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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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.

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TherapistWill.com Facebook Page

TherapistWill.com 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 TherapistWill.com 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.

TherapistWill.com 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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Forced to Sell the Family Residence – based on a true story

The following account is based on a client of mine.  Names and non-substantive circumstances have been changed to protect the client’s privacy.

John and Betsy married in 1983.  Betsy owned a house before the marriage and John moved in with Betsy after the marriage. Betsy had one child from a previous marriage, named Elizabeth.  In  1985, John and Betsy had a second child together, named William.   While there were no unusual problems, Elizabeth has never warmed up to John.

Tragically, Betsy was killed in a car accident last year. She did not have an estate plan. The family residence was the only substantial asset John and Betsy owned. The laws of intestacy require that John and Betsy’s community property go to John and the separate property be divided by John, William and Elizabeth. Elizabeth wanted to take her portion of the property as cash. Neither John nor William had the money to buy Elizabeth out of her portion of the family residence and John’s employment was not sufficient to qualify for a large enough mortgage on the residence.

With no viable solution available, John had no option other than to sell the residence and give Elizabeth and William their respective portions of the proceeds.  All of this could have been avoided if John and Betsy had created a foundational estate plan, including a living trust.

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