Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No reason to delay your initial estate plan appointment!

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
Whenever I’m speaking to the public on estate planning I notice the audience includes two camps.  One, the camp that has already done an estate plan who are wondering how often they need to review or revise.  The other camp are those who have not created their estate plan.  The latter group tend to have preconceived ideas about what is entailed in preparing for the first appointment.   These ideas are likened to the annual tax preparation.   Tax preparation includes anxious thoughts of sorting through mounds of paperwork and negative energy about getting something wrong.  The reality is estate planning is not like doing your annual taxes.  The preparation for the initial consultation is fairly simple and seamless.  You do need to have an idea of who you want to designate as your successor trustee and your power of attorney.  If your first choice becomes unable, who would be your second choice?  Their names, address and phone numbers are all we need.  Also, if you have property, a deed or tax bill will help us prepare a trust transfer deed so your property is put into your trust.   Lastly, a list of other assets such as Investment Accounts (i.e. Fidelity, Account XYZ) can be incorporated into your Trust.  

At the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean, we try to take away the anxiety and give you peace of mind that these essential documents are done and you can get on with living!  Estate planning is not a dreaded annual event.  We recommend that you have your estate plan reviewed every 5 years because life circumstances change.  Many people have not had to do any changes for longer periods, each situation is unique.  Click here for a checklist of what to bring to your estate planning appointment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Child with disability can be protected with Special Needs Trust

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Concerned parents of adult children with disabilities often supplement what Social Security and State benefits don't cover for quality of life standards they are familiar with. The reality is no one can replace the unconditional love and support that parents have for their special needs child at any age. One option for parents who foresee the future needs of their child even when they themselves are no longer around is a special needs trust.  

A special needs trust (SNT) can be created so that the child can still receive extra care for costs over and beyond the monthly disability benefit.  It allows monies to be set aside to enhance quality of life but not disqualify them from receiving benefits.

A special needs trust can be included as part of your living trust. It specifies how trust monies can be used to pay for items not covered by public benefits. You can designate the trustee(s) who will be in charge when you are gone. It will also cover what happens to the trust funds upon your child’s death.

Even if your child is still young, it is wise to start planning now. For more information on trusts and estate planning, click here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Third Party Special Needs Trust Protects Your Child's Financial Future

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
Third Party Special Needs Trust are the most common type of trust parents can create for children or others receiving public benefits. It allows monies to be set aside to enhance quality of life but not disqualify them from receiving benefits.

A Special Needs Trust allows the individual with special needs to receive income from the Trust without impacting their federal eligibility for income dependent benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medi-Cal. Assets held in this type of trust do not qualify as available income when calculating eligibility, as the funds are not considered to be within the recipient’s direct control.
Set at just 2/3 of the poverty level, SSI alone is not enough to cover someone’s minimum needs. Without this type of trust, your loved one with special needs will likely face enormous hardships after your death, depleting funds from their inherited estate within just a few years. A Special Needs Trust allows them to draw on federal financial benefits in addition to drawing income from the estate.
The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean regularly works with families to structure estate plans that help them easily manage personal or business financial assets to achieve their long-term goals. For more information on special needs trust, click here

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Child with Special Needs is Turning 18. Now What?

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Lynn A. Dean will be on a panel discussion about transition processes for young adults with special needs. Topics include conservatorships and special needs trusts; supportive living; transition form school-based services to Regional Center-funded services; and personal transition stories from individuals with special needs and their families.

Presented by the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region's Committee on Inclusion and Disabilities in partnership with Capital Public Radio on October 26, 2014, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.. Open to the public, free -  registration required, Click here for more information.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October is Special Needs Month

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA) has declared October as special needs month. Lynn Dean, a member of NAELA, can prepare your Special Needs Trust. A special needs trust protects the assets of a beneficiary with special needs after their parents’ death. 

If you are caring for an individual with special needs, you need to think about how that care will continue when you are no longer in the picture.

To learn more about special needs trusts, visit the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean website

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Sixth Reason Why Your Family Will Have To Hire An Attorney For Your Estate

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
6. Spouse or beneficiary change
Have you remarried? Has your child divorced or had new children? Have your daughters remarried and have different names? Sometimes people name beneficiaries on a life insurance, annuity or an IRA policy, and never review the beneficiary designation again. The new spouse will not be happy when she finds out the insurance money is going to go to the previous wife!

