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. 

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