Hi there, Bridget MacKay. I’m an attorney serving clients in Santa Rosa, CA. I practice in the area of estate planning, probate, trust administration and today, my blog is going to be in two parts, and it’s titled, “Four Funerals and a Wedding“, and it’s a tale of caution. I do these once a year, usually in my blogs and you’re going to hear the story of four friends, Anna, Beatrice, Carla, and Dee Dee. In our first portion, or part one of this blog, we’ll hear about Anna and Beatrice.
The first two funerals is what we’ll get through today. The first funeral being, unfortunately Anna’s. She died tragically and she died young. She never even got around to drafting a will. Her assets went through probate. Her heirs were determined by the laws of California, which is basically a fixed formula to determine your heirs when you don’t have a will or anything in place. And Anna was unmarried but had a long-term partner, who wasn’t considered in the pre-determined laws of California. So, even though she had a long-term partner, a romantic interest that she lived with, all her assets went to her blood relatives and none of them went to her long-term partner, which is how she would have liked it.
On to funeral number two and that funeral was for Beatrice, who had learned from Anna’s death and created a trust to avoid probate and dictate who she wanted things to go to. Unfortunately, she took this trust and stuck it in a drawer and never reviewed it or updated it. She sort of felt, “I’ve got my affairs in order, that’s all I needed to do,” and moved on with her life. Well, unfortunately, Beatrice died 20 years after she made her trust. Hher estate didn’t go through probate, like Anna’s, but it didn’t reflect her current relationships and her current life. She had been married for the past 10 years to Ron, but her Trust had all her assets going to her former long-term boyfriend, Frank. Imagine Ron’s shock when he discovered that everything, including the condo that he lived in with her, was left to Frank. That’s the second of our cautionary tales and you will hear the concluding drama, next blog in part two of “Four Funerals and a Wedding.”