Estate News --- Observations of a Trust and Probate Attorney

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How do I Choose a Business Entity?

Working with a Business Planning Lawyer in Ontario to Choose a Business Entity: Part I

With so much information to share on the types of business entities to consider, this post will appear in two parts. The first will look at some of the more commonly recognized entities that business planning lawyers in Ontario help to set up, and the second will delve a bit deeper.

Without the help of an Ontario business planning lawyer’s input, would you be able to list all of the business entity options available for entrepreneurs? Once you’ve considered that question, ask yourself if you really know which one is right for your business. Chances are pretty good that you answered “no” to one or both of these questions. Choosing the best entity may not be the most glamorous aspect of going into business, but it’s one that can have a significant impact on your success, as well as your stress level.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Avoid Stress at the End of Life

Ontario Estate Lawyer: 4 Steps to Avoid Stress at the End of Life

In general, Americans are very uncomfortable talking about end-of-life issues. It can be hard for people to think about (and plan for) their own death, let alone the death of their loved ones. I get it.

Yet by not discussing these issues, you are leaving your future caregivers (most often your adult children) in an impossible position. Many people are taken completely off-guard when their elderly parents start to decline.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What is a Qualified Personal Residence Trust?

Developing a Qualified Personal Residence Trust with an Ontario Estate Planning Lawyer

Most people recognize that Ontario estate planning lawyers work hard to protect their clients’ assets to maximize an estate after the individual’s death, but this is really only one aspect of the job. Estate planning lawyers help families and individuals to plan for their own futures with retirement planning, help with investment strategies to increase personal wealth, and provide legal advice on lowering the amount of taxes their clients are required to pay.

A Qualified Personal Residence Trust is a tool that can play into each of these concerns. Often referred to as a QPRT, this allows a client to transfer ownership of a personal residence to his or her children while retaining the right to live in the home rent-free for an agreed upon period of time. The parent pretty much has free-rein over the house, but it legally belongs to the children.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Vacation Home During Estate Settlement

Dealing with a Vacation Home During Wills and Trusts Administration

Wills and trusts administration lawyers in Southern California often have the opportunity to work with local families who—in addition to planning for their regular home—also have a vacation home to take into consideration during the planning process. While you might think that real estate prices or the vacation home’s location would be the driving forces behind putting it through the wills and trusts administration process, there are actually other, highly compelling reasons.

Vacation homes don’t just come with the baggage you pack to spend a family holiday on the lake, in the woods, or on the coast; they also come with a lot of emotional history. By working with a wills and trusts administration lawyer, those leaving the vacation home behind can take this history into consideration. They may be best served to really spend some time taking their heirs’ perspectives into consideration when determining how the home should be handled.

For some family members, the vacation home may be an important part of family history, full of memories and personal rites of passage. These folks might prefer that the property be safeguarded in some sort of trust or passed as-is to heirs in a will. On the other hand, there may be family members who are less emotionally attached to the home and see it as their parents’ investment in a stable financial future. These family members would be more inclined to sell the property and share the proceeds.

There are plenty of other aspects of the situation that the original owners would want to explore with a wills and trusts administration lawyer in Southern California. For example, would any potential heirs be financially able to maintain the property, pay taxes on it, etc? If not, then it may be time to consider either selling the vacation home or finding a means to fund the trust so it can meet these obligations.

Other thoughts to keep in mind:

  • Do heirs live close enough to the vacation home to actually use it?
  • Could you leave the vacation home to those who would most appreciate it and balance that with a different inheritance for others?
  • Is there someone you could name as a trustee who could oversee the property on behalf of the trust?
  • Would it be possible for some family members to buy others out of their portion of the property?
  • Could the property be rented out when not in use by family members as a way to support its own upkeep?

Because there are so many variables that can come into play—money, grief, family tension, tradition, etc., etc., dealing with a vacation property during estate planning is something that is probably best done under the guidance of an experienced wills and trusts administration lawyer in Southern California.

