Estate planning is the process of accumulating and disposing of an estate to maximize the goals of the estate owner. The various goals of estate planning include making sure the greatest amount of the estate passes to the estate owner’s intended beneficiaries, often including paying the least amount of taxes and avoiding or minimizing probate court involvement. Additional goals typically include providing for and designating guardians for minor children and planning for incapacity.
WILLS & TRUSTS
Trusts are not only for the wealthy. Many young parents with limited assets choose to create trusts either during life or in their wills for the benefit of their children in case both parents die before all their children have reached an age deemed by them to indicate sufficient maturity to handle property. This permits the trust estate to be held as a single undivided fund to be used for the support and education of minor children according to their respective needs, with eventual division of the trust among the children when the youngest has reached a specified age. This type of arrangement has an obvious advantage over an inflexible division of property among children of different ages without regard to their level of maturity or individual needs at the time of such distribution.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, suffered dog bite or slip and fall injuries, or been harmed by a defective drug or product, or in some other way harmed by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your personal injury, and for associated losses like time off from work, property damage, and even pain and suffering.
If you think that another party may be responsible for your personal injury please contact my office for a free initial consultation to help you determine whether or not you should pursue your personal injury claim.
REDKEY GORDON, A Professional Law Corporation specializes in personal injury.
The probate process can be complicated and tedious. A California probate attorney needs to be able to quickly identify and resolve the pertinent issues in every situation. I have substantial experience in probate matters and can help make the process go quickly and smoothly.
Probate, in simple terms, makes sure debts of the deceased are paid and any remaining property is distributed to the rightful owners. Property that has been transferred to a living trust is not subject to probate. Avoiding probate, which on occasion can be costly and time consuming, is a reason many individuals use living trusts
Probate generally lasts several months, occasionally over a year before all the property can be distributed, and incur substantial court and attorney costs. One of the many ways to avoid probate is to execute a living trust. This is a separate entity to which a person transfers ownership of his real property (house, etc.,) from himself to a trust which he controls and can revise at any time (except in the case of an irrevocable trust.) Upon death, the persons named as beneficiaries in the trust acquire ownership of it and, therefore, the property the trust owns. As probate is a public process, a living trust has the added advantage of preserving the privacy of the deceased and his heirs as well as avoiding some estate tax.
Life insurance, savings accounts, and joint tenancies with the right of survivorship are some of the other ways people use to avoid probate.
Avoiding probate does not necessarily mean estate taxes have also been avoided. The laws imposing the federal estate tax have been modified to include within the definition of the person’s taxable estate, property held in a living trust, life insurance, “payable on death” or “transfer on death” financial instruments, and most other property which is transferred from a dead person to a living person in consequence of the death. Inter vivos trusts can reduce estate taxes if they are properly structured, but that is not related to the avoidance of probate. Generally, to avoid an estate/inheritance tax, a person must give it away irrevocably or leave it to a qualified charity. However the use of credit shelter trusts (also called AB trusts) can allow a married couple to preserve both unified credits, allowing up to twice the total estate to pass to heirs without estate tax. This may reduce or eliminate the total tax the couple would have otherwise paid.
Robert Gordon has experience representing property buyers, sellers, and lessors in real estate litigation and transactions. We handle legal aspects of purchase and sale, development, construction, mortgages, foreclosures, and leases of commercial and residential real estate (the land and the structures attached to it).
WILLS AND TRUSTS LITIGATION
Contesting a will or trust in the estate of a loved one is not an ideal situation. It is, however, often necessary. Many situations arise causing family and beneficiaries to question estate distribution or estate administration. In some instances, one child may be completely ignored in a will, with no reason given. In others, disputes may arise after a will goes into probate, including disputed questions of asset distribution. For example, one common complication occurs when a parent needs assistance running errands and paying bills and decides to add a child’s name to their bank account. The intention is generally for assistance only during his/her lifetime, not to leave the account to only one child.
