My sister and I are widows. We've banked at the same place for many years. Last week, the bank manager approached us and asked to help us review our financial situations and our wills. In the course of our visit (we have no secrets from each other), it was recommended that we each set up a trust to cover us in case of some incapacity. Naturally, the manager suggested that the bank would set them up and administer them for its usual fee. She also offered us the possibility for each to be the other's trustee jointly with the bank. This sounds like a big sales pitch to get additional business. However, it did awaken us to the need to be able to access each other's assets in case of an emergency. Is there not some less-expensive and less-complicated way that we can do this?
What Harry says: Most ofcoursely! The trusts that she suggested are not only costly, but also a darned nuisance to set up. The assets assigned to the trusts will have to be retitled to the trusts. Depending on what you have, this could consume a lot of time. My suggestion is to give each other a general power of attorney over the assets of the other sister. This will accomplish your objectives perfectly. An attorney will be able to do it for you at a very reasonable cost and with far fewer complications on your part.
And you're both better equipped than the bank to make decisions for each other.
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood: Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.