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Estate Planning Isn’t Just for People with Children

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It’s very common for clients to seek out estate planning when a child is born or when they are preparing to travel without children for the first time, but adults with children are not the only ones that need proper estate planning. In fact, in some ways it is more important than ever for childfree individuals and couples to consider a comprehensive estate plan.One primary issue that must be addressed for a person without children is: who will inherit your assets (e.g., real property, bank accounts, personal effects, etc.) upon your death? As set forth in the probate code, the...

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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Family Play

The unique nature of a blended family – that is, a family where one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage – necessitates careful estate planning. With a number of potentially difficult dynamics at play, the trustors (the creators of the trust) must carefully address issues such as difficult interpersonal relationships and planning for the entire family at death.  Even when relationships are harmonious amongst the spouses and the children - mutual children and children from prior marriages – estate planning is still vital. Many questions remain for the trustors, including:At the passing of the first spouse,...

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Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

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In the midst of all of the talk about potential federal estate tax repeal, many individuals have elected to postpone further estate planning trusting that the repeal will occur.  However, if you are a California citizen it appears that no such hope will exist.  Back in February of this year, California State Senator Scott Weiner, proposed a ballot measure that would provide for a California estate tax if the federal estate tax is repealed.  This tax would be equal to the federal estate tax that would have otherwise been paid by a California resident decedent.  Subsequently, on March 23rd of...

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Major Estate Planning Mistakes by Celebrities

Prepared Family

Because of some very obvious and egregious mistakes made by famous celebrities with respect to Estate Planning, all of us can learn and benefit and make sure that we eliminate these mistakes in our own planning.Actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role as Tony Soprano on the hit TV series, died at the age of 51 in 2013, The Gandolfini Estate Plan was based on a Will rather than a Trust.  Accordingly, his private affairs became public because of the Probate process.  His failure to remove any of his assets from his Estate will result in a 40% estate...

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Asset Protection Planning

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Many times we think of Asset Protection Planning only with respect to potential creditors who might sue us.  However, in the event that you have substantial separate property and are planning to remarry you may want not only to consider a pre-nuptial agreement, but an Asset Protection Planning structure in addition.  Many affluent and wealthy investors, executives and celebrities have found out that divorce can be very expensive in spite of the pre-marital agreement.  Building a protective plan should be a top priority for individuals of high net worth.  Everyone who has any assets should examine their situation from the...

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New Year’s Resolution: Maintain Corporate Compliance

business compliance

For many, it’s not uncommon for a New Year’s resolution to last several days before it falls by the wayside and is completely abandoned. For business owners specifically, the turning of the calendar signifies an opportunity to stay updated and engaged in aspects of their business that, despite their best intentions, were forgotten about the previous year. One of the most common areas where we see business owners express an opportunity for growth is their ongoing corporate compliance.  What is corporate compliance?  For businesses organized as corporations (as opposed to LLCs), most states require strict compliance with statutory formalities, including (i) holding...

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CALIFORNIA TRANSFER ON DEATH DEEDS: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Sarah Spenless is an elderly widow with just one asset holding value: her home, which is worth $500,000. She would like her three children to inherit the home. She doesn’t want to spend the money to create a living trust, and she doesn’t want her children to have to go through a probate proceeding. With situations like hers in mind, the California legislature ushered in a new way to pass property to a beneficiary upon death: the California Transfer on Death Deed (“TOD deed”). Assembly Bill 139, effective January 1, 2016, was hailed by lawmakers as a way to avoid...

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New Medi-Cal Estate Recovery Law: Another great reason for a revocable living trust

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California’s current Medi-Cal recovery rules are primed for a big change. Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law new provisions limiting reimbursement to the state for Medi-Cal benefits received. On January 1, 2017 these new provisions become effective, and for those of us who die on or after that date the creation of a revocable living trust becomes ever more important. Under current law, the state can make claims on the estate of a deceased person for any Medi-Cal benefits they received at age 55 or older. Liquid assets may have to be surrendered, as well as a residence, as a...

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Is An Attorney Necessary For Trust Administration If Everyone Agrees?

It is common for people to feel that if they have a revocable living trust, they will not need an attorney during trust administration since the trust will tell them everything they need to do with the assets, especially when all of the beneficiaries agree how assets are to be divided.  In my experience, this is rarely true.  Here you will find some of the pitfalls of attempting trust administration without the help of a competent estate tax attorney. Notification Often the successor trustee (person responsible for administering a trust after the death of the trust makers) thinks the trust document will...

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Charitable Giving Through Prepared Trusts

You Can’t Take it With You (But you can control its course) Bill Gates famously noted that philanthropy should be voluntary. We are all philanthropists; we choose to be either voluntary philanthropists and direct our assets to our favorite charities, causes and people, or to be involuntary philanthropists and pay taxes for distribution through government programs. We would like to make the case that voluntary philanthropy is the way to go.Our government recognizes that individuals are in the best position to foster effective giving. It encourages charitable giving by offering tax breaks and other incentives, and this affords a savvy planner...

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