We bring experience, knowledge and compassion to the Estate Planning process.  Don’t leave your loved ones to fight through the unintended consequences of an outdated estate plan. The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean will happily review your existing documents to align with your current circumstances and future goals. Contact us to find out how. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Five of Six Reasons Why Your Fmaily Will Have To Hire An Attorney For Your Estate

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
5. The document was written with specific instructions that cannot be carried out by the Executor

When a document is created to leave a specific asset, or a specific dollar amount, to a beneficiary, the Trustee/Executor may not be able to follow the instructions of the decedent if the assets have been sold, or decreased in value. Banks are no longer willing to set up accounts with “two signatures required”, so if the document names co-Executors or co-Trustees, they may have a problem acting on behalf of the estate.

Once an estate plan has been created, an ongoing review needs to take place at least every 2-5 years. This allows your documents to stay up-to-date with your current needs and goals. An outdated plan is often worse than no plan at all!

The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean is committed to providing services and information to those struggling to make important decisions for themselves, older family members or friends. Click here for some resources you may find useful. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Four of Six Reasons Why Your Family Have To Hire An Attorney For Your Estate

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
4. A person has been named to be the Trustee/Executor who is not available, or cannot qualify

The documents should be reviewed to ensure that the person(s) who have been designated as the Trustee/Executor are still available to act in that capacity. Some documents have been created listing banks that no longer exist. Some documents require bonding of the Executor, and if the person named to be executor has filed bankruptcy, they will not qualify for a bond.

Don’t leave your loved ones to fight through the unintended consequences of an outdated estate plan. The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean will happily review your existing documents to align with your current circumstances and future goals.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three of Six Reasons Why Your Family Will Have to Hire an Attorney For Your Estate

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
3. A gift has been made to a child who is disabled, and receiving government benefits

A child receiving benefits who receives an inheritance from a Will, Trust, or an IRA, will lose their benefits. With proper planning, a special needs trust can be created by the parents, and the child will have the benefit of the gift, and will not lose their benefits.

A Special Needs Trust protects the assets of a beneficiary with special needs after their parents’ death. If you are caring for an individual with special needs, you need to think about how that care will continue when you are no longer in the picture.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two of Six Reasons Why Your Family Will Have to Hire An Attorney For Your Estate

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
2. The assets were never transferred to the trust

When a living trust is created, the person’s assets should be retitled into the name of the trust. However, during the course of a person’s life, they generally change their assets. If the house is taken out of the trust to be refinanced, or if a new property is acquired, the assets must be put into the name of the trust. 

Too often people create an estate plan, shove it in a drawer or safe deposit box, and never look at it again. This is a problem, because an outdated estate plan is typically worse than having no estate plan at all! Reviews of your estate plan need to happen every two to five years to verify the plan still supports your current needs and goals.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of Six Reasons Why Your Family Will Have To Hire An Attorney For Your Estate

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
Reason #1 -  No documents were created

When there are no documents (Wills, Trust, Powers of Attorney), the estate cannot be managed either during life or at death without the assistance of the court system. The court process is time consuming and expensive. Even when a couple is married, the spouse cannot act on behalf of the other spouse if there are no documents, unless the spouse’s name is on the asset. The estate will pass to the surviving children, but only through the probate process, which will take a minimum of 6 months. 

Many people make the incorrect assumption that estate planning is for the elderly, or for older clients looking to protect large estates. In reality, most people benefit by having an estate plan that keeps pace with their changing needs over time. A solid Estate Plan ensures that your family and beneficiaries will be able to settle your estate in the simplest, most cost effective manner.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

BACK TO SCHOOL – The Advanced Health Care Directive for the 18 year old and the parent

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
High school graduates have had a summer of transition.  Most have turned 18 or soon will.  The back-to-school theme means gearing up for change; the seasons, moving away to college or travels away from home.  There is excitement about the adventure and independence.  In the eyes of the law, once a child turns 18 they are adults, living at home or not.  Being considered an adult from a legal standpoint has many responsibilities and consequences.  (For more on this, download a free pamphlet provided by The State Bar of California, “When you turn 18, A survival Guide for Teenagers"

For parents and guardians, these milestones are filled with some trepidation.  Your child will be making decisions independent of your watchful eye. Sometimes, accidents happen and there is a safety net you can implement that the law will recognize.  The advanced health care directive is a legal document that gives you peace of mind should a medical emergency occur and here’s one reason why: 
Without an advanced health care directive, if you are notified your adult child has been taken to the emergency room, hospital officials will not divulge any information to you.  This form of power of attorney can be created and allows you to have authority to make decisions for your child’s health, ask questions and get answers should something happen.  

