I laughed. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was stress or the irony of what I just heard.
Have you ever laughed when it wasn’t appropriate and then felt embarrassed afterwards? In the movie Pulp Fiction John Travolta holds a gun on a man while riding in a car. The gun accidentally goes off when the car hits a bump killing the man in the backseat. The entire theater laughs and then immediately feels guilty for laughing.
“John I’m really sorry for laughing, it’s not funny,” I begged for forgiveness. I felt embarrassed.
John, (a pseudonym), let me off the hook with some understanding words. John is a lawyer and called me about a case he’s facilitating. He started off with, “Ric I need your professional opinion on something,” and went on to describe a story only Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery could have written.
There is a husband and wife. The wife is falling ill and about to become incapacitated. In a valiant effort to protect their property, the husband takes power of attorney for his wife. Then he uses the power of attorney to vest their property in his name and later into a trust naming their soul sibling as the trustee. The idea seems noble however the law doesn’t permit the use of power of attorney for personal enrichment. Therefore the Title transfer becomes ineffective.
The ironic component of this story happens when the wife, who is expected to perish, outlived her husband who holds power of attorney over her! When John told me this I said, “John this is the place in a story where I tell people to call you!” Irony aside, the Title has a cloud and it may or may not take a court to sort it out.
The wife did die soon after the husband and their soul surviving sibling is left to untangle the web.
After hanging up with John I pondered the consequences of improper Estate planning. Or worse I thought of the millions of property owners who have no Estate planning at all. Then I considered those who record ineffectual property transfers. It’s a good reminder to consult with an expert before recording a document on your property.
Just because the State accepts the recording fee does not guarantee the property has a clear Title.
Check with a reputable Title Company. Each state has their own laws regarding ownership of property and tax consequences. The best course of action for Estate Planning is to check with an attorney first. The worst thing you can do is – do nothing. Or doing something improperly. When you don’t have solid estate planning in place, the property will go to probate court. There, an executor will take their piece and the state takes a chunk in taxes and court fees. What’s left for your loved ones will be far less than it would be if you have proper Estate Planning.
I’m not legally able to recommend specific Estate Planning for you. But I can certainly refer you to a few great attorneys who can. And I can strongly encourage you to get it done – correctly!
Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.
Note: I’m a Title Rep. In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.
Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.