Wills

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...

MISTAKEN IDEAS REGARDING ESTATE PLANNING

There is a great deal of confusion and mythology regarding estate planning. It’s a subject that healthy, busy people really don’t want to think about. Understandably, the thought of suddenly becoming unable to function (due to disease or a catastrophic illness) and needing to depend upon someone else, along with having to come to grips with the inevitability of death, can really be distressing. However, by taking methodical, concerted action by creating a well-advised estate plan, one can at least confront these unpleasant realities in a rational way.     The following are some examples of erroneous information some people have regarding estate planning:   1. “I don’t have a will and I don’t really own a lot of property, so what’s the problem if I die without one?” You DO have a problem. Without having a witnessed will that is also valid within your state, if you die as a single custodial parent, your surviving minor children run the chance of being taken care of by blood relatives of the probate court’s choosing—not yours. In addition, any remaining financial assets in your name will be evenly distributed to your immediate family members. Without a clear-cut estate plan, your surviving spouse may not have enough of your money to supplement his/her retirement income.   2. “If I become incapacitated, my executor will take care of everything.” WRONG . Your executor is someone you have designated in your will to carry out your wishes after you pass away. If you’re still alive, and find yourself in failing health, your executor can’t help you. With a smart estate plan, you can...
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....

Estate Planning: Affordable Care Act and expanded Medi-Cal

Under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), low income persons under age 65 may enroll in the expanded Medi-Cal in order to meet the federal requirement that everyone have health care insurance. At age 65, Medicare covers doctor visits, hospital visits and some prescription drugs. Read...