Do you need an estate planning attorney in Orange County? No one wants to think about doing an estate plan. However, most everyone knows they need an estate plan. If you are contemplating taking that step and doing some planning, I can guide you through the process and make it as painless as possible. I have experience in many different issues related to estate planning and I will be able to assist you in all of the following ways:
Advanced Estate Planning
A simple estate plan will usually consist of a trust, a will, a power of attorney for asset management, and a health care directive. Some clients, however, can benefit from advanced estate planning techniques to minimize estate taxation on death. Some techniques include gifting programs, irrevocable life insurance trusts and grantor-retained annuity trust. My taxation background uniquely qualifies me to help you with these types of advanced techniques that can help you minimize taxation on death.
If you become incapacitated, it is imperative that you have an agent that is empowered to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf. A well drafted power of attorney for asset management and an updated health care directive is vital to your financial and personal well- being should you become incapacitated. I can help you prepare these documents so that they properly reflect your wishes.
There are many advantages to creating a trust. Most importantly, a properly drafted and funded trust can ensure that your estate does not have to go through the long and expensive process of probate. Further, if you are married, preparation of a more sophisticated trust can ensure that your loved ones can save estate taxes. In addition, you can be assured that if you have children from a previous marriage, they will still be provided for after your passing. I can help you prepare a trust that is appropriate to your situation.
If you are a successor trustee of a trust, I can assist you to ensure that you carry out your legal obligations properly. As a trustee, you have an obligation to gather assets, notify beneficiaries and distribute the assets of the trust pursuant to the terms of the trust. The best way to ensure that you are not later accused of wrongdoing by disgruntled heirs is to hire a competent attorney to assist you with the process. You would be well-advised to hire me not only protect yourself but to ensure that you fulfill your duties under the trust.
Trust litigation arises when there is a dispute, disagreement, or contest regarding provisions of a trust or when a trustee is acting improperly. If you are a trustee and the beneficiaries are claiming you did something improper, you need to hire legal counsel to ensure that your personal assets are not at risk and that you are fulfilling your legal obligations as trustee. Similarly, if you are a beneficiary of a trust and not receiving information and/or distributions, I can put pressure on the trustee to fulfill his or her obligations under the trust.
Trust & Will Disputes
Sometimes when a trust or will is drafted improperly, a dispute arises regarding the decedent's intentions. To minimize such disputes, it is important to use a knowledgeable attorney to draft the estate plan. However, even when a trust or will is drafted properly, beneficiaries can still be unhappy and try to challenge the trust or will. If you think that a will or trust was a product of undue influence or for some reason does not reflect the decedent's wishes, I can effectively represent you in all types of trust and will disputes. On the other hand, if some beneficiary is wrongfully challenging a will or trust (usually because the decedent has chosen to intentionally write them out) I can effectively represent you in court when these types of disputes arise.
Probate is the process by which a court determines to whom assets will be distributed either pursuant to a will or if there is no will then pursuant to the laws of intestacy. I can assist you in all aspects of the probate process including representative as an administrator and/or a beneficiary.
When someone dies with a will or intestate, their estate must go through the probate process. It is initiated when someone (usually the executor named in the will or the next of kin if there is no will) files a petition for probate requesting that the court appoint them administrator of the estate. Once they are appointed administrator, they have the duty to gather assets, pay creditors, and eventually distribute the assets to heirs under the will or pursuant to the laws of intestacy. "Probate administration" is just a general term that describes this process. I can assist you with probate administration and ensure that if you are the executor and/or administrator you fulfill all of your legal obligations. In addition, if you are an heir and feel as if an administrator is acting improperly, I can assist you in redressing any malfeasance by the probate administrator.
Disputes can arise with respect to the legitimacy of a will, interpretation of a will, and with respect to who should be appointed to administer the decedent's estate. If you think that a will was a product of undue influence or is a forgery, I can assist you in taking your grievance to court. Similarly, if someone is challenging an estate planning document that you feel legitimately represents the decedent's intent, I can help you effectively defend the will or trust.
Although not as important with the evolution of the use of trusts, wills are still a vital part of an estate plan. If you have minor children, you appoint guardians in your will. In addition, you name an executor who will be in charge of your personal obligations such as the filing of your final tax return. Further, especially in smaller estates, a will is still a viable option to pass assets to your loved ones according to your wishes. I can help you draft a will so that you ensure not only that your financial assets pass according to your wishes but also so that your most important assets, your children, are taken care of as well.
Currently, in 2012 you can pass a little over 5 million dollars in assets without incurring estate tax (10 million for a married couple). Therefore, for most taxpayers that die in 2012, estate tax will not be an issue. However, beginning in 2013, the exemption goes down to one million dollars. One million dollars seems like a lot of money. However, with the price of real estate in California, that one million dollar limit can be reached fairly quickly and the tax rates (approximately 45%) are staggering. Implementation of a well thought out estate plan can minimize the amount of taxes your heirs will have to pay through the use of an AB Trust, and gifting plans among other techniques. You need an experienced lawyer to assist you now more than ever. I can help you plan ahead so that the onerous estate tax liability is eliminated or at the least minimized.
If you are searching for an estate planning lawyer in Orange County, then look no further! With my experience and tax background, I am uniquely qualified to help you in the areas of estate planning, trust administration, and trust and will disputes. Whether is it a simple estate plan you need drafted or a complex trust litigation dispute, you need to retain skilled legal assistance in your case. I offer extremely reasonable rates for legal services. I also offer a free case evaluation so that you may obtain legal advice regarding your situation without any financial obligation or commitment on your part.
Contact Finlay Law Group, APC by calling (888) 896-9350 today to learn how I can help you.