After you have signed the attorney-client contract, it is time for us to meet for the first time. Prior to our meeting, please securely upload the following to your Clio account. Not all of these documents will apply to your case. If the request does not apply, simply ignore the request.
If you are unable to scan these documents and upload them, please let me know.
Please upload the following documents prior to our initial meeting - request documents:
1. Originals of all wills and codicils (if estate plan not prepared by our office).
2. Originals of all trusts and amendments established by decedent (if estate plan not prepared by our office).
3. Most recent bank statements for accounts on which decedent's name appears as either sole or co-owner in any capacity and copy of signature card for each account. Copies of monthly statements.
4. All passbooks and savings certificates on which decedent's name appears.
5. Most recent statements for all mutual fund and stock brokerage accounts. Copies of monthly statements.
6. Certified copies of death certificate if available (no less than 5 copies).
In addition, the following information and documents will also be needed, but need not be brought to the initial meeting unless readily available:
1. All IRA and qualified pension benefit documents, including beneficiary designation forms and plan descriptions.
2. Certificates of title ("pink slips") for all automobiles, recreational vehicles, boats, trailers, motorcycles, and airplanes in which decedent had any ownership interest.
3. All life insurance policies and annuity contracts, including beneficiary designation forms.
4. All deeds to real property in which decedent had any interest and copies of any notes or deeds of trust to which such properties are subject. If you do not have a copy of the deed, please supply me with the address.
5. All leases for all real property on which decedent was either the landlord or tenant.
6. Most recent personal income tax return.
7. Copies of all gift, estate, and/or generation-skipping transfer tax returns ever filed by decedent or decedent's spouse at any time in the past.
8. Most recent financial statements and tax returns for any partnership or other closely held business.
9. Copies of any partnership agreements, buy-sell agreements, and corporate records for any partnership or closely held corporation.
10. A list of tangible personal property items that, individually or as a group or collection, have a fair market value in excess of $3000 (e.g., jewelry, art, antiques, or coin, stamp, book, gun, or wine collections).
11. Copies of all bills for expenses of last illness, such as hospital and doctor bills, and an itemized list of all funeral and related expenses.
12. A list of any known debts, liabilities, pending lawsuits, or other claims of or against decedent.
13. Copies of any trust of which decedent was a trustee or beneficiary at the time of death.
14. A list of all safe deposit boxes on which decedent's name appears, by bank and branch, and an inventory of the contents of each.
15. All deeds of trust, notes, or accounts receivable representing payments owed to decedent.
16. All stock certificates, bonds, or other securities.
17. Any other documents that you believe may be important to our understanding of decedent's personal and financial affairs.
If you have any questions or if any of this information or documentation is not available by the time set for your appointment, we can discuss this at the time of the appointment. Time is of the essence in these matters, and we would prefer not to delay just because a particular document is not available.
Checklist – Preparation For Probate Petition And Hearing
Assets Not Subject To Probate:
If you and I have spoken about your estate planning strategy, you have probably heard me suggest that Biden and the Democrats were going to make some changes to the federal estate tax law. This week, Biden unveiled some proposed changes.
The federal estate tax exemption is currently extremely high at $11.58 million per person. This means that you can leave $11.58 million to your loved ones without estate tax consequence. The biggest surprise is that the estate tax exemption will not change, as previously discussed, according to Biden’s The American Families Plan. That leaves many of us untouched by the estate tax. That's the good news.
Now, onto the not so good news. Biden is attempting to remove stepped up basis. This means that currently, when a decedent passes away, the assets they leave behind get a step up in tax basis. In sum, this saves beneficiaries and heirs a lot of money when it comes to selling those assets. It can lessen and even completely eradicate capital gains taxes. Biden’s proposal will eliminate that step-up. Since this will result in a significant tax for many of us, there are thankfully some exceptions. Gains of less than $1 million, or $2 million, per couple would not be taxed.
Let's not hit the panic button yet. This proposal is not law yet. The Democrats have a slim margin and this would be a hit for a lot of citizens. So, the answer right now is to wait and see...
Proposition 19 is one complicated piece of legislation. It is difficult to explain without a brief discussion of the backstory. County assessors administer the assessment of your real property. Proposition 13, passed in 1978, limits the property taxes to 1% of the assessed value of the property. It also limits assessment to a 2% increase unless there is a change in ownership or construction – in which case there is an assessment.
Propositions 58 and 193 exclusions were also created which allowed property to transfer between family members including parents and children (58); grandparent to grandchild (193). Propositions 60 and 90 allow homeowners 55+ years of age to sell their primary residence and transfer the base year value of that property to a replacement residence if certain conditions are met. Proposition 60 applies to intra-county transfers, while Proposition 90 applies to inter-county transfers under certain conditions
The year that the property is assessed for property tax purposes is referred to as the “base year.” The assessed value is generally the sales price. Thus, if grandma and grandpa bought their home for $300,000, the base year value is $300,000. Property tax will be calculated based upon $300,000. If grandma and grandpa sold that same property in 2021 for $1,5000,000 the property would be assessed at $1,500,000.
