances in your family.

Serious Illness or Injury: The Resources We Need to Manage it All

When a family member has a serious illness or injury it impacts the whole family in ways they usually didn’t expect and find themselves completely unprepared for. A surprising, maybe even alarming, amount of the medical care for the patient must be administered and managed by the family members, who have little to no professional background or training in medical care and receive little instruction or guidance from the treating professionals. Our guest, Roberta Carson, experienced this first-hand when her teenage son was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She and her husband were completely unprepared for the amount of work his treatment required of them and how difficult and critical it was for them to get themselves organized and develop their own systems to ensure nothing fell through the cracks during the two years of their son’s cancer journey. Join us as Roberta Carson shares her story and discusses what she is doing to give others the heads-up she didn’t have when an illness or injury occurs in their family.

Art Therapy and Dementia

By now most of us are familiar with the advice to do crossword puzzles as a way of keeping our brains young and healthy. But what if crossword puzzles aren’t your thing? Good news! There is evidence that art plays a role in neural health, too, and more and more medical students are being taught about art therapy as an alternative approach in dementia cases. Join our conversation with Angel C. Duncan, a widely published author and expert in art therapy and Alzheimer’s disease research, and learn about the latest developments in this fascinating area.

Fading Memories

Dementia is a growing crisis in our country. In most cases, the caregiving responsibilities for a person with dementia fall on family members. And its’ hard work. Caregivers need help, information, tips, resources, but have little free time to go looking for those things. This is why our guest, Jennifer Fink, created her Fading Memories Podcast, which makes information and help available on demand. Join us as she discusses this important and valuable resource she created for all those unsung heroes, the caregivers.

Spotlight on Cancer Support Community

The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately 37 to 39% of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. There is an amazing resource providing support and education to those in our community dealing with cancer, called Cancer Support Community. We are using this episode to introduce this wonderful, completely free resource, available right in Walnut Creek, to our listeners. Please join us as we talk to Chief Mission Officer Margaret Stauffer about all the services that are available through this organization, how to access these services and how you can help. 

For the Caregivers: Support, Compassion, and Resources Just a Click Away

Caring for an elderly, disabled family member can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Caregivers often feel lonely, isolated and stretched too thin trying to keep up with the rest of their responsibilities. Caregivers experience anger, depression, and grief, and on top of that, guilt about the very real and understandable feelings they have. In this episode, we talk to Elaine Sanchez, the author of the unflinchingly honest and surprisingly funny book, “Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver” and a co-founder of CaregiverHelp.com, a video-based caregiver support website, about some of the common challenges faced by caregivers and some wonderful (and free!) resources available to help.

Trustee and Executor Dos and Don’ts Part 2

Do you know what you’re supposed to do when a family member dies and names you their executor or trustee? There are so many tasks and responsibilities to take care of, you definitely need to talk to an attorney to make sure you don’t miss any steps. We find that there are some common that trustees and executors fail to do just because they didn’t know. Usually, we can fix these oversights fairly quickly, but in the most extreme cases, these oversights can end up costing the trustee personally a lot of money. It’s always better to get it right the first time because cleaning up after a mistake is expensive. Join us as we discuss some more of our favorite “dos and don’ts” for executors and trustees.

Schedule Your Free Discovery Call with Our Team Today!

A family member has passed, and now you are the trustee, but where do you start administering the trust? Trust administration is a long and detailed process requiring much more work than many people know or understand. At Absolute Trust Counsel, California Estate Law is the only thing we do, and trust administration is one of our specialties. Hi and welcome to the Absolute Trust Counsel Calendar! Getting your roadmapping session scheduled is simple. Start by scheduling a discovery call with me. During this call, I’ll: 1. Gather information about your trust and discuss your needs. 2. Answer your questions about our processes 3. Assist you in completing the purchase of your $350 roadmapping session 4. And, help you get your meeting scheduled During this call, no legal advice will be given, and there is no obligation. This is just a short conversation to find out more about your trust, and to purchase and set up your session. Put your trust in us. Please select a date and time, and let’s get the process started. Link here to get started.

