Attorney Megone Trewick was featured as a guest on The Real Estate Corner hosted by Shad Bogany aired on Eyeconic Television, KWWJ 1360 and 96.9 FM
We are going to have an interesting show. This is a topic that when I’m doing a radio show I get lots of phone calls, lots of e-mails about, and it’s about Estate Planning. In the studio with us this morning I’ve got Megone Trewick and she’s an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning.
This is really important because it not only affects Real Estate, but it trickles down to everything in your life when you don’t plan your Estate properly. We are going to hit some hard topics, some of these you are going to say “I didn’t know, but that’s what the Real Estate corner is all about. It is informing the public. Census data says only 29% of African Americans own their own home. All of this is census data so if you want to know where to get that from because you may hear other figures, this is census data. The most recent census data.
What Estate planning does is that it keeps you from loosing the wealth that you created over your lifetime and allowing you to convey it to those that you want to convey it to.
Attorney Megone is here with us, she’s with Bryan Fagan Law Firm. She also does a webinar so she’s gonna mention that too and they we are going to get into this great topic on Estate Planning, so your wealth doesn’t get destroyed.
Thank you very much, protecting your family and leaving a legacy for them. That's what's important. And my name is Megone Trewick. I am an estate planning attorney. I specialize in estate planning and real estate. So, thank you for inviting me here today. When I talk about estate planning and real estate, I light up and I can talk although.
And then when you put all that together with probate law, then you have a totally new animal. Okay. And so, when I and that's why I do what I do, I did probate work first. And then you can't do probate work if you don't do estate planning. And when you're doing estate planning, you need to put that together with real estate law to have a holistic approach to the area to this area of law to make sure that you're protecting your family. You're protecting your estate, and you're leaving the legacy that you think you're leaving. And so, the first Thursday of every month we have or estate planning webinar, this this month, it will be December 9, it will be a webinar, you can go to Facebook, click in Brian Fagan, and just register for the webinar. It's free. I won't charge you even though what you're getting is worth every penny. And so, you register it's free. And we go through an hour and a half of estate planning. We discuss trusts wills, and how probate factors into that. And so today that's I'm going to bring a more concise version of that webinar. But if you want to really see the whole thing, the ninth of December 6pm go onto Facebook, Brian Fagan and register for the webinar.
We've got Mrs. Megan trick attorney to kick in here in the studio with us and so let's start off with the Why is estate planning so important? You kind of touched on it. But a lot of people feel I don't have anything. So why should I do it? I don't own a home. Why should I have a stake? I only have one house and one child, why should I have a stake?
I hear that all the time. And I hear that from people who do not have a house and who do not have a child. And they say, why am I planning, and I say to that person, because you don't have a house. And because you don't have a child, you need to plan for your estate because your estate is you. Okay? And when you're planning, you're saying, how am I going to take care of myself while I'm alive? And what am I going to do with those things when I pass on? Because estate planning is for living people. Probate is for dead people. So, if you're breathing, you need an estate plan. I got into this area of law because of my wonderful grandfather, his name is Ashton Gordon. And you may say he was full of life. He took care of everybody. When I came to America can hear my accent. Don't worry about it. Mr. Macon? Yeah, man. When I came here, I was living with my grandfather, we would do everything together. And my grandfather just assumed that everyone, I don't maybe he wasn't assuming. But he came from the background that if you do good, then other people do good back to you, right? But when you're in this area of law, you must plan for the eventualities we're in people don't do what's right. And my grandfather and my grandma, we, they got married, they settled in Summerfield, Florida, on 15 and a half acres, my grandfather did not have an estate plan. He thought that his property would just move on to his children, he didn't need an estate plan, why are my kids are going to get my things anyway, what happened is, he had an accident, he had someone set up a trust for him, not all trusts are made the same, okay, that person put his estate in the trust. And then that person set themselves up as the trustee for that trust and stole all our family's legacy.
So the trust was the person who was over who had created the trust.
So my grandfather, he's the trust store, he created the trust, he was not the trustee.
Ah, okay, trustee.
