An Estate Plan is a legally written document that explains how you want your assets divided upon your death. The California Probate Courts do not recognize oral statements or promises to give property upon death. Our lawyers will draft and devise your estate plan to help you prepare an estate plan that sets out your directives for distribution of your assets to your family and friends. Our clients range from younger generations with high degrees of potential wealth accumulation to established business owners and individuals. Our focus is on a practical and systematic approach to protect them from current threats as well as leverage future opportunities. We help our clients garner the necessary information to preserve our clients’ assets for themselves and their future generations.
A will is a legal document drafted and executed in accordance with state law that becomes irrevocable upon death. Many times a pour-over will is created along with living trusts in order to avoid probate. A pour-over will passes all property through the will into a trust upon the death of the party. It is then distributed to the trust beneficiaries. A pour-over will simplifies the process to ensure that all assets, which are not placed in the trust, are distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the drafter’s intention.
Living trusts constitute our core responsibility. We seek to understand and tailor our trust plans to the specific needs and life situation for each client. These plans encompass more than a basic one-size-fits-all approach, rather we transition to an advanced tax planning, asset protection approach for heirs and assets of the estate. This may include protection for children, spouses, businesses, and a wide array of special needs for each given circumstances of a client.
Life Insurance Within a Trust
A little-known fact is that any significant amount of life insurance is usually wasted without an appropriate trust. A pertinent reality is that without correct planning most individuals with significant holdings, or larger policies holding life insurance, will lose approximately forty cents of every dollar of life insurance upon their death. Clients may retain a larger share of their holdings with appropriate planning. Oftentimes, we may structure trusts which will allow a spouse who receives life insurance proceeds to benefit from the use of said funds during his or her lifetime, tax-free, and then have such funds benefit the children and future generations estates, tax free as well. The policy includes second-to-die life insurance is another option to reduce tax expenses.
Retirement Benefits Planning
As the retirement age is raised, many people overlook the importance of sufficient savings for retirement or for including retirement planning in estate management. Many retirement benefits can “disappear” upon the death of the owner. There are significant ways in which to balance the use of the funds against potential growth as well as protecting beneficiaries through permissible trust structures. These benefits are the result of a lifetime of hard work, and there is no reason to allow them to dissipate upon an unexpected death. A client with a large IRA should inquire into establishing a specialized trust for retirement assets to enhance benefits to an heir.
A decedent who dies without a will or an estate plan takes the risk that their property will not be distributed in a way in which they choose. Rather, they leave it up to the Court to decide how the property should be divided. This process takes a minimum of nine (9) months and can last longer than two (2) years. However, if a will is in place, the Court will distribute the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.
An Estate Plan is a legally written document that explains how you want your assets divided upon your death. The Court does not recognize oral statements or promises to give property upon death.
Stone & Sallus LLP will draft and devise your estate plan in accordance with your wishes. Our highly trained lawyers are in practice to help you prepare an estate plan that sets out your directives for distribution of your assets to your family and friends.
Our clients range from younger generations with high degrees of potential wealth accumulation to established business owners and individuals. Our focus is on a practical and systematic approach to protect them from current threats as well as leverage future opportunities. We help our clients garner the necessary information to preserve our clients’ assets for themselves and their future generations.
The firm provides sophisticated planning for a variety of high net worth clients to reduce estate taxes upon death, utilize lifetime gift tax benefits, and create a roadmap to preserve assets. We use a variety of sophisticated planning to ensure businesses are protected and may continue to experience growth
Powers Of Attorney
We prepare all types of powers of attorney, including financial powers of attorney and durable powers of attorney for healthcare (also sometimes called advanced health care directives or living wills).
Durable Power of Attorney for Finance
If you become incapacitated, it is important to have the following questions already answered. Who will be selected to make difficult decisions regarding your finances? What powers and responsibility will that person have over your finances? A variety of professionals from stockbrokers, banks, real estate professionals, etc. recognize the Durable Power of Attorney for Finance as a document that accurately reflects your wishes, as they should be followed. This preserves your intention for funds and assets as it pertains to real property, payment of bills and debts, and any other aspects of your financial life.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health (Advance Medical Directive)
In the event you become unable to direct your health decisions, who will be cognizant of your beliefs and wishes? Who will run your business? Who will make your medical decisions should you become incapacitated? End-of-life decisions and significant health decisions require a well thought out conversation to ensure the proper person will adhere to your wishes. This written document is recognized by doctors and hospitals, and is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. A written document setting forth such directives is recognized, provided it is signed, and will ensure the expression of your wishes is followed.
Probate And Trust Administration
If a decedent dies with a trust in place, no court administration is needed. The trust assets are administered by the person designated in the trust document (trustee). Stone & Sallus LLP will help navigate the trustee through trust administration from beginning to the final distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.
Our firm handles both simple and complex probate and trust administrations. Whether the deceased individual has a trust, left a will (“testate”), or did not leave a will (“intestate”), we work with you to navigate the required steps. This includes both inside or outside the probate process. Proactive trust and estate planning helps avoid lengthy, costly probate litigation which can erode the wealth and estate assets you want to pass on to your loved ones.
As disputes arise concerning heirs and beneficiaries, our experience in transaction and litigation work helps us to better serve our clients and resolve such contest. These matters are particularly challenging, as the loss of a loved one can create a catalyst for the highly charged emotional issues which accompany the process. We understand the legal and emotional intricacies, and work to prevent potential inheritance disputes or contests so your assets may be distributed free and clear to any beneficiaries of an estate.