Services

Efficient Legal Services for Your Estate Planning Goals

Efficient Legal Services for Your Estate Planning Goals
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Estate Planning

You have worked hard all your life to care for those who are important to you—your family, your friends, your community, and the causes you support to make the world a better place. When you are gone, you want to ensure that the care you provided in life continues and that your assets are put to use in accordance with your wishes.

A smooth transition requires planning and can be complex, depending on the size of the estate. Manfred & Hunt, LLP is experienced in helping individuals and families through their expert estate planning services. We provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that those who rely on you in life will be able to continue to do so after your death.

With experienced guidance, we will help you plan for the distribution of your estate by creating an individualized plan to accomplish your goals in the most efficient way. We will accomplish this with the least possible delay and tax burden, by avoiding probate when appropriate and providing for the care of your children, spouse, or other heirs in the event of your death.

Arrange Your Estate Plan

The following are the documents that are generally discussed and utilized in the course of preparing your estate plan:

  • Will
  • Revocable Trust
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finance
  • Advanced Health Care Directive

Delivering What You Need

Our team goes beyond the scope of a basic estate plan where the personal situation of the client warrants it. We also assist our clients in funding their assets to their trust and help them to change beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement assets (if necessary) for an integrated estate plan.

For those higher net worth individuals, we also offer the following services:

  • Assist With Inter Vivos Gifting
  • Analysis of Current Estate Tax Situation and Estate Tax Planning
  • Drafting Irrevocable Trusts
  • Drafting Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs)
  • Drafting Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)
  • Drafting Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)
  • Drafting Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs)
  • Includes a detailed cash flow analysis of the transaction where needed

Whether your estate is large or small, simple or complex, we have the skills and experience to help you put together a plan that will protect your heirs and facilitate the transfer of your assets after your death.

Informed Decision-Making for Every Stage of Life

Your estate planning needs may change over the course of your life. We will work with you to keep your plan current and reflect changes in your marital or financial status.

We understand that you do not want your family to be faced with worries or expenses after your death, so we will show you the various available options and their legal ramifications. This is to ensure that you have the information you need to make the best decisions for your particular situation.

Our team is committed to ensuring that your wishes and goals for your estate are executed effectively and without undue hardship to your survivors.

Now Is the Time to Plan

It may be uncomfortable to plan for your death. But it is an act of love to ensure that those who matter to you most are cared for, even in the event of premature or unexpected death. Every adult, and especially every parent, should plan for the future of loved ones by informed and thoughtful estate planning. We have the experience and detailed knowledge of the law to help.

Trust Administration

Even if someone passed away with a properly funded trust, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that terms are carried out. While court proceedings or probate is not required, many statutes and formalities must be followed in processes like this.

The average person has little to no experience when it comes to trusts and typically has many questions when serving as a trustee for the first time. Oftentimes, the trustee is a close relative to the decedent. On top of that, he or she has to deal with the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one and handle the complexities of administering the trust properly. We are here to help ease some of the burdens of the trustee.

Many administrative tasks must be accomplished before successfully distributing the funds of a trust to the beneficiaries. The tasks may be further compounded by the relationship the trustee may have with the beneficiaries. For this reason, it is beneficial for the trustee to work with an attorney to minimize the emotional aspects of the administration and focus on the business of administering a trust.

Effective representation of a trustee is critical to properly carry out the terms of the trust and to minimize or eliminate missteps and errors that can be made by the trustee. Mistakes can be costly to the trustee and could result in personal liability.

Probate

This is a judicial proceeding through which a decedent's will is validated, creditors are paid, and assets are distributed to those specified in the will or by the laws of the State of California if the decedent died without a will.

What Types of Assets Are Subject to Probate?

All assets titled solely in the decedent’s name are subject to probate, with some exceptions, as set forth below.

  • Real Property Held in Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship
  • Real Property Held in Community Property With Right of Survivorship
  • Life Insurance With a Designated Beneficiary
  • Bank Accounts Held in Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship
  • Bank Accounts Held in Community Property With Right of Survivorship
  • Individual Accounts, IRAs and 401ks With a Designated Beneficiary

Why Avoid Probate?

Expenses

The number one reason to avoid a probate is cost. In California, attorneys and executors are paid a statutory fee that is a percentage of the gross estate as follows:

  • 4% of the first $100,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of the next $9,000,000
  • 0.5% on the next $15,000,000

These fees are calculated on the gross estate, meaning that if a decedent died with an estate consisting of only a house worth $1 million that had debt of $800,000 on it, and nothing else, attorneys’ fees would be based on a $1 million estate (or $23,000 total) and not based on the $200,000 net value of the estate.

Privacy

Everything done through a probate is public record (asset values, beneficiaries, copy of your will, etc.). Anyone willing to put in the time down at the courthouse could look through the probate file. This is not true of a trust administration.

Timing

The probate process will take a minimum of six months from start to finish. However, it typically takes much longer, while a trust administration generally takes much less time.

How to Avoid Probate

There are various strategies that a person can structure his or her estate to eliminate the need for a probate. This includes the following:

  • Holding Property in a Revocable “Living” Trust
  • Holding Property in Joint Tenancy
  • Naming Designated Beneficiaries on Accounts
  • Using Beneficiary Deeds

What if There Is No Will?

If a decedent has not left behind any legal documents, a probate will still be needed. The property will pass to the decedent’s beneficiaries through the laws of intestate succession. Determining the ultimate beneficiaries of the estate depends on many factors, including the following:

  • Was the decedent married?
  • How many children did the decedent have?
  • What relatives survived the decedent?

What if the Estate is Small?

California provides a procedure by which estates valued at less than $166,250 can be collected without a probate. This will likely still require the advice of an attorney, but the process is much simpler, cheaper, and faster than a full-blown probate.