What Can (and Can’t) We Do With Bank Accounts After Death?

Many of our clients bump up against this problem when a family member dies: the bank freezes the bank accounts and they don’t have access to cash to pay for expenses such as funeral and burial. Automatic payments, such as mortgages, bounce. This is not only a source of frustration but can also cost a lot of time and money to fix. In this episode, Kirsten and Madison talk about what happens to bank accounts after death, what you can and can’t do, and how to avoid the frozen account problem.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing a Medicare Plan

Many people assume that when they turn 65 they are automatically covered by Medicare. The truth is there are very important choices we have to make when we become eligible for Medicare. Plenty of companies are marketing their Medicare plans, by phone and mail, but they don’t give us all the information we need to make good choices.

Our guest, Emily Gangaware of The Medicare Coach, gives independent advice to those about to be eligible for Medicare and she’s going to tell us what we need to know before we choose.

Coronavirus Estate Planning

Yes, we are living in scary and uncertain times, but you can still take control.

It might be challenging to see past today or even tomorrow, but what happens if you or a loved one is impacted by coronavirus? Will your loved ones be protected if something happens to you? Will you get the immediate support and care needed? If it’s a loved one isolated and impacted, do you know how to manage their care? Do you even have the authority?

If incapacity happens without a plan, you don’t have time to wait. You don’t have time to sort through the mess for the right support and care that’s needed immediately. Join me as I discuss the importance of coronavirus estate planning now and give you some action items to help you plan, prepare, and address the difficult times we are facing.

Take Action Today - Plan for All COVID-19 Outcomes

Do You Have a Plan That Would Enable a Trusted Family Member to Step in to Protect You from Predators?

It’s hard to believe we are living in such scary and uncertain times. Unfortunately, there are still those out there who are taking advantage of that for their financial benefit. The coronavirus has resulted in new twists on common scams that mainly affect seniors – the most vulnerable population.

It’s more difficult now, but more important than ever to stay connected, especially to our senior family members. Scams are much easier to pull off on someone who is isolated, as many older adults are, and especially if they experience cognitive decline as they age. These types of scams cost families millions of dollars every year. But there are things you can do now to protect yourself, your family, and your loved ones.

Join me for a special live edition of the Absolute Trust Talk Podcast as I discuss the importance of coronavirus estate planning to protect yourself and your family now. Don’t miss out on my tips to help ensure you get your $1,200 economic impact check ASAP.

No matter what your circumstances are, the Absolute Trust Counsel team is here to help you in any way that we can. Please, stay safe and stay health.

Coronavirus Estate Planning Triage

If you are a health care worker or have a loved one who is, this episode is meant for you. Health care workers are very special and we all owe them our gratitude for the work they do. But it’s important that they not allow their instinct to help others to get in the way of helping themselves.

Statistics are showing an alarmingly high rate of COVID-19 cases among health care workers in some locations. We just don’t have enough data to know why that is, but it is obvious that health care workers are getting sick and they need to be prepared.

Join me as I triage your estate plan—break down for you what are the absolutely necessary components you need and your family needs you to have during this mega crisis.

COVID-19 and Elder Home Care

We’re all familiar with the news about the devastating spread of COVID-19 through nursing homes, among residents and staff, in the East Bay and beyond. But many of our elder clients receive long-term care in their own homes. The home care industry has had to respond in a variety of ways to ensure continuing quality care for their clients and to keep clients and staff safe.

Francesca Vogel with Home Care Assistance joins us today to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the home care industry, the steps being taken to protect elderly clients and care givers and  what permanent changes in the industry are likely to be necessary, even after this crisis is over, to ensure both safety and high-quality care.

COVID-19 + Elder Care: What You Need to Know Featuring Nicole Howell

It’s almost surreal how COVID-19 has changed our daily lives, but even more so for those most vulnerable – our older and dependent adults. Unfortunately, those who need the most protection and care have nearly had it all taken away due to no visitation policies.

