EVERY CLIENT MATTERS

Estate Planning

 

Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive, Trusts, Wills, IRA Minimum Distributions

Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney is essential because if a person becomes incapacitated or incompetent without preparing this document, family and friends will not be allowed to make many important financial decisions, pay bills or make important healthcare decisions on behalf of their parent. There are two types of power of attorney: for healthcare and for finances. These enable your elderly parent to appoint an "agent," such as a trusted relative or friend, to handle specific health, legal and financial responsibilities.

Advance Health Care Directive: An advance healthcare directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, medical directive or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.

Trusts: A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which one party, known as a trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary. Trusts are established to provide legal protection for the trustor’s assets, to make sure those assets are distributed according to the wishes of the trustor, and to save time, reduce paperwork and, in some cases, avoid or reduce inheritance or estate taxes.

Wills: A will, sometimes called a “last will and testament,” is a document that states your final wishes.   It is read by a county court after your death, and the court makes sure that your final wishes are carried out.

IRA minimum distributions: An Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) is a savings account set up at a financial institution that allows individuals to contribute monies which are to be used after an individual retires.

Probate, Trust, and Estate Administration, Probate and Trust Litigation, Fiduciary Representation

Probate Litigation

Probate, Trust, and Estate Administration: Probate, also referred to as estate administration, is the legal process used to identify, locate and value assets as well as to transfer assets to the intended beneficiaries or heirs of the estate.

Probate and Trust Litigation: Probate and Trust litigation is the process of challenging or defending a provision of the Last Will and Testament or trust, a codicil to the Last Will and Testament or amendment to a trust, the appointment of the personal representative or trustee, or the entire contents of the Last Will and Testament or trust. The facts of each dispute will define the exact cause of action (e.g., lack of mental capacity, undue influence, duress, intentional interference with an expectancy, and/or improper signing of the will) that needs to be defended.

Fiduciary Representation: Person or a legal entity (firm, bank, credit union) holding assets (cash, property, securities) or information as an agent-in-trust for a principal (stockholder, customer, member). A fiduciary owes (among other obligations) the duty of loyalty, full disclosure, obedience, diligence, and of accounting for all monies handed over, to the principal. A fiduciary must not exploit his or her position of trust and confidence for personal gain at the expense of the principal. Law demands a fiduciary to exercise highest degree of care and utmost good faith in maintenance and preservation of the principal's assets and rights, and imposes compensatory as well as punitive damages on the erring fiduciary.

 

Charitable Trusts

A charitable trust is one that designates a charitable organization as its beneficiary. A charitable trust provides trustors with the ability to remove wealth from their estate without the penalties associated with gift, income, and estate taxes.

 

Elder Law

 

Long-Term Care Planning, MediCal Planning, MediCal Applications, Medi-Cal Trusts, Creating a Life Estate, Private Annuities 

Long-Term Care Planning: Our offices specialize in planning for your future needs. We offer services including estate planning, Advance Health Care Directives, Wills, Trusts, and Durable Power of Attorney.

MediCal Planning: Medi-Cal is California’s program for administering federal Medicaid funds. Medi-Cal has several different programs. The most misunderstood is “Long Term Care” coverage. Most people first hear about Medi-Cal Long Term Care coverage when a family member or loved one is hospitalized, then discharged to a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility. Medicare may pay for this extended care for a while…but not long. The maximum period Medicare will pay for qualifying individuals is 100 days, but most families will find themselves receiving a notice of termination of Medicare long before that. For those who do not have long term care insurance, the choice then becomes to pay the cost themselves, over $7,000 per month, or apply for Long Term Care Medi-Cal. Few could afford to private pay for long without seriously impacting the financial security of the spouse and family. Both married and unmarried individuals also worry as the estate they intended to pass to their children or heirs is rapidly eaten up by nursing home bills. The clear alternative is the Long Term Care Medi-Cal program. Medi-Cal will pay for 100% of nursing home expenses for those who qualify. Some may need to pay a “share of cost,” but many will not. Even those with a relatively high share of cost pay far less than the private pay rate for a nursing home. With our assistance, the majority of those who consult with us can qualify for Long Term Care Medi-Cal, legally preserving most, if not all, of their assets for themselves and their loved ones. We can help you minimize the “share of cost,” and often use techniques allowing you to direct your share of cost for payment for beneficial therapy for your family member. We can also often help avoid recovery claims by the State.

MediCal Applications: Our offices will take care of all the necessary paperwork for you. If you would like to plan for MediCal, we would handle all associated applications and proceedings.

Medi-Cal Trusts: A Medi-Cal Trust is an Irrevocable Trust specifically created to hold assets (i.e. the home and savings accounts) to qualify for Medi-CAL Long Term Care Benefits and to prevent the State of California from “Medi-Cal Estate Recovery”. If set up properly and far enough in advance, a person’s entire estate can be protected and this person will have Medi-CAL help pay nursing home costs.

Creating a Life Estate: The purpose of a life estate deed is to provide for the transfer of the property to the desired person(s) automatically at the death of the property owner who retained the life estate ("life tenant"), without the necessity of probate.

Private Annuities: An agreement between two parties in which one party (annuitant) transfers an asset to another party (obligor) in return for unsecured payments for the remainder of the annuitant's life. For the agreement to be classified as a private annuity, neither party can be in the business of selling annuities - that is, neither party can be an insurance company.

Financial Elder Abuse

Financial elder abuse may take several forms: undue influence, isolation from friends and family, abuse of power of attorney, or unauthorized use of the elder’s bank accounts. Most often, this kind of abuse is from someone trusted by the elder, such as a child, grandchild, or caretaker. Our offices specialize in identifying the abuse, resolving any problems caused to the elder or the estate, and obtaining a restraining order against the abuser.

 

Special Needs Planning

A special needs trust (sometimes called supplemental needs trusts) is a legal document created for a person who, because of physical or mental disability, or chronic or acquired illness, at under age 65, is receiving federal and state government benefits for medical care and daily living needs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, subsidized housing and others. The purpose of this type of trust is to provide a source of funds, such as those that are inherited, without disqualifying the beneficiary from receiving these government benefits. The trust funds are used for supplemental care, over and above what the government benefits provide.

 

Trust Administration

A trust administration is not a court-supervised process, yet its ultimate goal is also the transfer of property from an individual who has died (the "decedent") to that individual's beneficiaries who are identified in his/her revocable living trust.