Trusts are an important part of estate planning because of their ability to minimize estate taxes and potentially avoid probate. A trust is essentially a fiduciary agreement, one based on trust and confidence, between the person making the trust (trustor) and the trustee. This agreement gives the trustee the authority to manage the assets of the trust and distribute those assets to the beneficiaries as specified in the trust agreement. There are several different types of trusts with their own … [Read more...] about Are Revocable Trusts the Only Option?
A primary concern for most clients, with regard to estate planning, is the matter of estate taxes. Indeed, for most people the primary goal of estate planning is to reduce or eliminate estate taxes as much as possible. While California estate taxes are no longer imposed, the federal estate tax remains. The federal estate tax rate is currently 40%. However, there is an estate tax exemption that excludes most people from paying estate taxes. California Estate Taxes have been … [Read more...] about Should I Worry About California Estate Taxes?
When a loved one dies, the money and property included in their estate need to be distributed to their heirs. In many cases, the estate must go through the probate process in order for the assets to be properly distributed. The basic probate process requires completion of several steps in order to close probate and make those distributions. This article will explain the 7 basic steps required in the California probate process. Before the probate process can formally begin, you need a personal … [Read more...] about 7 Basic Steps of the Probate Process
Though the names may be very similar, a living will and a living trust are not the same, nor do they serve the same purpose. A living trust is a type of trust that holds and manages your assets while you are still alive, then distributes those assets to your beneficiaries upon your death. A living will, on the other hand, is a term commonly used to describe a legal document that provides your instructions regarding the course of medical treatment you want followed if you become unable to … [Read more...] about Is a Living Will the Same as a Living Trust?
When you think about estate planning, you may put it on the back burner, thinking that you will have time put a plan in place at a future date. Many people adopt this perspective, and as a result, most Americans are not properly prepared. Because of this tendency toward foot dragging, once you put your initial plan in place, you may feel as though the job is done. You have finally taken action, and you no longer have to feel this nagging sense of unpreparedness. It's great to put a plan in … [Read more...] about Can Tax Legislation Impact My Estate Plan?
Congress and the President were able to come together at the last minute and avoid the fiscal cliff on January 1st. By passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the government has not only made changes to the tax code but also changes to several provisions that could affect your estate plan. If you have already created an estate plan you may wish to speak to your state planning attorney and ask if any of the changes affect you. Exemptions Under the terms of the agreement the federal … [Read more...] about 3 Practical Effects the Fiscal Cliff Deal Has on Estate Planning