Other than care staff and employees on the frontlines, who is ensuring proper care and protection? Who is ensuring residents are still able to connect with a loved one and the outside world? How has oversight changed since isolation has become the norm of this pandemic? What can you do to make sure your loved one is safe, happy, and cared for with the support needed?

Please watch this video from Absolute Trust Talk with special guest Nicole Howell who is the Executive Director at Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Solano, and Alameda. She has been at the forefront of COVID-19 safety efforts among seniors and the elderly in long-term care. We are excited to have her join us to share what’s going on with elder care, long-term care facilities, and how people can stay connected with their loved ones in isolation.

How to Avoid the Most Common Estate Planning Mistake

Our clients understand the importance of estate planning. In this time of COVID-19, many people are also feeling a sense of urgency. It is important to remember, though, that the plan is only the beginning.

A surprising number of our clients discover, after the death of a family member, that an asset that should have been transferred to the trust was not. Sometimes this means that, even though a trust was established to avoid probate, we have to do a probate.

In this episode, we give you the information you need to avoid this common mistake. We discuss trust funding: which assets to fund, how to fund each kind of asset, and how you can tell if your trust has been correctly funded.

Special Needs Trusts: Don't Let an Inheritance Blow Up Your Government Benefits

Most parents of children with special needs understand how important it is to plan ahead for their special needs child. There are lots of things to plan, and one very important one is a special needs trust. This is a trust that will make sure that when the parents die the special needs child does not lose any government benefits because of an inheritance.

But sometimes a special needs person gets an inheritance form someone other than a parent, from someone who did not set up a special needs trust. Now what?

In this episode, we talk about what will happen to that inheritance, what could happen to the government benefits, and, most importantly, how to avoid the whole problem.

Caring for a Spouse with Dementia: In the Beginning...

When one spouse has dementia, the other spouse becomes a caregiver, gradually over time taking on more and more responsibility and losing more and more of the partnership and joy of marriage. The caregiver’s journey is difficult and lonely.

My guest Cheri J. Bailly-Jacobs has written a new memoir called Caregiver Confidential: Stories of Living with My Husband’s Alzheimer’s Disease. In the book she talks about her nine-year journey as a caregiver for her husband. It’s a really honest look at the many challenges and emotions she experienced along the way.

Empowering the Disabled Through Employment and Housing Choice

Our guest today is the founder and Executive Director of East Bay Innovations, Tom Heinz. EBI is a local non-profit that runs a wide variety of programs designed to enable and empower persons with disabilities to live their most productive, independent, and satisfying lives.

We’ll be discussing just a few of EBI’s programs that help people with things like daily money management, disability benefits planning, and affordable housing. These programs are so valuable to our clients with special needs and to our clients who are trustees of special needs trusts.

Trustee and Executor Dos and Don'ts

Do you know what you’re supposed to do when a family member dies and names you their executor or trustee? There are so many tasks and responsibilities to take care of, you definitely need to talk to an attorney to make sure you don’t miss any steps. We find that there are some common mistakes trustees and executors make that can have very serious consequences. But, with a little education, they can be avoided. In case you didn’t know, it is almost always harder (read “more expensive”) to clean up after a mistake than doing it right in the first place! Join us as we discuss some of our favorite “dos and don’ts” for executors and trustees.

California Exit Strategy: Reverse Migration Trend in Real Estate

According to the 2018 American Community Survey Census Data, from 2007 to 2016, 5 million people moved into California while nearly 6 million left. That’s a loss of 1 million residents! And we continue to see an increasing number of our clients choose to move out of state as they retire to seek states with lower income taxes, lower cost of living, less traffic, and crowing. While moving is always a big project and a daunting task, we’re curious about this trend, especially now with COVID-19.

Joining us for a new episode of Absolute Trust Talk LIVE is relocation expert Scott Fuller. Scott is the founder of LeavingTheBayArea.com, the top resource for helping clients navigate the relocation process systematically, thoughtfully, and successfully. Join us to learn more about the strategies he uses, some of the pitfalls to avoid, and how COVID-19 is affecting California’s real estate.

