Episode 10 – Are you ready to die? Legally, that is. Find out with special guest Andrea Patton, Estate Planning Attorney

Are you ready to die? Legally, that is. Find out with special guest Andrea Patton, Estate Planning Attorney

Show Notes:

We’ve all heard the horror stories that can unfold when a person dies unexpectedly or without an estate plan to carry out their wishes.   

In this episode, seasoned estate planning attorney Andrea Patton and I delve into the intricate world of wills and trusts, exploring the emotional and legal complexities of estate planning, from peculiar inheritances to the importance of meticulous trust management to avoid probate court. We tackle thorny issues such as blended families, guardianship challenges, and selecting a successor trustee, emphasizing the necessity of clear directives and understanding the impact on our loved ones. Additionally, we highlight the often-overlooked aspect of pet care in estate planning, sharing personal anecdotes and insights to ensure our furry companions are cared for after we’re gone. Whether navigating family dynamics or ensuring your pet’s future, this episode promises both engagement and enlightenment. 

Andrea “Andie” Patton, a dedicated estate planning specialist for over 20 years, excels in crafting comprehensive estate plans, including family trusts, wills, powers of attorney, advanced health care directives, and more. Her passion lies in ensuring families are prepared for the future, even when they cannot express their wishes themselves. Licensed to practice in all California state and Federal Courts, Andrea is an active member of the Orange County Bar Association. After graduating from UC Irvine with a B.A. in English, she pursued her legal career, graduating from Loyola Law School. Andrea prioritizes family and relationships, taking pride in her son’s achievements and cherishing moments with her partner Matt while enjoying leisure activities like walking her chihuahua Theo, reading, and hiking.

In this episode: 

  • Trusts vs. wills, DIY vs. Attorney-generated, avoiding probate 
  • The average age of Andie’s clients for estate plans 
  • Death and money make people crazy 
  • Death is often easier than issues around incapacity 
  • Challenges with siblings and wills 
  • Unusual items to squabble over – the doll collection  
  • Pets and their care after your death 
  • Prince and Bob Marley – complicated estates 
  • Probate is not triggered if your estate doesn’t exceed $184,500 
  • Average costs for wills and trusts – it depends 
  • The game – “You Know You’re Old When….’ 
  • Send me your comments and feedback on the show! 

ThirtyFiveSixtyFour is a podcast for listeners between the ages of 35 and 64. Available on all major podcast platforms, the show offers an engaging journey through the various challenges and experiences of midlife. ThirtyFiveSixtyFour presents a distinct departure from the traditional midlife crisis storyline. Instead, it champions the perspective that midlife should be viewed as a period marked by play, discovery, transformation and possibility. With new episodes released weekly, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour is positioned to become one of the fastest-growing podcasts of the year, providing both valuable insights and entertainment for those in the middle. 

So, subscribe and get ready to join show host Karen and the ThirtyFiveSixtyFour regulars for both serious and fun conversations around living middle age to the fullest. After all, it’s not too late. You’re not too old. And you’re definitely NOT dead. 


The Patton Law Firm  
Andrea Patton LinkedIn Profile  
CA Courts “Small Estate” Probate Thresholds  

Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Andrea Patton: The more that you can lovingly write down what you think should happen to your stuff. Simply coming in and telling me, my kids all get along, it’s all going to be fine. May not be. What happens now? Can we do, can we figure out everything that’s going to happen? No. Death and money make people cuckoo. I’m telling you, it could be the afghan rug that no one’s seen in 50 years that causes World War three in a family. It could be $5, it could be 500,000, it could be 5 million. I don’t know. I don’t know what. What makes everybody tick, but I’ve seen people sell their soul for $5.

[00:00:54] Karen Stones: Welcome back to thirtyfivesixtyfour, a podcast for the middle. Today. I am thrilled to introduce Andrea Patten to you. She is one of my best friends, and she also happens to be a very, very experienced attorney in the areas of estate planning. I ask her questions on the regular in my personal day to day interactions, and I thought I would bring all of her expertise here to the podcast and go through some of the most common questions that she gets, as well as questions that I still have. So today, Andrea Patton will be joining us. She has a BA in English from UCI, and she then went on to law school at Loyola. She has been practicing for over 25 years and been involved in all sorts of interesting cases.

It is so great to have you today. Andie, welcome to the show.

[00:02:02] Andrea Patton: Thank you. It’s so nice to be here.

[00:02:04] Karen Stones: Okay, so I’m going to see if I can phrase this in non legal language. Is a trust instructions on what to do with your stuff when you die?

[00:02:14] Andrea Patton: Absolutely. So is a will, but a trust is a legal entity on its own. So while you’re alive and it’s being managed for your benefit, and typically, you’re the manager, the trustee of the trust. While that is happening, it’s irrevocable trust. It can be amended, can be changed. When you die, it becomes a separate legal entity. The IR’s sees it as a separate legal entity. So when it becomes irrevocable and can’t be changed, that’s when it’s the instructions there cannot be changed. So the manager, the person that you’ve named as your successor trustee, would be distributing the way that you wanted it to. It doesn’t die. That’s why there’s no probate. And I say there’s no probate. But if somebody’s contesting or contesting how it’s been managed, it gets thrown into the probate court. So it’s not avoiding it, but we can’t. We can’t do anything but make it the best we can at the time that we’re doing it. And, you know, if there’s an evil stepsister or evil stepmother or, you know, whoever Cinderella had, if that’s the case, then you have to go to court. But if everything’s buttoned up in a normal family.

[00:03:31] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:03:32] Andrea Patton: That everybody seems to get along and recognize that this is all found money and that they’re appreciative of the trustee who’s there doing all of the work. In that scenario, it should be fairly easy to manage, take care of all the debt and then distribute.

[00:03:49] Karen Stones: I had something interesting happen to me. I was married, and I did have an estate plan with a trust. And when I got divorced, I asked my attorney, what do I need to do with all these documents? And he said, well, it’s unfunded, so it’s essentially dead. And I thought that was interesting. I thought I would have to do something with all those papers, you know?

