Understanding Trusts

There are many different types of and purposes for trusts and a trust should be constructed to meet the individual goals of the person establishing it. A trust is a relationship between the settlor(s), the trustee, and the beneficiaries. A settlor (also called a donor, trustor, or grantor) is the person who creates the trust and transfers property to the trust. The trustee is the person who administers the trust according to the terms of the trust. The beneficiary is the person or entity who benefits from, or will benefit from, the trust. There may be more than one settlor, trustee, and beneficiary of a trust.

A trust may be created for almost any lawful purpose. A common reason for creating a trust is to provide for and protect someone. A property owner may want to convey property in trust to a minor child, to an individual who lacks the skills necessary to manage property, to an individual who is prone to use property in an excessive or frivolous manner, or to an individual who is susceptible to undue influence from others. Trusts are not one-size-fits-all. Trusts must be customized to carry out the individual settlor’s wishes.

Here is an overview of the types of trusts to consider:

  • Revocable trust – A trust that can be amended or terminated by the settlor during the settlor’s life.
  • Irrevocable trust – A trust that may not be amended or terminated after it is created; however, states that have adopted some version of the Uniform Trust Code may allow an irrevocable trust to be modified or terminated upon the consent of the settlor and all its beneficiaries.
  • Testamentary trust – created within a last will and testament and does not take effect until the death of the testator (the person who created the will). As part of the testator’s will, testamentary trust is revocable until the death of the testator.
  • Inter vivos trust – created by the settlor during his life and becomes operative during the settlor’s life. When the trust terminates, the property remaining in the trust is distributed according to the terms of the trust. The trust property does not pass pursuant to the settlor’s last will and testament. An inter vivos trust may be either revocable or irrevocable.

Looking for more information? Read our pages on Trusts & Wills and Probate & Trust and Estate Administration.

Understanding California’s ‘Right-to-Die Act’…a new seminar

Have you heard about California’s new End-of-Life Option Act?  Do you know what it entails?  If not, this is a seminar you don’t want to miss..

Get ready to learn everything you need to know about this new Act, and the affect it could have on your Estate and Long-term Care Planning.  A new, free informational workshop hosted by local Certified Elder Law Attorney, Janis A. Carney, will be held on May 24, 2016, at 2:30pm at the Saratoga Senior Center.

Titled “Understanding California’s New Right-to-Die Act and its Impact on Estate and Long-term Care Planning,” this program will include an explanation of California’s new Right-to Die Act, clearing up several misconceptions about its use by seniors, when it will become law in California, and what is being done by hospitals and hospice companies to implement it. We will also discuss what can and cannot be included in the senior’s estate and long-term care planning documents about the Act. Finally, we will discuss the financial impact of the Act and options for paying for services under it and other long-term care expenses.

For more info, or to sign-up, CLICK HERE.

New Seminar!



Carney Elder Law invites you to another FREE seminar..

“How To Get And Pay For Quality Long-Term Care At Home, In An Assisted Living Facility, Or Nursing Home..Without Selling Your Home or Leaving Your Family Without a Dime”


Presented by Janis A. Carney, Certified Elder Law Attorney,
with SPECIAL GUEST Don Quante, co-author of Don’t Go Broke In a Nursing Home

Highlights include:
• How to avoid having your life savings wiped out by the costs of long-term care
• What legal documents you need for the second half of life
• The asset protection language that most people don’t have in their power of attorney documents, which can help protect their life’s savings
• Veteran’s benefits that most people know nothing about
• How Medi-Cal works, what it covers, and the steps you need to take now to protect your family
• How to find the right Senior Care Facility and what to expect in the process and when you get there


Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 2:30pm
at the
Alameda Family Funeral & Cremation, Inc.
12341 Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road
Saratoga, CA 95070

Please RSVP by calling us at 408-402-6440 or SIGN UP HERE—->https://elderattorneyseminars.com/carney-saratoga

We look forward to seeing you there!



The EASE Plan

Emergency Advocacy Support & Education

 We all know what an awful experience it is to be sick or injured and need to go to a hospital emergency room, especially when we have no one there with us to make sure we get the attention and care we need.   Our own experiences and the stories of others warn us that NO ONE should ever go to a hospital emergency room alone.

The stats show that 1 in 5 of us in the Boomer generation (and almost 1 in 3 of us over the age of 75) will go to a hospital emergency room at least one time this year!  Unfortunately, many of us HAVE NO ONE we can count on to go with us and stay for the long hours it may take there, or do not want to feel helpless and in need of such assistance from our friends and family, or sincerely do not want to burden our friends and family members with having to go through the ordeal at the emergency room with us.  Further, few of us know what questions we should be asking about our condition or the treatment options available to us; and even less of us know our rights regarding the care the hospital is supposed to be providing to us.

