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Areas of Practice
Probate & Trust Law
Business & Commercial Law
Financial Elder Abuse Litigation
Comprehensive Estate Planning Assistance
In any endeavor, planning ahead pays off. Estate planning is no different. At The Walker Law Firm, our Orange County, California, lawyers can create a personalized estate plan for you that ensures that your wishes are made clear at the time of your death and that your heirs avoid the difficulties of probate through use of a living trust.
Each of our clients is different. You need a customized plan to deal with your estate. Our estate planning attorneys can advise you regarding:
- Living Trusts
- Health Care Directives
- Powers of Attorney for Asset Management
- Gifting Programs
- Succession Planning
- Sophisticated Estate Tax Planning
Benefits Provided By Living Trusts
A living trust is an invaluable tool to avoid probate and possibly minimize estate taxes for married couples. Probate is the process whereby the court administers your estate either pursuant to your will or pursuant to the laws of intestacy. Probate costs can run approximately 5% of your estate.
With a living trust, however, you transfer your assets while you are alive to the trust so that when you pass away, there are no assets for the state to administer. As such, your heirs avoid the expense and headache of probate. In addition, for a married couple, the use of a living trust can result in estate tax savings on the second spouse’s death. Also, through the use of a trust, the first spouse to pass away can ensure that his or her property will ultimately pass to his or her children and/or heirs.
What You Need To Know About Wills
Although it will not avoid probate when used by itself, a will ensures that property will pass to whomever you choose rather than through the laws of intestacy. Further, if utilized with a living trust, a will can ensure that property that is inadvertently left out of your trust is managed by the trustee and ultimately passes to your loved ones pursuant to the terms of your trust.
Why You Need A Health Care Directive
Health Care Directives are important tools whereby you instruct care-givers about the type of medical care you want at the end of your life. Use of a Health Care Directive can avoid tragic family disagreements regarding major health care decisions.
Power Of Attorney For Asset Management
A power of attorney for asset management allows you to appoint a trusted person to handle your financial affairs should you become incapacitated.
Gifting Programs And Tax Consequences
Presently, you can pass up to $14,000.00 a year to anyone without incurring any gift tax. If you wait until you pass away to make such gifts, however, those same monies may be subject to a 46% estate tax.
Similarly, educational accounts can be set up for children or grandchildren that can grow tax free. If you have the financial wherewithal to do so, gifting programs make sense because you can maximize the amount of money that goes to your heirs.
Succession Planning For Family Businesses
Succession planning ensures that your business can potentially continue to prosper and sustain your family after you pass. Through use of a succession plan, you can anticipate who will take over after your death. In addition, good planning can ensure that your heirs will not have to sell the business to pay estate taxes.
Sophisticated Estate Tax Planning
Presently, you can pass up to 5 million dollars to others without incurring estate tax. As such, most individuals do not have to be concerned with paying estate tax. However, for those who anticipate their estates will exceed the maximum, there are legitimate estate planning techniques that can minimize the amount of tax and maximize the amount of property passing to your heirs.
Contact an Orange County estate planning attorney to discuss your estate and health care plans.