You are listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.
Host Steve O and Angela continue last week’s discussion about the benefits of estate planning.
Some of the topics they dig into this week are:
- How and why to ask your parents to get an estate plan before it’s too late
- The differences between a will, a living will and a living trust
- What happens if a will is contested? How can that be avoided?
- Some of the things you want to avoid that can create an estate planning nightmare
Speaker 1 (00:02)
You’re listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 Wwdbam with weekly guest LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo. Host Steve and Angela continue last week’s discussion about the benefits of estate planning. Some of the topics they dig into this week are how and why to ask your parents to get an estate plan before it’s too late. The difference is between a will, a living will and a living trust. What happens if a will is contested and how can that be avoided? And finally, some of the things you want to avoid that can create an estate planning nightmare.
Speaker 2 (00:47)
Hey, good morning, Philadelphia. Our guest, our expert who comes on with us every Tuesday morning at 10:00, is in Jamaica.
Speaker 3 (01:01)
Good morning. It’s so bright here, I couldn’t see the screen.
Speaker 2 (01:08)
Wow. You’re in Jamaica. Where? In Jamaica?
Speaker 3 (01:12)
It’s inland, like the beach is about 6 miles away. Not quite sure. We flew into Montego Bay and it’s just beautiful where I am. That’s all I know.
Speaker 2 (01:23)
I’ve been to Jamaica. It’s a beautiful country. Wow. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning, Miss Angela Giampolo, our attorney, our LGBTQ law attorney. And you know what you do estate planning, which we’re going to be talking about today. We’re going to actually pick up from last week.
Speaker 3 (01:47)
Right. We did.
Speaker 2 (01:50)
You do employment law and you do real estate law. But today we’re talking about estate planning. And you know what? I don’t know how hard Angela would know this. How hard is it to tell your parents, to remind them to make sure that they have an estate planning?
Speaker 3 (02:13)
It’s getting easier and easier, but it’s still something that’s taboo for most older generations to talk about or to want to talk about. Especially within different cultures, that conversation gets harder and harder. So depending on age, depending on culture, depending on how the family feels about the transparency of discussing money, depending on family tensions, it depends ultimately on all of those factors. But I will say that as the newer generations are getting older and older, it’s a much more obvious conversation to have. I feel like, because so much of what the millennials and Gen Zers have is totally electronic, cryptocurrency is becoming more and more adopted. And so doing estate planning around all things that you can’t see except for the home that you live in, you kind of need to talk to people about that. But the people that are currently 90, 80, 70, 60, even between 50 and 60. And again, depending on the culture, it can be hard to just flat out and a lot of kids or the children of the parents don’t feel as though it’s their place because of the culture. Why am I asking my parents if they did their estate planning?
Speaker 3 (03:46)
It almost feels like that I’m telling that I expect an inheritance or something. And it’s not that. It’s just like the parent could leave a mess. Ultimately, and as the child, you’ll be left to clean it up. And so what kind of mess are you going to have if there is no planning or if there is planning? Who’s the lawyer? Who do I reach out to? Those are all things that the adult children should know about that you’re actually doing your parents a favor.
Speaker 2 (04:19)
Though, by bringing it up to them because you can’t. I mean, I assume that everybody has a plan.
Speaker 3 (04:26)
Agreed. Absolutely. People just don’t. Again, it depends on the culture you were raised with. My mother would be absolutely fine to ask that question with no sort of side eye glance of what do you mean? That’s under your business and it’s all taken care of. Stay in your lane. Don’t overstep. These are all things that parents of a certain age will say. And in my opinion, if they say those things, that’s a flag that they don’t have it.
Speaker 2 (04:59)
Well, I got to tell you what I’ve learned about Angela, and I think this is so important because when it comes to it, you’ve really taught me a lot about estate planning. It doesn’t mean you have to have an estate, that it is so important that you sit down with someone who really knows what they’re talking about and is easy to talk to, who’s not going to talk over their head. And Angela, I got to tell you, you hit that mold so well, I would think it’s just a pleasure for somebody to sit down and talk to you about planning because you’re so intelligent. You’ve seen so much.
