Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Practice Areas

Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

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VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

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Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

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For the People Who Save Everything!


By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Estate Planning

Hoarding has become a hot topic recently thanks in part to the TLC show, Hoarders: Buried Alive and the A&E Show, Hoarders.  Although many people watch these shows for entertainment, the reality of this disease is not entertaining at all.  People who compulsively collect things often create virtual tunnels through their living space, which is otherwise cluttered with debris, old mail, damaged goods, and other items.  However, occasionally, in the rubble there will be valuables that can be used to offset estate administration costs or provide a small inheritance.

Discovering that a family member is a hoarder is often traumatic.  If the person is still alive, his or her competence or ability to care for himself or herself may be in question.  Depending on the individual’s general health, it is important to evaluate the treatment options available, which may include moving the person out of their home.  The VA offers some treatment solutions, along with other, private providers.

Especially if the affliction is discovered after the hoarder’s death, it may be tempting to hire a company to simply throw everything away.  However, if you can stand to be part of the process of clearing the space, you may be surprised to find valuable items such as family heirlooms and collectibles contained in the heaps.  To make the process manageable, begin at the doorway and work your way into the space in sections.  If space permits, get other family members to help.  Throw away or recycle obvious garbage and box items that may be valuable.  If you cannot bear to do it, you should look for a service that will sort through the items for valuables.  There are several options in San Diego for specialists who can de-clutter and sort valuables and then clean and prepare the home for sale if needed.  In the event there is a taxable estate, you may be unintentionally undervaluing the estate for tax purposes if everything is thrown out. Keep track of the items you find.

Hoarding is a relatively rare occurrence, but even in cases where hoarding is not present, it is still important to sort through the items your loved one leaves behind.  After uncovering the potentially valuable items, you should determine the fair market value through regular internet searching or possibly an appraiser.  In any case, it will be important to determine which items should be kept, which should be donated, and which should be sold.  Before giving anything away, search for estate planning documents such as a will or trust to see if anything has been specifically given to a certain person.   It is important to gain access to the safe deposit box if there is one, to verify that estate planning documents are not inside it.

Going through a loved one’s possessions after their death can be one of the most emotional aspects of dealing with the death.  Different people will deal with the task differently.  Evidence of deteriorating mental capacity or mental disorder can make the whole process much more taxing.  However, by handling the personal effects left behind in a thoughtful manner, you can ensure that valuable and cherished heirlooms are preserved.

Estate Planning: The Price of Organization, Rewards, Gifts, and Wondrous Tax Things… FREE REPORT: This complimentary report, focused on Estate Planning, is comprised of many of Mr. Miller’s articles from his long running column for the largest regional newspaper in San Diego County. This report will guide you through the questions surrounding getting your estate planning in order.

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About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning
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