Estate Planning

Our trust and estate lawyer can help you create and implement a comprehensive plan to manage your affairs during your lifetime and dispose of your assets in the manner that you desire after your death. Our estate planning practice is client-centered, with a focus on helping you achieve your goals during lifetime and at death in a tax-efficient manner.

We do not push pre-packaged kits or one-size-fits all plans onto our clients. Each estate plan is customized to take into account your unique asset profile and goals.

We represent clients from all walks of life, from wealthy individuals who need estate tax planning, to young families trying to provide for their children to baby boomers approaching retirement to seniors concerned with planning for the possibility of incapacity. Some of our clients have modest estates, others are very wealthy

How We Can Help You

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a process. It involves your family and other individuals and, in many cases, charitable organizations of your choice. It also involves your assets (your property) and the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take. And it addresses your future needs in case you ever become unable to care for yourself. Through estate planning, you can determine:

 

  • How and by whom your assets will be managed for your benefit during your lifetime if you ever become unable to manage them yourself.
  • When and under what circumstances it makes sense to distribute your assets during your lifetime.
  • How and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.
  • How and by whom your personal care will be managed and how health care decisions will be made during your lifetime if you become unable to care for yourself.

Many people mistakenly think that estate planning only involves the writing of a will. Estate planning, however, can also involve financial, tax, medical and business planning. A will is part of the planning process, but you will need other documents as well to fully address your estate planning needs.

Revocable Trusts

Revocable Trusts (also known as Living Trusts) have becoming an increasingly common and popular choice in estate planning in recent years because they offer a unique and smart way to protect your assets both while you are still capable of managing them and after you have passed away or fallen ill.

One of the main things a trust does is replace many of the functions of a will. The main advantage of a trust as opposed to a will is that it does not need to be filed in probate court, which allows individuals a greater degree of privacy as there is no public record of all the assets in their possession, and it saves the cost and time associated with probate, which can be considerable.

A revocable living trust is used so that individuals can put all of their property into a single location, allowing it to be distributed quickly and easily when the time comes for that process. Most people choose to name themselves as the trustee as long as they are alive and competent, which means that they retain control over their assets even though the trust owns the assets rather than the individual. Revocable trusts can be changed, altered, or even dissolved at the discretion of the person who creates them as long as they are competent, at any time, and for any reason. In this way, this type of trust offers the greatest degree of flexibility while providing the degree of protection and privacy desired by people considering a trust.

Estate Planning for Non-Citizen Spouses

The Internal Revenue Code provides for what is commonly known as the “marital deduction:” it allows a spouse to pass his or her estate to the surviving spouse without the property being taxed at the first spouse’s death. Rather, the tax is imposed when the other spouse dies.

A marital deduction will not be allowed for noncitizen spouses unless the assets passing to (or for the benefit of) the noncitizen spouse are placed in a Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT). If the assets are not placed in a QDOT by the time the federal estate tax is to be paid for the deceased spouse’s estate, then the entire amount will be subject to immediate tax.

Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust- sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” makes it possible to appoint a trustee to hold property for the benefit of your disabled child after you’re gone. A special needs trust provides for the needs of a disabled person without disqualifying him or her from benefits received from government programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Irrevocable Life Insturance Trust (ILIT)

The irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) provides an accessible means of avoiding estate taxes on life insurance proceeds. An ILIT offers the opportunity of escaping taxes not just in one estate, but in several estates. The ILIT is typically a trust for the benefit of the spouse and/or children. An life insurance policy that is placed in an ILIT is considered to have no owner. Thus, once placed in an ILIT, you do not have the power to change or cancel the life insurance policy.

If you already has a life insurance policy, ownership of the policy can be assigned (transferred) to the ILIT. This is done by signing an irrevocable assignment form available from the insurance company or from the agent. Proper completion of the form will indicate that the ILIT will be the new owner and the beneficiary.

Pet Trusts

People love their pets. Its a universal truth. We care for them throughout our lives, and often, we worry about what will happen to them if something were to happen to us. Fortunately, California recognizes the importance of providing for ones pet after our deaths. Many people choose to establish trusts to care for their pets during the pets lifetime. This can easily and validly be done under California Probate Code section 15212.

Likewise, for those who are committed to the well-being of animals, using estate planning tools, one can leave funds to various charitable organizations dedicated to the care of animals. This can be done immediately upon ones passing, or as a residuary beneficiary after your own pets life ends.

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About Us

We offer legal counsel and representation to individuals and businesses to satisfy all of their estate planning and business needs.We are dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals.