Egyptian Temple Guards
March 5, 2013  


Temple Painting In our January, 2011 newsletter we talked about how the Egyptian pyramids were created to insure the legacy of the builders.  The connection to creating your legacy through a good estate plan was obvious!

I'd like to think that the ancients had the same procrastination issues as modern men and women.  For years, they thought about gathering the stones together, but they didn't start because they were young or they were busy fighting wars or, or, or... Then, one day maybe an uncle dies, and the pharaoh says, "I really need to start that pyramid."

So you wake up one morning, maybe the first day of the year or your birthday or your child's 6th birthday or the day after your aunt dies, some day, often a significant one, and you think, "I REALLY NEED TO WRITE MY WILL".


That is like, "Oops I haven't gathered a single stone, and I really need to do that".


Scrab detail
"I really need to write my Will,"

means something like,

"I need to see a lawyer who can write my Will, and if you are reading this  newsletter, I hope it means, "I need to see Julia Wald (or someone in her office) who can write my Will".

But, by "Will"
What do I really Mean?

An Egyptian Camel Many of the readers of this Newsletter have a car or truck or motorcycle which they would like to continue to drive for some period, maybe years. Savvy owners of automobiles know that to keep a vehicle running so it will start up when you want to get going, you gotta take care of it.  


Ok. So what does that entail? Change the oil every 3,000 miles? No problem, but that correct? I've been told vehicles of recent vintage can run on the same oil for 5,000 miles or more.    


But more to the point, just changing the oil is not enough. As a responsible owner, you need to do all that other stuff to your car. Well, maybe not YOU but someone. You know, "stuff' like checking the brakes, changing the filters (what filters?), checking the fluids (how do you do that?) And no doubt other things that I can't name just now. If you don't know what all "that other stuff" is, you better take your vehicle, perhaps it is the one you named "Maggie" or "Ferdinand", to someone who does. Right? 

Now, here is the Point!

Egyptian Roadway

While you think first about changing the oil but really mean you need to get your car serviced, you first think a Will, but really mean you need to work with Julia to do an estate plan for your family.



Estate planning is more than Will writing.

Estate Planning is for the children As a reader of this newsletter you know that chances are good that you need a Trust Agreement (more on California Living Trusts) supplemented by a "pour-over Will". Or possibly your primary document can be a Will.


That is the basic element, like changing the oil. But there is more "stuff", more documents you need, and it would be best if you engaged an experienced, careful lawyer to design your estate plan.


What other documents are needed? I would recommend (as I believe most good estate planning attorneys would), that you have drafted for you at least the following:

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
 Used to appoint an agent to manage your money, incoming and outgoing, think, bill paying, the appointment to begin when you chose, but most likely when (if) you lose capacity.

The agent will only control money that is not in your trust (if any). The document ceases to be effective and valid when you die.


General Assignment 
A document that is used to make your Trustee the owner of all your property that you wish managed under the terms of the Trust Agreement.

Most likely, you or your and your spouse is/are the Trustee so you are giving yourself/yourselves in your capacity as trustee the property you now own individually.


Certificate of Trust
A brief synopsis of the Trust Agreement to show to financial institutions when they need to know that there is a trust and the identity of the Trustee(s).

Deed or Deeds
Needed to transfer each of your parcels of real property, including your house, to your Trustee and to make a public record of the fact that the parcel is owned by the Trustee of your trust and managed under the terms of the Trust Agreement.

This kind of transfer does not trigger an increase in property taxes.


Pour-over Will
Primary purpose is to say that your assets which are not owned by the Trustee should be given to the Trustee.

The Will can say other things, like who gets your motor scooter or Aunt Jessie's china, etc.


These are the primary documents
They deal with your wealth, your assets, your cash and house.

And there is another very important document which speaks your wishes for care of your self, not what you own, but your body, in particular after you can no longer speak your wishes. It can also address issues of who will visit you in the ICU and what happens to your body after you die. It is a little confusing that this document has a number of names but these names refer to the kind of document that states your directions for your health care/care of your body.


Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care/ Directive to Physician/ Health Care Directive/
Living Will
Used to appoint an agent to manage your health care when you cannot do so but according to guidelines chosen by you and spelled out in the document.

A Bit About the Cost

A dog and his Boy For most people it is more daunting to go in for estate planning than it is to go in for servicing of the car. Estate planning, like car servicing, may seem to you more expensive than it should be.  


Of course you can cut your costs by going to what lawyers call "trust mills" but you may not be satisfied with the results. You may find that the trust is from a cookie cutter form and not tailored to your wishes and a loss leader so that the office really makes its money selling insurance or annuities.


I thought it would be helpful to link to a sample engagement letter so that when you come to this office you will already know what to expect in terms of service and cost.

The letter is addressed to a single person. The letter for a married couple or partners is similar.

The two most important differences are that the letter for couples asks that they waive any conflict of interest because the law requires that if two people are represented by one firm, they must each waive any conflict of interest that might arise; it also tells them that anything one of them tells us will be repeated to the other (no secrets!). The cost is different, too. The cost to a married couple is approximately $4,000. There are the same provisos about the cost in the letter to a married couple as in the letter to a single person

Julia P. Wald

Chambers Wald, LLP
108 Fifth Avenue, Suite 202, San Rafael, CA 94901