For additional questions about estate planning in C

Friday, January 8, 2016

How to Avoid a Conservatorship

 San Bernardino & Riverside Counties Estate Planning Attorney: How to Avoid a Conservatorship

Let’s start off by saying that not all conservatorships are bad. Conservatorships play a vital role in San Bernardino & Riverside Counties by allowing caretakers the means to make financial (Conservator of the Estate) and health (Conservator of the Person) related decisions for those who are not able to anymore and have no one else to speak for them.

Unfortunately, court appointed conservatorships sometimes do not work out in the best interests of the conservatee or his or her family, so many San Bernardino & Riverside Counties estate planning lawyers are often asked to advise their clients about the best ways to avoid a conservatorship. The simple answer is that advanced planning can almost always keep a person’s affairs out of the probate court, and the following are some of the tools San Bernardino & Riverside Counties estate planning attorneys use to ensure their clients have a say in who will handle their affairs for them when they are no longer able.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a document that grants an agent authority to act on behalf of a person (the principal) in various financial matters, such as paying bills, buying and selling real estate, or even conducting business dealings. Either a Springing Power of Attorney (in effect only if the principal is incapacitated) or a Durable Power of Attorney (in effect at the time of signing) could help avoid a Conservator of the Estate being appointed by the Probate Court as an agent has already been designated to handle these financial decisions.

However, there have been some cases where the agent has been accused of mismanaging financial affairs or decides not to act as Power of Attorney, thus leading to conservatorship hearings. San Bernardino & Riverside Counties estate planning attorneys advise their clients to choose someone who they can trust to handle their finances fairly, and to also be sure that the person being named on the document is aware of the situation and agrees to serve in that vital role.

Living Will and Designation of Healthcare Agent

The Living Will and Designation of Healthcare Agent are documents which lay out what type of medical care a person wants and who should make medical decisions for that person in the event of incapacitation. Once again, the Health Care Agent should be someone who understands the importance of this role and can be trusted to make important medical decisions on behalf of the principal. Otherwise, the Probate Court may have to appoint a Conservator of the Person.   

Designation of Conservator

Even if both the Power of Attorney and Health Care Agent documents fail in their intended purposes and a conservatorship must be put in place, there is still one document which can help to ensure that a person is placed under the care of a conservator of their own choosing instead of someone appointed by the Probate Court. The Designation of Conservator is a document in which a person can name the agents he or she would like to serve as either Conservator of the Estate, Conservator of the Person, or both. The Designation of Conservator is presented to the Probate Court during conservatorship proceedings to inform the judge that the conservatee made a decision of sound mind to appoint specific people to these conservator roles. San Bernardino & Riverside Counties estate planning lawyers find that Probate Court judges often appoint those named in the Designation of Conservator, as the document allows the conservatee to make his or her wishes known even if he or she is incapacitated.

If you have any questions about how a San Bernardino & Riverside Counties estate planning attorney can help avoid a conservatorship, please contact us at 909 590-9545909 590-9545 to set up a consultation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Future of the Federal Estate Tax

Chino & Chino Hills Estate Tax Attorney: The Future of the Federal Estate Tax

The IRS just announced the 2016 federal estate tax rate limits, which are $5.45 million for individuals and $10.9 million for married couples. This means that wealthy Americans will be able to leave up to $10.9 million to their heirs without being subject to federal estate tax rates, which top out at 40%. In addition, the federal gift tax exemption will remain at $14,000, meaning gifts made up to that amount will not be taxed by the federal government.

While these estate tax rates have stayed fairly consistent over the past few years, Chino & Chino Hills estate tax attorneys have recently been asked by their clients how they think the 2016 Presidential election may affect the federal tax limits. By and large, the answer all depends on who gets elected to the White House, as the political parties and presidential candidates have differing views on what should be done with the estate tax.

The Democratic candidates, through proposals and past actions, are against lowering estate tax limits. Hillary Clinton has a track record of voting against raising the federal gift tax exemptions – in 2006 she voted against raising the exemption to $5 million, and in 2007 she voted against repealing “death taxes.” While she has no specific proposal in place for changing the federal estate tax exemptions, her voting record gives some insight into which direction she may go if elected President. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, actually does have a proposal in place for what he calls a “Responsible” estate tax, which includes a $3.65 million limit and a 65% top estate tax rate.

