Ask an Attorney – Paranoia, Living Trusts & More

ask_an_attorney_living_trust_losgatosWhen people call me, wanting to “ask an attorney,” it is often about aging parents,  paranoid elders, living trusts, and power of attorney.  Below you will find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions. They may be of help to you or a friend. This is something most of us face. It can be a tough time and present us with challenges we never expected. If you feel overwhelmed, out of control, or worried about an aging friend or relative, remember… Knowledge is Power!

Quick Note: Because every situation is different, the following should be considered “general information.” It is not meant to apply to your specific situation. Please seek the advice of counsel.


Ask an Attorney About Living Trusts Paranoid Aging Parents & Power of Attorney

QUESTION: What are the advantages of a living trust?

ANSWER: It’s pretty straightforward. A living trust is designed to take the place of a simple will. Both the will and trust get the money to the proper beneficiaries. However, the trust has advantages: 1. Avoid probate – Maximize amount of estate to the beneficiaries. 2. Plan for successor trustee to take over in the case of incapacity – Avoid a Conservatorship and, therefore, maximize the amount of the estate to the beneficiaries. 3. Minimize estate taxes if that is an issue, and control the distribution of the estate.


QUESTION: Why does having a trust save the estate money?

ANSWER: Both in the case of incapacity and in case of death with no trust there would be a court process without a trust. The expense in either case is greater than the cost of administering a trust.


QUESTION: My Mother is wary and afraid to talk with an attorney. How do I convince her to at least explore the option of getting a living trust?

ANSWER: Please let your mother know that many attorneys offer an initial free consultation. This is designed to let the client and attorney discuss the issues and decide if   A) The attorney can offer solutions. B) The parties are comfortable with each other. Often the attorney can estimate the cost of the services after the initial meeting. You may download a certificate for a Free 30min Consultation if you are in the area (Los Gatos, CA) and like to come see me.


QUESTION: My Dad died last year and my aging Mother does not have a trust and is starting to become paranoid; she will not sign anything. She is afraid I will steal her money. What do I do?

ANSWER: I am sorry to hear about your Dad and feel for your Mother… and you too. It may be time to consider a Conservatorship. This requires presentation of a request to the court. The court will sign an order appointing the petitioner as conservator. A conservator of the estate can handle all financial matters. A conservatorship of the person allows the agent to make medical and other personal decisions, such as where the Conservatee lives.


QUESTION: My Dad has Alzheimer’s and thinks we are stealing his money. He is unable to understand a bank statement. He piles bills on the front table and refuses to let us look at anything. If he remembered we have a Financial Power of Attorney he would probably revoke it. What can I do?

ANSWER: This is precisely the reason for having a Financial Power of Attorney. You can use it to access bank accounts that are in Dad’s name; as long as are not in a living trust. You can pay his bills from there. If he revokes the Power of Attorney, however, you may need to get a Conservatorship. Because each case is unique, please contact your attorney with your questions. There is no need to go it alone.


Los Gatos Residents Can Ask an Attorney in Person

If you live in Los Gatos, or another city in the San Jose area of California, and have questions that you would like to ask an attorney, you are welcome to be in touch. I encourage you to print this Free 30 Minute Legal Consultation and use it to get some of your initial questions answered at no charge! Simply call to make and appointment. I always suggest to people, if you have questions or concerns about aging relatives, keep a running list of what they are. As you think of a question, write it down and bring that list with you to your appointment. This will help you make the most of your Free 30min Consultation and get answers to most important ones right away!


estate_planning_living_trust_preparation_losgatos_Diane M. Brown, Esq.
Working every day to keep my clients out of court!
It’s your money… Let’s keep it that way!
Call 408.376.2755



This “ask an attorney” blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.


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