The Kenwood Press|
Mother Desires Custodial Control Over Daughter's Inheritance
Dear Len & Rosie,
Dear Len & Rosie,
My parents have a revocable living trust. My father has passed away. Since then I have gone through a divorce and have had my maiden name reinstated. I believe we are OK with my fatherís passing but the trust was written in my married name. Do we need to have my name changed on the trust and if so what is the easiest, quickest and of course most economical way of doing this?
I also think it is time for me to do a trust. I am not married and have no children. Again is there a quick and easy (and cheap) way to do this?
Donít worry so much about your parentsí trust, at least with respect to your name. Shakespeare wrote, ďA rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.Ē There is no legal reason why your motherís estate planning documents should be changed just because your name is different from what it used to be. It would be quite the racket if estate planning attorneys could charge parents up to a thousand dollars every time one of their daughters changes her name. If your mother decides to amend her trust for some other reason, then she may as well have your name changed while sheís doing it. Otherwise, she should leave it alone.
Your mother should, however, make sure that sheís done everything she needs to do with the trust as a result of your fatherís death. It isnít automatic. Your father is no longer a trustee, so his name should be removed from the trustís assets. The trust could also be an A/B trust that requires your mother to divide the trust into a revocable Survivorís trust (the A trust) and an irrevocable Bypass trust (the B trust). If your parents are well off, there could be an estate plan due. If your mother has not yet reviewed the trust with an attorney after your fatherís death, she should do so fairly soon.
With respect to your own estate planning, itís true that there are cheap and easy ways to do your own estate planning documents. You can buy forms, books, computer programs, and even do your own trust on the Internet. But you get what you pay for. And when you buy a trust by filling out a few forms, youíre not paying for or receiving any actual legal advice. There isnít a person hidden within your computer asking you questions and helping you figure out what the best estate plan is for you, and you may not know enough to ask the right questions yourself. So while you can create your own estate planning documents, thereís no way that we could guarantee that your self-made trust will work out the way you want.
Len & Rosie
Len Tillem and Rosie McNichol are elder law attorneys. Contact them at 846 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476, by phone at (707) 996-4505, or on the Internet at www.lentillem.com. Len also answers legal questions each weekday, noon-12:45 p.m., and Sundays, 4-7 p.m., on KGO Radio 810 AM.