Probate & Trusts
I handle all aspects of administration after the death of a loved one, including assisting with the administration and distribution of revocable and irrevocable trusts. I work closely with the family’s accountant to ensure that all federal and state estate tax returns are properly prepared, and assist in the division of trust assets among the subtrusts commonly used in zero tax marital deduction situations.
I consult with fiduciaries on their accounting and investment duties, and also handle the probate of estates when necessary.
If you die without a will in California, your estate will go through the probate system in the California courts. The term “probate” refers to the legal process by which a court oversees the distribution of your assets to the new owners.
In California, the probate procedure is complicated, stressful, and public, and oftentimes lasts for several years. It is also expensive, as attorneys’ fees and executors’ fees are set by statute. More importantly, if you die without a will, your property may or may not pass the way you would wish. If you don’t have a will, your assets will pass by “intestate succession,” which is the distribution of assets dictated by state law.
While this system may distribute your assets to the people you would want to, consider two things: (1) your children will receive your assets when they reach age 18, and (2) if you spouse remarries, he or she is free to give your money away to anyone, including to his or her new spouse.
To ensure your loved ones receive their inheritance as quickly and easily as possible, you may want to avoid probate. I can show you techniques and strategies to help you do just that.
In addition to intestate estates, all wills must pass through probate. If you are the beneficiary of a probate estate, I can guide you through the process quickly, compassionately and effectively.
How Do I Avoid Probate And Protect My Family?
Property held in joint tenancy or community property with right of survivorship, and the proceeds of life insurance, retirement accounts, and annuities should pass to the surviving joint owner or the named beneficiaries without the necessity of probate, so long as the named beneficiaries survive the owner of the asset. Assets held by a revocable living trust also avoid probate.
Revocable Living Trust
Assets held by a revocable living trust (“RLT”) will avoid the cost, delay, and hassle of probate. The trustee of the RLT will distributed your assets to your heirs privately and without the high statutory fees. By using an RLT, you can ensure that your money is held in trust for the benefit of your heirs under the terms you feel are best.
For example, you can provide for your spouse during your spouse’s life, but on that spouse’s death, dictate that the money will go directly to your children, and will not be affected by your spouse’s potential remarriage. You can also dictate the ages at which your child receives his or her inheritance, such as providing that the trust may always pay for health and education, but will not distribute the assets outright to the child until the child reaches certain ages of maturity. Many clients choose to distribute 1/3 of the assets to the child upon reaching age 25, another 1/3 at age 30, and the balance at age 35.
Your living trust can also be prepared so that it allows your spouse or another family member you choose to manage your financial affairs for you if you become disabled or seriously ill. Trusts can also help you take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. You can set up a trust to send grandkids to college, to pay for weddings, and to keep up a family property.
You can also provide for the necessities of a family member who you believe is unable of taking proper care of himself or herself, providing asset protection, and can create a Pet Trust, to ensure the care and feeding of your companion animal after you pass on.
I can prepare a living trust for a single person or a married couple.
There are many types of irrevocable trusts and they are used for many purposes, including income tax and estate tax savings, asset protection, and wealth preservation and transfer.
I can advise you about trusts for minors, life insurance trusts, charitable trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, and other forms of irrevocable trusts designed to suit your needs.
Many of my clients wish to combine philanthropy, personal financial security, and tax benefits by establishing a charitable trust. I work with you and many charitable organizations to design and implement the charitable trust that best meets the planned giving strategy of your estate plan.
Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT)
A CRT allows you to designate assets, such as stocks or real estate, as a gift to one or more qualified charities during your lifetime. Because the gift isn’t transferred to the charity until you or your beneficiary dies, you or your family will continue to receive income from those assets throughout your lives. By creating a CRT, you can support a cause (or causes) you care about, defer, reduce or eliminate taxes, and provide income for you or your beneficiaries.
Charitable Lead Trusts (CLT)
A CLT allows the charity or charities you designate to receive income from your gift for a period of time. At the end of that term, the asset is transferred to your beneficiaries. By creating a CLT, you can support a cause (or causes) you care about, reduce or eliminate income taxes and estate taxes, and pass your legacy to your beneficiaries.
Contact me for a free probate consultation.