By Timothy P. Murphy
© 2016 All Rights Reserved
TIM’S TIMELY TRUST TIPS
One of the goals of our new newsletter is to provide our clients with practical information so that their future affairs can be handled in an orderly, efficient and cost effective manner. In furtherance of this goal, we will periodically include columns, like this one, that include tips and reminders to help you prepare for the future.
ALWAYS HAVE VALID I.D.
In the course of our work, we often have to prepare documents for clients that need to be signed and notarized so that they will be honored by others. For example, a trust or power of attorney that is not properly signed and notarized may be rejected by banks and other financial institutions as untrustworthy.
We are notaries and notarize thousands of documents each year. The notary law says that, in order to notarize a document, the person whose signature we are notarizing must provide us with a valid, government issued, picture identification. The most common document we use for this purpose is a current California drivers license. For those who don’t drive, a valid U.S. Passport can be used instead.
Each year, however, we encounter the problem of clients who, due to age or illness or both, have allowed their drivers licenses to lapse and have allowed their passports to expire. As a result, they are often left without proper identification that will allow us to notarize their documents.
There is another form of documentation that is acceptable for notarization purposes. It is the California Identification Card that is available from the DMV. There is a regular card and a senior card for persons 62 and over. The regular card is good for six years, the senior card is good for ten years. The cost is $28 and can be obtained at any DMV office.
If, for any reason, your drivers license or passport has expired or will expire, it is critically important that you obtain and keep current a valid Identification Card. If you have elderly parents, you may want to determine if they, too, still have current and valid picture id.
While not yet the law in California, an increasing number of states are now requiring valid picture identification cards to be presented when you vote in an election.
SAFEGUARD YOUR ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS!
When our clients pick up their completed estate plans from our office, we provide them with two sets of their signed documents. The original signed documents are provided in a white envelope labeled Original Documents – Keep in Safe Place. A photocopy of all those documents is provided in the burgundy three ring binder. You can tell the originals from the photocopies by looking at the signature pages. The originals are signed in blue ink and the copies are black and white.
We always advise our clients to keep their original documents either in a fireproof home safe or a safe deposit box. In the burgundy binder there is a tab labeled “Location Lists”. There you can advise your successor trustee where those originals are located.
The clients who follow our advice provide a great benefit to their successors. However, despite our admonitions, each year we meet with clients and their successor representatives and their original documents have somehow mysteriously disappeared. In every case, we find that the client did not follow our advice and put the documents in either a home safe or safe deposit box.
It is also important that your successor trustee know how to access those original documents. If it is in a safe, provide them with the safe combination and/or key. If it is a safe deposit box, advise them where the box key is located and add their name to the bank’s list of approved persons who can access your safe deposit box. Contact the bank for their procedures.
While you may not have to produce the original signed copies of your trust, will, or powers of attorney so long as you are handling your own affairs, when your designated agent under these documents cannot produce them after you have died or become incapacitated, they may experience resistance of financial institutions in accepting the copies.