The Republican field, by and large, are in favor of either lowering the estate tax limits or abolishing the estate tax altogether. Front runner Donald Trump, along with Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee, have all proposed either eliminating the federal estate tax or letting individual states decide whether or not they want to collect estate taxes. John Kasich and Carly Fiorina have not put forth any specific proposals for how they would approach the estate tax, but Kasich eliminated the estate tax in Ohio during his time as governor.

No matter who is elected President, it’s important to note that he or she does not actually have the power to eliminate the estate tax, since Congress is the branch of government that controls taxes. This past year, the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to repeal the estate tax, while the Senate may vote on its own repeal bill next year. That being said, whoever is elected President will have the ability to either veto or sign into law whatever changes are made by Congress to the federal estate tax.

No matter who wins the 2016 election, <insert county> estate tax attorneys are expecting big changes to come to the federal estate tax limits. If you have any questions about how the federal estate tax exemptions can affect you, or if you qualify for an exemption from state estate taxes, please contact us at 909 590-9545909 590-9545 to set up a consultation.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney? Probably

Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney in Chino or Chino Hills? Probably.

Contrary to what some believe, Chino & Chino Hills estate planning attorneys aren’t here just for the wealthiest members of our community. In fact, after years of experience we come to see how nearly every person in Chino & Chino Hills can benefit from putting together an estate plan, including a will. While you may not feel that you have a lot of assets to protect or believe that your family knows your wishes and will follow them, here are some points to ponder in determining if perhaps you really should hire a Chino & Chino Hills estate planning attorney after all.

Make Your Estate More Valuable

The idea of making an estate more valuable should actually be pretty important to those who don’t consider themselves to be “wealthy.” With the help of a good estate planning lawyer, you can work toward a more comfortable future, as well as to maximize the assets that you do have. With a retirement plan, life insurance, and other planning tools, things can start to look a lot different than you expected. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to leave an inheritance behind for your loved ones.

Protect Your Privacy (and Your Family’s)

When working with an estate planning attorney in Chino & Chino Hills, you will want to look at the possibility of setting up some sort of trust. Again, these types of legal tools are NOT just for the rich or well-to-do. There are many, many advantages to having a trust, but one of those that resonates with a lot of folks in Chino & Chino Hills is the fact that assets placed into a trust do not necessarily have to go through the very public probate process. This affords way more privacy regarding your estate, what you’ve left behind, and other details that you’d prefer to keep private.

Name Guardians for Your Children

No matter how much money you’ve got in the bank or elsewhere, if you have minor children, there is no question that you need to hire an estate planning attorney to draw up guardianship and other important documents. If you become incapacitated or pass away without these incredibly important papers legally filed, then you are basically giving the court system carte blanch to determine what happens to your children. They make these decisions based on certain legal precedents, and there is a dangerously high chance that the guardian chosen for your children under 18 will NOT be the person you would have chosen. This should be enough to send pretty much every parent in Chino & Chino Hills running to a good estate planning attorney!

Do It While You Can

It’s not uncommon for Chino & Chino Hills residents to want to put off estate planning until they absolutely have to think about it. The problem that they and their estate planning attorney run into, however, is that you can wait too long. When putting together a will or other estate planning documents, the court needs to be satisfied that you are of sound mind and body. If you’ve recently found out you’re gravely ill or are losing cognitive function, an estate plan can be rendered invalid on those grounds.

The bottom line is that nearly everyone in Chino & Chino Hills would end up in a better position by working with an estate planning attorney. From professional retirement planning to naming guardians to protecting your own privacy and more, if you haven’t yet started the process, now is definitely the time.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hiring the Right Probate Lawyer in Chino

Hiring the Right Probate Lawyer in Chino

When a friend or family member passes away, someone will be named as the executor of that person’s estate.  Because of the length and complexity of the process that follows, it’s usually in everyone’s best interest to hire a skilled Chino probate lawyer.  There are different kinds of probate lawyers, but most executors find themselves in need of someone to help with the transactional aspects of the probate process.  On the other hand, if there are lawsuits involved regarding the estate, a probate litigator may be a better way to go.

