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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The Last Party You Throw…


By merv,

  Filed under: Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate & Estate Administration

Planning your own funeral may seem like a daunting task, but it is also an area rife with problems for surviving family members.   We often think about how an estate plan may affect our loved ones and whether it will create strife.  However, particularly when a parent dies, siblings may have trouble determining how “nice” the funeral ought to be, the appropriate budget, and how to come up with the money.  With emotions running high in grief-stricken children and time pressure to complete planning, long-standing resentments may form during the process of paying for the funeral.  Indeed, even formerly close siblings may exclude one child from the service altogether or demand payment from a sibling who was excluded from decisions.  In order to avoid this situation, it is helpful to plan and pay for your own funeral, and inform the children of the plan!

In the first week following a death in the family, surviving members generally plan and hold the funeral, memorial service, or other arrangements.  This includes arranging and paying for cremation or burial and securing a location in which to store the remains, whether it be an urn, crypt, or plot of land.  Additionally, the family must make arrangements with religious institutions and professionals, florists, and more.  All of this is done prior to the involvement of an attorney who, during the administration of the trust or estate, may be able to mediate.  Although the timing of these needs cannot be pre-planned, many of the services can be prepaid.  By doing so, you can ensure that a tasteful celebration of your life is held in a manner that does not put strain on your family members and is something of which you approve.

Of course, none of this pre-planning is useful unless your family members are aware that it has been done.  Often plots and crypts become estate assets because no one knew they were purchased until after other arrangements were made.  These assets are difficult to transfer and sell and, often, are not repurchased by the facility for full value.  As a result, beneficiaries are left holding onto the asset.  Similarly, if funeral arrangements have been prepaid, it can be difficult for heirs to obtain a refund for the advance fees.  It may be helpful to include your instructions and the information about any services or items for which you have paid with the rest of your estate planning documents, detailed in your Advance Healthcare Directive, or included in a letter to trustee.

Although the probate or trust estate is ultimately responsible for funeral costs and last illness expenses, it is often difficult for the trustee, and especially executors, to obtain access to the funds in time to make payment arrangements themselves.  If you do not wish to plan your own arrangements, however, there may be options available for you to leave readily accessible funds to your heirs.  You may wish to speak to your estate planning attorney or the professionals at a funeral home to learn your options.

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.

10/2013

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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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