Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts

Estate planning is the process of planning for the efficient administration of an estate in the event of disability or death. A properly prepared estate plan will minimize administration costs and properly provide for your care in the event of disability or the distribution of your estate in the event of death.

A complete estate plan typically involves the preparation of a Revocable Living Trust, a “Pour Over” Will, Powers of Attorney for Asset Management and Healthcare and a Directive to Physicians regarding life support systems. I also assist my clients in transferring their assets into their names as Trustees of their Trusts (if the client will be acting as Trustee, which is common). For spouses creating a Trust together, I will prepare a Will for each of them, and a Spousal Property Agreement which could provide significant income tax benefits.

The Estate Planning process is accomplished through four (4) steps.
(1) Consultation: a conference where we discuss your estate planning desires and the estate planning process. I gather information about to whom the client(s) wish to leave their estate and who will administer the Trust (Successor Trustee). I also explain the importance of placing virtually all of your assets in your trust and how we assist in that process. A properly prepared estate plan, and fully funded living trust can avoid probate, ensure privacy and save time, administration expense and, in some cases, estate taxes.

(2) Review: Step two is a conference with the clients to review drafts of the Trust & Will(s) and Spousal Property Agreement if applicable. I review the documents with the client(s) explaining the various provisions and ensuring the distribution provision and Successor Trustee provisions are in accordance with the client(s) wishes. After the conference, copies of the draft documents are given to the client(s) to review at their leisure.

(3) Execution of Estate Planning Documents: Step 3 is a conference where the client(s) is given the opportunity to read the Powers of Attorney for asset management and health care and the Directives to Physicians(all of which are statutory forms). Together we review and then I answer any questions the client(s) has about any of the documents and make any changes necessary. I also review documents I have prepared between the 2nd and 3rd conference which usually include Deeds to Transfer real property to the Trust, preliminary ownership reports to the County Assessor to ensure property taxes do not change, Assignment of Property to the Trust, Trust Certification and Authorization to Release Information, helpful to allow me to assist with transferring assets to the Trust.

(4) Transferring Assets to Trust and the Estate Planning Package: Here we assist client(s)in transferring their assets to their Trust. The client is provided with a package that includes the original estate planning documents and one copy and a digital copy of all documents on a CD or thumb drive. Once we have confirmed all assets to be transferred to Trust are properly vested in the Trust, the file will be closed.

A proper estate plan gives our clients peace of mind and saves time, maintains privacy and keeps cost to a minimum. All of which are a great benefit to our clients and their family.

Richard has focused his North County San Diego practice on probate, estate planning and law since 1983 and stays current with the complex and ever changing estate planning and trust law through extensive continuing education each year. Richard advises and assists clients in making informed decisions and implementing estate plans suited to each clients unique circumstance and needs. It is usually desirable to keep your estate out of the probate court. A proper estate plan can accomplish this goal.