Planning for Life

Why Trusts Work Better than Durable Powers of Attorney

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 23, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis


Everyone should have a durable power of attorney in place, at least as long as they have anyone to trust to step in for them to handle financial and legal matters if they become incapacitated. We all are at risk of incapacity, whether from illness or injury, whether temporary or permanent. Of course, this risk rises as we get older.

Without someone in place to handle legal and financial matters, bills can go unpaid, contracts can't be signed, homes can't be refinanced, leases can't be terminated, investments go unmonitored and unadjusted, and families often fight over who's in charge. The remedy of seeking court-appointed conservatorship is expensive, cumbersome, and time-consuming. It's best that you pick your own person or people for this role.

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Topics: durable power of attorney, revocable trust

AskHarry Podcast Episode 2: The Benefits and Risks of Revocable Trusts and Annuities for Seniors

Posted by Estey Masten on October 22, 2020


Retired University of Pittsburg Law School professor, Larry Frolik, joins Harry again in episode 2 of the AskHarry podcast discuss the pros and cons of revocable trusts and annuities for seniors.

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Topics: baby boomers, revocable trust, annuities

Autonomy vs. Protection for Older Women

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 23, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


In an article in the ACTEC Law Journal titled "What If Granny Wants to Gamble? Balancing Autonomy and Vulnerability in the Golden Years,"  Professor Mary F. Radford of the Georgia State University School of Law discusses the tension between seeking protection of seniors from abuse and neglect while also preserving their autonomy.

Why Older Women?

She focuses on older women for two reasons: There are many more of them, because they live longer than men on average; and they're more likely to be isolated, making them more vulnerable to scams and abuse. The latter factor, of course, is related to the first, since those older women who were married to men are likely to survive them and end up living on their own.

Here are some interesting statistics Prof. Radford cites:

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Topics: revocable trust, scams, autonomy

You Can't Amend Your Trust by Post-It Note

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 7, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


A California case stands for the rule that trust amendments must be in writing and signed. In the case of Pena v. Dey, James Robert Anderson was diagnosed with abdominal cancer in 2010 and brain cancer in 2011. His friend, Greg Dey, moved in with him in November 2011 and cared for Anderson until his death in May 2014.

In February 2014, Anderson sent his attorney a marked up copy of his revocable trust, crossing out certain beneficiaries and adding Dey and two other beneficiaries each to receive "7% of 49%." The trust was to be divided into two shares, with 49% percent going to various individuals and 51% to three charities.

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Topics: will, revocable trust

Why Would Anyone Do Estate Planning? A Lot of Bang for the Buck

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 24, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis


Why would anyone want to partake in estate planning? It takes time. You have to deal with lawyers. And to talk about your death or disability. It may bring up contentious issues with a spouse or children. It's not urgent, since nothing is likely to happen to you tomorrow, or even in the next few years. It costs money.

So, why should you take time out of your busy life to commit to estate planning? The answer is that there are few other simple steps you can take that will could have as great an impact on your family's welfare. The cost-benefit trade off is tremendous.

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Topics: durable power of attorney, will, HIPAA release, health care proxy, revocable trust

Is a General Assignment Sufficient to Fund a Revocable Trust?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 4, 2011

By Harry S. Margolis


If you sign a document saying that all of your assets will go into a revocable trust, will this work to fund the trust and avoid probate, or do you need to retitle each asset and account individually? In the California case of Kucker v. Kucker, the California Appeals Court answered in the affirmative, saying (with some caveats) that the general assignment worked.

Mona Berkowitz, age 84, executed a revocable trust and a general assignment of all of her personal property to the trust. Personal property includes bank accounts, investment accounts, cash, and personal belongings such as furniture, artwork, clothing, and jewelry.

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Topics: Estate Planning, revocable trust

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