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Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney Shares 6 Good Reasons to Establish a Trust

California TrustsNo Comments

trust1 e1319135794367 Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney Shares 6 Good Reasons to Establish a TrustTrusts are fundamental estate planning tools that have been used for years by people wishing to protect their assets and ensure their safe passage on to heirs.  When the Tax Act of 2010 increased the estate tax exclusion to $5 million for individuals, some may have thought that a trust was no longer necessary to perform these valuable tasks.

However, a Newport Beach estate planning attorney says there are at least six good reasons for establishing a trust:

  1. Trusts can allow you to pass on assets without having to go through probate.
  2. Establishing a trust is usually much less expensive than the cost of probate.
  3. Trusts provide everyone with a degree of privacy that is lost through probate.
  4. Trusts can protect assets against creditors.
  5. Trusts enable you to set rules on when and if a beneficiary will inherit assets.
  6. Trusts guard against the vagaries of changing estate tax rules, shielding assets from potential taxes.

Trusts can be designed to protect and build on even a modest estate. Whether your desire is to provide for your immediate heirs, or leave a legacy that lasts far into the future, a trust can help you accomplish your goal.
Help is available to you by contacting your Southern California financial planning experts today.

California Estate Planning Attorney Shares Ways to Ease Into Retirement

Retirement PlanningNo Comments

jump e1330468933636 California Estate Planning Attorney Shares Ways to Ease Into RetirementAlthough 2012 is a Leap Year, when it comes to retirement there are ways to ease into it rather than taking one giant leap.  In fact, due to the economic downturn of the last few years, a majority of Baby Boomers are finding it necessary to stage their retirement plan in order to compensate for lost investments or income.

Here are some ways to ease yourself into retirement:

Revise your work schedule.  Does your employer offer a phased retirement schedule for older workers?  Your employer’s human resources manager can explain what might be available to you.

Restructure your pay.  Since less hours usually means less pay, you should consult with your California estate planning attorney to see how a salary cut could impact the retirement lifestyle you want.

Review pensions.  Make sure that reducing your work schedule will not adversely impact your pension.

Check health insurance.  If you work part-time, will you still be covered by your employer’s health insurance policy?  This could be a problem if you do not qualify for Medicare yet.

Review Social Security options.  Some of your Social Security benefits can be withheld if you still work and earn too much.

Get started by contacting our Orange County asset protection estate planning law firm as soon as possible.

 

Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney Notes Case of the Untrustworthy Trustee

Asset Protection, California Trusts, Estate Planning, Trust LitigationNo Comments

gavel 2 e1314977899988 Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney Notes Case of the Untrustworthy TrusteeA Riverside County, Calif. Superior Court judge has awarded more than $18.2 million to a California woman and her brother, who accused two half-siblings of enriching themselves at the expense of their inheritance, according to a National Law Journal article.

Thomas Barnes of Corona, Calif., died in 2001, leaving assets in a trust for his four children – two from his first marriage, and two from his second marriage.  The two children from his second marriage – Brittnee and Shane Barnes – were minors at the time of Thomas Barnes’ death.   The two older siblings from the first marriage – Thomas Barnes Jr. and Kristine Barnes – were named trustees.

In 2010, Brittnee Barnes petitioned the court to remove the two older half-siblings as trustees, claiming that they had misused trust assets to enrich themselves.  In 2011, the court found that the two older siblings had breached their fiduciary duties and appointed an independent trustee.

Additional discovery was also ordered, as it was alleged that a number of assets were missing from the estate, including 1,852 ounces in gold from a safety deposit box.  On Feb. 1, the court ordered Thomas Barnes, Jr. to turn over to his younger half-siblings the value of the gold, outstanding probate assets, as well as investments he made in auto dealerships and distributions he made to himself.  The award was doubled under a California Probate Code section that allows double damages against trustees who are found to have taken trust assets in bad faith.

Contact us today and let our Newport Beach law firm help you with all your financial planning needs.

Estate Planning Attorney Notes IRS Deadline Extension for Portability Election

Tax PlanningNo Comments

IRS Logo 150x150 Estate Planning Attorney Notes IRS Deadline Extension for Portability ElectionThe IRS announced last week that it is extending the deadline for widows and widowers of those who died in the first six months of 2011 and have estates of $5 million or less to make the portability election.

Thanks to the 2010 Tax Act, the portability election allows estates of married couples to pass on the unused portion of their individual $5 million exclusion to a surviving spouse.  The new portability provision means that – at least for the next two years – spouses do not need to re-title property or create trusts just to take advantage of each other’s exclusion amount.  The Obama Administration has also suggested that portability be made permanent in their 2013 Budget proposal.

The IRS has extended the deadline for estates to make the portability election to 15 months after the decedent’s date of death, rather than the usual nine months.  The extension is available even if estates did not request the automatic six-month filing extension prior to the regular nine-month filing deadline.