What You Need to Know to Get Your PPP Loan Forgiven

We all remember how difficult and chaotic the PPP loan application process was. Well, guess what? Now it’s time to start putting together your loan forgiveness application, and that promises to be much more complicated and confusing. And the stakes are high: if you submit the application correctly the loan will be forgiven, if you don’t, you have to pay all that money back.

The good news is that we have invited our guest today is PPP Loan expert Ed Gines, with Strategic CFOs, to explain it all to you. The time limits, the forgiveness percentage calculations, the income caps, and on and on, Ed knows this program and will share his expertise with us. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from the expert and ask your own questions!

The Elder Care Journey Part 1: Understanding the Types of Care and Who Pays?

The eldercare journey is just that – a journey. You start at one point and move to various other points along the way. Every journey is unique and may hit certain points and miss others. Where your family’s particular journey takes you depends on two things: the type of care needed and who pays for that care. In this episode, we discuss the different types of eldercare available at different levels of need. We find that often our clients are not familiar with terms like skilled nursing, board and care, and memory care and don’t understand the differences among them. We ill also discuss the many different options available for paying for care at each level. Join us for this first episode in our series on the Elder Care Journey.

The Elder Care Journey Part 2: Dementia and Incapacity: What Does that Even Mean?

We have seen many times with our clients a lot of confusion about what the word incapacity means. Which is understandable since it means different things in different contexts. It is a level of cognitive impairment, often dementia in our older clients, that has legal significance. There are some things we can’t do if we are incapacitated and there are some things our families can’t do until we are incapacitated, and that’s just the start of the confusion.

For most older people, cognitive impairment, once it begins, does not go away and usually gets worse. It’s so important to understand the ins and outs or dos and don’ts of incapacity to make sure you do your planning before it’s too late. In this episode, we will talk about the basics you need to avoid trouble.

The Elder Care Journey: What You Need to Know in a Disaster

We saw the photos on Monday morning of seniors being evacuated overnight from a large facility in Santa Rosa to escape the Shady Fire. That was an impressive feat: moving 4,500 residents to safety, many with mobility issues. And the story raised so many questions: where were they going? what did they take with them? how will their families find them? In short, what is the plan?

If you or a family member resides in any kind of senior living community or care facility you need to know the emergency disaster plan. Today we discuss some crucial questions to ask.

More Fun With COVID-19 Scams!

Unfortunately, there will always be people who see a tragedy or a crisis as simply another opportunity to take advantage of others for profit. And the COVID-19 pandemic provides plenty of such opportunities.

In this episode, we’ll discuss some new scams that we have seen that are unique to this challenging time. Join us to learn more about these scams and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

Financial Planning for Women in Transition

Divorce and widowhood are two very difficult transitions for a lot of women that often give rise to lots of financial questions and worry. Our guest today, Mary Ballin, CFP, CDFA, works with all kinds of clients but has a particular focus on providing financial planning services to women going through big life transitions.

In this episode, we discuss the common questions and concerns that women tend to have, the confidence gap between women and men, and how women approach finances. We’ll also discuss the value of financial planning in a typical divorce scenario, not just after a divorce but also during the divorce process.

Estate and Financial Planning With Life Insurance

Every family is different, of course, but young families tend to share certain characteristics and concerns when it comes to estate and financial planning. Like everyone else, they do have a tendency to procrastinate. They may not have a large investment portfolio (yet) but they definitely benefit from good financial advice. One of the most important pieces of advice has to do with what should be the order of priorities. Hint: it’s probably not what you think.

Join us as we talk about planning for young families with Michael Strohl, CFP with Open Advisors. Michael specializes in working with young families, especially in the tech industry. That typical profile, salary, and bonuses that are often heavy on stock options and other alternative forms of compensation can present unique challenges.