Speaker 3 (05:50)
It’s helpful that I’m passionate about the topic for sure. When you just do something for a living in order to generate a paycheck, if you will, then that’s a job. It’s like, okay, this is what I do. I’m a doctor or I make rugs, or I do this. But when you’re passionate about the service that you provide and you’re willing to dive deep, and that’s what I do with my clients. And I become a lawyer for life. I had an estate planning first consultation first meeting last Saturday with a new couple out in New Hope, and maybe 20 minutes in, he’s like, I don’t know if this is relevant, but we just moved here, and I was sued previously. It’s still ongoing, and we’re worried about assets and asset protection. And I’m like, yes, that’s definitely something that you want to bring up. But it was through the open dialogue and being willing to discuss anything and everything and them not feeling on the meter because they charge all flat fee, no hourly rates. So if we sit and talk for 2 hours, your bill is not anymore. If we meet five times, your bill is not anymore.
Speaker 3 (07:13)
But from that meeting, I then call the contact of mine at State Farm to figure out if their umbrella policy would cover them and pay for the private attorney that they were paying for, call the Bucks County registered deeds to get their deed to look at the deed and see if they own it the way that they should own it for creditor protection. And so that one meeting led to about 3 hours worth of things that had nothing to do with estate planning. It had to do with asset protection. But ultimately, as their new estate planning attorney I’m not charging them for that. So holistically really coming at my clients and all of their needs that stem from the estate planning process.
Speaker 2 (08:03)
Ultimately, I hope I don’t get in trouble by saying this, but I really, from my heart, really believe this because you have done a lot of things in your life, and you also, before you were in Philadelphia and you are representing the LGBTQ community, you always like for the underdog you are. I mean, I hope that you understand what I’m saying. I mean, you really got a heart to help people.
Speaker 3 (08:38)
Yeah. My favorite T shirt growing up. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog. So I thought I was going to be an international human rights lawyer and lived in Tanzania and worked at the war crimes tribunal for the Rwandan genocide that took place there and lived in Beijing and worked in human trafficking for a while and then just realized that that’s really not the route that I wanted to go long term. And so living in the US, especially going on 15 years ago, because it’s even true. It’s just as true now. But 15 years ago, the fight that I was most aligned with was that of the LGBTQ community in the United States. So for a minute there in 2016, I thought things were going to get better and I could look to internationally for LGBTQ rights. But it’s still very much an issue right here in the United States.
Speaker 2 (09:39)
So last week, we left off, we were getting ready to start talking about a living trust. And I think there’s a difference between a will and a living trust. Why don’t you explain that to everybody?
Speaker 3 (09:53)
And then there’s a difference between a living will. So you have the will, the living will, and the living trust. And people get them confused all the time. And without fail. They call me asking for living will because it has the word will in it. But the living will is a healthcare document, and that is your DNR document. So it’s completely unrelated to the will or the living trust. It’s in the healthcare section of the documents. The reason they call it your living will is you’re technically alive. But we’re about to be reading your last will and testament like you’ve been certified to be end stage. So you’re living, but you’re permanently unconscious, irreversible, coma, irreversible vegetative state, but the body itself is technically alive. So calling that the DNR document or some other document, other than living will would be less confusing, but definitely a lot of people get that confused. So the last will and testament, everybody needs a last will and testament. It’s the only document that can ever appoint your executor. And everybody in the country needs the will. Not everybody needs a living trust, but I would say about 80% to 75% of people need a living Trust.
Speaker 3 (11:09)
So that combo, your last will and testament, the only document that can nominate an executor and or a Guardian of your children. If you have children, there’s no other way. You need a will to do those things. And then we call the last will and testament. The Titanic and the Revocable Living Trust. Or the Living Trust is the speedboat. Right. So you need the Titanic. It’s there. It’s draconian. We really don’t want to have to look at it other than to figure out who you appointed as your executor. Then once we figure that out, then we want to look to the Living Trust and administer the rest of your state through that.
Speaker 2 (11:49)
So a Revocable Living Trust is usually good for when you have property.
Speaker 3 (11:57)
Yeah. So the Revocable Living Trust real estate. When you say property, real property, real estate. And there are financial products that we can also put in there. Basically, retirement accounts are a no no. So the only thing that should not be in the name of the Revocable Living Trust are retirement accounts, 401 KS, IRAs. But real estate. This is a true estate on 3000 acres. This is a legit estate. But real estate 3000 years ago, I’m sorry, 2300 years ago, when the founding fathers created the United States, they were focused on the inalienable. Right. Town land. Right. And that’s what this country was founded on. So the laws are very much bifurcated between when you die, do you own real estate or do you not? And real estate must go through the probate process. And we want to avoid the probate process. So our financial advisors help us avoid the probate process. Except for when we own real estate, there’s nothing they can do. There’s no beneficiary designation form to real estate. So the only way for your real estate, your home, whether it’s worth $60,000 or $6 million, the way for real estate to avoid the probate process is to retitle it in the name of the Revocable Living Trust.