To learn more about powers of attorney, click here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Today, many families are learning that with a proper estate plan, they can use revocable trusts to avoid probate and pass property to their heirs. Probate is the legal process that distributes personal assets after someone dies. It can take months and be costly - fees are set by law.  A Trust provides assurance that probate will be avoided, provided that the property has transferred to the Trust with a quitclaim deed, recorded with the county.   Trusts are becoming increasingly popular, and we are always on the look-out for changes in law or matters that affect the estate plan.  Most recently, a homeowner’s personal line policy became an issue and was brought to our attention.  

The client had his estate plan created many years ago and all his property, including out of state rental property, had been transferred to the name of his Trust.  His property management company did not inform him that the tenant’s renter’s insurance had lapsed. Friends of the renters were staying at the home.  They had more friends over for a party and one of them was bitten by a dog, fainted and taken to the ER by ambulance. The victim of the dog bite is now suing the people that own the dog, the management company and the owner of the property.  Since our client’s property is in a Trust, the insurance company won’t cover the owner because they say the owner and the Trust are separate entities.  This is not something insurance agencies have advertised well. Agents don’t typically question the homeowner about the title being in a Trust upon renewal. This issue may go unnoticed until a claim is made. 

THE BOTTOM LINE is you must contact your insurance company to see what their recommendations are and what they require from you to insure both Trust and individual(s). Each company is unique.  Most insurance companies prefer to have the policy in the name of an individual (someone in the trust) and then to add the living trust as an additional insured. This method is preferred because insurance companies do not want to provide worldwide liability for a trust. By having the trust as additional insured it only provides liability at the location insured. It covers the interests of both the individual(s) and the Trust. In addition, you have not taken away needed liability coverage from the individuals or extended overly broad coverage to the Trust.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Estate Planning - What you don't know can hurt you!

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
People tend to think estate planning is only for the elderly or for those who have accumulated wealth and assets.  This is far from the truth.  Take for example, a young couple with two young children where the parents are unexpectedly involved in a fatality.   They have no estate planning documents.  During a time of great tragedy, difficult decisions will need to be made but without any guidance.  Here are some outcomes: 
  1. LACK OF DIRECTION: If there are no advanced health care directives to tell the survivors their funeral wishes or whether they wanted to be organ donors, the family will have to make all the decisions in a time of crisis.
  2. UNCERTAINLY: If there is no designation of a guardian for the children, the person who gets to court first tells the judge who to pick.  There may be disputes within the family about this.   
  3. EXPENSE: Each parent’s estate will have to go through Probate doubling the expenses associated with probate costs. The children will require guardians. This is also a legal process done through the court system. Any monies left by the parents will go to the children, as a result of laws of intestate (without a will) succession.  The assets will be set aside for the children in blocked accounts, until the children turn 18. In order to access the funds for them, the guardians will need a court order (another legal process).

The purpose of Estate Planning is to provide a smooth, efficient and correct transition of an estate, big or small, at any age.  Take the time to plan and protect your family and your assets by contacting The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lynn A. Dean Voted Best of the Best Attorney

The Roseville/Granite Bay Press Tribune announced last night that Lynn A. Dean, Estate Planning Attorney, was named “Best of The Best” from reader’s votes.  

Lynn Dean has specialized in Estate Planning and Elder Law since 1996.  A 1980 graduate of McGeorge School of Law, she established her own law firm in 1986.

With more than 30 years of experience and a capable team of professionals, Lynn has earned the confidence of many clients. She often addresses community groups on Estate Planning topics and is frequently appointed on conservatorship matters by the courts of both Placer and Sacramento counties. Lynn has been featured in the “Ask the Expert” column in the Sacramento Bee, and was voted Best of the Best by the readers of the Roseville Press Tribune in 2010. The readers of Style Magazine have voted her their favorite attorney in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

What compels people to nominate Lynn A. Dean as their favorite attorney year after year in readers’ surveys? 

