By Dale Gribow

Last week we learned about Wills and that with a Holographic will you can write the Will in your own handwriting on a plain piece of paper….and it is legal. However it is probably not the best advice.

I also shared last week that my favorite saying was People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan! This goes for everything from a Will and a Health Care Directive to having the phone number of a plumber, electrician, doctor and attorney by your phone so that when you need to get help you do not have to look while you are panicked.

I am often asked: Do I Need Estate Planning? You do!


Age, gender, marriage or domestic partner/divorced; straight or gay we all want to take care of our loved ones at our death. However you must also take care to ensure your well-being throughout your life, in sickness and in health.

Do you have an Estate Plan? UNLESS YOU TAKE THE TIME now to prepare an estate plan then at your DEATH, what you have may not go to the people to whom you want it to go. Your estate could wind up in such a mess that neither you, during your life, nor your loved ones after your death, will be adequately taken care of. Without a will/trust the money will pass on by the Intestate laws of the State of California. I explained last week: If you had a classic car worth $1,000,000 and left it to son A and a million in cash and left it to son B and if the car was sold before you passed away, then the son that was to get the car would get nothing. This is because it was a Specific Bequest of the car not money.


1. KNOW where your testamentary documents are located: Where are the Wills, Trusts, Insurance Policies, Health Care Directives and Power of Attorney forms located? Know how to access them. If they are in a safe deposit box, do you know where it is located? Do you have access? Do you know where the key is located?

2. KNOW your professionals: Who are the attorneys who created these documents? Who are your accountants? Know how to access them so that you can seek their advice. Make a list with the name, address, phone number and email of your Lawyer, CPA, Stockbroker and Financial Advisor for starts.

3. KNOW where the documents concerning your properties are located: Know where the deeds to your properties are located, as well as the location of the purchase documents, escrow documents, loan and refinance documents. Your tax basis for these properties is an important piece of information and that can only be determined from these documents.

4. KNOW where your ownership certificates are, as well as other documents of acquisition and title, to personal property.

5. KNOW where your tax returns are and where the backup information for the current return is located.

6. KNOW the source of your income, whether it be retirement plan, 401(k) plans, Social Security, rental income, notes receivable, interest, dividends, annuities or other business income and know how to identify it.

7. KNOW where bank accounts are located and who the signatories are.

8. KNOW where the stockbrokerage accounts are as well as who your broker

9. KNOW where beneficiary designations for retirement accounts and insurance policies are located.

7 ALTERNATIVES TO PROBATE You should know about:

1. The Joint Tenancy Process: By holding various assets in joint tenancy, with right of survivorship, the asset will pass to the survivor upon the death of either, rather than by the Laws of Intestacy or the provisions of a Will. This is a good idea in some cases and not such a good idea in others.

2. Insurance: An insurance policy, naming the spouse as a beneficiary of the policy, will cause the proceeds to be paid to such spouse under the insurance contract without reference to a Will.

3. Retirement Funds: When you name a Beneficiary of your IRA, Keough or other retirement fund, it will cause the proceeds to be transferred to your named Beneficiary without the necessity of a Probate.

4. Community Property: Upon the death of a married person, all of the decedent’s community property may pass to the surviving spouse without full probate

5. Summary Proceeding: There are also means of setting aside Small Estates.

6. Pay on Death Accounts: Also, there are a number of types of bank accounts, such as “A POD account” (sometimes called a Trustee Account or a Totten Trust), which allows you to avoid the problems of both Probate and co-ownership.

7. The Living Trust: And, of course, the other way to avoid a Probate is by the use of a LIVING TRUST. I suggest all our Coachella Valley Weekly readers contact their attorney to look into this for your family. If you do not have one please call me at 760 341 4411.

Remember unless you want your estate plan to kick on right away. When you drink don’t get behind the wheel and be involved in an auto accident (whether it is your fault or not) or get arrested for a DUI…I don’t need the extra business….and you do not want your estate planning to take affect NOW.


If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow at 760 837-7500 or