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The Hidden Trust Powers That Can Devastate an Inheritance

       Seminar attendees have been astounded to learn that everything they have done to create a Trust estate and an inheritance for their children or heirs can be undone after their death. That's right, it can all be substantially changed to thwart their objectives. They are found in almost any Trust and if not fully understood or explained by the Attorney who drafts the Trust, the consequences can be devastating. We commonly see their ramifications in Trusts that include blended families, but can also have the same results with traditional families.

Co-Trustees- An Exercise in Futility

       If you are considering arranging a Trust with Co-Trustees or Co-Successor Trustees you may want to reconsider. Usually Trust creators, known as Trustors or Settlors, who wish to have Co-Successor Trustees do so for a reason. Possibly they don't wish to show a preference among their children, so they designate Co-Successors. Or, they want a "checks and balances" approach to preclude one child from taking advantage of a power privilege by acting alone as the sole Successor Trustee. The problem here is with California institutions (banks, credit unions, etc.) who will not recognize the authority of Co-Trustees who must act jointly. Instead, they require that the document designating Co-Trustees provide that each of the Co-Trustees may act independently of each other. This, of course, defeats the purpose of having Co-Trustees as the "checks and balances" approach is ignored. As a result, if the Trust document requires that the Co-Trustees act jointly, the institution may not recognize the authority of Co-Trustees at all. If the Trustor is deceased or incapacitated, the Co-Trustees may be powerless to act on the account without Court action to amend the Trust.

Protecting the Home From Probate After the Death of a Spouse

       There is much confusion and misunderstanding that surrounds the issues of asset titling after the death of a spouse. Many surviving spouses are unaware that they can utilize the benefit of a Living Trust to avoid the financial and time frustrations of probate for their children, heirs or other estate beneficiaries. There is a two step process that our office takes on a routine basis for surviving spouses.


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