[00:04:16] Andrea Patton: Well, I think probably during your divorce, you guys took all the assets out of the trust. If it wasn’t, it was in the process of being that. So once a trust, two things. First of all, when you divorce, that does sever some rights in your testamentary documents. That’s a family law thing.

[00:04:34] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:04:36] Andrea Patton: And then you would need to do a full new estate plan for you as a single person, as a parent of children of minors.

[00:04:43] Karen Stones: Yes. Which you did for me. And you walked me through a bunch of questions. So when you’re sitting down with somebody and they’re starting this process from scratch, where do you start?

[00:04:57] Andrea Patton: I would recommend you find an attorney. There are online programs. I’ve seen some of those on the back end after someone’s died and they’re not properly funded or properly drafted, there’s something that’s gone on. They don’t name children. They don’t have a residuary clause, things like that that fall through the cracks. When it’s not an attorney, drafting it can cause more harm than good.

While I believe that as long as you have something, you’re probably better than having nothing, sometimes the nothing is better if it has caused your state to go a place that you didn’t want it to go.

[00:05:33] Karen Stones: Wow. So DIY is frowned upon.

[00:05:39] Andrea Patton: I would say yes. In my mind, I don’t think it’s an end all, be all. And I don’t know, honestly, I’ve seen how much they cost, and some of them are just pay a little bit more and have the peace of mind for your family that it’s properly done properly. Sometimes these aren’t even executed properly. You know that there’s very, very non liberal requirements for this. You know, a will needs to be witnessed by two people that are not interested in your estate, two disinterested persons. I’ve had people come and their wife signed the will and their kids sign the will, and I’m like, but they’re named in the will. They can’t be witnesses. So that nullifies some of what you’re doing.

[00:06:28] Karen Stones: Interesting. This is sort of a divergent question, but I’m on my deathbed, my kids are next to me, and I decide I want to give my house to charity. If I wrote that down on a paper, it wouldn’t be legal anymore because it’s not my kids anymore. It’s going to charity.

[00:06:48] Andrea Patton: No, it could be. It depends on what you do. It depends on how your house is. This is a multifaceted the question. Because a lot depends. And I think you’ll always find an attorney that will look at you and go, it just depends.

[00:07:01] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:07:01] Andrea Patton: So on that one, if the house is in a trust, it’s now going to need. If you want to leave it to a charity, you have to follow certain procedures because it’s in a trust. You don’t own it in your name. But if the house. But if the house is in your name, it’s the big bear house that your parents left you. Right? And it’s in your name. It’s in Kieran’s name. You could write a will, completely handwritten will with no. No requirement for there to be witnesses. The will would say, I leave the house up in big bear to, I don’t know, coco the gorilla, whatever. Your favorite charity is mine. A gorilla. So.

So, yeah, I want coco the Gorilla foundation to have my house in Big Bear. As long as you sign and date it. It’s all in your handwriting. It’s a valid will. But if it’s in a trust already, you can’t just write this will that’s leaving that same house to somebody else because it’s kind of not yours to do by will. It’s not in your name alone.

[00:08:04] Karen Stones: I see. I see. So do you ever see wills competing with trusts as far as what they’re telling people to do next?

[00:08:13] Andrea Patton: Yes and no. A good, comprehensive estate plan shouldn’t have this problem because the will is going to be a simple pour of a will. It just says, everything I own goes to my. To my trust. Yeah, but I have seen where there’s a will or multiple versions of a trust or multiple versions of a will. It goes by what I mean, you have to. It’s like putting together a puzzle. You have to determine what came first. And then if there’s a trust, is it funded into the trust is, you know, would be the question. So we have to determine how an asset’s held. If it’s properly in the trust. A will isn’t going to matter in that case. So it could, the will could say, like a later will, just like you were talking about, could say, I leave this house to cocoa the gorilla, but it’s funded in the trust. The trust is going to. Going to preempt what we do in that will, that later will, because that’s where the house is funded.

[00:09:11] Karen Stones: So tell me, what are the most common things a trust would be funded by?

[00:09:16] Andrea Patton: Oh, real property. That’s one of the. So I’ve always said that anybody who owns real property here, especially here in California, because the values of the property in California, anybody owns real property and or has minor children should have a trust.

[00:09:32] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:09:32] Andrea Patton: That’s just the right thing to do for your family.

[00:09:35] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:09:36] Andrea Patton: To avoid probate and avoid what could happen with minor children.

[00:09:40] Karen Stones: Yeah. So real property in what bank accounts?

[00:09:44] Andrea Patton: Yes.

[00:09:45] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:09:46] Andrea Patton: Not all bank accounts are required to be in the trust. That’s a hard one too, because it’s very situational for people. I would say any brokerage accounts that have a good amount invested in it should be in the trust. But like your day to day in and out bank account that probably has some auto in and auto out.

[00:10:07] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:10:08] Andrea Patton: You know, automatic debits and paying the water bill and paying the, whatever, the mortgage and also your paycheck or a Social Security check maybe is being deposited. If you go to the bank and say, I want this bank account to be funded in my trust, they likely will make you close that account because the banks don’t see it’s a different animal to them. Even though it’s a revocable trust, a lot of banks will, they won’t just plop down, okay, now it’s Karen stones. As trustee of Karen Stones Trust, they won’t just do that. They’ll say, okay, we’re gonna open up another account and close this one. And so now you gotta go to Social Security or your HR department or whatever, and change your auto. Auto deposits and your auto debits. So it’s important that we just not across the board, especially for my older clients who have the Social Security or a pension check. Can you imagine them having to call and have that all changed. So I typically will have what I call an operating account that. Just leave that outside operating account.

[00:11:13] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:11:15] Andrea Patton: Leave that alone.