“We pride ourselves in providing clients with focused attention that meet their personal needs, while protecting their financial interests,” explained Lynn.  “Estate Planning is becoming increasingly complex and a misstep could prove devastating.  We cut through the confusion   and counsel people through the process with compassion and expertise.”  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Estate Planning Will Save You Time and Money!

Estate Planning Will Save You Time and Money! This is the topic Lynn A. Dean, Estate Planning Attorney, will be presenting at The Terraces of Roseville, 707 Sunrise Ave, Roseville, CA on July 29 at 10:00 AM.  She will be discussing Trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney and Probate. This is an opportunity for guests to ask questions and receive helpful information.  Lynn Dean enjoys sharing her expertise on Estate Planning and Elder Law. She is frequently requested to speak around the community. For more information click here:  Speaking Engagements.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Probate - What you want to avoid

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
Probate is the legal process that distributes personal assets after someone dies. If there is a Will that describes specific assets, intended beneficiaries, and an executor who will make decisions on behalf of the deceased person, the job of the executor is to carry out the instructions contained in the Will. The executor is responsible for paying debts and distributing assets according to instructions detailed in the Will.

When there are no documents, such as a revocable trust, the estate cannot be managed either during life or at death without the assistance of the court system. The court process is time consuming and expensive.  Even when a couple is married, the spouse cannot act on behalf of the other spouse if there are no documents, unless the spouse’s name is on the asset. The estate will pass to the surviving children, but only through the probate process, which will take a minimum of 6 months.

At the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean, we can establish your estate plan so you can have peace of mind that your loved ones will not be spending time and money on Probate costs.  Probate fees are set by law and can include fees for: Executor, Attorney, Probate Referee, Court filing, fees, and certified documents.  Download our Probate fee sample by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Estate Administration - Each Situation is Unique

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
People often express embarrassment not knowing the Q & A’s of their aging loved one’s estate.  The truth is most people are caught off guard, are bereaving or are detached from the intimate knowledge of their loved one’s daily life, financial matters or last wishes.  There isn't a book or resource we would recommend on this topic because each situation is unique.  A number of questions need to be answered, including: 
  • Does the person have a Trust or a Will? Did they designate beneficiaries on their accounts?
  • What are their debts? 
  • What are their assets?
If there is a death and you consult an attorney regarding trust administration, the attorney will provide you with a checklist of the things that need to be done. You and the attorney can decide who will take on the responsibility for each of the tasks. 

The administration of an estate through the probate process will take a minimum of six months and can take as long as several years, depending on the complexity. The administration of a trust is generally a shorter process, but there are specific notices that need to be sent to the beneficiaries, which allow them 120 days to contest the terms of the trust. The trustee still has to preserve the assets of the estate during that time period, which means the trustee is responsible for paying the bills. 

I am not trying to make it seem complicated, but there are a lot of things that happen during the administration of an estate. You will be best served by working with a team of professionals (an attorney, a CPA, and a financial planner), who can guide you through the process based upon their experience in these matters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lynn A. Dean to speak on Estate Planning

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Lynn A. Dean will be the featured speaker at the Coffee Club Market Update with Cody Sloan of Edward Jones.   This event will be held June 26, 2014 from 9:30 – 10:30 at Mimi’s Cafe, 1104 Galleria Blvd., Roseville, CA 95678. 

With more than 30 years of legal expertise, attorney Lynn Dean will discuss how proper estate planning will save you time and money!  She will provide answers to common questions such as:
1. Which is better – a living trust or will?
2. Do I have enough money to need a trust?
3. Should I put all my assets into my trust?

If you or your organization would like to have Lynn A. Dean present on estate planning, please contact our office.  Lynn enjoys having the opportunity to share her expertise on Estate Planning and Elder Law.  For her speaker sheet, click here.

To RSVP for the Coffee Club Market update, contact Cody Sloan, 916-772-4114.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Troubling Calls: Elder Abuse

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Every time I am asked to speak on the subject of aging, I always bring up the issue of elder abuse. The most troubling calls I receive are the ones that begin, “Dad has Alzheimer’s and my sister has moved in with him, and is spending all of his money.” The majority of elder abuse cases come from family members. In these challenging economic times, when people are losing jobs and houses, financial elder abuse will very likely be increasing. Our public agencies such as APS (adult protective services) are overwhelmed, understaffed, and will see their budgets cut in this era of drastic revenue shortfalls. I frequently hear from families that someone has contacted APS, but they wouldn’t do anything about the problem. I tell them that APS can only do certain things, and since they are only one agency, getting all of the calls for these problems, they can’t fix every situation. We all need to be vigilant in order to protect our families, our friends, and our neighbors. Ironically, it seems sometimes that a senior will trust a stranger before they will trust someone in their own family.  With dementia often comes a certain level of paranoia, but that usually takes the form of accusing the family members (or caregivers) of stealing something, when it has just been misplaced. 

