Living Trusts

A SHORT LIST FOR WHY TRUSTS ARE MORE ADVANTAGEOUS THAN A WILL

    1. A living trust brings all of your assets together under one single estate plan with ONE set of instructions. This arrangement makes your wishes easier to carry out. Trusts are designed to facilitate the distribution of your estate in that it will be simplified, unambiguous, and clear-cut. Provisions made to ensure the correct titling of your assets/beneficiary designations from your retirement savings plans and life insurance policies are given the highest priority. This preemptive action guards against legal contests and family squabbles that can easily erupt due to poor estate planning. 2. A clearly written and legally correct living trust is a private matter which is not obligated to be a part of the public record, plus they are not easily prone to litigation (as wills frequently are). Probate is a court supervised set of procedures that are mandated by law to be carried out in public. Disappointed or disinherited heirs are free to retain counsel to contest the validity of your will, and to call into question your state of mind when you signed/executed it. In addition, opportunists with varying motivations and self-interests can gain easy access to your family’s personal and financial information. This results in unnecessary expenses, animosity, and delays in settling your estate. Having a trust in place bypasses this very real possibility entirely. 3. A trust can help you avoid court interference should you become incapacitated. Any reasonable person would much rather have their long-term care and assets managed privately by those they know and trust. Without having appointed a trustee/attorney beforehand, the probate court must become involved and appoint a...

WHY “DO IT YOURSELF/FILL IN THE BLANK” WILLS & TRUSTS OFTEN RESULT IN DISASTER

WHY “DO IT YOURSELF/FILL IN THE BLANK” WILLS & TRUSTS OFTEN RESULT IN DISASTER Retaining the services and expertise of an attorney who can assist you in preparing a smart estate plan requires a serious investment of time and money. The benefits (however) far outweigh whatever the upfront costs may be. Having the assurance and peace of mind that you and your family will be legally and financially protected in taking on the challenges of the future is inestimable. However, these guarantees vanish immediately when one chooses to forgo retaining experienced legal advice and opting for the “do-it-yourself” approach to estate planning. Many unpleasant scenarios and real potential dangers await those who want to save a few dollars in the short-term; and whose loved ones will probably end up having to pay tens of thousands of dollars correcting their mistakes. Everyone is unique. No two families are the same. The slick advertising that online legal services utilize (especially with using formercelebrity attorneys to pitch their offerings) cannot deny this simple fact: virtual legal document preparers that promise cheap, fill in the blank options for estate planning will never replace the professional, confidential relationship between a lawyer and his/her client. When circumstances require urgent technical advice and counsel, these do-it-yourself websites are of no use to a distraught client. Their staff is prohibited from rendering any kind of practical legal guidance to consumers. If you are making a terrible mistake in your estate planning, they can’t prevent you from doing so (the   unauthorized practice of law is a criminal offense in all 50 states). In addition, these online services...

SOME COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS REGARDING LIVING TRUSTS

SOME COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS REGARDING LIVING TRUSTS: 1.  “They cost too much.”  A properly written and legally enforceable living trust typically has a higher initial price tag than what a will does. But, when you take into consideration the privacy, legally enforceable provisions that will protect your assets, and expeditiousness with regard to taking decisive action to safeguarding your interests, a living trust is a very worthwhile investment. In addition, living trusts address such contingencies as making arrangements to care for your (or your spouse) should you become incapacitated, the rights and duties of the acting trustee with protecting your real and personal property (if you’re unable to), and in carrying out your detailed instructions for the dispersal of your estate to your loved ones upon your death. Once more, living trusts are invaluable in that they can enable you to avoid both conservatorship court proceedings and probate altogether. 2.  “I’ll lose control of my assets!”  With you and/or your spouse acting as trustees of your own living trust, you have the unquestioned authority to do anything with your assets as you see fit. You can make purchases, open/close banks accounts, take extended vacations, appoint/remove designated trustees, and you can even dissolve your living trust at any time (as long as you can make your own decisions).  Plus, you alone control who (and at what time) will inherit from your estate. 3.  “Trusts are just for the ‘well-to-do.”  On the contrary, a living trust can provide protections for a wide range of estates.  Wealthy clients are able to avoid having to pay excessive income/estate taxes.  Families of modest means can...
WHAT IS “ASSISTED” LIVING?