[00:11:16] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:11:17] Andrea Patton: Some people, if they’re married, will have a joint on it. It’s okay until the second passes, you know, it’ll be fine. The owner just becomes the joint owner, the surviving owner, but pretty much everything else should be in the trust, in my opinion. You have retirement accounts that are not the same animal either. Those are IR’s vehicle accounts that are age based, right?

[00:11:41] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:11:41] Andrea Patton: So you pay when you get to that magic age, whatever it’s going to be when we get there.

[00:11:46] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:11:47] Andrea Patton: When you. When you have to start taking your RMD’s or risk. Risk having to pay more money. Right.

[00:11:53] Karen Stones: Yeah. So what is the average age of someone coming to you and starting an estate plan?

[00:11:58] Andrea Patton: Okay, well, I back up to everybody who owns real property and or has minor children should have a trust. So the average age coming to me is probably somewhere forties. And I thank God that they survived that long and haven’t left their kids without parents, without an estate plan. You know, they come to me and their kids are 22 years old. I’m like, well, you got through that. Let’s get through that.

[00:12:24] Karen Stones: You got lucky.

[00:12:25] Andrea Patton: Yeah. Let’s get through the next 20 years. But I have plenty that. I may have plenty of probates where people were young and unexpectedly died. I have one lady who has minor children with her ex husband, and he died unexpectedly. He owned a business, some property, and so I had to open up a probate, get her appointed as the administrator because there was no will, and then probate it, deal with the business as the administrator and deal with life insurance. Yeah, because it severed when they divorced, it severed her rights to retirement, but not life insurance. So he left her on as beneficiary of life insurance, and she walked away with that money that didn’t get probated. But is that what he wanted? I don’t know.

[00:13:16] Karen Stones: Interesting.

[00:13:16] Andrea Patton: But that’s what the law says. So on top of doing the probate for that lady, I also had to do guardianships, which require annual or biannual accountings.

[00:13:28] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:13:29] Andrea Patton: What’s a lot of people up in your business?

[00:13:31] Karen Stones: It is. I was thinking about all these situations with blended families, remarriages, divorces.

You know, this stuff gets hard to track.

[00:13:42] Andrea Patton: It does. So imagine in divorces, first of all, death and money make people cuckoo.

Absolutely cuckoo. So when you throw in the years of, I don’t want to say dysfunction or whatever happens in divorces.

[00:13:58] Karen Stones: Right.

[00:13:59] Andrea Patton: Hurt feelings, for sure. And people feeling left out when there’s a second marriage, kids that. That feel like they were left out. They never know what people are expecting, what their expectations are, until they’re placed with making claims on money that they believe they’re entitled to. So it really helps when people are able to draft out, really think about and put in place what they want to see happen. A lot of times I’m amazed at how I see second marriages that are 30, 40 years in second marriages. But the people have adult children from a prior marriage. Right. 30, 40 years is a long time. I wasn’t married. Yeah, I wasn’t married that long. So on the second marriage, when it’s three, four times longer than the first marriage, and then they built this wealth together, shouldn’t the spouse be taken care of if that’s what the husband wanted to do? Or possibly flip that a little bit. Now you have a husband who was married for three minutes. Is that wife entitled the same as the wife that he was married to for 40 years and help raise children?

[00:15:13] Karen Stones: These are.

[00:15:14] Andrea Patton: I know, I don’t know. Everybody’s individual, everybody has their own. They come to it. It’s a lot of working through. Sometimes I feel like I’m a therapist and get through some of this stuff, and everybody’s different. There’s no one way to tell somebody that this is how it should be.

[00:15:33] Karen Stones: Yeah. Do you see the family feuding happening with siblings? Or is it, most commonly remaining spouses?

Is there a scenario that is just repetitive as far as something you’re seeing?

[00:15:51] Andrea Patton: It’s all.

[00:15:52] Karen Stones: Everything.

[00:15:53] Andrea Patton: All of it. All of it. But. And I try to remind people, too, especially when their kids. I’m not gonna say they’re minors, but younger kids. Right? Like twenties, thirties even.

That’s when you know you’re old, by the way, when they’re kids at 40, you know, when they have kids that are twenties, thirties, and they’re putting them in a place where they’re having to manage money for their siblings and things like that, you know, without considering that, what I know as a parent, I would want my kids to be there for each other and get along more than I would want to worry about saving a few bucks on. Maybe not, maybe hiring a professional fiduciary.

[00:16:39] Karen Stones: Yeah. What is that, by the way?

[00:16:41] Andrea Patton: Well, I mean, when you have a successor, trustees. So typically a husband and wife would be the trustees of their trust. And if it’s single person, that’s the person, that’s the trustee of their trust. The manager during their lifetime and during their capacity, too. We haven’t even gotten into how important it is to have these documents in place for incapacity purposes. Death is actually easy compared to having to deal with some of the incapacity issues and what your family goes through to make sure that mom’s, you know, being properly cared for, that you can access her finances to pay for that, or, you know, make claims on dad’s retirement for mom, who’s now incapacitated. All these things play into it. But making sure that your family, that you pick the right trustee, the successor trustee to be that manager. It’s not always best to pick the oldest child. I know that the generation that I’m dealing with now, let’s say eighties, nineties, I don’t know what that is. The octogenarians typically come in and it’s a pecking order. And it’s usually by birth, really usually, not all the time, but usually, and they usually will equally leave money to all the kids. That kid could have poked the parent’s eye out with a fork, and they’re still going to get their third or whatever, whatever the parent sees. That’s just, that’s what they do. That’s what I found. And then it’s a pecking order. So it’s not always the best person to choose a successor trustee. Right. It’s not always best to put the. I’ve seen so many family dynamics, but the daughter. So I’m a daughter in a three kid house that I was raised in. I’m the oldest and I’m the lawyer. Well, it kind of makes sense, maybe that I would be the trustee of the trust for my parents when they die or incapacity, too. And I do think in my household, my family, that that probably wouldn’t be an issue. I think we all trust each other. It’s famous. Those are famous last words, but.