Estates of those who died in the first six months of 2011 can make a portability election by filing a Form 4768 and Form 706 to the IRS no later than 15 months after the date of death.

Contact us today for individualized planning strategies to meet your unique needs.

Top 10 Asset Protection Planning Tips

Asset Protection, Domestic Asset Protection, Foreign Asset ProtectionNo Comments

asset protection 150x150 Top 10 Asset Protection Planning Tips Asset Protection Planning Tips From A California Asset Protection Lawyer Who Works Smart To Protect Your Future

Over the past several decades, expanding theories of liability and the great proliferation of litigation have given increased emphasis to asset protection planning.  Potential liability is now a major concern for doctors, lawyers, other professionals, real estate investors, business owners and persons of high net worth in general.

What this means is that if you have assets and you don’t plan and set up a structure to protect them, then all of the hard work and effort you put into creating the assets may be wasted.

Here are our Top 10 asset protection planning tips:

  1. Plan for a claim before one happens; once a claim arises, you can’t go back to put asset protections in place.
  2. Planning after a claim arises usually gets you in deeper trouble instead of helping to bail you out.
  3. Don’t confuse asset protection planning with insurance; one is not a substitute for the other.
  4. You cannot protect personal assets by putting them into your business; establish a trust instead.
  5. Proper asset protection strives for a balance of control; too much control still in your hands does not protect you.
  6. Asset protection planning and estate planning don’t always mix.
  7. Don’t put all your asset protection eggs in one basket.
  8. Don’t think bankruptcy will solve all your problems.
  9. Keep your asset protection planning simple.
  10. Assume that your creditors will find out about your asset protection plan and its purpose.

In view of the onslaught of litigation and risks involved in general and real estate investments, it is absolutely essential to properly plan and prepare an asset protection structure in advance.  Not only should asset protection be devised and well planned, it also needs to be properly implemented with the help of a top rated wealth protection lawyer who is both skilled and trustworthy like attorney Jeff Matsen.

Mr. Matsen has over 35 years of proven experience and was named by Worth magazine as one of “America’s Top 100 Attorneys.”  The Nationally Renowned Attorney Rating Service, ‘AVVO’ rated attorney Matsen with a perfect “10/10 Superb” score and has been designated a “Preeminent Lawyer” by the only other prestigious attorney rating directory, Martindale Hubble.

Your California legal and financial planning experts are at your service; Contact us today.

Orange County Estate Planning Attorney Details Reasons for Offshore Accounts

Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Foreign Asset Protection, Offshore TrustsNo Comments

beach e1329859599887 Orange County Estate Planning Attorney Details Reasons for Offshore AccountsA number of news articles have sprung up lately regarding offshore bank accounts, investments and trusts due to the disclosure by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney about his Cayman Islands financial accounts.  A recent SmartMoney.com article took a look at two reasons wealthy Americans seek offshore asset protection, including:

Litigation risk – mitigating litigation risk is a primary reason for investing and banking offshore.  Wealthy individuals will likely encounter more lawsuits than the average American, and U.S. courts have no overseas jurisdiction to enforce judgments.

Political risk – one wealth manager noted that many wealthy clients want diversification protection from U.S. governmental policies and banking systems, saying that the last few years have shaken confidence in our system.

As California asset protection goes, an offshore trust is a great choice for those looking to keep their liquid assets protected in the event of lawsuits (such as malpractice). An offshore trust can be more powerful than a simple offshore account because it can harbor liquid assets like a regular bank account, but it can also safeguard intellectual property and other types of assets that an offshore account cannot.

Those with large estates and professionals who are at greater risk of being sued due to the nature of their occupation are encouraged to look at offshore trusts as a part of their California estate plan. If you’d like to protect your assets and have considered offshore accounts, consult with an Orange County estate planning attorney to determine if an offshore trust is a good fit for your estate.

Let our Costa Mesa law offices help you get started by contacting us today.

The Last Will and Testament of President George Washington

Estate Planning, WillsNo Comments

george washington 150x150 The Last Will and Testament of President George WashingtonToday is President’s Day as well as Washington’s Birthday – although he was born Feb. 22, 1732, his birthday has been celebrated with that of Abraham Lincoln on the third Monday of February as a federal holiday since 1971.

Washington wrote and attested his own will on July 9, 1799, five months prior to his death on Dec. 14 1799.  Washington’s will is fascinating reading, revealing much about the character of our first president as well as the extent of his holdings.  At the time of his death, he was a very wealthy landowner, with property in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Kentucky.

Washington’s will begins in elegant fashion:

I GEORGE WASHINGTON of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this Instrument; which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name, to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others.

His first order of business is to discharge his debts, ordering that they be punctually and speedily paid.

One of the most interesting aspects of Washington’s will is his detailed provisions for the Mount Vernon slaves.  Washington specified in his will that all slaves be given their freedom upon the death of his wife, Martha.  He noted that, To emancipate them during her life, would, tho’ earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties on account of their intermixture by Marriages…

Washington further provided for the care of the aged and the education of young Mount Vernon slaves by his heirs: Seeing that a regular & permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the uncertain provision to be made by individuals.

