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The Living Trust Advisor: Everything You (and Your Financial Planner) Need to Know about Your Living Trust, 2nd Edition



"Jeffrey Condon is both a lawyer and a coach—a rare combination. He puts both talents to work in this new edition of The Living Trust Advisor, transforming what could have been a deadly read into one that not only instructs, but keeps you smiling along the way. Families and their advisors know far too little about living trusts, but this accessible book will go a long way toward remedying that."
—Gregory Curtis, Chairman and Founder, Greycourt & Co., Inc.

"Jeff nails it! A guide to living trusts that's loaded with weighty advice yet reads like a friendly conversation over coffee. This book brings real life to living trusts and will lead to new energy in talks with your family and with your lawyer."
—Hartley Goldstone, Wise Counsel Research Associates; coauthor of Family Trusts: A Guide for Beneficiaries, Trustees, Trust Protectors, and Trust Creators

The Authoritative Guide to Living Trusts

The renowned family inheritance attorney and author of the bestselling Beyond the Grave continues to share sought-after guidance on how you can create a seamless and effective inheritance plan that's right for you and your family.

Fully updated and revised to cover the most recent estate tax law changes and best legal practices in the Inheritance Arena, this Second Edition offers you a reliable resource and guidebook for every stage of the Living Trust process, from establishing your Living Trust, to living with it, to carrying out its inheritance instructions after you're gone. Expertly written with Jeffrey L. Condon's trademark enthusiasm, humor, and easily understandable style, The Living Trust Advisor gives you straightforward and "horse-sense" advice on how to:

  • Avoid common pitfalls in your Living Trust by examining cautionary tales from the real world
  • Prevent family conflict and battles that often arise when your family divides the "family money"
  • Understand why you still need to deal with the estate tax, even if you believe the estate tax does not apply to you
  • Protect your children's inheritance from their financial risks and other problems, thereby securing a future for your succeeding generations

The Living Trust Advisor, Second Edition walks with you step-by-step as you develop a low-maintenance Living Trust before your first meeting with your attorney, and illustrates how to establish, maintain, and carry out a rock-solid Living Trust for your lifetime…and beyond.

JEFFREY L. CONDON, ESQ. has practiced in trust, estate, and probate law since 1987 at the law offices of Condon & Condon in Santa Monica, California. With his late father, Gerald M. Condon, he is the coauthor of Beyond the Grave: The Right Way and the Wrong Way of Leaving Money to Your Children (and Others), the bestselling inheritance planning book in American publishing history, which the Wall Street Journal called the "best estate planning book in America." When not tending to his clients' Living Trusts and inheritance matters, Jeffrey enjoys swimming 3,000 meters daily with Southern California Aquatics, dining with his lovely girlfriend, Kim, listening to '70s and '80s pop music, getting together with his lifelong friends, and finding opportunities to spend quality time with his grown children.

Pregame Warm-Up Or, Read This Before You Read This Book xiii

Acknowledgments xxv

The First Quarter: Establishing Your Living Trust 1

Chapter 1 How You Established Your Living Trust Without a Clear Understanding of What It Is and How It Works Or, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know about Your Living Trust 3

Chapter 2 What Does the Living Trust Do, and How Does It Do It? Or, The Best Explanation of the Living Trust You Will Ever Get 11

Chapter 3 Do You Really Need a Living Trust? Or, Don’t Let Someone Sell You Something You Don’t Need 17

Chapter 4 Establishing Your Living Trust Or, No Better Way to Get Started . . . Than to Get Started 26

Chapter 5 Who Should You Select as the Lifetime Agent of Your Living Trust? Or, If You Become Incapacitated, Will Your Lifetime Agent Manage Your Living Trust for Your Benefit . . . or for His? 39

Chapter 6 You Can Select Your Children as Your After-Death Agent, but Will They Carry Out Your Living Trust’s Inheritance Instructions? Or, “That Was Our Parents’ Wish, But It Ain’t Our Wish” 54