Speaker 2 (13:27)
Okay. What is a will contest?
Speaker 3 (13:34)
One more thing I’ll say before we get to will contest. One more thing I’ll say on Revocable Living Trust is also 300 years ago when our founding fathers were writing the laws, which have changed very little. So the reason why they’re draconian and sort of annoying is because they have not been updated basically since the founding of this country. But they also never thought their horse and buggy would be able to get from Pennsylvania all the way to Arizona. Right. Or let alone Jamaica, or if you own property in France and whatnot. So within the United States, if you own in Pennsylvania, there’s a lot of people who own real estate in New Jersey. I own a place in Asbury Park. So if you own real estate in multiple states, not only do you have to go through the probate process in the state in which you live in because you own real estate, but because you own real estate in all of those states, you have to go through the probate process in those states. So I just met with a client, and she just moved back here. And she owns a house in Philadelphia.
Speaker 3 (14:49)
And then she just bought a lake house last year in Illinois. And then she bought a condo for her mother in Kansas. And so this woman unbeknownst to her, right. All she did was buy a second home and then bought out her mom’s condo so her mom could live in it for the rest of her life and not worry about it. So she just made a couple of financial moves while interest rates were low. And whatnot complete estate planning nightmare. She created multi state probate in all of those states. Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas. The house is in her name, but she means for it to go to her mother. But she’s got nothing in writing saying that. So a couple of financial moves in about a year and a half, she created an estate planning nightmare and a situation where her mother wouldn’t have her home anymore. So in one estate planning meeting, we were able to identify that. And then revocable living Trust is let’s just pretend my AirPod case is the Revocable Living Trust, and this is the Kansas property. We put that in the Revocable Living Trust. Then this is the Illinois property.
Speaker 3 (16:03)
We put that in the Revocable Living Trust, and then boom, it’s a Pennsylvania Revocable Living Trust. And so when she passes away, does she own real estate in these other states? Absolutely. But I look at the deed of that Kansas house, and the deed says the Revocable living trust of Angela Giampolo. Okay, I look at the Revocable Living Trust, and it’s covered under Pennsylvania law. So I don’t own real estate in Kansas. I own real estate in Pennsylvania because it’s inside. And this is in Pennsylvania.
Speaker 2 (16:37)
So I wanted to go into about a will contest.
Speaker 3 (16:43)
Well, with a will contest itself within the LGBTQ community, we have more will contests than any other group of person. Prior to marriage equality, 47% of wills were contested. Very high percentage of LGBTQ individuals. Wills were contested because family who otherwise would have inherited didn’t inherit because this person, who they were technically unmarried to and in the eyes of the family, especially if they’re homophobic, was a legal stranger and they didn’t recognize that person as someone that their brother or their son or whomever was in a committed relationship with for 44 years and would have married them had they had the opportunity. So prior to marriage equality, Revocable Living Trusts were an additional tool that we used in addition to the will in order to prevent will contest. The two main reasons that someone can initiate or institute a will contest is undue influence, right? Like the person getting everything put undue influence or duress on my brother or on my son. And that’s why he left everything to him. He was under influence. So that’s one claim that the family can make, and then the other one is he forgot me, he literally forgot us.
Speaker 3 (18:25)
So two things. One that you can do within side, the last will and testament is actually name them, right? So you actually name them and say, for this, my last will and testament, Steve, Angela, Rosa, Linda, I love them dearly and they have sufficient funds for themselves and I do not leave any monetary interest to them in this, my last will and testament. So you literally name them and say they do well for themselves and I’m not leaving them anything. And if you think about your average straight couple, they don’t have to do that, right? It’s just like they’re married, they have kids, and of course they wouldn’t think about their brother when they have a spouse. So it’s a very delegitimizing line of thinking that as a gay person, we should leave everything to our family. But the other sort of more harsh thing that you can do inside your will is called a predeceased clause. And a predeceased clause is literally for this last will and testament, Steve and Angela have predeceased me. They’re dead to me. Alright, so that’s a little harsher. But if there’s active hostility and the family is homophobic, then that is a very good tool.
