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Estate Planning

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

Photo of a Home

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

medications

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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Implications of New Leadership in the White House

The White House

Regardless of the outcome of this election, we can be certain that the future of estate taxes is uncertain.Both major party candidates for president have set out proposals for changes in US fiscal policy.  Fiscal policy is not set solely by the president, but if the president has cooperation from Congress, he or she can have a major impact.Current federal estate tax law exempts estates worth $5.45 million or less ($10.9 million for a married couple). Estates worth less than $5.45 million will not pay any estate tax at all.  According to a 2015 report from Congress’s Joint Committee on...

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Estate Planning after Divorce

Divorce

Divorce will involve serious and important questions related to minor children, division of assets, and financial support.  Often, after the divorce is finalized, crucial estate planning considerations may be overlooked.The last thing you’ll want to do after a divorce is more legal work.  Nevertheless, it is crucial to properly update, correct, and understand your estate planning after divorce.  Here are a few issues to consider:Your Estate Planning Attorney: It is typical for a married couple to use the same attorney for their estate planning.  Once you are divorced, your financial and personal interests with your former spouse are no...

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What to Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Plan

You probably realize that you need estate planning of some kind, whether it’s a simple document naming someone with authority to handle your finances in the event of your incapacity or a complex estate plan.  These decisions will involve the people and property that you care most about, and you should not make them without legal advice from a trusted source.  While you understand that, choosing an estate planning attorney can be overwhelming.A fast Google search for “estate planning attorney” will reveal hundreds of attorneys who advertise as having estate planning expertise and experience.  Most will take the time to...

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Underestimating the Risk of Disability – The Importance of Being Prepared

No one likes to think about the possibility of their own disability or the disability of a loved one. However, as the statistics below demonstrate, we should all plan for at least a temporary disability. This newsletter examines the eye-opening statistics surrounding disability and some of the common disability planning options. Disability planning is one area where each and every person and family we work with should have great comfort in knowing that, if they or a loved one becomes disabled, they will be prepared.Most Americans Grossly Underestimate the Risk of DisabilityThe most important takeaway of this newsletter is this:...

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Recent Developments in Estate and Tax Planning . . . and What to Expect in 2015*

2014 was a relatively quiet year by historical standards, but there were nonetheless some major cases and pronouncements from the IRS that have a significant impact on clients and our practices. This article addresses the more significant events of 2014 . . . and planning ideas and actions you may want to consider as a result. FACTAThe Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) took effect July 1, 2014. Originally signed into law in 2010, FACTA was designed to fight tax evasion by taxpayers with undisclosed foreign financial accounts and other offshore assets by requiring reporting with respect to those accounts and...

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The First Seven Steps to Take After the Loss of a Loved One

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be traumatic. At best, it is a difficult and confusing period which can last an indeterminate time. you do not need to shoulder the extra burden of mining through the myriad documents associated with a lifetime of financial affairs., business dealing and transactions. We have created put together this guide to help you understand the seven steps you should take immediately after a love one has passed away. 1) Social Security Call your local Social Security office to report your loved one's passing.  If you were married to the individual who passed away,...

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