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How to Protect Your Assets: Law Offices of Davis R. Zellmer

A wise man once said, “There is a time for every season under the sun. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which was planted.”

Another wise man said, “A living trust is key in protecting your family from financial devastation after the loss of a loved one or in the event of incapacitation.”

Here are some helpful tips from local attorney Davis R. Zellmer to help you protect your property and ensure your family’s future well-being.

Transferring Assets to Young People

Protecting property for certain beneficiaries is key, especially when you have equity in your home, life insurance policies, and retirement policies in place.

“You want to make sure that your living trust has certain provisions for young people,” Zellmer said. “I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust an 18-year-old with, say, $100,000 because that money will be gone by the time they’re 19.”

Indeed, it’s a common trend for younger people to spend money rather than save. It’s a very good idea to establish a trust to protect that property from young beneficiaries spending it improperly, according to Zellmer. At the Law Offices of Davis R. Zellmer, you can draft a trust package that will assign a trustee you believe will do the right thing when it comes to protecting your assets.

Nomination of Guardianship

It’s critical to decide who will look after your kids when you’re gone. Some people don’t necessarily want close relatives to look after their kids in the event of an untimely passing; they’d rather have them live in a household with a friend or “cool uncle”—someone they trust.

“But that person might not have first priority by default, so we want to establish that first priority by setting up those [nomination of guardianship] forms,” Zellmer said.

Managing Assets in the Case of Incapacitation

Zellmer says it is important to assign a person to act as a controlling manager of family assets in the event of a person’s incapacity. Whether it be temporary incapacity after a car accident or permanent incapacity from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, it is crucial you have an organized trust package with an included durable power of attorney and an advanced healthcare directive in place.

“I have, unfortunately, seen circumstances where a home will go into foreclosure because you don’t have access to these individuals’ finances. So I create documents with the idea in mind that if you can’t make a health decision yourself, you assign somebody else, who you trust, to take care of those matters for you.”

Avoiding Probate

Probate is the extensive legal process that goes into verifying someone’s will. Establish a comprehensive trust package at the Law Offices of Davis R. Zellmer, and you will take steps towards ensuring that you or your family don’t have to bear unnecessary legal and financial burdens down the road.

“It’s what 99 percent of people come to me for, to avoid probate,” Zellmer said. “It’s an extensive process; the average time of probate now is 18 months to 24 months, easily. It’s extremely costly and it causes a significant delay in transferring assets, contrasted in what can be done through a trust in only six to nine months.”

Avoiding a Will Contest

Many families have experienced the unfortunate situation where friends or relatives turn on each other quickly due to financial matters. One of the aspects that Davis Zellmer incorporates into his trust documents unless it’s expressly rejected by the client, is a no-contest provision.

“Basically what it says is, that if your children fight over assets and take each other to court and argue, ‘I should’ve gotten more, or the other person should have gotten less,’ [the no-contest provision] will discourage that person from contesting a will in court by saying, if you do challenge—you get nothing,” Zellmer said.

Ensuring Privacy

If you go to probate, Zellmer says, nothing is private. It’s all public record, so your whole estate gets put on the chopping block for everyone to see. Because a trust is non-judicial in nature, the plans for your assets are for your eyes only and only the trusted beneficiaries are a part of the process.


The most important precaution you can take for you and your family is to have a trust package.

“Everyone should have this included in a living trust: a will, or pour-over will, durable power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, HIPPA release forms, and grant deeds—all these are necessary and included in my trust packages,” Zellmer said. “Funding the trust is key in making sure that it’s done correctly and all the key components are in place in the event of unfortunate circumstances.”

This article is not to be interpreted as legal advice as each situation is different, please consult the attorney directly for your particular case. To book your consultation with Davis Zellmer, call (562) 760-1630


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