ESTATE PLANNING

Estate Planning involves far more than just drafting a will when you retire, estate planning is an essential tool for tax planning and asset allocation that can protect your wealth. Your estate plan should begin as soon as possible—when you marry, purchase a home and have children are all life stages that trigger essential components of your estate plan. Erin offers full service estate planning services. She drafts and administers trusts, last wills and testaments, powers of attorney, probate litigation, conservatorships and guardianships.

Working with Erin to build my living trust was like having coffee with a best friend. She is knowledgable, efficient, and a pleasure to work with.
— -Jaclyn

Estate plans are not a “set-it and forget it” area of law, they require frequent updates to reflect changes in the law and in your financial position. Choose an attorney who is invested in maintaining a relationship with you as a client to ensure your plan continues to match your assets as you grow in life. Erin is passionate about getting to know and establishing a trusting relationship with her clients, she is invested in making sure that your assets are protected and will become fast friends with your whole family. When it is time for your family to access your estate plan, make sure its with an attorney they trust and respect.

Living Trusts

A living trust, also known as a revocable living trust or revocable trust (“RLT”), is an effective estate planning device that allows you to retain full control over trust property during your lifetime. Unlike a will, a trust is effective during your lifetime in the event of incapacity. After you pass away, the property in your trust will transfer to your beneficiaries and avoid probate. Probate fees in California can range from 3%-7% of the total value of the estate, thus the initial costs of drafting and funding an RLT will save you substantially in the long run. RLTs are flexible estate planning tools because they allow you to transfer property over time, they can be revoked or changed while you are alive and they protect your privacy upon death because unlike wills, they do not become public records.

Once your trust is drafted, you will transfer your personal and real property assets into the trust. Transferring assets into your trust will not trigger federal gift, estate or income tax consequences because for tax purposes, you are still the owner of the trust property. An RLT is an effective way to lower estate fees and to avoid unnecessary state and federal taxes.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is integral to the estate planning process. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an artist, using a business entity, carrying appropriate insurance and carefully tracking your investments are effective asset protection tools. In addition to RLTs and other conventional estate planning tools which function to transfer your assets upon death or incapacity, asset protection structures serve to insulate your wealth from lawsuits, creditors and tax consequences during your lifetime. Liability insurance, gifting assets to family members, 529 plans and retirement plans are all tools that protect your estate if effectively utilized.

Erin is committed to providing the best planning for her clients. If you do not have a will or a living trust, a durable power of attorney or a medical directive, you are leaving yourself and your loved ones without guidance regarding your health, finances and well-being. In addition to your RLT and powers of attorney documents, additional considerations for your estate in order to avoid probate are:

  1. Joint Tenancy Bank Accounts

  2. Beneficiary Designations on IRAs and 401(k)s

  3. Beneficiary Designations on Life Insurance Policies

  4. Holding Real Property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

  5. Transfer on Death Beneficiary Designations for Investment Accounts

  6. Pay on Death Designations on Bank Accounts

Probate

The probate process in California is time-consuming, costly and highly technical—a probate proceeding can take up to two years and cost the estate tens of thousands of dollars. Erin is experienced in assisting clients with the long and complicated California probate process. It is important to have the guidance of an estate planning attorney to validate the will, notify creditors, settle any of the decedent’s debts, filing and paying any estate taxes and distribute property under court guidance.