Transferring a Motor Vehicle outside of Probate

Typically a person who creates a living trust is advised not to transfer title to her or his motor vehicle.  This is because the California Department of Motor Vehicles has created a simple streamlined method for transferring a vehicle when someone has died.  All you have to do is fill out a couple of documents.  The first is an Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate.  The second is a Statement of Facts.  By presenting these forms to the DMV and paying the appropriate fees, a motor vehicle can be transferred easily.  If there are issues with the vehicle, such as unpaid and overdue registration fees or need for a smog check, you will have to address those issues in order to complete the transfer of title.

Click here to visit the California DMV page explaining the process and providing the required forms via download.

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The Stiff Rules of a Probate Sale with Court Confirmation Hold Many Surprises

We all know that we want to avoid probate if possible.  But why?  This blog post by realtor, Antonio Cardenas, spells out nicely why California residents should ensure that their home and other real property is titled in a living trust.

Click here to read Mr. Cardenas’ blog post.

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Leaving a Legacy

Usually with estate planning, the financial aspects get the focus.  However, there are also non-financial reasons for estate planning.  Often those reasons are as valuable or even more valuable than the financial reasons to the trust maker.  This is clear when we talk about a guardian being named for young children who survive you.  But there are other ways to leave a legacy.  Click here to read more.

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Does your therapist have a professional will?

Therapists are required by their ethical and/or legal standards to have a plan in place in the event they die or become incapacitated (often called a “professional will”).  Unfortunately, many if not most psychotherapists and counselors do not have such a plan in place.  Some do not know that such a requirement even exists.  Others simply haven’t gotten around to doing this, just like many others haven’t gotten around to creating a foundational estate plan.  And yet others simply do not know where to go to create such a plan, because services in this arena are sorely lacking and often inadequate or problematic.

The reasons for this requirement is fairly straightforward.  If a therapist dies or becomes incapacitated, first and foremost, we do not want the therapist’s patients to find out by coming to the therapist’s office for an appointment and finding the therapist mysteriously missing for a period of time.  We want a system in place so that patients will be notified and referred to an appropriate clinician as soon as it is realistically possible to do so.  The other reason has to do with patients’ right to their clinical files and to confidentiality.  Under federal and state laws, clinical files must be kept for a prescribed amount of time so that a patient or other appropriate person might have access to such files even after treatment has ended.  These files must be handled by an appropriate clinician (and not the therapist’s friend or spouse, unless that person happens to be an appropriate licensed clinician) who will safeguard patient confidentiality and destroy the files at the appropriate time.

If you are in therapy, you should ask your therapist if she/he has a professional will.  Gadi Zohar has created specialized terms in his living trusts to fulfill this ethical/legal requirement.  Also, is an inexpensive and easy alternative for therapists who are not necessarily inclined toward an entire estate plan.

Below are some of the rules that apply to California therapists.  More information on particular laws and ethical rules can be found at TherapistWill’s facebook page.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists: California Association or Marriage and Family Therapists Code of Ethics Rule 1.3

Licensed Clinical Social Workers: National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics Rule 1.15

Psychologists: American Psychological Association Code of Conduct Rules 3.12 and 10.09; also California Business and Professions Code section 2919

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors: American Counseling Association Code of Ethics Rule C.2.h.

Note that most of the above requirements are national.  This means your therapist probably must follow the same requirements no matter what state the therapist is in.


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Three Ways to Make Life Easier for your Family and Loved Ones

Click here to read the April 2013 Newsletter entitled Three Ways to Make Life Easier for your Family and Loved Ones.

Posted in Estate Planning, Living Trust, Probate, Trusts, Wills | Leave a comment Facebook Page is now on facebook.  Psychotherapists, follow us and take part in discussions like this one:

Why is a private practice California Psychologist required to maintain files for seven years after a minor patient reaches the age of majority, when the same Psychologist’s clinical files only have to be maintained for one year after the child reaches age of majority if the Psychologist works in a clinic? And what are private practice LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and Psychiatrists supposed to do?

Compare Cal Business & Professions Code section 2919 to Cal Health & Safety Code section 123145.

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The Solution is Near for Therapists’ Often Unmet Obligations!

Psychotherapists and psychological counselors in private practice must plan for incapacity or death with considerations others may not think of.  Various laws and ethical codes require that a therapist make a plan for the quick transition of existing clients and for the proper handling of clinical files in the event of the therapist’s death or incapacity.

The problem is that most templates for such plans are created by therapists, as opposed to trusts and estates attorneys!

Such documents are often called “professional wills” or some variation thereof.  As the name suggests, these documents are more like wills or trusts.  Only a trusts and estates attorney would know what to look for when creating such a document.  Such documents created by therapists often miss important issues that a trusts and estates attorney would know to look for.  For example, many such documents refer to an agent under a durable power of attorney.  However, if the principal is dead, so is the durable power of attorney.  Another common mistake in such documents is that they do not plan for various contingencies that a trusts and estates attorney is trained to consider.

While the best solution for this problem would be having a qualified and informed estate planning attorney draft a living trust or will with appropriate terms, many therapists do not want or feel they need to pay for such a custom document.

Soon there will be a service called which will allow therapists to easily create a professional will for less than the typical fee for one psychotherapy session!  And the template for the TherapistWill(TM) has been reviewed by attorneys. is the brainchild of Gadi Zohar, Esq., LMFT — a trusts and estates attorney who is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (he now practices exclusively as an attorney).  He has taken what has otherwise been an expensive or cumbersome process and turned it into a simple, affordable 3-step solution.  All one does is create a free user account, answer a series of questions, and after reviewing answers the therapist will be able to print out a personalized TherapistWill(TM).  Therapists will even have 30 days after printing the document to return to their account and make corrections.

The final document includes explanations of each part of the document, guidelines for the implementation of the TherapistWill, and therapists will even have the opportunity to add a self-created addendum for information that is important to the therapist, but is not included in the standard template.

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