Monthly Archives: September 2014

Celebrity examples for those facing estate planning concerns

While successful celebrities may manage significant assets during their lives, they are just as prone to making bad decisions during the estate planning process as any other California resident. Understanding the implications of each type of estate plan is important, and it is wise to consider scenarios that might affect one’s wishes. Robin Williams’ irrevocable trust is an excellent example. While he may have desired to protect the privacy of his family by establishing an irrevocable trust, the documents became public due to the death of a trustee. The co-trustee was faced with the need to have a new trustee appointed, requiring a petition that involved making related documents public.

Casey Kasem’s health decline led to significant conflict between his adult children and his second wife. The spouse’s challenge over his health directives and Kasem’s designation of a daughter for decisions related to his care led to a long battle. Similar battles may be ahead as the deceased Kasem’s estate is addressed. Meanwhile, the estate of Philip Seymour Hoffman must go through probate due to the fact that he did not marry his children’s mother nor establish trusts. His lack of more appropriate estate planning may leave his partner with large tax bills.

Failing to update an estate plan resulted in Michael Crichton excluding his unborn child from inheriting from his estate at the time of his death. A review of Crichton’s estate plans might have prevented an unpleasant court battle. An individual who is not a celebrity might not need to worry about high-value assets, but family members could be just as negatively affected by a lack of planning.

An individual who is concerned about issues such as publicity, medical decisions, tax liabilities or an unborn child may want to review an existing estate plan with a lawyer practicing in a relevant field. Regularly revisiting a plan may ensure that new life issues may be addressed appropriately.

Source: Forbes, “Lessons Celebrities Can Teach Retirees About Estate Planning“, Thomas and Robert Fross , September 16, 2014

What are the responsibilities of an attorney-in-fact?

In California, it is possible for an attorney-in-fact to act on an individual’s behalf pursuant to a durable power of attorney form. An attorney-in-fact is often relied upon to make health care decisions on behalf of the person who executed that form. The person designated as the attorney-in-fact can be any trusted adult such as a friend or an adult child.

The agent designated on a DPA is allowed to engage in any activities stipulated in the agreement whether an individual is competent to do so or not. This means that an agent may invest, buy property or make other financial decisions if so authorized in the document. The terms of the power of attorney become effective when it is signed, but an exception is made for a springing power of attorney which becomes effective at a predetermined date in the future.

The health care power of attorney is only effective when the grantor becomes not competent to make those decisions on his or her own. The authority given to the attorney-in-fact can be as broad or specific as the grantor wants it to be, and often includes the right to consent to or refuse treatment, the right to refuse life-sustaining efforts and the right to obtain access to medical records.

Giving another person a power of attorney over an individual’s affairs may make it easier to ensure that his or her best interests are protected at all times. Prior to creating or executing such a document, it may be a good idea to obtain the advice of an estate planning attorney.

Source: Caregiver, “Durable Powers of Attorney and Revocable Living Trusts“, September 10, 2014