Washington was charitable beyond his slaves, establishing a trust to benefit the Academy in the Town of Alexandria towards the support of a Free school, established at, and annexed to, the said Academy; for the purpose of educating such orphan children, or the children of such other poor & indigent persons as are unable to accomplish it with their own means: and who, in the judgment of the Trustees of the said Seminary, are best entitled to the benefit of this donation.

As for his own passing, Washington sets forth his instructions in his will as follows:

The family vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of Brick, and upon a larger Scale, may be built, at the foot of what is commonly called the Vineyard Inclosure, on the ground which is marked out. In which my remains, with those of my deceased relatives (now in the old Vault) and such others of my family as may chuse to be entombed there, may be deposited. And it is my express desire that my Corpse may be Interred in a private manner, without parade, or funeral Oration.

You can read the entire Last Will and Testament of George Washington here.

Help is available to you by contacting your Southern California financial planning experts today.

 

Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney Shares Study on Mindset of Those Entering Retirement

Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Retirement PlanningNo Comments

A study last year by SunAmerica Financial Group shows that the economic recession has had a profound effect on the mindset and expectations of those getting ready for retirement.  A majority of those surveyed said that they now view retirement as a new chapter in life rather than a way to wind down – yet more proof that baby boomers are remaking retirement in their own image, instead of their parents’.

Here is an infographic that breaks down the study results into four categories of mindsets among pre- and current retirees – note that those who have the most positive attitude about retirement are also those who say they have developed a plan for saving and investing for retirement:

retirement e1329514243885 Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney Shares Study on Mindset of Those Entering Retirement

Get started by contacting our Orange County asset protection estate planning law firm as soon as possible.

Orange County Estate Planning Attorney Details Obama Budget Proposal Effects on Estate Planning

Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Tax PlanningNo Comments

Obama 150x150 Orange County Estate Planning Attorney Details Obama Budget Proposal Effects on Estate PlanningPresident Obama’s budget proposal was released last week and contains several proposed changes that effect estate planning, including:

Re-set Estate, Gift and GST Taxes to 2009 Levels.  The President has asked that the estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax rates be reinstated to the 2009 levels permanently.  This would set the top tax rate at 45 percent, with the estate tax and GST exclusion amount capped at $3.5 million and $1 million for gift taxes.  Portability for estate and gift tax exclusion would be made permanent.

Minimum Term for GRATs.  The President proposes a minimum term of 10 years for grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) and a maximum terms of the life expectancy of the annuitant, plus 10 years.

Limitation on Term of GST Tax Exemption.  The President wants the GST exclusion to terminate on the 90th anniversary of a trust.

Long-Term Capital Gains Rate Increase.  Increase long-term capital gains rate of 20 percent for single taxpayers with annual income of $200,000+, $250,000 for married couples filing joint returns and $125,000 for married taxpayers who file separate returns.

In addition, the proposal calls for requiring consistency in value for transfer and income tax purposes, and a modification in the valuation discount rules.

Whether or not many or any of these changes come to fruition, you can be sure that the only thing you can count on from Washington when it comes to estate planning is change.  The best way to protect your assets is to partner with an experienced California estate planning attorney to keep up on the latest legislative changes.

Contact us today and let our Newport Beach law firm help you with all your financial planning needs.

California Estate Planning Attorney Details 5 Things to Pay Off Before You Retire

Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Retirement PlanningNo Comments

pay off 150x150 California Estate Planning Attorney Details 5 Things to Pay Off Before You RetireRetirement is so much easier if you don’t have significant expenses to worry about on a regular basis.  Here are five things you should definitely try to pay off before you retire:

Mortgage:   Usually 30-40 percent of an average America’s monthly expense, paying off your mortgage before you retire will free up a lot of extra cash for doing what you really want to do.

Major home repairs:  Inventory your home and make a list of the repairs you’ll need to make over the next 15-20 years – a new roof?  A kitchen remodel?  A new air conditioner?  Plan for it in advance by setting money aside as part of your retirement planning.

Minor repairs:  If you’ve been living in the same house for decades, it may be time to consider an update – a fresh coat of paint, new window treatments or new floors will add value to your home if you decide to sell, and it’s easier to pay for it while you’re still working.

Cars:  In the current economy, most people are delaying purchasing a new car, which is a way to save in the short term.  However, if your current vehicle is on its last legs, you’ll either need to replace it before you retire or set funds aside in your retirement budget to cover the cost of a new one at some point.

Supporting the kids:  Many Baby Boomers will be reaching retirement age at the same time their children are going off to college.  Plus, many children who have graduated are flocking back to the nest.  If your children are not self-sufficient, you will need to take into consideration when they will be and how much you will be involved in getting them there.

Contact us today for individualized planning strategies to meet your unique needs.

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