The best protection against elder abuse is vigilance. Be sure you know what is going on
in your parents’ home, and don’t assume that everyone is a “good guy.” For a reference on warning signs, risk factors, prevention and reporting Abuse, click here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Challenges of Parental Advocacy and Care

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
In her article, How to Be a Loving Advocate for Your Parents, Suzanne Gerber,  editor of the Living & Learning channel for Next Avenue aptly describes the challenges and progression of her mom’s advanced age related problems. Though each situation is unique, most of the baby boomer generation can relate in some way to the concerns: health & fitness, memory loss, finances and being taken advantage of.  The pressures of assisting our aging parents or other loved ones are usually coupled with helping our own grown children through economic challenges. Often, we are trying to juggle this along with own careers. With so many responsibilities, the balance of being respectful of our loved one’s independence and knowing when to step in can be difficult.  That said, there are basic foundations one can do now to ease some pressures. For example, this author writes how she began making a list of her mom’s medications, keeping a copy for her and one for mom.  Soon the list branched out to finances and home health safety.  I have always recommended to my clients who are concerned about their loved ones to begin building a database centered on this type of key information.  Who are the people your parents interact with?  Do you have the neighbors’ name and phone number?  What about medical history?  If something were to happen, do you have the name and phone number of their primary care provider?  What medications are they taking?  Do you know what senior resources are available in their community?

We offer a free download titled “toolkit for the sandwich generation.” This checklist prompts you to begin collecting information and is comprehensive.  However you do it, start out slow.  Don’t try to accomplish everything in one fell swoop!  Each time you visit or have contact begin asking the questions and writing it down.  Eventually you will have a necessary resource of valuable and helpful information should the need arise.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Aging Parents Checklist

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The Mayo Clinic offers 7 warning signs of health problems with aging parents. In addition, they have compiled some suggested actions you can take.  I would add that you also determine if your loved one has created documents that allow for medical decisions to be made before they are no longer able to make those decisions for themselves.  Do they have a financial power of attorney?  This identifies someone who can act on their behalf to sign documents.  These two legal documents are critical and cannot be created after someone loses capacity.  There are solutions for that too, but they are costly and timely.  Having these documents on hand long before they are needed is insurance for not having to make complex decisions under anxious conditions. Lastly, if there are powers of attorney documents, know where they are located!     

The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean offers a comprehensive portfolio of Elder Law services, including the legal issues that may arise with a person’s advanced age.

An Elder Law Attorney can:
  •  Create documents that allow for medical decisions to be made for a person who is no longer able to make those decisions for themselves.
  •  Protect the rights of those who suffer from mental incapacity.
  • Evaluate a family’s financial resources when one spouse (or parent) must move out of the home into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. 
  • Facilitate the transfer of estate assets in cases where a Will, Trust, or other legal documentation is not available.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our Parents, Ourselves: Family Crisis

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The Elder Law attorney who is practicing today often works with families in crisis. Mom or Dad has just received the dreaded “D” diagnosis (dementia). The family is struggling to cope with a home situation that is deteriorating rapidly. No one can afford to quit their job and become Mom’s full time caregiver, but the cost of bringing in care is beyond the family budget. Often the first place the family goes after visiting the physician is to the attorney. The family has been told to “get things in order” so that they can assist Mom with her business affairs and her health care decisions.

In my legal toolbox, I can offer people a few things. I can help with legal documents, such as powers of attorney, if the parent who needs them is still competent. If they are no longer competent, I can explain what a conservatorship  is, and how you go about creating one. Believe it or not, many of the children who call me have no idea as to whether their parent has created a will, trust, or powers of attorney. If the parent has dementia, they may no longer remember this fact, and they certainly don’t remember who the attorney was who helped them years ago. But beyond my legal toolbox, I can offer the family resources. My office can refer to geriatric care managers, companies that assist with placement, companies that provide in-home care, people who can help move Mom into the facility, or to her daughter’s home. One very helpful resource is Dementia Whisperers, a company that can help the family understand and communicate with the family member who has dementia. This will relieve much of the stress involved in coping with this difficult condition.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Your chance to win powers of attorney!

