Specializing in estate planning, probate, and trust administration.
Regardless of your age or financial situation, proactive estate planning is something everyone should consider. Having a clear and well-drafted estate plan in place can help limit your estate’s tax liability, avoid probate, and ensure that your assets will be distributed to your loved ones quickly and easily. It can also help your family avoid many of the disputes and uncertainties that can ultimately lead to probate litigation.
We work with our clients to provide personalized estate plans that address your individual concerns and fully memorialize your final wishes. If you have lost a loved one, we can also assist you with all aspects of estate and trust administration.

Estate Planning

Consider estate planning to be insurance for your family and loved ones. It is, quite simply, planning for the future. It doesn’t matter if you have earned assets, inherited assets, or hope to do one or both, you should be certain that your assets pass to your loved ones according to your wishes, with minimal transfer taxes, estate taxes, probate fees, and other costs. We can help you attain your estate planning goals. Our firm believes in personalized service for each and every client.

For individuals with larger estates, proper estate planning will minimize or reduce estate tax liability, and preserve your wealth. Depending on how much you own when you die, your estate may have to pay estate taxes before your assets can be distributed (federal estate taxes are 40%). We can provide you with a number of strategies to reduce or even eliminate estate taxes – if you plan ahead.

Other estate planning issues may be more important to you than taxes, particularly if you have minor children. For instance, who will take care of your minor children if you die or become incapacitated? How do you choose the best guardian? At what ages should your children receive your assets? If you are incapacitated, who will make medical and financial decisions for you? Do you want to be kept alive on life support if you are in a permanent vegetative state? If you don’t make these decisions now, a court will make them for you when the time comes.

A comprehensive estate plan almost always includes:

 

Additional options and planning tools, depending on your personal circumstances include:

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Trusts

A trust is a written legal agreement between the individual creating the trust and the person or institution named to manage the assets held in the trust (the “trustee.”) In many cases, it is appropriate for you to be the initial trustee of your living trust, until management assistance is anticipated or required.

Estate Administration

If you are named as the trustee of a trust, the process may be overwhelming. We can help you understand your obligations as a fiduciary and the steps you need to take, as we provide the full range of estate administration services. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about the requirements for probate as well as trust administration, and can assist you if you have been given power of attorney by a loved one.

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Probate & Trust Administration

We also handle all aspects of administration after the death of a loved one. We assist with the administration and distribution of revocable and irrevocable trusts. We work closely with the family’s accountant to ensure that all federal and state estate tax returns are properly prepared, and assist in the division of trust assets among the subtrusts commonly used in zero tax marital deduction situations. We consult with fiduciaries on their accounting and investment duties. We also handle the probate of estates when necessary.

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Incapacity Planning

An important part of estate planning is enabling our clients to ensure that their desires concerning medical treatment and “end of life” care are carried out.

Under California law, all persons have the right to give instructions about their own health care, and to name someone else to make health care decisions for them if they cannot make those decisions themselves. In the absence of such instructions, the medical care of an incapacitated patient can be the subject of protracted court proceedings, with no guarantee that the patient’s actual (but unwritten) wishes will be honored. Many aspects of estate planning are a concern of the very wealthy, but medical care issues affect everyone. So we believe that all estate plans should include some form of health care instructions.

Instructions can be stated in a variety of formats, such as powers of attorney for health care, living wills, POLST and do not resuscitate (“DNR”) orders. Under current California law, any or all of those formats can be combined into a single document called an “Advance Health Care Directive.” Using an Advance Health Care Directive, a person (the “principal”) may appoint a health care agent who has the authority to make decisions about the principal’s medical care if the principal is unable to make those decisions and provide written health care wishes in the Directive, including end-of-life decisions.

Guardianship

For clients who are parents of minor children, our priority is to design and plan to best meet the needs of such parents and provide added peace of mind. Our experience, both professionally and personally, has afforded us with an increased awareness of the issues facing parents today. As a result, we work with parents and assist them in making the decisions that will carry forward their wishes and legacy, including determining how and when distributions should be made to or for the benefit of a child, instructions to the trustee, saving for college and education, and guidance in choosing guardians.

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Speaking Engagements

Nick and Linn are both available to speak to corporations, small businesses, moms’ or dads’ clubs, play groups, new, and not-so-new parents, about both basic and more complex estate planning issues. For more information or to schedule a speaking engagement, please contact us at (510) 594-8483 or by email at Nick@asestatelaw.com or Linn@asestatelaw.com.

For more information or to schedule a speaking engagement: