Whether it’s about a conservatorship, a trust or power of attorney, it seems that people always want to “ask an attorney.” I am happy to give a listen and help where I can. It’s one of the reasons I offer a free 30 minute consultation to those in the Los Gatos and San Jose area curious about how estate planning can be of benefit. Some of the questions that show up repeatedly, I publish here. If one person is asking, there are hundreds or thousands of others wondering the same thing! Maybe this will help to you or a friend. Feel free to share! 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.
QUESTION: What if my aging Mother is NOT a willing participant in resigning from the office of Trustee in order to transfer power to the successor Trustee to help manage her finances.
ANSWER: Most trusts provide that the trustee may be removed (kicking and screaming) if two doctor’s sign letters stating that the trustee lacks capacity. If there is no trust then you may need to obtain a conservatorship which would allow you, as the conservator of her estate, to make medical and other personal decisions.
QUESTION: It sounds like a Conservatorship is expensive. What’s the average cost?
ANSWER: It is expensive and public. That is why we encourage people to do estate planning and avoid the court process. With the court costs plus the attorney’s fees, the average cost to establish a conservatorship is between $4,000 and $5,000. In addition, there is an ongoing cost to file biennial accountings with the court. So if you are looking to be pro-active, then invest $2,200 – $2,800 now to set up an estate plan that includes a revocable living trust. This way if you become incapacitated you will be able to resign instead of messing with the conservatorship later.
QUESTION: My brother and sister live in NY and I live here, in CA with our parents. They are getting on in years and it’s getting to the point that they are becoming incapacitated. Should I be the one to shoulder all the work regarding their estate? How can I involve my siblings and have them share in the work of taking care of our folks? What documents do I need to have in place while they are still thinking clearly?
ANSWER: I feel for you. Look at it this way – play to each of your strengths as you involve your brother and sister. And YES, it is only fair that they are involved and that the THREE of you share the work involved. Schedule a conference call with them and treat it as you would any long-term project: identify what needs done, the dates for each and assign each task. Plan to meet every month or every 2-weeks (as needed) to make sure things are getting done.
As for the paperwork – is there a will, a trust, a conservatorship, financial power of attorney, an advanced health care directive? I would really encourage you to talk with an estate attorney. If there is a chance that you would shoulder the majority of the work, if your siblings are complete flakes and M.I.A. when it comes to helping your folks, your parents can arrange for you to be compensated for the time it takes you to do certain things on their behalf – both while they are alive and in the event they pass and you administer their estate (if you do).
Los Gatos Residents Can Ask an Attorney in Person
If you live in Los Gatos, or elsewhere in the San Jose area, you are welcome to be in tough with any of the burning questions on the list to ask an attorney. If you would like to talk in person, you may print this Free 30 Minute Legal Consultation – use it to get some initial questions answered at no charge! Call to make an appointment. In the meantime, keep a running list of your questions and as you think of new ones. Write them down. Bring your list with you on the day of your appointment. This way you make the most of your Free 30min Consultation and get answers to your most urgent questions right up front!
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.