In honor of National Elder Law Month, Lynn Dean is offering you or someone you know a chance to win one free Financial Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directive. This appoints someone to act on your behalf to sign documents and the latter is to ensure your medical decisions are followed if you become incapacitated.  These two are critical and cannot be created after someone loses capacity. All you have to do is "LIKE US" on Facebook.  Random drawing June 2, 2014.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May is Elder Law Month

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA) established May as Elder Law Month as a way to educate seniors and their families about their legal options in dealing with elder abuse and fraud, long-term and health care planning, Medicaid, Medicare, estate planning, and other important issues

Lynn Dean, proud member of NAELA since 1997, is committed to ongoing outreach to the community with seminars, lectures, presentations and support.  This month we will be posting on the challenges observed as an elder law attorney and useful resources for those who have a concern with an elderly parent or relative.

The challenges of Elder Law are rewarding but increasing as the population ages and the cost of care goes up. Our professions will be serving this population as the baby boomers age and face the same issues. The best advice that we can give our clients and their children is to have those important legal documents in place and communicate their wishes. It will never be easy to transition from independence to a need for assistance. But with compassion, we can protect those we care about, and make sure that they have quality of care in the years that they are with us.

If your organization, association or club is interested in having Lynn A. Dean present a topic of interest related to Elder Law, Contact us 916-786-7515 to determine when she is available.  To learn more about estate planning and elder law or view past presentation topics visit our website speaking engagement topics.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Estate Planning: What you don’t know can Hurt you!

Over the years I have seen some common problems with Trust documents.  Here are some examples:

  1. Unfunded & defunded trusts – the trust is created but no assets (or not all of the assets) are transferred into the name of the trust. Result: The trust does not control distribution. A defunded trust was originally funded correctly, but the house was removed in order to do a re-finance. When the Settlor dies, it may be necessary to do a Hegsted petition or a probate, in order to transfer the assets. Another example: Dad re-marries, and his new wife spends his money on lots of expensive things, or gifts it to her children. At the time of Dad’s death, there is no money left in the trust. The trust says that whatever is there goes to Dad’s children, but the money is gone. 
  2. Underfunded trusts – These are trusts that are created to preserve assets for generations, but don’t contain enough money to pay the expense of the assets. Example: Mom and Dad own vacation property next to a lake. They leave $200,000.00, along with the property, to pay the expenses. The question is what happens when the money runs out.  Example #2) Dad and Mom leave a trust with a specific dollar amount bequest ($100,000.00) to one child, and the rest to be divided between the other children. Unfortunately, the assets of the estate are no longer worth what Mom and Dead believed, and the trust does not have enough money to satisfy the specific gift. If the parents had left the child a percentage bequest (e.g. 10%), then the Trustee could satisfy the gift based upon the assets available, and everyone would know what was supposed to be done. 

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
If you have had an estate plan done years ago I recommend you have it reviewed.  

Life is not static, change happens and at the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean, we cut through the confusion of estate planning, and counsel you through the process with compassion and expertise.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beware of Trump Cards in an Estate Plan, Rule #3 - The Beneficiary Designation

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
This post is the last of the 3-part series: Beware of Trump Cards in an Estate Plan - Three Rules.

Estate Planning Documents can be undone (or trumped) by a number of things and one of them is Beneficiary designations.  Beneficiary designations are contracts.  The owner of the money (IRA, Insurance policy, annuity, bank account) tells the holder of the money (bank, insurance company, broker) where they want the money to go when they die. Most beneficiary designations allow you to name a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary.

A beneficiary designation will trump anything said in a Will or Trust. The example we have is the IRA which names the first wife as the beneficiary. The second wife contacted us, and asked what could be done. He has been married to the second wife for more than 20 years. When the client comes to me, I will strongly recommend that they check all of their beneficiary designations, to make sure they are correct. A divorce does not automatically terminate a beneficiary designation. A beneficiary designation that says “my estate” will cause the asset to go through probate. A proper beneficiary designation for an IRA is a complicated question. Generally naming a living breathing person is the best choice, but for a couple with young children, the trustee of the trust may be the best choice.