[00:18:50] Karen Stones: Famous last word.

[00:18:51] Andrea Patton: It is. I mean, you trust everybody until death and money.

But I’d like to think that we’d rise above it. I really would. But I’ve seen so much in what I do and people that I think are going to get along, and then I get a call later and my sister’s stealing everything. And, you know, of course, it’s.

[00:19:11] Karen Stones: Yeah. So this is so interesting. So what you’re telling me is that not only are you ensuring that your stuff, your assets are going to the right people, it’s also giving instructions on that instead of having people fight over it.

[00:19:30] Andrea Patton: Right. I think the more that you can lovingly write down what you think should happen to your stuff. Simply coming in and telling me my kids all get along. It’s all going to be fine. May not be. What happens now? Can we do. Can we figure out everything that’s going to happen? No. Death and money make people cuckoo. I’m telling you, it could be the afghan rug that no one’s seen in 50 years that causes world war three in a family. It could be $5, it could be 500,000, it could be 5 million. I don’t know. I don’t know what makes everybody tick, but I’ve seen people sell their soul for $5.

[00:20:17] Karen Stones: What is the strangest thing you’ve seen people argue over?

[00:20:21] Andrea Patton: I don’t know if I should say.

[00:20:23] Karen Stones: I suppose you have Shirley Temple dolls.

[00:20:27] Andrea Patton: It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever. Yeah, pictures. Pictures were coming up. It’s back when we had faxes. Yeah.

[00:20:34] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:20:35] Andrea Patton: Not emails like we have today. So this was, I don’t know, 1015 years ago, I had two factions of a family, and mom collected Shirley Temple doll. I don’t even know if they were Shirley Temple doll, but they were dolls with, like, curly hair, and they were, I don’t know, like, that big, you know? So getting these pictures coming over, a fact. One of the little girls that worked diaph again, another when you’re old, you know, when the assistant comes by and she’s like, oh, these are creepy.

We got to pick which ones we want because that’s how we were doing it. They got to go through and a pecking order. Like, they picked numbers on who picked the first doll and then the next doll picked dolls. Yeah. So I thought that was pretty weird. Yeah. I’ve had Santa stuff. I don’t know. I’m not into stuff, so I don’t know what, you know, when I talk to clients, I will tell them, you can always write a list of where you want your stuff to go, whatever your stuff is. If it’s fishing poles, bikes, cameras, people have things that they are attached to and they want them to go. Possibly. Jewelry is usually the thing moms will usually like to make sure that, you know, this wedding ring goes to. In my case, it’d be two wedding rings.

[00:21:52] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:21:53] Andrea Patton: This one goes here, this one goes there, you know, earrings. Just making sure that they don’t fight over it later doesn’t necessarily guarantee that, but it’s really hard to say, I want those earrings. When mom said that they’re supposed to go to your sister.

[00:22:09] Karen Stones: Yeah, it is. Now I’m going to shift gears here, because in our world, people are obsessed with their pets.

[00:22:18] Andrea Patton: Oh, that’s a great topic.

[00:22:21] Karen Stones: I know you have a little chihuahua, Theo, and you love him.

[00:22:27] Andrea Patton: I do.

[00:22:27] Karen Stones: And are people putting their pets in their. What is it? A trust estate plan and leaving money to their animals?

[00:22:36] Andrea Patton: I just read this morning, okay. On Facebook, an article about a woman who. Her children didn’t come visit her, so she left everything to the dog and the cat.

[00:22:52] Karen Stones: You know, like, what does that even mean?

[00:22:54] Andrea Patton: First of all, you can’t just leave it to the dog or the cat. You have to leave it in trust with a trustee, a manager that will manage that money for the benefit of the animal and then have.

[00:23:03] Karen Stones: That’s, like, for real.

[00:23:05] Andrea Patton: Absolutely. And I highly encourage it when there’s somebody who maybe doesn’t have family that would take them, that are already getting the estate, in my opinion.

I have to be nice.

[00:23:21] Karen Stones: Yeah. No, just be yourself.

[00:23:23] Andrea Patton: So when, years ago, I do have a soft spot for rescues in general, and I saw some sorority sisters of mine had sent out an email saying that this dog was the last dog in a family that needed to be placed.

[00:23:44] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:23:45] Andrea Patton: And I saw a picture of it, and I went for this one dog. I think I tried to. Pacoima or something like that to. To see the dog, and I had the kids with me, and there was two dogs there. And so the lady, the daughter, was crying. She wished she could keep these dogs, but these were the last two dogs of, like, the man’s eight dogs.

[00:24:09] Karen Stones: Oh, my.

[00:24:10] Andrea Patton: Okay, so he had eight dogs, and these two were the last two that needed to be home because they needed to sell the house. Oh, my. So, no money came with the dogs, by the way, which is what I think is wrong, because somebody got money from the sale of the house. And, you know, I did take two of them off.

[00:24:30] Karen Stones: You did? I don’t know this.

[00:24:32] Andrea Patton: So. So the one. The one dog I went to go see was the last remaining one. It was kind of. We called him the junkyard dog because he, like, had a snaggle tooth and he was small, but, like, chunky small. Small. Bigger than theo is. And his name was Lobo. And then there was, like, this, like, little tiny papillon dog. Like a giant papillon that was really fluffy, really cute. And she had been adopted, but brought back, and so they were living in this house by themselves for a year.

[00:25:07] Karen Stones: No.

[00:25:07] Andrea Patton: So people. They were paying people to come feed the dogs, but nobody. That dog had never been on a leash before. Like, it didn’t know what to do on a leash. It, like, freaked out that it got put on, and then we put in the car and they’re both throwing up. They had never been in a car before.

[00:25:21] Karen Stones: Oh, my gosh.

[00:25:22] Andrea Patton: And so I did take them home. They la. They lasted a couple years. They were older. They were much older dogs.

