Trust and Estates
Our estate planning attorneys, who are Certified Specialists in Estate Planning by the State Bar of California, strive to make the estate planning process as easy as possible by providing our clients with sound advice and clear answers to sometimes very complex questions. We are always mindful of drafting provisions with concise and unambiguous language so your wishes are interpreted and followed by your nominated fiduciary, heirs and the courts many years later.
The estate planning process begins with a comprehensive discussion about your goals and objectives for building and managing your estate. This ultimately leads to determining the distribution of your estate to your family, friends and charitable organizations. Any estate plan, regardless of its value, begins with a revocable living trust, a pour-over will, an advanced health care directive and a durable power of attorney.
For more complex estates, the estate plan may also include the following:
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Life Insurance Trusts
- Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
- Defective Grantor Trusts
- Charitable Remainder and Lead Trusts
- Annuity Trusts
- Creation of Private Foundations
We respect that multiple professionals assist our clients in handling their financial affairs and we are always ready to work with them in the estate planning process. Our attorneys are well-adept in working with Certified Professional Accountants (CPAs), Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), and other investment planners. We believe in a strong team approach to creating and drafting a successful estate plan. Together, we will support you and make sure your directives are protected, respected and executed.
Along with being well-versed in the management and dispositions of an estate, our attorneys are very knowledgeable about the tax aspect of estate planning. Significant federal estate and gift tax changes continually occur and our attorneys maintain ongoing education to stay informed of the changing laws. Our vast experience includes interpreting and understanding the complex rules and procedures in California’s property tax laws (Proposition 13) that involve transfers to business entities, children, grandchildren and non-family members.
Trust and Estate Administration
Our lawyers and legal assistants have extensive experience in providing trust and probate administration services to both professional and non-professional fiduciaries. Our experience in servicing clients ranges from large trusts and estates involving complex assets and legal issues to simple and modest estates planning. We have represented trustees, personal representatives, special administrators and conservators administering trusts and estates successfully. We have also represented individual and charitable beneficiaries against non-cooperative and adversarial trustees, personal representatives, and conservators. Our extensive background in trust and estate litigation provides clients with the specialized knowledge needed to prevent litigation.
Trust Administration Explained
When a single person or a married couple creates a trust, the administration of the trust occurs when one or both of the creators of the trust die. This is typically a time of sorrow and uncertainty due to the death of a family member. When our firm is engaged to assist a surviving spouse, family member, relative or friend, we understand the need for time to grieve and cope with the death. Working behind the scenes we can handle any immediate legal issues so the family has time to mourn the loss. Our lawyers and legal assistants are aware of the legal deadlines, and will handle those pressing issues for you.
Ultimately, our law firm plays a key role in assisting our clients in administering the trust according to its terms, the rules of law in California and any tax rules that apply. We pride ourselves in providing accurate and effective counsel to our clients so they can properly fulfill their fiduciary duties while we work diligently to move the administration towards ultimate distribution to the beneficiaries.
There are circumstances when court involvement is needed as part of the administration of the trust. Court involvement could be as simple as having a successor trustee appointed, or reviewing and approving a trustee’s accounting. Alternatively, circumstances can require court involvement as being very complex and include filing a complicated petition for instructions, addressing ambiguous dispositive language within the trust or attempting to resolve a dispute among the parties prior to the initiation of litigation.
Probate Administration Explained
When a person has not created a trust to address their assets upon death and either passes with a will or with no will the process to settle the estate and then distribute the assets to the heirs is probate administration and it is supervised by the Probate Department in the Superior Court, hence the phrase “Probate Administration.”
Probate Administration is court supervised so the process begins with a petition for probate to have the will deemed the decedent’s last will and testament and have a personal representative appointed. Many times the petition for probate is contested by an unhappy party after seeing the disposition of the estate pursuant to the will. Our firm excels in will contests representing both proponents and opponents of the will. Once the court decides to petition for probate, the probate administration process begins. No two probates are alike, and given this fact, our law firm has ample experience in dealing with any situation presented. From simple administrations with no controversies, to highly contentious administrations with a myriad of legal issues, you can be certain that our legal team understands and uses the appropriate rules and procedures for your facts and circumstances.
Once all the probate administration tasks are completed, you can count on us to complete the administration as soon as possible, to discharge the personal representative and allow the heirs to appreciate the gifts bestowed upon them.
No matter how simple or complex the trust or probate administration may be, our team of attorneys and legal assistants excel in communicating regularly with clients and providing achievable solutions. Regardless of which party we represent, our primary goal is to protect you in the process, and guide you with the right solution to resolve all legal matters.