A second example is the husband who thought he had protected his children by naming them as beneficiaries of a portion of this trust. He left his $1 million IRA to his wife, by beneficiary designation, with his three children as contingent beneficiaries. He may have assumed (incorrectly) that anything she didn't use during her lifetime would go to his children. Instead, she immediately took control of the entire IRA, and changed the beneficiaries to her children. It is now possible to set up a trust to receive the proceeds of the IRA, distributing the required minimum distribution to the spouse during her lifetime, and the remainder to the children of the IRA owner.

Estate Planning can be complicated, but at the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean, we make it easy.  Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Trump Cards in an Estate Plan Rule #2, Beware of The Deathbed Documents.

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
There are a few rules that you should be aware of about estate planning.  This post is the 2nd of 3 in the 3-part Blog series: Beware of Trump Cards in an Estate Plan.

A deathbed document is one done at the last minute, before a person passes away. Yes, I do get calls from the children of someone in the hospital, asking me to come and help their parents. Sometimes these calls are legitimate, but often the child is trying to change the parent’s existing instructions. Deathbed documents are frequently subject to challenges, and the California legislature recently changed the rules regarding “No Contest” clauses. Essentially, you have to have a “good faith” basis to challenge a document, and “I think Mom was crazy” is considered a good faith basis. So the “No Contest” clause will not apply to disinherit someone who challenges a will or trust, if they have a “good faith” basis.  Watch the estate be eaten alive by attorney’s fees when you are trying to defend deathbed documents against an unhappy contesting child. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Beware of Trump Cards in an Estate Plan Rule #1 – Not all Documents are created Equal.

This post is the first in the 3-part Blog series: Beware of Trump Cards in an Estate Plan.

Lynn A. Dean,
Estate Planning Attorney
You have decided that you will do an estate plan or you are looking at documents for someone who did estate planning (your friends, or your parents). There are a few rules that you should be aware of from the beginning.  

Not all documents are created equal. Yes, they all say that they are Will or Trusts. But as someone who has reviewed hundred, I can tell you that no two are alike. A good trust should be drafted based upon the situation of the client (single, married, with children, no children, etc.). However, we know that there are “trust mills” out there, and all they do is type in the names of the clients, and push print. You can end up with a “generic” document that makes no sense. Also, there is a recent trend to push “do it yourself” estate planning, with companies like Legal Zoom, Suzie Orman, Willmaker, and Trustmaker kits. Think about it – can software really ask or answer questions? How do you find out what the client wants or probe into areas the client may not have thought of? You have to ask questions based on conversation face to face. I have seen handwritten (holographic) wills, which should be sufficient, but often are not. This rule also applies to documents drafted by attorneys. There are some attorneys who will draft estate planning documents as a “favor” for their clients. These documents may be taken directly from a form book, without the attorney knowing what is important.

There are many clients who call and say “my situation is very simple.” It is invariably not true. The days of Ozzie and Harriet are long gone. We have first marriage, second marriage, third marriage, kids of each marriage, community property, separate property, unmarried couples who buy houses together, etc. To be a good estate planner, you have to know what will work and what won’t.  Some people want ‘guarantees” – “I want to know that this money will go to my children, if my spouse gets remarried.” Most trusts are not guarantees, and the clients need to know that. 

Lynn Dean enjoys having the opportunity to share her expertise on Estate Planning and Elder Law. She is frequently requested to speak around the community. If you or your organization would like Lynn to speak at your next event, please contact The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean for scheduling. View the Lynn A. Dean Speaker Sheet (pdf).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Raising Awareness…Be Prepared for Life’s What- ifs

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The National Safety Council has declared March as Workplace eye wellness month. With many hours at the computer, laptop, electronic readers and tablets, it is not surprising to learn that 70 percent of American adults experience some form of digital eyestrain.  Source:

Having a month devoted to raising awareness about the importance of vision health and ways to minimize damage is commendable.  As human beings, we tend to take for granted our health until something goes wrong.  Preventative measures ensure we are at least doing the best we can with enough information to make informative choices.  But what if?