[00:25:28] Karen Stones: You had them for a few years.

[00:25:29] Andrea Patton: I had them for a few years. But the thing that got me, and this is what brought me into this email stream, was that the one dog that I went to go see, not the papillon, but the. The lobo he had when the man was wheeled out of the house, when the responders came to take care of him dying in his house, the dog wouldn’t leave his side. The dog laid there and would not leave his side. Then he lived in the house by himself for a year without his master, who had died. And the family needed to sell the house, so they needed to home the dogs. To this lady’s credit, she was trying to re home them all. But ate is a lot of dogs, but that was some non planning, if you ask me. So what happens to your animals? The dog that wouldn’t freaking leave your side when you’re dying?

[00:26:24] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:26:24] Andrea Patton: That’s. Gets left to the pound or whoever.

[00:26:30] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:26:30] Andrea Patton: Sad. That makes me so sad. Lobo story.

[00:26:34] Karen Stones: I know.

[00:26:35] Andrea Patton: I would love to start a foundation of some sort that makes sure that people. You can leave. I’ll find a home for your dogs. Leave. You should leave this little bit of money, I mean, however much money you think you should leave. And let’s make sure that they get a proper home, because your dogs are the last ones that were there with you. Yeah. They were your best friends and they’re like the last people that are last. Not people, but the last thing thought about.

[00:27:05] Karen Stones: So you’re. I sense the passion. You’re bleeding hard over there.

[00:27:09] Andrea Patton: So I do have. When I have my questionnaires, I do fill out families. I’ve had plenty of people come in and say, my dogs are everything. Well, we make sure that they’re taken care of, whether, you know, whatever that dollar amount is and everybody’s individual about it.

[00:27:24] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:27:25] Andrea Patton: And then whatever money’s left over if it’s not used. So you could have a separate trustee for this. Right. So I could have my aunt Pam take my dog, and if I don’t trust her with the $3,000 or whatever, I could have a separate trustee there available to send money to her whenever she needs it up to a certain amount. And if there’s money left over, my dog dies and there’s no need for more money. Then it goes to coco the gorilla or the ASPCA or the mission Vijo animal shelter, whatever.

[00:27:59] Karen Stones: So what about my snake?

[00:28:01] Andrea Patton: I don’t want your snake, but I’ll rehome it.

[00:28:07] Karen Stones: For those of many of you don’t know me personally, but I bought a snake when I was 16. I thought it would be really cool in high school to be sort of badass like that. And I am turning 45 in a few weeks, and the snake is still alive.

[00:28:26] Andrea Patton: It’s like my fish, my free fish that live to be over ten years.

[00:28:30] Karen Stones: Old from the fair, right? Yeah.

[00:28:32] Andrea Patton: And I made provisions for it in my trust. No, I’m just kidding.

I know Jared would have wanted the fish.

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I hear these stories in the news about Uber wealthy people that just don’t plan.

Have you heard all these stories in the news about some of these artists and actors and others who don’t have an estate plan?

[00:29:52] Andrea Patton: As a matter of fact, I have heard about some of these. You know, Prince died without a will, at least that’s what I was reading about. So it’s hard to say.

[00:30:01] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:30:02] Andrea Patton: Because he may have had a trust and there may have been assets that weren’t part of the trust and somehow no will or something like that. So I can’t speak to the exact facts of his case, but what I can tell you is that Bob Marley and Prince both had people fighting over their estate because they, well, Prince had no children, so his were his siblings. I think half siblings were fighting over it. Bob Marley, on the other hand, I think, had like, eleven children. No.

[00:30:34] Karen Stones: Did he?

[00:30:35] Andrea Patton: Something like that. And so with no. No estate plan, no will, they’re all fighting over who’s gonna control it. Because now you’re talking about rights going into the future, right? Where’s music and things like that and copyrights and all of the trademarks, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t know. What else they were fighting over? I know. Pablo Picasso.

Wealthy, right? Over his works that were just going to increase in value over years and years. He had children, but no will.

[00:31:07] Karen Stones: And so did their stuff go to probate then?

[00:31:09] Andrea Patton: Yeah.

[00:31:10] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:31:10] Andrea Patton: Yeah.

I think Pablo also was in Spain. I guess so. I feel stupid. I don’t know exactly where all these facts, but. Oh, I do know that Bob Marley’s was in Jamaica for sure, because I was reading about how complicated that it was. Like, the most complicated estate probate ever.

[00:31:29] Karen Stones: In Jamaica, I’m sure.

[00:31:31] Andrea Patton: And, you know, prince would have been in another state, but, yeah, I hear about him all the time.

[00:31:38] Karen Stones: Yeah. I’m looking at a statistic right here. It says, according to a survey conducted by Caring.com, in 2021, only 32% of Americans had a will or trust. So.

[00:31:54] Andrea Patton: So in all fairness, some people don’t have enough for a probate to be triggered. Even so, if you die, let’s say, with no real property, because real property, you can’t train. I can’t just do an affidavit when somebody dies just because their house is worth 40,000. There’s some work that needs to be done. I don’t know where the $40,000 house is in California. But now it gets complicated, though, because you have minor children that are your heirs at law. If you have no estate plan at all, no will, we have issues, because now we have minor children. So that’s a whole other ballgame. But let’s say all your kids are adults. Let’s flash forward 40 years and that’s all you have. Then I could do an affidavit. The three kids would sign it, and then they would take their third each.

[00:32:40] Karen Stones: Oh, okay. I didn’t even know that existed.

[00:32:42] Andrea Patton: Yeah. And then we do have transfer on death deeds you can do for your real property. I personally don’t like them. They’re pretty new to California. I just had one of those flash things where, you know you’re old because it’s probably been, I don’t know, 810 years, but it still feels new to me. Yeah. Other states have had it for a lot longer, and I’ve kind of dealt with it, but I don’t like it, if that makes sense. The best thing to do is to have a trust, have all the other ancillary documents, and then while you’re incapacitated, you’ll be taking care. You know, we’re not going to have to worry about all that stuff.