Now, we at Carney Elder Law can help you.  We can be THAT PERSON for you in the emergency room.  We will be your advocate to help insure that you get the emergency medical care you need.  Due to our firm’s unique combination of elder law attorneys and professional care coordinators, we can offer you the opportunity to become a member of a new and totally revolutionary retainer program, the Emergency Advocacy Support & Education (EASE) Plan.

As an EASE Plan member, you will have the security of knowing that one of our trained and professional Care Coordinators will go to the hospital to be with you to provide the advocacy support you desperately need in the emergency room, day or night, 7 days a week.  We will be there to make sure you are not one of the “forgotten ones” in the ER waiting room, you are not left alone and helpless while the ER staff tend to others and change shifts, and you are not abused by the ER’s desire to send you home prematurely or without adequate medication and support, with no plans to follow up on your condition.

If you are admitted into the hospital, we will continue to advocate for and educate you to help you get the care you need and to make sure that the hospital does not discharge you before it is safe for you to go home or to a care facility.  If you are unable to make your own health care decisions, we can help your chosen agent for health care to evaluate your situation and your care options in light of your stated wishes and then support your agent in making whatever decisions are needed.  As a Plan member, we will obtain, and keep up to date on, your medical history and feelings about health care and life support so that we will know what you want and can advocate for your wishes when you are not able to do so yourself in an emergency situation.

When you become an EASE Plan member, we will also review your estate planning legal documents to determine if they need any changes.  You could then retain us to do that work (it is not included as a service of the EASE Plan) or you could have your current estate planning attorney do it.  We will get a list of your doctors and get a medical history from you, including any medications you take, to ensure we have the information about your medical condition needed by the emergency room doctors and staff.  And, we will get a list of persons who you want to have contacted in case of an emergency.

EASE Plan members also will be invited to exclusive educational programs throughout the year to learn to be an effective advocate for your own good health care.  We will teach you the questions to ask your doctor, when to ask for and how to get a second opinion, how to switch doctors or insurance carriers, how to select a nursing home or assisted living facility and the differences between them, what public benefits are available to help pay for your care, what resources are available to help you safely recuperate at home or age in place, and much more.

The EASE Plan is a true retainer type program, meaning that our clients retain us to be able and willing to assist them in the event that they have a medical emergency.  The services provided by this program will ease many of your worries about aging in place and living independently.  It can also ease some of your children’s worry about you living so far from them.  For those of you living in an assisted living or other senior community or nursing home, it can help ease your children of the problems caused by missing to much work in attending to your frequent visits to the emergency room while making sure that they are alerted in the event that you really need them there.

For more information about the EASE Plan or to let us know you want to become a member, call us at (408) 354-0200 or email us at info@css-lawfirm.com.  Note, this service is not yet on our website, but we hope to have information there in the near future.

Boomer Children Are Not Worrying About Receiving or Leaving an Inheritance

I just read an article from the LA Times that I have to share with you.    The story is about the fact that the author just discovered, through a survey, that a large percentage of baby boomers are not planning to, or at least are not worried about, leaving an inheritance to their children.   As an estate planning attorney, I am not seeing this much.  However, as an elder law attorney, I am hearing it quite often from the boomer children of elderly parents.

My elder law practice focuses on long term care planning and emphasizes planning for quality of life’s through quality care of elders.  While we do asset protection as part of the long term care planning, it is not intended to protect the assets for the children to enjoy, but instead for the children to use to provide quality care for the parents.   I frequently hear the boomer children say to Mom or Dad, “we just want to make sure there is enough money to care for you; if there is anything left for us after that, fine, but don’t worry if there is nothing left for us.” Perhaps I hear this so often because it is the PC thing to say or maybe I am putting the words in the children’s mouths.  Nevertheless, I believe that it is heartfelt by the children.

Boomer children, I believe, are setting the example that children should not expect an inheritance.  As boomer parents (yes, I am one), we have given our children good educations and helped launch them into life, sometimes helping them with the purchase of their first homes and the amounts we have spent on their weddings is outrageous!  We have admittedly experienced better earning levels than any prior generation and were able to buy our homes in desirable neighborhoods when they were actually affordable.

Now, as we enter our “golden years” we expect to live as well as we always have done.  We enjoy life and are not worried about spending money to do so.  When we get to the point where we need care, I cannot see us saying, “I want to save my money for my children.”  No, I believe we will not hesitate to spend whatever it costs to provide for the best quality of care that we can afford for ourselves and will not worry about leaving anything for our children just as we told our parents to not worry about leaving anything for us.