Speaker 3 (19:56)
I didn’t forget you, actually. I know you’re alive, but you are dead to me. So pretty harsh. Not a lot of people want to do it. There has to be a lot of hostility and like a high threat of a will contest to want to do that. A third thing that you can do is put in a will contest clause. Now, will contest clauses are not as helpful as a lot of people think. Like, right away people are like, I want to put a will contest clause in my will. And I said, well, for who? Steve and Angela, they’re the worst if they try to sue and contest this will, I want a will contest clause to prevent them from doing that. And then my next question is, how much are you leaving Steve and Angela? Well, nothing. They’re the worst. I’m not leaving them anything. Well, will contest clause only helps you if you leave someone a sizeable amount. So in other words, it’s like Scrabble. Okay, so if we’re playing Scrabble and I don’t think that your word is a word like the UK and weren’t doing acronyms or something. And I’m like the UK is not a word that’s United Kingdom and whatever.
Speaker 3 (21:07)
And I challenge you. Right. And I put forth a challenge. And then we pull, everything stops. And we go get the Webster and everybody’s silent and we’re like, oh, what’s going to happen? And there’s a challenge on the floor. If you lose that challenge, you lose a turn, right. If you challenge someone in Scrabble, you lose your turn. So in a will contest clause, if you contest a will and you lose, you lose what you stood to inherit. So the idea behind a will contest clause is that you leave them something sizable, you leave them $50,000, you leave them something where it’s not going to break your bank. But $50,000 is about the legal fees and a will contest clause. So that’s a good number that we always think of. So minus a Revocable Living Trust, those are the three things that you can do inside of your will contest or inside of your last will and testament. Rather, to avoid a will contest. And that is again, to have a predeceased clause, you are dead to me clause to just mention everyone and literally blatantly, say, I love you and I’m not leaving you anything because you’re fine in life.
Speaker 3 (22:16)
But, you know, I want to acknowledge that I love you in my last will and testament. And then third, a will contest clause. But you have to leave them something worth not losing. Okay. The sort of way to avoid a will contest clause altogether is with a Revocable Living Trust. Imagine that you’re again, going to use my AirPods. Very helpful for those listening and who can’t see, imagine that you’re on an island. Okay. And a will contest rather, to protect yourself from that. Your last will and testament. To protect that, the Revocable Living Trust creates a moat around your castle. Okay. So you have a castle and you create a moat around the castle, making it that’s the whole point of moats is making it very difficult for the outside to come in and attack inside the castle. Right. So Revocable Living Trust, the court is going to look at that estate plan and say, wow, they not only left everything to Brian, Joe not only left everything to Brian in his last will and testament, but he also created a Revocable Living Trust around his last will and testament and named the successor trustee as him.
Speaker 3 (23:56)
He did it twice. He didn’t just randomly and there’s additional cost to Revocable Living Trust. So he took this extra step. He was willing to pay this extra amount of money. And the Revocable Living Trust is much harder to break. And again in Philadelphia, we have the Barnes Museum on Museum row there. And his trust was broken. And I will never walk into the Barnes Foundation Museum because it is as a trust in a state’s attorney, the most atrocious example of breaking someone’s trust into and completely obliterating. It like throwing a nuclear bomb into Mr. Barnes’ trust but it is very hard to do and like Mr. Barnes you’ll probably have to have like 1000 monetize and Renoirs for people to want to break into that trust.
Speaker 2 (24:49)
Yeah we got to get out of here. Give everybody your phone number.
Speaker 3 (24:53)
Oh wow that went by fast 30 minutes.
Speaker 2 (24:55)
God fast 30 minutes. Give everybody your phone number.
Speaker 3 (24:59)
Speaker 2 (25:01)
Good news is Angela will be back with us again at 10:00 next Tuesday and I won’t be in Jamaica.
Speaker 3 (25:13)
What is your website Angela? giampolo.com and I [email protected]
Speaker 2 (25:19)
Okay we’ll see you next Tuesday.
Speaker 1 (25:22)
Be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. When Angela Giampoplo the guest on Ask the Experts on 860 wwdbam and [email protected]