[00:33:22] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:33:22] Andrea Patton: Or if you die, it’s going to go where you want it to go. A transfer on death isn’t going to help you with minor children. Yeah, they can’t. They can’t hold property, you know, deal things that they need to do without a guardianship being opened up because they have no legal right until 18. And then think about that. They turn 18, you really want them to then come into possession of assets?

[00:33:44] Karen Stones: What is the age at what people feel comfortable giving children money and wealth? Is there this specific golden number that you see that’s sort of common? What do you recommend?

[00:33:56] Andrea Patton: Well, I think when you have a four year old, you kind of gotta go with like, the 20, like half at 25, the rest at 30, maybe older. You have no idea what that kid’s gonna be like, right? Yeah, but I have a 22 year old, and, you know, maybe he’d be able to handle it. But why would I put that on him if he just lost his mom? And now he’s got to sell real property and stuff at 22? That doesn’t make any sense. So of course I’m putting it out for a while.

[00:34:22] Karen Stones: Yeah, right.

[00:34:23] Andrea Patton: I mean, maybe he could, and in all fairness, he probably could, but again, I just died, and now he has to handle all of that. It just doesn’t seem right. So now that’s the management side of it. But then also to come into maybe a large chunk of money is probably not appropriate for, you know, I don’t know what the age for boys, 30, 25, 30, girls, maybe a little earlier, just in some respects, but, you know. So 18, to me, if I’m advising clients, is way too early, especially if you consider they don’t have parents helping them.

[00:35:00] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:35:00] Andrea Patton: So I typically will say 25, 30, possibly even 35. Now, when clients come in and they have that 30 year old kid that they’re like, oh, my God, he can’t handle anything, which happens, I guess. So we keep it in trust till they’re older. You just never know. But then I also had the hundred year old that came skipping into my office. Literally skipping. He’s probably in better health than I was at the time. Skipping in. And he had his 70 year old daughter. He was trying to micromanage. I’m like, no, you haven’t done it by now, you’re probably not gonna be able to help her.

[00:35:35] Karen Stones: I was at lunch with a friend today, and she told me her parents are not releasing money until she’s 50.

[00:35:43] Andrea Patton: That’s what I’m talking about.

[00:35:45] Karen Stones: And she’s so responsible. I thought that was really interesting.

[00:35:48] Andrea Patton: Well, there’s also, I do find a lot of older people that have older children that have maybe made, and I’m not saying this is her. I don’t even know who you’re even talking about. So I’m not saying that. But they’ve made some bad decisions, maybe have some debt that they want, you know, for them kids to show some responsibility, maybe some bad marriage, maybe, you know, whatever’s going on. So I don’t know. I mean, who am I as an attorney to judge why somebody feels really strongly about that? I do not like it kept until they die. I don’t like these trusts that go on forever.

[00:36:25] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:36:25] Andrea Patton: You know, I, you know, like, I always imagine it being like the Kennedy family, like passing down from grandchild and the next grandchild and the next, you know, legacy type trusts or, you know, now you have somebody. Let’s hope it’s a bank that’s in charge of it. But, you know, can you imagine putting your best friend in charge of your kids and then the grandkids, and then the great grandkids. No, no, it doesn’t make sense.

[00:36:48] Karen Stones: No.

[00:36:48] Andrea Patton: And then it always depends on how much money you’re even talking about. Yeah, some people have some ideas.

You know, my 10 zero year old client that was trying to micromanage his 70 year old daughter? I mean, it was like, maybe this sounds terrible because to me, $500 is a lot and I’m respectful of that, but to micromanage a million dollars for the next 30 years makes no sense, you know, for your 70 year old daughter.

[00:37:11] Karen Stones: No.

[00:37:12] Andrea Patton: So we worked through that and had a different contingency plan. I love when people want to leave stuff to charity. I usually will discount, really, when somebody’s given an exorbitant amount to charity.

[00:37:28] Karen Stones: Wow. Wow. Andy, everyone asks me this because I have had to do a trust or two and you’ve actually done my. Yeah, yeah. You’ve helped me with quite a few legal issues. How much does it cost to do something like this?

You know, I’ve got normal real assets and, you know, a handful of things. You know, what. What am I looking at?

[00:37:53] Andrea Patton: Well, there is a huge range, depending on which attorney you go to. There’s some, I call marble floor attorneys. You can imagine walking in and the big marble floors.

[00:38:04] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:38:04] Andrea Patton: All the multiple people coming to help you. You’re going to pay probably, you know, 6000, $7,000 at a firm like that. You’re going to get some really good attorneys working on your case. Do you need it? I don’t think so. Yeah. You know, so your range would probably be somewhere between 1703, you know, for a single person, that’s it. Yeah, 35 maybe. But married couples probably going to get closer up to four or 5000, just depending.

[00:38:37] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:38:38] Andrea Patton: For a married couple, I’d say three to five is what you’d be expecting to pay from. An average attorney affirmed that. Like me, that is one attorney with staff helping. And then you have paralegals out there doing it as well and you’ll probably pay less. I don’t know what kind of liability you want to make sure somebody is caring for your product that you’re getting. Just ranges.

[00:39:09] Karen Stones: Yeah, it ranges.

[00:39:10] Andrea Patton: And then, you know, legal zoom to me is about a. Want to say.

[00:39:14] Karen Stones: No kidding?

[00:39:15] Andrea Patton: Yeah. So for a thousand more you’re going to get somebody on the hook that’s going to walk you through your funding. I can’t tell you how many legal zoom type products I will see after, you know, and somebody brings it. Let’s hope mom and dad haven’t died yet because when that it’s done, when they die, it’s irrevocable. Without going to court and spend all sorts of money to change it would be able to say that it lacked this, it lacked that. Well, that’s what they signed, that’s what they have in place.

