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Firm helps clients prepare documents placeholder

placeholder April 6, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Firm helps clients prepare documents

Many people who come into the California Document Preparers' offices to create their living trusts comment on how comprehensive the process is — it's because we include a power of attorney and advance health care directive in our trust package.

Being prepared ensures seamless care if it becomes necessary.

We also include a section to list health care providers, accountants, insurance carriers and financial advisers. We encourage our clients to identify their medications and the login information for their online accounts. Thinking carefully about what information your children or loved ones would need if you were in an accident or suddenly incapacitated is key.

Preparing these legal documents now and keeping the information updated will ensure your receiving seamless care — if and when it becomes necessary.

Here are five things to be thinking about as you prepare your living trust:

1. A financial power of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another's behalf. As people age, it's not unusual for their memories to fade and their thinking to become unclear. Having a trusted family member or friend able to step in as financial power of attorney means that the services and care that aging parents require will seamlessly continue.

2. An advance health care directive specifies what actions should be taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. Planning ahead and creating an advance health care directive makes it easier for your family to care for you if an unfortunate situation arises.

3. Funding your living trust. Creating a living trust is not enough. We see this all the time — the trust doesn't do you any good unless it's funded — titles for all property need to be deeded to the trust, and all investments, bank accounts, life insurance policies, etc. need to be transferred into the trust. Not only does your living trust need to be funded, but it needs to be kept updated.

4. Naming a successor trustee — naming someone to manage your trust. Something you should also be thinking about is naming a backup, or alternate successor trustee. It's not unusual for people these days to live healthy, productive lives into their 80s and 90s, which means they may outlive their grown children. If no backup has been identified, the court may consider other family members or third party, such as an attorney, fiduciary or organization that handles estates professionally, which means incurring additional costs.

5. Where to find your living trust. Unlike a last will and testament, which must be filed with the court upon someone's death, a living trust remains private. Make sure your family or close friends know where your legal documents are stored.

If you've been procrastinating about creating your living trust, visit or call one of our three Bay Area offices: Dublin, 925-479-9600; Oakland, 510-452-2320; or Walnut Creek, 925-407-1010. Our website has more information: www.cadocpreparers.com. We're here to help.

— California Document Preparers

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