Lessons from the Kardashians: Keeping Up With Your Estate Plan

3 April 2015 lawreynold Articles

Who should be the “agent” to make healthcare decisions for Kris Jenner in “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”

Last week on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, 1.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the drama and excitement of the unconventionally famous reality TV show family. Viewers also received a free estate planning lesson from the family’s matriarch herself, Kris Jenner.

The ex-wife of Bruce Jenner and mother of the Kardashian clan were discussing Kris’ choice about who should be her agent under her Advance Healthcare Directive.  She confused things when she said she didn’t want Bruce Jenner to be her executor under her living will.  A “living will” is the old name for the part of the Advance Healthcare Directive that discusses end of life wishes and life support.  That term went away when the Natural Death Act was repealed about 15 years ago.  The term “living will” was so often confused with a “living trust” or a last “will” and testament that it was renamed.

Kim K

Then Kris mistakenly called the agent her “executor”.  The executor serves a financial role with regard to a person’s last will and testament.  What she really needed help with was deciding who would be the best person to make her healthcare decisions in the event of her incapacity.  Based on what I’ve seen so far of the family, I would recommend a private fiduciary.  That is a neutral third party who does this professionally.  She can afford it.  It allows her family to just be family at the end of her life, and not have to worry about whether the health care professionals are doing their job day to day.  Care managers are also a great help at this point.

Just as important is the person who serves to make your financial decisions upon your incapacity.  He/she is called your “attorney-in-fact” pursuant to your Durable Power of Attorney for Finances.  The person who serves to make your financial decisions in your trust is called your “trustee.”  Trusts are a great way to avoid probate for those who own a home or have more than $150,000 in California.

This Spring, as you are cleaning, planning, and keeping up with the Kardashians, don’t forget to keep up with your estate plan and plan for the security and protection of your loved ones. Start by educating yourself on the different roles and responsibilities of those involved in your estate plan with the diagram below- please pass on to Ms. Jenner!