The Second Quarter: Living with Your Living Trust During the Lifetimes of You and Your Spouse 67

Chapter 7 Functions of Your Living Trust While Both You and Your Spouse Are Alive Or, Don’t Quite Forget about Your Living Trust after You Have Thrown It into Your Safe-Deposit Box 69

Chapter 8 The Five Concerns about the Real Estate You Transferred to Your Living Trust Or, You Still Own Your House! 86

Chapter 9 Should You Tell Your Children about Your Living Trust? Or, Don’t Dismiss the Chance to Have a Family Inheritance Meeting--specially If the Lawyer Won’t Charge You 96

The Third Quarter Living with Your Living Trust after the Death of Your Spouse 105

Chapter 10 Will You Divert Your Deceased Spouse’s Half of the Living Trust Assets from Your Offspring? Or, How to Make Your Children Fret and Hope That You Will Do the Right Thing 107

Chapter 11 The Power to Change Your Deceased Spouse’s Inheritance Instructions . . . or Not! Or, If Your Child’s Vice Dissipates after Your Spouse Dies, Are You Allowed to Change Your Spouse’s Inheritance Instructions to Meet That Change? 115

Chapter 12 Dealing with Your Living Trust If You Remarry Or, The Battle Royal: Your Second Spouse Versus Your First Children 125

Chapter 13 Dealing with the Estate Tax Return, Splitting the Living Trust Assets, and  O her Tax Stuff That You Would Rather Just Ignore after Your Spouse Dies Or, As Much as You Want to, Don’t Skip This Chapter! To Prevent Estate Taxes after Your Death, You Must Deal with Estate Tax Matters after Your Spouse’s Death 133

The Fourth Quarter Dying with Your Living Trust 163

Chapter 14 Distribution of Your Living Trust after Both You and Your Spouse Are Dead Or, The Inheritance Arena Is Not for the Fainthearted 165

Chapter 15 Don’t Intentionally Leave Your Children Unequal Inheritances Or, So What If One Needs It More Than the Other? 171

Chapter 16 The Accidental Unequal Inheritance Or, If You Think You Have Treated Your Children Equally by Leaving Them Equal Inheritances, I Have Some News for You! 178

Chapter 17 Don’t Make a Child Who Owes You Money a Debtor to Your Other Children Or, An Unforgiven and Unpaid Loan to a Child Can Wreak Havoc after Your Death 187

Chapter 18 Do Not Leave Your Child an Outright Inheritance Or, I’m Not Kidding! Don’t Leave Your Child an Outright Inheritance 195

Chapter 19 Using Your Living Trust to Force Your Child into a Conventional Lifestyle Or, If the Twig Is Bent, Will Force Do Anything to Straighten It Out? 230

Chapter 20 The Success of the Third-Party Irrevocable Protection Trust (PUPPET) Depends on Whom You’ve Selected as the Third Party Or, Try Not to Appoint One Private Person to Hold and Manage Money for Another Private Person 237

Chapter 21 Who Are Your Grandchildren? Or, Do You Really Want Your Living Trust Assets to Ultimately Wind Up with Your Son’s Second Wife’s Kids from Her First Marriage? 247

Chapter 22 The IRS Is Back! And This Time, It’s for Real! Or, “Sorry about Your Parents’ Deaths. That Will Be $200,000, Please.” 254

Chapter 23 Who Pays the Estate Tax? Or, Don’t Make One Person Pay the Estate Tax on Living Trust Gifts That Go to Another Person 265

Postgame: Review and Lessons Learned 277

Chapter 24 Question and Answer Time! Or, Take the Opportunity to Ask This Expensive Lawyer Your Questions . . . at No Charge 279

Chapter 25 A Random Sampling of Cautionary Tales from the Inheritance Arena Or, Read About, and Learn from, My Previous Mistakes and the Mistakes of My Clients 298

About the Author Or, An Invitation from the Author to Contact Him at No Charge 371

Index 375