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Estate Planning

WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING?

For most clients, an estate plan includes a living trust, pour over wills, durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives. It also includes a schedule A to list the assets you have including real estate, bank accounts and business interests like S corporations, partnerships and LLCs. Our firm will also prepare the deeds to transfer your real estate to your trust and ensure that those deeds are properly recorded with the appropriate county recorder’s office. This is a complete package and is priced at a flat fee for peace of mind.

WHAT IS A LIVING TRUST?

A living trust is one component of a comprehensive estate plan. A living trust is designed to hold title to your major assets including real estate and bank accounts along with any business interests you may have. During your lifetime, you are still in charge of your assets and control them as you desire. But when you become incapacitated or die, your living trust can be activated to install your successor trustee as the person in charge of your assets to grab them, pay your debts and then distribute the remainder of the assets as you outline in your living trust.

A living trust can be changed, amended and updated however you like during your lifetime and while you have capacity.

A living trust is a must in California when you own a home or other real estate to avoid probate. Probate comes into play when you have a house or other real estate that is owned by a single person alone or when the second person of a married couple passes away. A will does not avoid probate.

In summary, a living trust holds title to your major assets, you name who should get what when you pass away and who should be in charge to oversee this.

There are a few types of living trusts including an A-B trust, A-B-C trust, a three way marital trust, a basic disclaimer trust and living trusts can also have carve outs for special needs beneficiaries and even create a legacy or dynasty trust for your beneficiaries. If you want to learn more about these types and which type you may need, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

WHY DO I NEED A WILL AND A LIVING TRUST?

A good attorney will draft both a living trust and a backup pour over will. The pour over will is designed to grab any asset that you acquire after you create your living trust, but you forgot to put into your living trust or you died before you could do the transfer. For example, say you win the lottery and then you die! The pour over will can grab the winnings and transfer them back into your living trust via a probate proceeding. It’s a backup. Second, the pour over will is the preferred document to nominate guardians for minor children. So if you have young children, please indicate who should have custody if something bad happens to both mom and dad.

WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A power of attorney is a legal document where you indicate who should be your agent to handle your financial affairs if you are alive and not well. You can select now who should handle your checkbook, taxes and other things with a properly prepared power of attorney. A well drafted power of attorney is not two pages long with check boxes. A well drafted power of attorney should be between 18 to 30 pages long and expressly indicate all the powers that your agent has if you are alive and not well.

WHAT IS AN ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE?

This is a simple document to have in place to name who should make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make your own decisions. You can indicate your preferences in here for burial and cremation. Your preferences for organ donation and any other strong feelings you may have about your own healthcare if you were not able to make your own decisions.

WHAT IS SCHEDULE A?

A schedule A is a companion to your living trust to indicate what you own and what should be vested in your living trust. Think of it as an index that tells your successor trustee what you have and what they should collect and distribute when you die. This document can be updated at any time and it is a good idea to update this as your assets change, bank names change and so on. You don’t want to leave money out there that a beneficiary cannot locate because they were not aware of it.

HIGH NET WORTH ESTATE PLANNING?

Even if you have over ten or even twenty million in net worth, you still need the above documents. Everyone needs them. If your net worth is greater than the federal estate tax exemption amount of $5.45m per person in 2016, TLD Law can offer additional tax planning as part of your estate planning needs.

WHY USE TLD LAW FOR ESTATE PLANNING AND LIVING TRUSTS?

We are good at this. We have five estate planning attorneys as part of TLD Law that handle exclusively estate planning and trusts for the firm’s clients. We have over 100 years combined experience in drafting estate plans, administering estate plans and litigating/protecting estate plans. Our drafting experiences coupled with our litigation side – means that we try our best to make your estate plans rigorous and withstand your wishes even in the face of a challenge.

We are able to prepare deeds and record them efficiently.

Our pricing model for estate planning is usually a flat fee and is designed around the complexity of the planning and not how much you have in assets. If you have complexity in terms of estate tax planning, charitable planning or other complexity, the fee could be hourly. This would be set out for you in the first meeting so you understand the work we do and what is needed.

We do not charge for the first meeting in estate planning matters. If you are nervous or don’t understand how this works, please reach out to us for a complimentary consultation and see if you like us and want us to assist once we understand what you may need.

Please contact us anytime for your complimentary estate planning or living trust consultation by calling (877) 923-0971 or emailing estateplanning@tldlaw.com today.