[00:39:43] Karen Stones: Do you get a lot of phone calls with people who are near death or death is imminent, yeah. And how fast can you whip up a plan for someone?

[00:39:53] Andrea Patton: I think it depends on where I am and my caseload and whatnot. I’ve done it plenty of times. I do have in my fee schedule that I charge more for. Cause if I’m dropping this to go do that, most of the time I don’t charge it, though, when it’s a true emergency. It depends on who my referral source is too. If it’s somebody that sends me lots of work and says, can you do this for my. It’s a CPA, let’s say. And they say, my client just came to us, just found out he has stage four cancer and doesn’t have anything in place. Yeah, I’ll do it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve gone to the hospital many times to make sure things are getting signed and done. Don’t like to do it. Nobody likes to be put under pressure of doing things like that and like having people sign without fully having, you know.

[00:40:42] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:40:43] Andrea Patton: Sit down, let’s talk, let’s go through it, let’s flush it out. That doesn’t happen when you’re in a panic situation. But if somebody called me up and I’m doing a. Basically a family a favor? Yeah, it happens all the time.

[00:40:56] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:40:57] Andrea Patton: Let’s hope people don’t wait till the last minute.

[00:40:59] Karen Stones: Yeah. Well, my hope is that our listeners will feel encouraged to engage with an attorney and get their affairs right and they can do it in a way that’s affordable and approachable.

[00:41:12] Andrea Patton: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we didn’t talk about the prices of probates, but when you weigh that against the two to $4,000 you’re paying now to have it all in place. And remember, the incapacity is probably harder on a family than the death is. But probates are on a scale. So I think I was just kind of explaining it to Matt this morning that the first you pay 4% of the first hundred thousand and 3000 on the next hundred thousand. So for $200,000 probate, which is any house is going to be over. That is 7000 right there. That’s what the attorney gets paid.

So when you were asking earlier about taxes, it’s not taxes that you pay in a probate court, it’s attorney fees. And then depending on if you have a will that’s being probated and there’s an administrator or an executor as well, they get paid the same thing I get paid. So on a hundred. On a million dollars, let’s say. So it’s 16 plus seven. I don’t do math that fast. 16 plus 21,000. Right. So on a million dollar, just a regular house here in Orange county?

[00:42:19] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:42:20] Andrea Patton: Okay. Doesn’t matter what your mortgage is, it’s what the house is worth. Just the house alone, million dollars. $21,000 to the attorney and $21,000 to the, the executor or the administrator. So 42,000 right off the bat, plus the three to 4000, just in hard costs alone that I get right up front to pay the expenses of the estate, the filing fees and stuff like that. So two to $4,000 doesn’t sound so bad when you got that. And then throw guardianship on top of that because there’s minor children involved.

[00:42:54] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:42:55] Andrea Patton: Thousands.

[00:42:56] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:42:57] Andrea Patton: And that. The, the headache of all of that is. It’s my headache.

[00:43:01] Karen Stones: Yeah. Well, that’s. That’s what you’re paid to do.

[00:43:04] Andrea Patton: I know, but I don’t like them. It makes me sad. It’s lack of planning is what causes that, so that just makes me sad.

[00:43:11] Karen Stones: Yeah. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners?

[00:43:15] Andrea Patton: Well, there’s hours and hours and hours of it.

[00:43:18] Karen Stones: I know. Well, you’re a regular and although this is the first episode you’ve been on, we have a lot of questions around health directives.

[00:43:27] Andrea Patton: Oh, yeah.

[00:43:28] Karen Stones: And so many listener questions I know are gonna come in for you about unique situations that they wanna hear about. So we’re looking forward to having you back.

[00:43:39] Andrea Patton: Thank you. I’m looking forward to it as well.

[00:43:42] Karen Stones: If someone does want to engage with you, are you taking on new caseload clients?

[00:43:49] Andrea Patton: Sure. For Californians and Orange county in particular.

[00:43:52] Karen Stones: Okay.

[00:43:52] Andrea Patton: And I go outside of Orange county as well. But just keep in mind the travel. But I do meetings on Zoom and things like that. But the final meeting, signing always has to be in person for me.

[00:44:04] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:44:04] Andrea Patton: So just keep that in mind. But, yeah, I have a website, the pattonlawfirm.com, and I’m reachable there. Has my phone number, address. I’m in Santa Ana by main place mall, the 55 and the five.

[00:44:19] Karen Stones: Perfect.

[00:44:19] Andrea Patton: Yeah.

[00:44:20] Karen Stones: All right. Well, we always leave the show on a sort of funny, silly note. We play a game. It’s called, you know, you’re old when. So, Andy, I’m going to throw mine at you, and let’s see. Let’s see if you think it’s true. You know, you’re old. When you had a pager, did you have a beeper? A pager?

[00:44:42] Andrea Patton: I did not. But I knew lots of people that did.

[00:44:44] Karen Stones: Okay. That was what, in the nineties?

[00:44:47] Andrea Patton: That would have been. Yeah, I would say. Yeah, nineties. Early nineties. Right.

[00:44:52] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:44:53] Andrea Patton: Trying to think of when I had my first phone. I was in law school.

[00:44:56] Karen Stones: Yeah, I think I remember they were so cool.

[00:44:59] Andrea Patton: And that was late nineties.

[00:45:00] Karen Stones: So, yeah, I think it was nineties. And we got all these, like, abbreviated messages. We could write like, I love you, 143. And there was all sorts of language we had developed around pagers. So using it kind of like a text message, but with numbers.

[00:45:17] Andrea Patton: Well, how old were you?

[00:45:18] Karen Stones: I would have been in high school, so I would have been in my mid teens.

[00:45:25] Andrea Patton: Okay, nineties. I was out of college, so.

[00:45:27] Karen Stones: Yeah, but it was a thing.