Planning for Young Families

Most people are familiar with life insurance and if you’ve ever had a job or been a parent you may even have owned a life insurance policy. Most of us think of life insurance in a limited way: it provides a death benefit to take the place of someone who dies too early. But life insurance can do so much more. We often use it in estate planning to create wealth our clients don’t have but will need to accomplish their goals, or to replace wealth that must be dedicated to a specific purpose.

Join us for our first post-election episode as we talk about some of these interesting planning techniques using life insurance planning with JP McDermott, MBA, ChFC, CLTC, Financial Planner with MassMutual Northern California. We’ll cover planning to pay estate taxes with life insurance, life insurance in blended families and in business succession, and how the election results may impact our planning.

What You Might Not Know About Reverse Mortgages as a Financial Tool

Many people have a negative reaction to the term ‘reverse mortgage’. Years ago, they often involved very high fees and were sold to consumers who didn’t really understand what they were buying.

Nowadays, there are many laws and regulations governing reverse mortgages that protect consumers and ensure transparency. As a result, reverse mortgages have become a very useful tool that can be used to solve a variety of financial problems, including enabling seniors to remain in their own homes and pay for in-home care as they age.

Join me as I talk to Russell Doi of Mutual of Omaha and learn some important information you probably didn’t know about reverse mortgages.

How Will Prop 19. Impact Your Estate on February 16th?

Proposition 19 is a ballot measure passed in the November 2020 election in the state of California that significantly changes the property taxes on real estate inherited by children from their parents. And not in a good way. Under this proposition, a parent can only transfer the primary residence (either by gift, by inheritance or by sale) without causing the property taxes to go up. That’s it! Not to mention, the law goes into effect on February 16, 2021, just a few short weeks away. This massive change has left many of our clients and California residents wondering how these negative impacts will affect their estate plan and what they can do in this short window of opportunity to save their families tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Join us as Kirsten discusses the intricate details of this new proposition, the impact on estate plans, and the next steps you need to take now.

5 Mistakes Adult Children Make When It’s Time for Parents to Move

Helping parents move out of their long-time home can be a huge project. There are so many things to think about – some obvious, but still vexing, like what are we going to do with the attic/closet/basement full of stuff? But many other considerations are not so obvious and challenging in a different way, such as knowing when and how to start having the conversation about moving in the first place.

Join my and my guest, Dayna Wilson, with Keller Williams. She specializes in helping families move their parents, and she’s here to share her experiences and tips for a successful move.

Estate Tax Returns: Why You Might Want To File Even if You Don’t Have To, Plus Some Common Mistakes To Avoid

With the exemption from federal estate tax so high, $11,700,000 in 2021, many people believe their families will never have to worry about filing a federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) on their deaths. And that is true…ish. There’s something called the Deceased Spouse Unclaimed Exemption Amount (DSUAE) that could save your family a lot of money, but you can only claim it if you file an estate tax return.

Join us as we discuss 706s, Deceased Spouse Unclaimed Exemption Amount (DSUAE), common mistakes to avoid, and more with trust and estates tax expert, Margaret Schopp.

Guardianship: The Most Important Part of Your Estate Plan

If you have minor children, making sure you nominate a guardian for them in case of your death or incapacity is the most compelling reason to do an estate plan. For some families, the choice of a guardian is not easy and they end up procrastinating, sometimes until the children turn 18 and the problem goes away!

But we can help you do better than that. During this episode, we’ll talk about the factors to consider in choosing a guardian and we’ll explain the guardianship process, which is often misunderstood. Plus we’ll answer your questions live!

Resolving Family Conflict Through Elder Mediation

Very often, as family members age, other members become involved in caregiving and decision-making. This sometimes leads to conflict, which then can cause family disharmony and even estrangement.

Our guest, Katharina Dress, is a mediator and facilitator that specializes in helping families understand each other’s viewpoints, reach an agreement and ultimately make the best decisions about care and planning for aging loved ones and their family members.

Please join us as we learn about the kinds of issues Katharina typically sees, what causes tensions within a family during later life phases, and some of the approaches she uses to resolve conflict successfully.

