The Department of Consumer Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment today of Rebecca May as Chief of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Read the Governor’s press release here.
Summer’s not over yet. There’s still time to take a road trip to one of California’s many state parks. From beaches and deserts to redwood forests and mountain summits, California parks offer a variety of amazing and beautiful sites to explore. The Consumer Connection article “Time for a Road Trip!” details 10 state parks—including Angel Island, Marshall Gold Discovery, Humboldt Redwoods, and Crystal Cove—to consider for your next destination, and ways to make sure your car is as ready for the trip as you are.
Also inside this issue is an article about the recently enacted California End of Life Option Act. The new law provides legal guidelines on how terminally ill adults can choose to die in a humane and dignified manner.
Readers will also find features about the recent trend of more Americans choosing to rent instead of buying a home, dealing with the repo man, the dangers of DIY braces, wills versus living trusts, the dangers of buying from a rogue online pharmacy, and more.
To download or read DCA’s award-winning Consumer Connection magazine, visit the DCA website. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have a copy mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get connected!
Surprisingly, Prince didn’t have a will. Unfortunately, about half of all Americans don’t either.
Is dying without a will—called dying intestate—an issue? If you have possessions you wish to give to certain people, or monies you want to donate to a particular cause, it can be a big issue. When you die intestate, state law determines how your assets are distributed; your wishes are not taken into account.
To avoid this situation, it’s important as part of your estate plan to have either a will or living trust in place. A will, also called “last will and testament,” is a legal document that details your final wishes, is subject to probate, and takes effect and becomes public after your death.
Unlike a will, a living trust can take effect while you’re still alive, remains private, and doesn’t require probate proceedings. You, as the trustee, can transfer your property into a living trust while alive and continue to manage the property (sell, exchange, invest) in the trust. The trust names successor trustees, who can take over your living trust at the time of your death or if you become incapacitated. However, if you don’t have someone you feel you can trust as the successor trustee, an option is a professional fiduciary. (Visit the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau website at www.fiduciary.ca.gov to learn more about professional fiduciaries and the services they can provide.)
In general, a living trust is more expensive to set up than a will; the cost depends on the complexity and size of your assets and investments, as well as where you live. If your estate is complex, it may be worthwhile to go with a living trust versus a will, and avoid the State’s probate process. However, be aware that California does have a simplified probate process for small estates (under $150,000); in that case, you may want to opt to use a will.
Although estate size and complexity are two important factors to consider when deciding whether to go with a will or a living trust, consult a qualified estate attorney or other qualified and reputable financial and estate planner on the best choice. Visit the State Bar of California (State Bar) website for a list of certified estate planning specialists referral services: www.calbar.ca.gov/lrs or call the State Bar at (888) 460-7364.
Obviously, if you die without an estate plan, you won’t be around to worry about probate and expenses—but think about what your loved ones will have to go through. Spare your family a great deal of stress, time, and money by having one in place that works for everyone.
New brochure provides the answers
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Professional Fiduciaries Bureau has created a new brochure which explains what a professional fiduciary is and describes the important services provided by these individuals.
According to Julia Ansel, bureau chief of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, many people don’t understand the duties and responsibilities of professional fiduciaries.
“The Bureau’s role is to license and regulate fiduciaries. Most consumers are unaware of what a professional fiduciary is, much less the important services they are able to provide their clients. Given our aging population, it is vital that California consumers are aware of this profession,” Ansel said.
The Professional Fiduciaries Bureau protects consumers through licensing, education, and enforcement by ensuring the competency and ethical standards of professional fiduciaries.
A professional fiduciary is someone who takes care of the property or estate of another person or has power of attorney for them. Often, these duties are done by family members, but in California anyone who does this for a person they are not related to must be licensed with the state by the bureau.
Professional fiduciaries are neutral, objective parties who serve vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those who can no longer care for themselves. If a person becomes incapacitated or dies, the fiduciary can manage their estate. Sometimes professional fiduciaries serve independent, productive people who need assistance in making sound financial, health care and day-to-day decisions.
Services provided by professional fiduciaries include banking, paying bills, cash flow management, daily care, housing, estate management and administration, tax preparation and payment, and household maintenance and upkeep.
They can also manage services such as medical care, insurance needs, investments, real estate, personal property, public benefits and assets and distribution.
The bureau licenses different types of fiduciaries including trustee, guardian, conservator and agent under durable power of attorney.
Before hiring a professional fiduciary, it is important to verify that the person is licensed.
To learn more, check out the new professional fiduciary brochure here.