Asset Protection

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Excluding a Loved One from Your Estate Plan

Can I legally exclude a child from my will?

When drafting an estate plan, most people will elect to leave their hard earned assets to their spouse and children. At times, however, a person may choose to leave a certain family member out of their estate plan. A parent may make the hard decision to exclude a child or a married partner may desire to leave their spouse out of their will for personal or economic reasons. While generally it is solely at your discretion to leave

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

3 Reasons Why You Need An Estate Plan

Do I need an estate plan if I do not have significant assets?

Creating an estate plan provides you with control over your assets after your death. Estate planning consists of arranging for the disposal of your assets after your death while minimizing tax consequences. Despite the importance of estate planning, less than half of all Americans have an estate plan in place. For those still on the fence about

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Estate Planning for the Art Collector

A fine art collection can be one of the most valuable assets a person owns -- sometimes even more valuable than a home or oceanfront property. For the serious art collector, congruently serious estate planning is necessary to help ensure the paintings or sculptures are not lost due to estate taxation or fiduciary mismanagement. Fortunately, OC Wills and Trust Attorneys can help Orange County’s art collectors plan for the future by preserving those precious creations from the past.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Personal Asset Trust

What is a personal asset trust and what are its benefits?

When you establish a personal asset trust (PAT), instead of receiving your inheritance directly, your beneficiaries receive it in a special trust which emanates from your Living Trust. The Personal Asset Trust is under the control of each beneficiary. The benefit here is that each beneficiary has the same rights of ownership, but without the exposure to liability that ownership usually involves.

The Benefits of a Personal Asset Trust

The beneficiary can be an individual initial trustee, in control of his or her own Personal Asset Trust, controlling the investment of his or her inheritance, its distribution, and even who may receive it after his or her death. Trustees, if they wish, may establish limits on this inheritance, limiting its distributions, for example, to only their lineal descendants.
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Friday, September 11, 2015

The Legal Battle Over Robin Williams' Bicycle Collection and Other Valuables

Is  settling an estate as easy as riding a bicycle?

If only settling an estate were as easy as riding a bicycle. In fact, unless skilled attorneys have worked carefully and diligently to tighten any loopholes, there may be complications in the process. Even with a will in place, there may be questions and conflicts among heirs regarding who is entitled to what. This is especially true, of course, when there are large amounts of money at stake.

Since the tragic death of Robin Williams by suicide in August of 2014, presumed to be the result of his ongoing problems with anxiety, depression, and a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, there has continued to be a legal dispute between his widow and his children over the possessions he left behind. His estate, worth millions of dollars, includes valuable artwork, books, jewelry and other items, notably a large bicycle collection.

Susan Schneider Williams, the comedian's widow, has retained an attorney who recently requested that a San Francisco judge assist in the resolution of the issue. Both sides are attempting to resolve the dispute through mediation, but the lawyer for the Williams' children, Zachary , Zelda and Cody, is arguing against an intervention by the court.

Robin Williams had designated trustees to make decisions regarding estate distribution after his death, but agreement still has not been reached. His widow's argument is that the amount she is receiving from the Reserve Fund her husband left her is not enough to keep her in the home she shared with her deceased husband, something she feels sure he intended. According to her, valuables were removed from her home during the immediate aftermath of his death. This charge is vehemently denied by Robin Williams' children who allege that, in her greed, their father's widow, married to him for less than 3 years, has done major renovations to her house and is trying to deprive them of cherished objects he wanted them to have and remember him by.

As graphically illustrated by this painful case, protecting assets after one's death can be a great deal more complicated than one expects. If you have any questions or concerns about estate planning or asset protection, please contact OC Wills & Trust Attorneys  and speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers. We serve clients in  Irvine, California and throughout Orange County and can be reached at 949.347.5256.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Protecting Assets from Being Designated as "Abandoned" Property

Are You Doing Enough to Protect Your Estate from Being Turned Over to the State?

It has become apparent that states are becoming more aggressive in claiming mutual fund investments  as "abandoned" property. While it is clearly in their financial interest to do so, it is not in yours. It is important to get sound legal advice in order to protect your assets and your heirs.

There are a number of ways to safeguard your investments and to prevent your financial accounts from being designated as "abandoned." These include:

  • Notifying any financial institutions you deal with of any changes to your profile, such as change of name, address, or ownership due to marriage, death or divorce
  • Always notifying the U.S. Postal Service of any change of address
  • Cashing all dividend or insurance benefit checks, even seemingly insignificant ones
  • Making sure to initiate some transactions annually so accounts remain active
  • Making telephone or Internet contact with each financial institution at least once every 3 years
  • Making a current list of all assets and financial accounts available to a family member or adviser
  • Making a periodic free search of relevant unclaimed-property websites

It is important to remember that automated deposits or withdrawal from an account are not regarded as "contact."

