Estate Planning Sans Rubber Chicken Dinner

There are advantages to wills and there are advantages to trusts—whether they are advantageous to you depends on your circumstances. I am not a big fan of the guys who go to the Ramada Inn, give you a rubber chicken dinner and then make you listen to a two-hour commercial to get a trust.  Those sales pitches have been sitting under a heat lamp and you may be better off with estate planning made to order. A Will is a written direction controlling the disposition of your property at death. A Trust can be part of a Will, but can handle only the property that is put into it. In some cases, depending on the size of the estate, tax implications, and your wishes, probate-avoidance methods (including Trusts and Pre-Death Distributions) are appropriate.  However, do not let anyone scare you to death into purchasing an estate-planning package at a hotel ballroom seminar. Not everybody needs a trust and not everybody needs a will.  Seek competent legal counsel to discuss your circumstances to make a plan that best suits your intentions.   Read More

Osmosis & Uniform Commercial Code

Osmosis is the transfer of gas or fluids through a semi-permeable membrane—oxygen passes through capillary walls to mix with blood, thereby oxygenating the blood.  Our bodies depend on osmosis, and some business transactions follow that organic model with the Uniform Commercial Code. The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a comprehensive code addressing most aspects of commercial law.  First published in 1952, its purpose is to help commerce flow smoothly.  In real estate, if the note is transferred properly, then the mortgage automatically follows the note according to the UCC.  However, the UCC was designed as a set of default provisions in the absence of a contract. In the survival of the fittest, banks sometimes overlook the trust documents that govern what a trust can and cannot hold.  A trust document, a contract, trumps the UCC.  If the trust document says the trust cannot hold the note, then the trust cannot hold the note.  In the presence of such a contract, that contract overrides the osmosis of UCC. Osmosis is vital to life, and a contract is a significant part of real estate transactions. Read More