WHAT IS “ASSISTED” LIVING?

As we, our parents and relatives age, their ability to live independently eventually becomes unsafe, unrealistic—or both. One option in having them avoid the very real possibilities of household accidents and injuries can be found in convincing our elder loved ones to reside in assisted living facilities. Not to be confused with convalescent homes, assisted living accommodations are less expensive and offer options that can enable seniors to enjoy a large degree of autonomy. They range from single residences to multi-level apartment complexes. Visually, they are more appealing than nursing homes (without their depressing atmosphere). In addition, they provide a more traditional residential ambiance in that they have reading areas, kitchenettes and private sleeping quarters. What also distinguishes them from a convalescent setting is that they reinforce “activities of daily living” or ADL’s (morning routines, bathing, preparing meals, and getting dressed). This is provided by staffing case managers who instruct and recommend more efficient ways to help them continue to live independent lives. In many ways, it is the best of both worlds. Seniors are able to have onsite care/support as needed, while being able to enjoy their golden years in a safe, independent environment. Tenants are encouraged to participate in group activities (such as shuttle service to attend concerts, movies, and casinos). In addition, many are allowed to have small pets live with them. As they age, seniors can transition to an elder care facility once it becomes evident that intensive medical care and attention are needed. Assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level. In general, these facilities are required to maintain high standards for food...
FIREARM TRANSFERS AND MEDICAL/CASUAL MARIJUANA USE:  SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER

FIREARM TRANSFERS AND MEDICAL/CASUAL MARIJUANA USE: SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER

Federal law always overrides state law. This is certainly the case with respect to federal gun laws and drug use. Although California law allows marijuana to be used medicinally and recreationally (but not with its wholesale distribution and sale), the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and Explosives deems ANYONE who uses marijuana—whether as a personal choice or under the prescription of a doctor, to be acting in an “unlawful” manner. Whereas California lawmakers view this drug in a lesser light from other types of narcotics, (surprisingly) the federal government classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin. The giving, “gifting,” or the transfer of firearms to beneficiaries from decedents carries with it a great deal of unimaginable risks involved with violating federal gun laws. These can range from being ordered to pay heavy fines to outright imprisonment! For example, before you can legally receive an inherited firearm, you will first need to apply/receive a Federal Firearm License (FFL). In addition, you will also need state firearm license from Sacramento. If the feds discover through their rigorous background checks that you are a medical marijuana patient or are casually using this drug, your application will be both denied AND you will be banned forever from legally owning a gun or even 556 ammo—it’s as simple as that (remember—federal law always trumps state law). Instead of unintentionally breaking the law and becoming felons, beneficiaries need current information with respect to firearm transfers. Our law firm retains the services of a local firearms consultant who can assist you with expert advice needed to avoid these potential pitfalls....

BE SKEPTICAL WHEN GETTING AN EMAIL OR PHONE CALL FROM THE I.R.S.

In their never-ending pursuit with finding new ways to scare and defraud honest taxpayers, criminals are now employing a new scam. This one involves reaching out to citizens (either by telephone or via the internet), identifying themselves as I.R.S. agents, and making baseless criminal allegations demanding immediate payment of taxes owed. Once more, many scammers have been able to modify Caller I.D. readouts and in using the official federal agency’s logo embedded within their fraudulent emails in order to pull off this deception. This trick is currently being carried out across the United States, and has needlessly stressed out and swindled a large number of middle class families and retirees. According to the Internal Revenue Service, agents do not initially contact taxpayers either by phone or by email regarding a tax matter. Instead, residents are first notified by regular mail. Only after someone has been formally contacted by traditional methods do they confer electronically. If you or a loved one receives any type of phone call or email like this, the first step in taking action is to contact your local I.R.S. field office. Their number can be found in the white pages, or online. Second, you can notify the U.S. Treasury Inspectors at (800) 366-4484 and provide them with as much relevant information as you can. Another option to take in fighting back is to simply email: phishing@irs.gov and copy/paste the suspect email message. Lastly, the I.R.S. recommends that you also contact the Federal Trade Commission and activate a consumer complaint by filing an “I.R.S. telephone scam” report. Their main website is:...