The Investment Company Institute, a mutual fund industry trade group, is being proactive in alerting individual shareholders to the dangers inherent in the laws governing unclaimed property, and plans to disseminate this information through social media as well.

Laws concerning the point at which property can be deemed unclaimed or abandoned vary state to state. What they have in common is that they require evidence that there has been no client contact or activity for a certain period of time, generally three years. In some states, an account may be considered "abandoned" even if mail has been delivered to a valid address during the intervening time as long as it has been substantiated that there has been no client contact.

The laws surrounding estate planning and protection of assets can be complicated. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact OC Wills & Trust Attorneys  and speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers. We serve clients in  Irvine, California and throughout Orange County and can be reached at 949.347.5256.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ways a Living Trust Can Help Preserve Assets

What is a living trust and how can it be useful in financial planning?

A living trust is a legal written document which partially substitutes for a will. By employing a living trust, your assets, including your bank accounts, home, and other investments, are put into a trust designed to be beneficial to you during your lifetime and to be transferred to your beneficiaries after your death.

In most cases, the trust is established so that you serve as your own trustee, maintaining full control over your assets during your lifetime. It is also possible, and most often desirable, to designate a successor trustee (person or financial institution) to manage the trust's assets if you become incapacitated. It is important to note that you can alter or dissolve  a revocable living trust at any time as long as you remain competent to do so. Also, in cases where a named trustee takes the position over, he or she is held to high standards and cannot make personal use of the trust's assets.

Reasons for Establishing a Living Trust

There are several important reasons for creating a living trust, including that:

  • It can ensure your assets will be managed as you desire, even if you become incapacitated
  • It will make certain that your appointed trustee will take care of taxes, debts, and distribution of assets at the time of your death, much as an executor would
  • Arrangements after your death can be made without court supervision or approval
  • A living trust prevents probate in the case of a fatal accident or other sudden death
  • If anyone contests your decisions after your death, a trust will hold up much better than a will

Even with all these advantages, there are a number of situations in which establishing a living trust is not necessary nor desirable. Young married couples without children who are one another's sole beneficiaries do not necessarily need a living trust. The possibility that both spouses should die simultaneously, however, should be considered. Also, if you believe that court supervision over your estate will be helpful, or even essential, a living trust is not for you. In general, if your assets are not significant (e.g. under $150, 000), you probably do not require a living trust.

As a rule of thumb, the greater the value of your estate, the more beneficial a living trust becomes. While drafting a will costs less initially, having a living trust in place cuts future court costs for probate, saving your estate money in the long run.

As you proceed with your estate planning, it is essential to have an experienced and highly competent attorney in your corner. If you have any questions about how to set up a living trust or concerns about other matters of estate planning, please contact Brian Chew, Attorney at Law at OC Wills & Trust Attorneys at 949.347.5256.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Estate Planning to Protect Your Assets

How should members of the "sandwich generation" protect themselves and their loved ones?

Members of the sandwich generation, those responsible for aging parents and children (even adult children) simultaneously, may experience a great deal of stress, financially as well as emotionally. In such cases, a skilled estate planning attorney  can be a godsend.

The sandwich generation has grown rapidly during the last several decades. Research has shown that over 30 percent of baby boomers and over 40 percent of generation Xers are supporting both a young or adult child and an aging parent. How did this happen?

There are several reasons for the rocketing increase in members of the sandwich generation. Among them are increased longevity and its concomitant increased medical costs. Caring for aging parents with medical ailments at the same time as coping with the expense of one's own encroaching health issues can be daunting.

Another contributing factor is the increasing costs of higher education. While young children have always been dependent on their parents for financial support, the situation has worsened as college education has become more and more expensive. Students and parents now incur debt during the youngsters' college years and frequently students try to save money by living in their parents' homes long after they graduate. During recent years of recession, when unemployment was abnormally high, even for educated workers, this situation was exacerbated.

For people experiencing the crunch of being sandwiched between needy parents and dependent children, professionals should be consulted. It is of paramount importance that individuals sandwiched between the generations take care of themselves, remembering that, unless they put on their own oxygen masks first, they will be unable to care for either their children or their parents.  Recommendations to protect one's own assets may include:

  • Not withdrawing savings from retirement accounts, even when tempted
  • Chipping in with siblings to purchase long-term care for parents while they are reasonably young
  • Investing in long-term healthcare insurance while your age makes it more affordable
  • Not investing beyond a sensible risk-tolerance level in hopes of saving the family
  • If possible, avoid taking out a home equity line of credit
  • Applying for government assistance, such as Medicaid, when necessary, to fund parental care
  • Considering the possibility that you may be making an adult child permanently dependent by supporting him or her

When you find yourself uncomfortably sandwiched between your parents and your children, why not consult with Brian Chew, a knowledgeable and experienced  asset protection attorney, at OC  Wills & Trusts. Proudly serving clients throughout Orange County, California, he can be reached at 949.347.5256.

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