Choosing Your Chino Probate Lawyer

Once you’ve determined which type of probate lawyer makes the most sense, you’ll find that there are still more choices to make.  Start by looking at lawyers that have considerable experience in probate.  Alongside this, you will also want to consider what other areas of expertise and experience that lawyer has.  If your loved one’s estate consists of a lot of antiques, for example, you’ll want to hire a Chino probate lawyer who is familiar with getting appraisals for these types of items. 

There is a lot of information available online about the different lawyers you want to further consider.  You’ll likely be able to find out about their education, how long they’ve been in practice, and what types of work they typically handle.  Double check the probate lawyer’s standing with the Bar Association, what additional certifications he or she might have, and any organizations that the attorney belongs to.  References are also a great way to get to know what previous clients have thought of the probate lawyer’s skill.

Finally, you may choose to meet with the probate lawyer for a consultation.  Many provide this for free, but not all do, so you’ll want to ask about that when making the appointment.  Pay attention to how the staff treats you, too, as you will probably be dealing with them as much as or more than you will with the actual attorney.  Do they make time for you, or are they too busy?  If your calls aren’t being returned in a reasonable time or you can’t get an appointment, then perhaps that particular Chino probate lawyer isn’t the best choice for you.

If you happen to have any special needs, be sure to ask about them, too.  For example, you may find yourself in a position where it would be helpful to have a probate lawyer who can practice in both <insert state> and another state, or you may feel you’ll be best served by a bi-lingual attorney.

Use all of this information to narrow down your list of potential Chino probate lawyers, but don’t overlook the importance of your own impressions.  The probate lawyer will be helping during some potentially difficult times, and it makes sense to work with someone you trust and respect.

Friday, December 18, 2015

How an Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Assets

How a Chino Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Assets

There’s a fairly constant drive that Chino estate planning lawyers see in our society to continually acquire assets.  After all, that’s one of the ways we accumulate wealth, which we then ask the estate planning lawyer to help us pass on.  Simply gathering more and more assets isn’t always the best approach to building wealth, however. Those assets also need to be protected.  A good Chino estate planning lawyer will likely want to go over ways to do just that, which can include:

  1. Estate planning.Of course your estate planning lawyer is going to want to help you put together a long-term plan that can provide for your loved ones. Most people don’t necessarily understand all of the tax implications that go along with various aspects of estate planning, though.For example, a fairly simple trust can help your heirs avoid a lot of taxes, which means the amount you leave to them will be larger. Certain types of trusts can also be used to shield your assets from the risks of life (both for you and your heirs), including lawsuits, divorce and bankruptcy. If you’ve always thought trusts were just for super-rich people, then this is definitely something to discuss with a Chino estate planning lawyer.You will likely be amazed at the difference a trust can make.
  2. 2.Insurance. There are so many different types of insurance on the market, and the types that will most benefit you will differ from those of someone else. The important thing to note when it comes to protecting your assets is that having insurance provides a way to pay for the unexpected without depleting your own financial resources.Yes, it costs up front, but it usually works out to be so much less than not having insurance when you need it.
  3. Business structure. If you are a business owner, you may not have considered the structure of your business as a means for protecting it. In fact, the right business structure will protect more than just the business. For example, if a sole proprietor gets sued for a faulty product or workplace injury, his or her personal assets can be used to pay for damages.Operating under a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), on the other hand, can separate your business and personal assets so that one is not affected by the other.

These are just a couple of the myriad of ways that estate planning lawyers in Chino protect their clients’ assets. Every situation is different and has its own needs, of course, and your attorney should be willing to look at yours from every angle to advise you on the best route to take.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Don't All Types of Income when Creating Your Estate Plan

Do Not Overlook These Types of Income with Your Inland Empire Trust Lawyer

Inland Empire trust lawyers are quite savvy when it comes to working with the “traditional” kinds of income clients have. The attorney will help them figure out how to plan based on current and expected salary, along with a variety of assets like retirement plans or bank accounts.  Each of these may be considered a source of income for your estate.

Now that the obvious is out of the way, you might also find that there are other types of income that can be overlooked because they’re just not as common.  If you’re receiving money in the following ways (or your estate will), it’s important to have the estate planning lawyer take that into consideration when developing the right plan for you.

