Practice Areas

Estate Planning:

Contrary to popular opinion, estate planning is necessary for all people, regardless of wealth. In addition to helping avoid the unnecessary expense and difficulty of probate, a well thought-out and well designed estate plan will take care of an individual or couple during three distinct time periods:

- Periods of health
- Periods of incapacity for one or both spouses
- Periods of death for one or both spouses

Estate Plans contain many documents, each playing a distinct and important role. Your plan should include some, and sometimes all, of the following documents: a Revocable Living Trust, a Pourover Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Certificate of Trust, a General Assignment of Assets, Real Estate Deeds, Community Property and/or Separate Property Agreements, Spousal Agreements and Health Care Powers.

Revocable Living Trusts are valuable for many reasons. First, they can be effective during periods of incapacity, which a simple will cannot. Next, they avoid the expense of probate. Since probate costs are calculated on the gross value of the estate, rather than the net value, estates that are highly leveraged can actually owe probate fees that exceed the net value of the estate. Thirdly, unlike wills, trusts are private. Once a will is lodged with the Probate Court, it is a public document. And lastly, as the name implies, Revocable Living Trusts are just that – REVOCABLE. They can be changed at any time.

More complex estate plans may contain various irrevocable trusts, such as Life Insurance Trusts, Grantor Trusts or Charitable Trusts.

Incapacity Planning:   [return]

Nothing is quite as frightening and concerning as being faced with a disabled loved one and not knowing in advance what to do and the wishes and desires of the disabled person. Incapacity planning is in place to do just that. Not only does incapacity planning encompass advanced health care directives, it can also direct family members in how to deal with the non-medical issues of incapacity, such as where you might live, what kind of activities you might enjoy, care for your pets, etc.

Business Succession Planning:   [return]

Business succession planning is necessary for all individuals operating in a business ownership capacity. If you are a sole practitioner, who will take over your business should something happen to you – either temporarily or permanently? Do you have a structure to maintain operations? Are there plans in place to replace any loss of earnings or replacement for your functions in the business’ day-to-day operations?

If you are a partner in either a general or limited partnership, are there agreements in place to deal with your long or short term absence from the partnership? If the issue is permanent, is your partner capable of replacing your role in the business? Is there sufficient planning and/or agreements in place to contemplate a buyout of the disabled or deceased partner?

If the business is a family run enterprise, does the business include multiple generations of leadership? Is the junior generation in a position to take over the company in the event of a death or incapacity of the senior generation? Has thought been given to various family members who may not be involved in the daily operations of the business?

Careful thought and attention to these issues and more are part of a well designed business succession plan. Based upon Ms. Millman’s personal experience in a family business, she has the personal understanding of the family dynamics associated with such a plan, in addition to the legal expertise to carry it out.

Charitable Planning:   [return]

Charitable Planning can take on many forms. It can be as simplistic as a direct distribution to a favored charity upon the decedent’s passing, or be as involved and complex as concepts like Charitable Lead Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts and Private Foundations. Depending on the situation of the individual’s wealth, goals, family structure and personal needs, charitable planning can encompass some or all of the different planning vehicles.

Philanthropy can be and often is a large part of a person’s overall estate plan. We have worked with wide ranging charities alike to ensure that the individual’s philanthropic goals are met.

Tax Planning:   [return]

The Internal Revenue Code and the United States government is an ever moving, ever changing target with regards to estate taxes. Recently, tax laws have been written with escalating scales and rules. They are written with deadlines and repeals and deadlines to the repeals. And, most importantly, all recent laws have been written as “temporary” laws. What this means to you is twofold: 1) don’t let the estate tax issue be the driving force of your plan; and 2) work closely with your attorney to make sure that your plan takes advantage of the laws in place, while still providing flexibility for the changing playing field. Not all estates are taxable estates (in fact, most are not), but current law may require even non-taxable estates to file estate tax returns. And, changes in the law may make more estates taxable than currently are.

We will work closely with you, your financial planner, CPA, insurance agent and any other trusted advisor you have or may need in order to address any tax issues that may be a component to your estate plan.

Trust or Probate Administration:   [return]

After someone passes away, there is much work to be done. Various statutory notices to specific individuals and government agencies need to be filed. The decedent’s assets need to be found, valued and accounted for. Tax returns may or may not need to be filed and estate taxes may or may not need to be paid. If there are minor children left behind, guardianship issues and financial decisions need to be resolved. These, and many more functions, often have statutory deadlines and timelines that cannot be ignored. And, all of this needs to be addressed during a time period where the family members are hurt and grieving.

We will work with all of the decedent’s trusted advisors and representatives to accumulate and determine assets and values. When necessary, we will find and recommend appraisers or other trusted professionals to work with the family or representative to complete the required steps. We will accumulate all the necessary data, file all the required notices, and work with your CPA to prepare and file any necessary tax returns.

Trust and Probate Administration is oftentimes a painful and difficult process for families. We will endeavor to do our best to make it as painless and easy as possible.

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If you have a question about California wills and trusts, advanced health care plans, charitable or tax planning, or wish to inquire about our trust or probate administration services, please call Kim Millman at (818) 340-5765.

Email:    Kim@KimMillmanLaw.com