Litigation may also arise with regard to fiduciary duties of executors, administrators, and trustees. A fiduciary may misappropriate trust funds, an administrator may “misplace” estate property or funds, or conceal or mislead beneficiaries regarding the amount and condition of the trust or estate. Please contact us now for your fee initial consultation regarding your matter.
CONSERVATORSHIP, GUARDIANSHIP & INCAPACITY PLANNING
A living person with diminished mental capacity may require the appointment of a representative to assist with their finances and personal care. Diminished mental capacity may result from aging, injury or disease.
To anticipate the need for assistance, a person may designate an agent under a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. To be valid, however, the party making the power of attorney must have capacity. Often, the need for a representative is determined after capacity is already diminished.
A Conservatorship is a court proceeding designed to protect an individual who can no longer protect him or herself due to advanced age or trauma. If the court determines that the party to be protected is substantially unable to provide for their personal care or to manage their finances, the court appoints a conservator to act as the representative for the protected party, the conservatee. The conservator is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the personal and medical care of the conservatee and is authorized to transact business on behalf of the conservatee. The Conservator is required to file annual accountings and reports.
I help the loved ones of incapacitated individuals with the process of obtaining court authority and with the ongoing procedures required by the Probate Code and local rules. I also serve on the Sacramento County Superior Court Probate Volunteer Panel as court appointed counsel for conservatees.
When a person dies with an estate plan based on a Living Trust, the trust must be administered. The Trustee of the trust must collect what is owed to the decedent, pay the decedent’s bills, safeguard the decedent’s assets until they are distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries, and file appropriate income and estate tax returns for the decedent and his or her estate.
Trust administration is a complex, confusing area of the law, one in which some attorneys lack the skill to practice. My Office will not only draft trusts, but immediately help you fund the trusts with assets such as real property, stocks, bonds and other types of personal property. We will assist trustees to manage trust property throughout the life of the trust.
After the death of the first spouse, our office will help you with the next phase of trust administration – dissolving the original trust and creating two or three trusts in which to transfer property. Determining whether to create an A, B or C trust, or a spousal, bypass or marital trust (commonly a QTIP trust) is complex, requiring the assistance of an attorney experienced in trust administration. Our firm – with the assistance of appraisers and tax consultants – will advise you about what trusts to create and what property to transfer into them. We will help you deal with any income tax or accounting issues that may arise related to these newly created trusts.
When the second spouse passes away, we will help the new trustee interpret trust documents, understand his or her duties as a trustee and ensure that the trust is managed and dissolved correctly. Our skills will guide you from creating the initial trust until dissolving the final trust.
We can assist you with planning and forming the right entity to meet your goals. I will work with you to determine your goals and understand your objectives, as well as take the time to explain the benefits of forming various small or large entities, including the following:
- Limited liability company (LLC)
- Limited liability partnership (LLP)
- Professional corporation (PC)
- Sole proprietorship
We provide experienced and attentive service to clients who own and operate small businesses. We understand how to deal with new business start-ups, including licensing, buy/sell agreements, service contracts, and litigation matters. We put a small business owner’s needs first and the attorney will work directly with you on all important legal issues.
In addition, if you are contemplating acquiring a business, we can assist you in determining if you should consider an asset purchase or stock purchase. We prepare all legal documentation and can assist with the following:
- Buy-Sell agreements
- Shareholder agreements
- Severance agreements
- Non-compete and non-disclosure agreements
Forming a business of any size can raise a dizzying array of legal issues and questions. For skilled representation and sound legal advice regarding your business organization or acquisition, please contact us to schedule a confidential consultation. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. A little money spent today could save you much more in the future.
Asset Protection — Understanding how to Protect Your Company
How a company is formed will determine what kind of taxes it is subject to, as well as the rate at which it will be taxed. Under the United States tax code, a business can deduct certain start-up costs, operating costs, and other expenses from its federal income tax. Understanding how to take advantages of allowances within the law when you start your business can have a long lasting financial impact. Our attorneys discuss the options available to you, explaining how other costs can be deducted and what can be done on the investment side to further decrease your tax liability.