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Morrison Law: quality guidance for estate planning


Last updated 9/19/2013 at Noon

Carl Morrison, owner of Morrison Law, reviews documents in his Bonsall office.

Carl Morrison is well-experienced in helping people in many areas concerning the law, with a special focus on estate planning and probate.

Morrison emphasized the importance of individuals identifying their assets and executing a plan to ensure that they will be efficiently distributed to the designated heirs. He said people who do not prepare a will or trust, may end up having complications resulting in family disputes and probate, which can elongate the process.

Morrison said a common misconception that many parents have is that their offspring will “figure it all out” after the parent(s) have passed away. Establishing a will or trust can easily clarify in advance how an individual or couple’s assets will be divided and among whom.

A former Marine who served for two decades, Morrison began his law school education at DePaul University in 1976. After retiring from the service, he created a public relations and environmental consulting firm, using his legal and public affairs background to help public agencies and private sector clients.

Fluent in Spanish as well, Morrison helps Latino clients understand the law, and therefore become more comfortable knowing their possessions will be passed down to their loved ones with ease.

Morrison agreed the Internet has a lot of helpful information including certain sites that offer basic documents and explanations regarding various legal processes. However, when it comes to the realm of estate planning, seeking a professional for legal counsel is a wise approach in order to make sure one’s assets will be directed to the appropriate parties.

“If one compares the costs of the documents from a website such as Legal Zoom to the cost an attorney would charge for those same estate planning documents, there is not much of a price difference,” explained Morrison.” He also noted that an estate attorney will make sure that the necessary paperwork gets filed properly and that all disclosed assets are protected within the trust. Morrison also mentioned that some forms are not available on such self-help sites. Some examples of documents involved in estate planning include: The trust, pour-over will, spousal property agreement, certificate of trust, powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, privacy act release, grant deed, and preliminary change of ownership forms.

“Clients don’t just send me a check and then I send back documents; there is a lot of counseling that goes on; that’s why they call it legal counsel,” said Morrison.

Morrison clarified that particular fundamentals in trusts are sometimes misunderstood. He explained that unless a client puts their house as well as a change of title into the trust, the trust will not be of its intended use. Assets such as investment and bank accounts must also name the trust as beneficiary. Also important to realize, is that an exhibit schedule (or Schedule A) is merely a list that is for convenience, not an official document that guarantees the proper placement of each asset.

Another commonly overlooked situation involves the transfer of ownership such as when a re-finance occurs. Many banks will ask that the property be taken out of the trust and temporarily put into the individual’s names, so that the loan process can be expedited. Unfortunately, sometimes failing to reinstate the trust as the beneficiary occurs.

Properties that aren’t protected by a trust can be subject to probate, which is a longer and sometimes expensive process. Morrison said at times it is possible to use a petition called Heggstad, which diminishes the time heirs or other recipients must wait for property to be allocated to them.

Having experience with many unique cases, Morrison urged that consulting a professional is especially important when there are second marriages or merged families involved, as there are understandably more components that factor into those situations. Often, he said, there are multiple accounts (bank, investment, retirement) appointed with different beneficiaries.

Morrison stressed that when it comes to their personal finances “People need to make sure that everything is very, very tight, and that all of your accounts have the trust named as the beneficiary.” Many of his clients consult his firm for amendments and periodic reviews as well.

When helping his business owner clients, he provides links to state websites which offer business templates. After the client creates their contracts, Morrison will view them and inform them of any necessary changes. Having substantial experience in business law, he is able to be fair to all parties involved and conducts a considerable amount of mediations and conflict resolutions.

Carl Morrison is experienced in not only estate planning, trust administration, conservatorships, probate, trust litigation, and business law, but also real estate issues such as landlord-tenant, and zoning and land-use planning.

He is also involved with the California Department of Water Resources, and volunteers his time as legal counsel for the California Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Morrison also volunteers as a mission pilot for search and rescue and counter drug operations.

Morrison Law is located in River Village Plaza, 5256 S. Mission Road, Suite 1010, Bonsall. Visit for valuable resources such as relevant articles, dictionaries for legal terminology, as well as website referrals. For more information, call Carl Morrison at (760) 724-9580 or email


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