Estate planning raises awareness and is preventative too.  Rather than leave it to chance, an estate plan provides for the “what ifs.”  If something were to happen to both parents of young children, for instance, who is the designated guardian?  If there are no health care directives, how do the survivors know if the decedents wanted to donate organs, be buried or be cremated?  In this scenario, the confusion, expense and unexpected outcomes is often a result of having had no estate plan at all leaving major decisions up to the legal system.
People tend to procrastinate about designating someone for financial or health care powers of attorney. Or they are so fearful about giving up control that they don’t name anyone. But if you suffer a stroke, lose your eyesight or become ill and go into a facility, there may be no one who has power to pay your medical bills or handle your care. It’s important to create powers of attorney documents while you’re competent. Keep in mind: If you change your mind about who you designated, you can always redo the documents. 

To learn more about estate planning and powers of attorney, click here 

Friday, February 28, 2014


Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
There are many issues that an Elder Law attorney will focus on, including estate planning, retirement planning, and planning to preserve wealth (tax planning).

Recently, Lynn Dean presented the intricacies of Medi-Cal planning to the South Placer Estate Planning Council at their February meeting. The Council is an interdisciplinary organization of professionals involved in estate planning.
Medi-Cal is a support program run by the State of California, Department of Health Care Services. A portion of the money comes from the federal government. The State of California gives money to each county, and the administration of the funds takes place at the county level. This program is called Medi-Caid in every state except California. There are four kinds of Medi-Cal to meet the needs of people who are
  • Low income, in need of food stamps and medical care
  • Disabled and need medical care
  •  Needing assistance to stay in their homes as they age, or if they become disabled (In Home Supportive Services- or IHSS)
  • Looking for long term care in a skilled nursing facility

The Law Office of Lynn A. Dean offers a comprehensive portfolio of Elder Law services, including: Probate, Conservatorships, Medi-Cal Planning and Irrevocable Trusts.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rules of Trust Administration in California – Continuing Education

Lynn A. Dean is one of a 6-panel faculty member presenting the upcoming Lorman® seminar on trust administration. The 1 day seminar is February 21, 2013 from 8:30 – 4:30 at Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Cal Expo-Sacramento, CA.  

The Rules of Trust Administration in California seminar is designed to help professionals recognize the different levels of trust intricacy depending on the type and value of the assets involved. Participants will learn valuable techniques to improve trust function, as well as tips on managing important legal, tax and family issues. It’s not too late to register – click here for more information 

Lorman® Education Services is an Accredited Continuing Education Provider.  To learn more about the certification credits in your field of interest, visit

Monday, January 13, 2014

Many Things to Consider in Settling a Living Trust

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
After the Trustor dies, the successor trustee is responsible for administering the deceased's trust and distributing the property in accordance with the terms of the trust. The process takes place outside of a court and is usually done with a team approach between the attorney and in some cases the clients' tax and financial advisors so that everyone is working with the same goals and understanding. In most cases, only a limited amount of paperwork is needed to settle and distribute a living trust, but keep in mind settling an estate after a person dies takes time. Typically the activity that takes the longest is determining what will be done with the personal property at the decedent's home.

There are many situations that may arise in settling a living trust and we provide some examples on our website under Trust Administration. A lawyer's assistance will be helpful, but is not required by law. If a legal problem arises, California law provides a procedure for submitting trust questions and disputes to the court.

At the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean, we have the experience to step into simple and complex situations and guide the Trustee through the process to protect the estate's value for the benefit of all beneficiaries. This includes working the trustee to resolve any issues quickly.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We need to Talk – Personal Choices to Review and Estate Planning

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Is there is a growing trend of personal year-end reviews, likened to the annual work related performance evaluation?  Wall Street Journal contributor to CBS news Jennifer Wallace and New York Times science columnist, John Tierney spoke on this topic, “Should There Be an YearEnd Review for Loved Ones?” 

Objectives and accomplishments, areas for improvements and annual goals are good topics for discussion. The objective is to have a forum for open communication about where you have been and where you are planning to go.  The idea is to make sure you and your partner are on the same page.  Most of us are familiar with the concept, and not just from our jobs.  We tend to review our finances, taxes, vacation plans or home improvements at some point.  These topics are often triggered by end of the year marketing, New Years’ resolutions and tax deadlines.  Sometimes it’s a life event that that shakes us up.  

Estate planning is a natural bridge between personal and financial reviews.  Have you designated someone power of attorney for financial matters?  Who’s the point person for medical decisions if you are unable?  If there are children, who would you choose to take care of them if you were not able?   If you like the idea of personal annual reviews, contact us.  At the Law Office of Lynn A. Dean, we make it easy.