You Hit the Jackpot

Let’s say you’ve made nice with Lady Luck and have some lottery or other winnings. An Inland Empire trust lawyer will be able to help you understand how they might be taxed and/or if they’re even transferrable to your heirs.

Write On!

If you’re a writer or other kind of creative person who receives royalties for your work, you’re going to want to take that income into consideration when drawing up your plan. Make sure this is something you and your attorney discuss, and bring along any contracts you have regarding the payments.

You’re Gifted

Perhaps you’ve received some sort of income from gifts or an inheritance. It’s possible that upon your death, these assets will not transfer to your heirs, rather they will be redirected to the gifter’s alternate beneficiary.

Annuities, Too!

There are different kinds of annuities from which you might draw income. You’ll want to look these over thoroughly with a trust lawyer in Inland Empire to determine what will become of the annuity once you pass away.

Stuff You Don’t Even Have Yet

If you are listed as a beneficiary on someone else’s life insurance, retirement, or other source of funds but they have not yet passed away and left the money to you, it’s a very good idea to make sure your estate planning lawyer is aware of the expected property so you can include a plan for it in your overall estate plan.

You can save yourself some time and money by making sure that you have all of the appropriate documentation and contact information for any of these types of income before you ever even set foot in your Inland Empire trust lawyer’s office. Things like royalties come sporadically and can be easily overlooked, so make sure you’ve taken the time to really think through and accounted for every source of income you have.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Top Tips From A Lawyer to Avoid IRA Beneficiary Form Mistakes

Top Tips From an Inland Empire Will and Trust Lawyer to Avoid IRA Beneficiary Form Mistakes

Putting together a solid estate plan with your Inland Empire will and trust lawyer is an important step in protecting the future of yourself and your family.  In order to make sure that things go the way you’ve planned, it’s a good idea to occasionally double check who you have listed on your IRA beneficiary form. 

In order to keep things in line with your estate plan, remember that the beneficiary designation form may be the final voice on who gets your IRA.  That can happen, even if you and your estate planning lawyer have rewritten your will.  (Yes, the designation form can outrank your will!) If you’ve had a change in your relationship with the person you previously designated, you’re going to want to get that form changed.

This isn’t the only problem your will and trust lawyer in Inland Empire might be able to identify when it comes to the beneficiary designation form.  For example, it’s actually pretty common for individuals to not even know where that form is, despite the fact that their IRA may be the most valuable thing they’re planning to leave behind.  If you haven’t seen a copy of your form in awhile (or ever), you or an Inland Empire estate planning lawyer need to contact the IRA administrator and get a copy to keep somewhere appropriate.

When you get that copy, take the time to review it.  You may see that plenty has changed since you set up your IRA.  Children, divorces, spouses, and even grandchildren may have come into play since that time.  Along those lines, if you’ve lost a child but want to ensure that his or her family receives a portion of your IRA, you will need to list them on the form because a deceased child cannot inherit.  In fact, anytime a beneficiary has passed away, it will affect your estate.  You can make this a little less of an issue by making sure to name backup beneficiaries.

If one or more of your beneficiaries is under the age of 18, your Inland Empire will and trust lawyer may advise you to use the IRA to fund a trust instead.  This will give you a whole lot more say in how the money gets used.  In fact, even if you are leaving it to someone older, a trust still might be the way to go for several compelling reasons.

These are just a few of the complications that can come along with not properly designating beneficiaries for your IRA.  There are others that might come into play, as well, and an Inland Empire will and trust lawyer should be able to go through them with you to create the best plan possible.

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Brock, Robinson & Associates assists clients with Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Special Needs Planning, Pet Trusts, Probate & Estate Administration, and Family Business Preservation in Chino, California as well as Chino Hills, Inland Empire, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Montclair, Diamond Bar, West Covina, Covina, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont Fontana, Riverside, Colton, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Orange, Brea, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, Eastvale, Norco, Mira Loma, Alta Loma, Upland, Rialto, Highland, Loma Linda and Grand Terrace in San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County and Orange County.

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