[00:45:29] Andrea Patton: And I went to an office. Yeah. I just didn’t need a pager. That’s so funny. Do you remember calling your mom from a pay phone?

[00:45:37] Karen Stones: Oh, yeah.

[00:45:37] Andrea Patton: And collect call, because you didn’t have any money. Collect call and come pick me up really quickly before, instead of saying your name, come pick me up.

[00:45:45] Karen Stones: Do you accept these charges from.

[00:45:47] Andrea Patton: No.

[00:45:49] Karen Stones: Yeah, well, I would. We would use pagers and, like, public phones and have people call the public phone.

[00:45:56] Andrea Patton: Yeah.

[00:45:57] Karen Stones: You know, like that.

[00:45:58] Andrea Patton: I’m waiting by the phone.

[00:45:59] Karen Stones: There’s no public phones anymore.

[00:46:01] Andrea Patton: No, there isn’t. I did see one up in mammoth. Yeah, at Devil’s postpile. Is that right? Devil’s postpile?

[00:46:08] Karen Stones: Very random.

[00:46:09] Andrea Patton: Totally random. It was like a relic. I remember just staring at it. It was. Because that’s totally nowhere. Right? Like, you have to hike down in there. Yeah, it’s Devil’s postpile.

[00:46:19] Karen Stones: That’s there. Yeah.

[00:46:20] Andrea Patton: Yeah. And then. So I’m standing there and I’m like, I don’t know what’s weirder, that devil’s postpile or this random. This random, like a phone booth in the middle of nowhere.

[00:46:30] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:46:31] Andrea Patton: Gosh.

[00:46:31] Karen Stones: Yeah, you never see those anymore.

[00:46:34] Andrea Patton: Text, please call me at the pay phone at the devil’s postpone.

[00:46:38] Karen Stones: Okay. Do you have one for me?

[00:46:40] Andrea Patton: Yes.

[00:46:41] Karen Stones: Okay, I’m ready.

[00:46:42] Andrea Patton: You know you’re old when you no longer need an alarm clock.

[00:46:46] Karen Stones: Oh, yes.

[00:46:47] Andrea Patton: We don’t even have to ask Alexa to set an alarm. We just wake right up.

[00:46:51] Karen Stones: No, what time do you wake up?

[00:46:52] Andrea Patton: Four or five?

[00:46:53] Karen Stones: Four.

[00:46:54] Andrea Patton: The brain is just going, wow. Actually, Matt leaves to go, like, at 530 30 every day. So my. My inner clock has just started.

[00:47:04] Karen Stones: Yeah. Adopted starts.

[00:47:06] Andrea Patton: Get up, start working. And then I, you know, that’s good, that’s good.

[00:47:09] Karen Stones: I think I’m naturally. Would be like 545, which is still pretty early.

[00:47:15] Andrea Patton: We were just saying this morning, if only we could sleep till seven. If only we were, like, asleep till seven. Yeah, it’d be so nice because there’s no, like, your internal clock is weak.

[00:47:26] Karen Stones: It is, but I can’t even sleep in anymore, is the problem.

[00:47:30] Andrea Patton: No, no, it’s worse. Because you know what time I go to sleep?

[00:47:33] Karen Stones: What?

[00:47:33] Andrea Patton: I’m falling asleep by nine. Nine?

[00:47:35] Karen Stones: Oh, that’s not bad.

[00:47:36] Andrea Patton: So, you know you’re old when you’re up watching, like, your night is to watch tv till ten on the weekend.

[00:47:44] Karen Stones: Yeah.

[00:47:44] Andrea Patton: You gotta force yourself. I have to sit up. I can’t lay down. I have to sit up so I can finish watching whatever movie we’re watching.

[00:47:52] Karen Stones: Well, we’ll talk about your sleeping superpower in another episode. But Andy, thank you so much for coming. It was good to have you.

[00:48:00] Andrea Patton: Thank you.

[00:48:01] Karen Stones: And that brings us to the end of another episode. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. Okay, so if you haven’t already, make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss another episode. If you’re loving what you hear, I would be incredibly grateful if you took just a moment to rate and review this show on your favorite podcast platform. It helps others discover us, and it’s a great place to share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for future episodes. For even more exclusive content and detailed show notes, check out our website at www. thirtyfivesixtyfour.com. That’s spelled out thirtyfivesixtyfour.com. As always, a huge, huge thank you for spending time with me today during this episode. I appreciate that you tuned in. I’m going to leave you the same way I do every episode. Remember, it’s not too late, you’re not too old, and you’re definitely not dead. Okay, until next time, friends.

  • Karen Stones

    Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

    Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.

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About the Author

Show host Karen Stones is the creative heart of ThirtyFiveSixtyFour. Born in 1979, Karen is a child of Generation X. As a podcast enthusiast, she noticed a major void in content catering to listeners her age. Karen found existing productions were either niche, evangelized negative perspectives on aging, or hosted by a well-meaning young adult who lacked the wisdom and life experience to provide meaningful insight. Thus, ThirtyFiveSixtyFour was born. The philosophy behind ThirtyFiveSixtyFour stands in stark contrast to the conventional midlife crisis narrative, advocating instead for midlife to be seen as a time of confidence, reinvention, growth, reflection, exploration and renewal.

Karen has over twenty years of mass communication and marketing expertise. Her journey in media started early, as she interned for notable figures like Larry Morgan and Ryan Seacrest at the Los Angeles FM radio station STAR 98.7. During her university years Karen served as a disc jockey for the on-campus, student-run radio station. Following a successful career in the corporate world, she took the entrepreneurial plunge, founding 13 Jacks Marketing Agency in 2014. The agency currently oversees multimillion-dollar projects including global product launches, international events, specialized social media and advertising campaigns. Beyond her agency pursuits, Karen extends her expertise to coaching executives seeking to enhance their business strategies and personal growth. Based in Orange County, California, Karen is a dedicated mother to three and an outdoor enthusiast.

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