So Many Choices: Navigating the World of Senior Living Communities

Assisted living communities, memory care, board and care, independent living communities, continuing care communities…there are so many different types and hundreds of different options within each type. It is very confusing and difficult for a family to have enough knowledge to make a good choice for their elderly parents. Join us as we discuss all the different choices and the factors that go into making the right decision with placement expert Juliane Bigelow, founder of CareQuest, a local placement agency helping families in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Prepare Your Heirs: Keys to a Successful Transfer of Wealth

We’ve all heard the old adage “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Sadly, for many families, the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next often fails: 70% of families lose their wealth by the end of the second generation and 90% lose it by the end of the third generation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this episode, we will be discussing with Richard Del Monte, of the Del Monte Group, the underlying reasons wealth transitions so often fail and the tools and processes he recommends for families who want to avoid that fate.

Hiring Home Caregivers: Know the Law

As the Baby Boom generation ages, we are seeing more and more older clients in need of assistance with some aspects of their daily lives. Almost universally, people would prefer to live in their own homes as they age, and therefore more and more of our clients are hiring in-home caregivers. This can be done through an agency, but for some clients, it makes sense to hire caregivers directly, because they already know someone who would be a good fit for that job, they think the wages will be lower, or a variety of other reasons. What people often don’t know when they hire caregivers directly is that they are considered an employer, and must now comply with all the legal requirements that govern the employer-employee relationship. My guest, Jon Babione with Ferber Law, APC will explain these requirements and provide some best practices to follow when hiring caregivers to avoid stepping into a legal problem.

It Takes a Village

There are lots of nice senior living communities in our area, but almost every senior I’ve talked to would prefer to remain living in their own home as long as possible. Many need assistance in order to do so. That doesn’t always mean hiring caregivers. For some, just getting help with chores, such as grocery shopping or replacing lightbulbs that require a ladder, can make all the difference. That’s where a Village comes in. Join me as I talk to Larry Toy of Lamorinda Village. We will discuss the Village concept in general and the many programs that the Lamorinda Village has for seniors in our community.

Trust Failures: Don't Let This Happen to YOU!

In close to 100% of our trust administrations, we’re hired to execute, there is at least one failure that could have been avoided. Some of these are very common and also very easy to fix. Unfortunately, many of them are much more difficult to fix. An in this context, difficult means expensive. In this episode, Absolute Trust Counsel attorneys Madison Gunn and Kirsten Howe will discuss some of their most memorable trust failures. Watch and learn how to avoid them.

Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging: A Valuable Community Resource

For most of our estate planning clients, the question of who will step in and manage things for you if you become incapacitated is pretty easy to answer because they have a spouse or children or other family members upon whom they know they can rely. However, it is not unusual for a client to have none of those people in their lives, or their family members live too far away to be very helpful. There are a variety of solutions available to those clients, such as bank trust departments and licensed professional fiduciaries, which can be very good choices. For some clients, though, another resource, the Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging, might be a better fit.

Join us as we talk to Jody Iorns, the Executive Director of the Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging, about the wide variety of services available to our community through the foundation.

End-of-Life Care Decisions: Balancing Technology with Compassion

For many seniors, decisions about medical care and treatment must be made by family members, because of incapacity. These decisions can be very difficult, given that modern medical technology allows us to prolong life, but often in a way that involves aggressive and invasive treatments that cause suffering and affect the quality of life. This is contrary to what most people say they would like — to spend the last part of their lives at home, surrounded by their loved ones, in a comfortable environment.

In this episode, Dr. Alan Molk discusses his book, Saving Lives, Saving Dignity, in which he and his co-author, Dr. Robert Shapiro, talk about their experiences with end-of-life decision making and balancing comfort and dignity with treatment, from their unique perspectives as both emergency physicians and family decision-makers.

2890 N. Main Street, Suite 206
Walnut Creek, CA 94597


Absolute Trust Counsel © 2023 All rights reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy