All too often, an estate planning attorney will come forward and have to deal with problems in the probate aspect of a case because of mistakes that were made in the estate planning process.

All too often, for example, some estate planning lawyers can learn after the death of a client that the client had been persuaded by a bank tell a family member or friend to add a child’s name to a bank account or to a real estate or an investment account in order to make it that much easier for the loved one to receive the funds after the client passes away.

Sometimes these individuals are pushed into signing up for joint accounts because it can be used to help pay for funeral or other bills that become too imminently after the person has passed away. A person who establishes a joint account with a child’s name on the account might also think that it is simpler to distribute the property to heirs directly by appointing that child as responsible. However, the joint owners’ creditors could be able to access the asset of the client, and if there is an unnatural order of deaths, there could be taxes assessed on portions of the assets depending on the location of the bank account.

Using a joint account might initially seem like a simpler way to manage these assets but it is a far better idea to use a power of attorney that is registered for the account so that the trusted individual can access those funds if and when necessary. The person who holds the power of attorney is able to step in as an agent and tap into these funds for the benefit of the client in the event that that client becomes incapacitated.

Once you, the client or owner of the funds, passes away, creditors such as a funeral home, can wait until the probate process has been initiated to be paid or the heirs of the deceased can find another way to advance the funds and be repaid out of the estate. Prepaid funeral plans are another more powerful option that can help to enable these situations with less stress.
Your Pasadena estate planning attorney is a resource you can turn to for help with these complex issues.

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