Free estate planning seminar series in Fortuna

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

An overview of wills, trusts and bequests were discussed at the first in a series of workshops held at Fortuna's River Lodge earlier this week. A crowd of 25 community members gathered to hear a "planning your estate" presentation from Eureka attorney James "Butch" Poovey.

Reasons for doing advance estate planning include ensuring your property goes to who you intend, minimizing taxes, and minimizing disputes, Poovey explained.

He talked in detail about two different estate planning processes: having a will and going through probate, and establishing a living trust. He pointed out that there are advantages and disadvantages to both avenues.

With any estate planning, Poovey urged those in the audience to work with an attorney. "People will do things on their own because it is cheaper and they want to avoid talking to lawyers," he said, "but you run the risk of messing it up and when happens, you go to court to get it straightened out and it really gets expensive."

"The main advantage of a living trust is to avoid probate," Poovey said, "and it may transfer property to heirs faster." The disadvantage is that a living trust is a private document, so no court approval is required. "Take the time to pick a good trustee," Poovey said, "because when you are gone, they are in charge of carrying out your wishes."

Having a will and going through probate requires court approval for dispersal of property. "Probate takes a minimum of six months," Poovey said, "and in many cases, several additional months." Disadvantages include the cost associated with the process, and that the probate process is public record."

He recommends a review and updating of any estate planning documents every five to seven years, to reflect any changes that may have taken place.

Two other free workshops are planned, one Nov. 5 on charitable gift strategies, and one on Nov. 12 on advanced health care directives, conservatorships, and power of attorney over assets. Both will take place at the River Lodge in Fortuna, with a welcome at 4:45 p.m. and the presentation starting at 5 p.m.

The workshop series is sponsored by The St. Joseph Hospital and Redwood Memorial Hospital Foundations. "Some people think that the future will take care of itself," said Paul McGinty, Executive Director of the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation. "Thinking about the future now is important to ensure that your intentions are followed," he added. The workshop series is designed to help people in our community understand best estate planning practices and evaluate their own estate.

To make reservations for the upcoming workshops, call 269-4205.

photo caption:

Photos by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Eureka attorney James "Butch" Poovey presented the workshop. Poovey is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law.