Estate Planning for Seniors

Estate planning is a topic that adults of all ages must consider, but seniors and retirees may want to give special attention to organizing their estate planning goals and strategies. As we move later into life, toward becoming seniors and elders, we tend to accumulate more assets and beneficiaries – and our relationships and priorities may change. Even if you have already done some basic estate planning in your earlier years – for example, a will or trust – it is important to update your estate planning to reflect the full range of property and people in your life.

In addition to making sure that your estate planning includes comprehensive frameworks for the distribution of your real estate, personal property and business interests to your loved ones, it is also important to make sure that you have a plan in place for your own care. Your views regarding who is in the best position to make decisions on your behalf, and what your directives should be, may be very different at age 75 than they were at age 50, and your documents relating to durable powers of attorney and health care directives should reflect that.

Brian Dennis, Attorney at Law works with seniors to make sure that their estate planning strategies and documents are comprehensively organized. Estate planning for elders involves the following:

  1. Will or Pour-over Will: Even if you’ve previously created a will, your will can and should be updated to include all current beneficiaries, as well as a comprehensive plan for distribution of your current assets. For those people who have trusts, a Pour-over Will, which instructs that all assets “pour over” into your trust, allows for the distribution of your assets according to the trust, essentially making the will a back-up to the trust, to be used only if needed.
  2. Transfer on Death (TOD) Deeds. California adopted the concept of TOD Deeds on January 1, 2016. When title to real property is held in this manner, probate may also be avoided. However, there are other considerations when using such Deeds, notably that there is no control of where the asset goes once it is distributed to the TOD beneficiary. Brian Dennis, Attorney at Law, can clarify this issue for you.
  3. Revocable or Living Trust: Trusts can be highly useful instruments for gifting assets to family members and charitable organizations in a way that ensures that the assets will be used per your wishes. Livings Trusts can also minimize the fees and cost burdens associated with probate.
  4. Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management: Many elders find themselves in situations where they need a trusted individual to step in temporarily or permanently to take care of their affairs should they be unable to do so. Make sure your durable power of attorney includes the person and back-ups you currently trust to handle your affairs, and suggests people to serve as your conservator should there be a need more complete oversight.
  5. Advance Healthcare Directive: This legal instrument appoints another to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, based on your instructions, should you become unable to do so. Make sure this is updated to reflect your current wishes regarding end-of-life care and other decisions, and also nominates a conservator for you should there be a need for more complete oversight regarding health care decisions.
  6. Medical Release Form: This form, designed to comply with both federal (HIPPA) and California privacy laws, provides authorization to a health care provider to release your documents to your designated agent so that you can receive medical treatment based on your complete medical history.
  7. Beneficiary Designation Forms: The contents of certain accounts, such as life insurance and annuity policies, as well as pension plans such as Defined Benefit, Defined Contribution, Cash Balance Plans, IRAs and 401(k)s, are distributed to the beneficiaries shown on the forms. Your will or trust does not determine who receives the money in those accounts: the Beneficiary Designation Form does. It is common for many to ignore the need to complete Beneficiary Designation Forms accurately — or even at all – and not to file them with their financial institutions or employers. Failure to do so could frustrate your entire estate plan. Brian Dennis, Attorney at Law, reviews the importance of these forms with you, counseling on their completion so that they may integrate with and complete your estate plan.

Many grandparents want to explore options to provide money to their grandchildren for educational and other life expenses, but may not be sure of the proper way to structure the gifts with regard to taxation and to ensure the proper use of the money. Estate and gift taxes can take a big chunk out of such gifts, and the grandchild may only realize the tax implications far down the road. Brian works with grandparents to structure trusts and other gifts in a way that will achieve the proper purposes of the gift while minimizing tax penalties.

Brian has significant experience in estate planning and will work with you to understand your estate planning needs, as well as provide you with the best options to achieve your goals. His focus is on helping you gain a sense of security and well-being, knowing that you’ve done all that you can to take the steps necessary to take care of yourself during your lifetime – and your family after your passing.

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 600
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4416



This is an advertisement, a message concerning availability for professional employment within the meaning of California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400(A). The information on this website is for general purposes only, and nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information is not intended to create, and receipt of viewing or interacting with this website does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Brian is admitted to practice law in California and Pennsylvania. The information on this website is intended for viewers in California or viewers with a significant connection to California.