The person that created the trust made himself the trustee, and then my grandfather, so trusting allow that to happen. And after my grandfather passed, we learned that the trustee gave himself a mortgage on my grandfather's house, and then foreclosed on it. So, when you're entering the area of law, when you're entering the area of, I need to make sure my, my plan is going to be effective, you have to make sure you're going to trustworthy people. On the flip side of that is someone who did not set up a trust, and then leave their property thinking that all their children will just inherit it and take care of themselves. But what I've seen from my 20 plus years of practicing, is that the children fight, you end up instead of giving them a legacy, give them a legacy of hatred and strife within the family. And you did that because you didn't plan while you were alive. Estate planning is for living people, okay? And when you do that, you're telling the next generation, I love you. And because I love you; I'm going to plan for you. And so, I ask people, when they come before me, I say if something should happen to you, what would happen to your family? If right now you pass away, or worse yet, because passing away kit sometimes is not the worst thing that happened to your family. If you fall into a deep coma, if you're in a tragic circumstance where you need a nursing home plan or something like that won't happen to your family. And what I've seen at least 60% of people say, I don't know, I don't know is one of the most dangerous, dangerous things I can see. For instance, you get you get in a stroke. You end up needing nursing, nursing home care, a private room in Texas right now, private room is about $92,000. Not everybody has $92,000 in their bank account to help pay for that private room. So, what you have is a situation where in a family member may have to quit their work, or sometimes you don't have the adequate aid that you have. And then you're stuck in a situation where you're not getting care where you're slipping into bankruptcy. And that is not a good deal. Little bit of estate planning goes a long way you can set yourself up so that in the eventuality that you need to go to a nursing home, you have means to pay for it. If you don't have $92,000 in your pocket, you can set it set up your estate plan, set up your trust, so that you can have Medicaid paying for it, there are many things that you can do. And one trip to a good trustworthy attorney can help you along that road.
I wanted to really get into the estate planning attorney trick has kind of taken us through she's given us a scenario of how it works, who's going to pay for what, and she's so correct about we assume that the family the kids all get along, they get a gun, we all sing Kumbaya, we had everybody's house Christmas and Thanksgiving. But what I've learned when money comes into play, everything goes awry. And then what I've seen attorney two week is that the money and the estate that may have been usually destroyed in fighting, because they're paying for all these legal fees, if they just done it right, the beginning.
Or they don't do anything the property that their mom left them, right, and then it sits there, the property taxes get built up, and then you end up losing again in a tax foreclosure sale, or they don't do anything on generations pass. And then it becomes cost prohibitive, when your grandchild or a great grandchild try to do anything with that piece of property.
And one of the other issues is that typically your grandparents or your mom or dad may have had a senior's exemption, a lot of you guys do not leave, you leave that exemption on there. And then when you get ready to dispose of that property or sell it, you got this huge tax bill. Yes. And so, estate planning helps gives you guidance, because if you've never lost a loved one like that, you have no guidance on how to what to do.
And some of it some of the times the trouble that you see is the fact that grandpa had a veteran's exemption, he had the homestead exemption, and then you he passes, and then you move into the home. And then you lose those exemption, and then you end up getting behind in the taxes and then you lose your home. Okay. So, you know, there are many, there are many things that you can do with estate planning, you're talking about in a situation in America, about 50% of us end up in a divorce. So, one in one in about two marriages, is going to end up in divorce. In fact, America has one of the highest divorce rates in America, in the world. And when people come to me, and they're like, Megan, I need you to help me with their estate plan, they have one of six concerns. The first one, I don't want government in my business, I don't want them telling me what to do. Secondly, I want to minimize my taxes. And I want to minimize the fees that my estate will be faced with. I don't want to avoid nursing home costs as much as possible. Fourth, I don't want creditors and I call them predators to come after my assets when I transfer them to my children. And I don't want fights in my family, I want to pass things on, I don't want to maintain the cordiality between my children. And then, you know, they want to pass this on. They want a legacy they want to pass on their wisdom and stories. And they don't want to taint by anything that happens after that after their passing. And, you know, it's instrumental that we do this. In fact, one of the reasons that I entered estate planning, yes, it's because of my grandfather. But it's also because of my three beautiful kids that God blessed me with. I want to make sure that whatever I work hard for when I pass it on to them, that it's a blessing to them. And it's not a curse. And I do what I do because they're important to me. And I'm showing love. I'm showing love to your family when you come to sit in front of me for a state planning and I'm showing love to my children so that I'm passing on the legacy that I'm that I'm building on while I'm alive. And so, when somebody come in front of me and ask them what's important to you, what's valuable to you, many people, if you look at how they work, you may think their finances are valuable to them. But most of the people that you speak to will say my family, my home, my friends, those are the things that are valuable to me. My value is what I pass on my skills by relationships, and estate planning helps you to foster that, and help to make sure that when somebody remembers you, they're remembering who you are, as opposed to all the strife and all the turmoil that happened after you pass or if you get sick.
