Trusts - Our Revocable Living Trust packages allow our clients to choose the succession plan for control of their affairs, protection from death or estate taxes, as well as building a well thought out distribution plan to transfer their assets to their loved ones upon their death without a court-supervised Probate action.
In addition to the standard Revocable Living Trust plan, we can assist with customized trusts for minor children and Special Needs Trusts for individuals with disabilities. There are a variety of planning tools available to customize a plan for your individual needs.
Wills - A Will is a necessary part of modern-day estate planning. If you have limited assets, a Will may be all you need to insure your wishes are followed upon your death. If your estate contains more valuable assets, your Trust plan will still include a Pour-Over Will to insure that your trust plan will still succeed, even if Court intervention is needed.
Powers of Attorney - A Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management allows the appointment of an individual to step in on your behalf to manage your financial affairs during any period when you are unable to do so. This is a vital component of any estate plan.
Advance Health Care Directives - This document provides the piece of mind that every individual needs. The Directive allows you to name a health care decision maker to act on your behalf, if you are unable to make your own medical decisions, and guides that agent with your specific wishes for things like: organ donation, end-of-life wishes, religious preferences, and after death burial or cremation instructions. Every adult should have an Advance Health Care Directive.
Guardianship Nominations - If you have minor children, you need to know that you have selected the right person or persons to look after them with legal authority, should you pass away prior their adulthood. The Guardianship nominations allow you to do just that.
Trust Funding - Creating a Trust is a crucial step to creating an estate plan that will provide the right care and control for you and your family. But that plan is not complete until your trust has been funded. That means, once you create the trust, you will need to place your assets into the trust. This step is required for your trust to function properly and many attorneys fail to emphasize this or provide any instructions to their clients about how this is done. We will give you all the tools you need to succeed.
Elder-Focused Estate Planning
Traditional Estate Planning with emphasis on changing elder needs - Having a Trust, Will, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives are needed for all successful estate plans, including those for retirees and seniors. But for seniors, special care must be paid to select the right planning techniques to protect their wealth and provide custom legacy gifts for their loved ones. This may also include concerns about the role of Social Security, retirement income, Medicare and Medicaid. We work with seniors to limit exposure to creditors and insure they have access to all resources available to preserve their hard-earned wealth for their own use and for generations to come.
Incapacity Planning - As more of us live longer, we must consider that a time will come when we are unable to manage our own affairs. Incapacity planning allows seniors to select those who will provide their care, both financially and personally, and plan for ease of transition to allow those individuals to step in at the moment they are needed, but prevent them from overriding a senior's independence.
Burial Directives - A simple Burial Directive document will instruct your loved ones as to your wishes about a funeral or memorial service, your preference for the final disposition of your remains and details on any pre-paid services you have. Leaving behind these expressed wishes alleviates a tremendous amount of stress for your family as they grieve your passing.
Elder Abuse Protection - Creating a relationship with an estate planning attorney is an excellent way to help guard against elder abuse. This allows us to meet with you regularly and get to know you, information about your family, and any concerns you may have about the influence of those around you. We are clued in quickly when you request changes to your plan that are inconsistent with what we know about you or if there is a change in your mental status that could put you at risk. We have a network of resources to assist if we suspect physical, mental or financial abuse of a senior citizen.
Age-in-Place Strategies - Knowing that you want to live independently for as long as possible is only the first step. You must create a workable plan that insures this will happen. Have you made arrangements for your day-to-day care, housekeeping, assisted living or nursing care? What about home maintenance and repairs? We can assist in crafting a plan that will help you stay put.
Coordinate with Financial Planners and Tax Professionals - We are happy to work with each of your advisers to ensure continuity of your estate plan and wealth management strategies.
Assist with Referral Network and Resources - As your Primary Care Attorney, we want to be the first call you make for your legal needs. Many issues you face will have a direct impact on your estate plan. Being your first call enables us to provide guidance and advice along with referrals to our trusted colleagues. We have a wide array of professional connections in the legal field, as well as related fields, such as tax, financial planning, real estate, property appraisals and many more.
Facilitate Family Meetings - Many clients find it hard to have difficult conversations with their families about their potential incapacity or death. We are happy to host a meeting with you and your loved ones to explain your estate plan and help shape expectations for all involved. This creates a non-confrontational environment to share concerns and iron out potential issues well before they arise.
Trustee Education - Having someone you rely on to act as your Trustee is the key to a great estate plan. However, many individuals come to the task with little to no experience in managing the affairs of another or in navigating their responsibilities to beneficiaries, creditors and asset holders. We offer training for trustees so they are able to step in with the knowledge and support needed to successful carry out their duties.
Probate and Trust Administration
Post-Death Trust Administration - After your death, we work alongside your Successor Trustee to implement your wishes in accordance with California law and the terms of your estate plan. This includes required notifications, accounting and asset distributions to beneficiaries.
Non-probate asset transfers (Probate Code §13100) - If an individual passes away with minimal assets (totaling less than $166,250.00) and no real estate, it may be necessary to follow a specialized non-probate asset transfer procedure to allow the rightful heir to take title to the asset.
Traditional California Probate - If you or your loved one died without a trust and the subject assets total more than $166,250.00, then a Probate action must be filed with the Court. A Probate is required if a decedent dies without a Will or with only a Will and no Trust. We will work with your Executor or Estate Administrator to navigate the Court proceeding, including all statutory timelines and requirements through to distribution Order.
Probate Code §850 (Heggstad) Petition - Occasionally, even with a Trust, court intervention is required to transfer assets to the Trustee if they were not properly transferred to the trust during your lifetime. While not as expensive or time consuming as a probate, a court Petition must be filed and processed.
Other Probate Court Actions (Small Estate Affidavit, Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property; Spousal Property Petitions) - There are a variety of alternatives available through the Probate Court to transfer assets that may not require a full Probate but do require Court Orders to transfer to the rightful recipient. We can assist with all manner of Court Proceedings for a decedent's estate.