I want to talk first about why some estate plans fail. And why it's important to get a trusted person to help you with your estate planning. Many estate plans fail because of bad documents. And many people think you can just go online, I'm going to pull some things up. And I'm going to write my estate plan. But just like how you're not the same, I'm not the same as you we're all unique person, we cannot assume that your estate plan fits mine. It's not a one size fits all kind of situation, because we're all individuals. So, you see as planning, SSD plans fail because of poor documents, sometimes they did not have nursing home protection. So, you're like, okay, I'm going to own my property tenants in common with my wife, I don't need any planning, then you get sick, you have a stroke, you end up in a nursing home and guess what you just did. All your assets are now subject for reclaim, or you may have to liquefy your assets before you can qualify for Medicaid to help you with those nursing home costs. And then you have another situation you they may say, oh, I have my planning. I have my trust, I have my will and then you ask them what's in your trust, and you'll find out that their trust was not funded. And always say that a trust that's not funded is as good as a pen without ink. It's useless.
So, you must fund the trust. Otherwise, you have just a piece of paper.
Explain to us what funding the trustee means.
Okay. So, I'm going to I'm going to talk about what funding a trust is. But first, I want to give you an example of what a typical Houstonian family aren't just American together. So, to use this example, I'm going to use the Joneses. And so, we have meet the Joneses. You have Bill and Mary. They have two children, John, and Susan, and you know, their happy, wonderful couple, and they decide that they're going to retire. Bill says I'm going to jump back I'm going to try to get back my 40-year-old body, I'm going to go to the gym, I'm going to start doing everything that I did not get to do while I was working that nine to five. And so, you know, they have this situation they can do one of two things when it comes to their estate plan. They can say I'm not going to do an estate plan. I'm going to die what you may hear of intestate. I'm going to spend every dollar I have and when I go out, you're going to know that I'm well worn out. You're going to see it in my class. Right? That's one option that you can make, and that's called Dying intestate. Another one is putting it in tenants in common with somebody they may put it tenants in common with a child and it's in common with a spouse. But what happens after you pass what happens after the spouse pass? The entire estate is subject for reclaim is subject to be like liquidated. Some people create a simple will. It's called a love note will I leave everything to my husband, my husband needs everything to me. But that doesn't avoid probate. It doesn't do nursing home planning. You don't you don't have your powers of attorney you don't have your medical power of attorney. Even if you leave it to your wife. If you're in the hospital and someone needs to decide for you financially guess what she can't? Because she's not your power of attorney. She can't. Because you didn't do a proper estate plan.
So, the power of attorney is part of the state. Yes, yes. And that and that's important. And if, you know, I noticed, my mom was in hospital and they were do she was asking, do you want to resuscitate? And I'm saying, Yeah, we want to resuscitate. And they were sitting, she was sitting. So, I don't know if I want to do that. I told the guys where you need to sit down and sign these documents for that. But I guess if you're doing an estate, you would put that in, you know, how you want your medical to be handled?
Exactly, and what even gets more tenuous in my field, a lot of people are getting a divorce, some people pass midway through the divorce, Oh, wow. And guess who gets the chance to make those medical decisions for you, or those decision about what happened to your remains that spouse that you were just trying to divorce. So, like you win in the lottery, you got to split that up, it's worse than that, because you can split up to $200 million, and not feel it. But guess what, when you pass and that divorce spouse, that you just said those nasty things about, you get to claim your body and decide, I'm not going to bury you with dignity. I'm just going to make you ashes, save on the money, and I'm going to take it.
Or I'm going to exclude your family from your funeral. Make sure that the wife or the husband has the paramount right to your remains when you pass. And so, if you don't do an estate plan to make sure that that doesn't happen. I've seen a whole lot of horror stories. And that's why I say estate planning is for the living, you must do it while you're alive. You cannot leave it for when you pass, you must do it now. Okay. And so, you know, those are some of the things so with go back to my example, Bill and Mary, they're saying, okay, I'm just going to, I'm not going to have a wheel, I'm just going to leave everything, take care of everything. Then Bill has a stroke. He is incapacitated for a while he goes into the hospital. His wife wants to pay simple things like paying the mortgage, whatever, guess what, she can't do those things. Because Bill used to do those things. Everything is in Bill's name. Bill is now incapacitated; she must go to the court to get a to get a guardianship over bill or what's called a living probate. If you've ever been through a live in probate, it can be one of the most humiliating situations, you must disclose what's wrong with Bill to the extent of everything, why he needs it. He's drooling, he has whatever, whatever kind of situation and this is public knowledge. So now, your private life is out there for the open, you have to tell the court how much money Bill has in the account, every little thing and so you have no privacy, it's humiliating for that person sitting, laying there in the hospital room, when if you had done a little bit of sad plan, you could have saved yourself those weeks or months in the in the in the courtroom instead of being in the hospital by your loved one side. So that's the living probate situation, okay, saying that situation where bill doesn't have a Will he passes away, then you must have death probate at that time, you must go back to court, she was just in court, trying to get the guardianship over bill. But now she must go back because she must probate his estate. Okay. Probate is expensive. It takes time, it means that you cannot get to the assets to take care of the affairs. And while you're waiting for court to decide you can't make any financial decisions over here to even take care of that person's estate. Until you get that court order. If you had set up a proper estate plan, you don't have to even go to court in the first place. Nobody must know the extent of the estate, the creditors, nobody has known what you have in your estate.
So, the excuse me for interrupting but the creditors once it's in the trust. The creditors don't get to know what's in the trust?
The creditors don't have to know what's in your trust. Okay. And if you are married, once you pass if you have one when you're alive, that trust was revocable, but when you pass your trust is now irrevocable. And if you're married, a portion of that trust is covered entirely, because that's the wife's community estate. And then within that trust, you have credit protection. You even can set it up where you have a remote Marriage Protection so that you’re a portion of the community property doesn't end up in another man's or another woman's purse if when your spouse passes, it happens all the time. It happens all the time, all the time. It happens all the time. And so, so in in our situation, these are the big words, the wife, the spouse remarries. If Mary remarries without a will guess what her new husband's family can now make a claim against the hard work that Bill did when he was alive. So that's what lack of estate planning does. And then you have Ralph, you know, we're going to introduce Ralph in this picture. Ralph sees Mary, he's like, wow, you know, his wife just passed, he didn't have an estate plan, she ended up in the nursing home and wiped out all their family's estate. Okay, so now he's looking at Mary, you know, they had a $700,000 estate, Mary is no single bill is out the picture. And now he sees a meal ticket without an estate plan her entire estate unless, unless she is very clever, will now become co-mingled with Ralph, and be subjected to Ralph's children. With his that's not even Bill's children come in to make a claim against mill bill and Mary's estate. That's how messy dying intestate can look. And so, you know, when you are doing estate planning, you can plan to keep things in your estate, you can plan to make sure that your legacy goes on from generation to generation. And if that's important to you, then you need an estate plan. So, you know, you can even have protection from nursing home cost within your estate plan if you do a trust. And if you, do it early, and if you do a Medicaid trust, you can make sure that your assets do not get attached for Medicaid claim, you can make sure that your assets within the trust do not get counted towards your assets when you're filing for Medicaid.
So, if I have a will, they can steal.
Yes, as simple as a simple will, is better than nothing, but it's almost nothing.
Because I've been telling you guys, I got to get a will. Yeah, I got to get a will. And I knew how California did with their trucks. But I'm what I'm learning from you, Megone, is that the same rules almost the same here in Texas with a trust.
That trust if not all trusts are the same. Okay? Every just as how you have many colors of the rainbow, you can set up your trust, just the same I trust is a unique instrument that that a crafty attorney can craft just for you. If you have if you have a child with special needs, you need a special needs trust. Well, if you have a situation where in you know from your family history, you're going to need nursing home care, and you're safe 4746 Whatever. And you come to an estate planning attorney, they can look to the future and plan just for you. So that when you reach those crossroads, you can qualify for Medicaid, you don't have to. You don't have to liquidate all your assets. You don't have to disinherit your whole family because you know that you're going to need those nursing home care. If you have a kid that's on drugs that you still want to make sure is taken care of. You can make a specialized trust for that. Not all trusts are the same. That's why you can't just go online and download a trust. Does it work for you? So, we have the same situation, Bill and Mary. This time, you know, Mary, bill dies. Now Mary's married to Ralph, and you know she has a $700,000 estate and she develops Alzheimer's. Now she needs to go in the nursing home. They didn't want to state plan. No, the entire estate is subject to being liquefied again. And in this situation. Mary didn't have her powers of attorney setup. And so now she has to go back to court when she when her Alzheimer's progressed to a situation where she needs a garden. Now she must choose between her two children, one of them live out of state, the other one has a drinking problem. Guess what, even though the daughter who lives out of state is well put together she has the education. Her son, who is the drunkard that lives locally, will be looked at seriously for her guardian. And that those are the kind of situation that happens when you failed. plan, because as I say, estate planning is for the living so. So, you have a situation where in Mary passes after a while her husband passes, the entire estate is now open for these two children. One of them have drinking intro problem the other one has, while she's all put together educationally and professionally, she has a bad marriage. So now she has a situation where in half of Bill and Mary's estate is going to be going to their daughter, this is now not protected from a divorce claim from her husband. And then you have of son on the other side.