Prior to Proposition 19 grandma and grandpa could leave the home to a grandchild, and the house would be excluded from reassessment, resulting in an enormous savings on property tax. Now that Proposition 19 is in effect, the grandchild would not be excluded, subject to some exceptions. The County would assess the property upon the transfer to the grandchild, except under some very narrow circumstances.
Questions on how this may affect your home or homes? Call me for a consultation.
As of last week, President Biden took office. With the administration change, there will also likely be a change in federal estate and gift tax policies.
President Biden is expected to reduce the tax exemption for estates and gifts and increase the tax rate on transfers. With a Democratic majority in both houses, it is highly possible Biden’s plans will become law.
Even though the White House will focus on more pressing matters like the pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind the kinds of changes you should expect:
1. A decrease in the federal estate tax exemption. We have long enjoyed an extraordinarily high estate tax exemption of $11.58 million per person. Thus, anyone can pass on $11.58 million in assets to beneficiaries without triggering any federal estate tax. Married couples can pass along double that amount - $23.6 million - to their beneficiaries.
Although this legislation was already expected to “sunset” (or fade out) on December 31, 2025, it is likely that Biden will work with Democrats on lowering the current exemption limit now, and not later and will likely make an aggressive change to the exemption. Biden has proposed lowering the exemption to $3.5 million estate with a $1 million gift. This will affect significantly more people than the current $11.58 million.
2. An increase in transfer tax. There is also a potential for the applicable tax rate to include an increased top tax rate of 45 percent.
3. Elimination of step-up basis. This change will impact homeowners, and owners of assets like stock shares. Currently, when a person passes away, assets in their estate typically receive a basis step-up in basis upon death. This is significant because capital gains tax is used to calculate capital gains. With a step up in basis, the potential for capital gains is decreased or eliminated. Biden seeks to remove the step-up in value all together.
Let us help you plan ahead! Schedule a meeting to discuss your estate planning needs and learn how we can help you save for the future!
Schedule your complimentary consultation HERE.
I look forward to seeing you at Estate Planning Meeting #1! Please be sure to upload the following documents to Clio at least two days prior to our meeting.
If you have any other investment or business interests that may not be triggered by any of the above requests, please let me know.
Here are 4 things to keep in mind when you nominate guardians for your children. Interested in learning more? Schedule a consultation, learn more, or email me below or call 818-248-2183. Disclaimer: Although I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer. The contents of this video are not to be construed as legal advice.
2020 has brought so much change for all of us. The pandemic means that we all have less time and less bandwidth.
If you have my office's questionnaire in hand, you may have thought to yourself… I should probably finish up that questionnaire so I can get Christie rolling on my estate plan. But, wow is there no time in my day and I am feeling overwhelmed.
If you don't have my office's questionnaire in hand you may have thought to yourself... I don't have time to think about all this stuff!
I have good news...
I have created a hybrid model in which I will work with you over the phone or video conference to complete your questionnaire with you. After that, my usual billable rate would apply.
Here is the deal: I wish I could just do the work for you – I really do! But, the reality is that I cannot do it for you but I can do it with you.
If you want to cut to the chase on the questionnaire and save a lot of time, I can work with you on the questionnaire for a flat rate. You’ll be that much closer to peace of mind. Click below to schedule a meeting and for more details. Easy breezy.
I have recently received a lot of questions about whether guardians are legally obligated to follow the wishes of the child’s parents. The answer, in short, is no; however, this does not mean that the guardian can do things that will put the child at risk.
The law provides that when the court appoints a non-parent as a guardian, of a child, the authority of the parent ceases. The guardian becomes responsible for the care, and custody of the child. But, this power is not limitless. The guardian is subject to the regulation and control of the court in its role. The court has continuing jurisdiction over the care of the child.
Some interesting questions have popped up over issues such as the duties of a guardian regarding a child’s healthcare. In the age of the “debate” over the “danger” of vaccinations, a guardian’s failure to provide care can be at issue. A guardian has the same right as a parent to give consent to medical treatment performed on the child. Generally, parental consent is required for medical services performed upon a minor. But, if the court determines that a guardian is not allowing life-saving treatment then a court is likely going to sever that guardianship, appoint a new guardian and allow the treatment. These issues, of course, are complex and the outcome of each case will vary. It is evident though that once the court appoints a guardian, the guardian is not required to follow the pre-mortem wishes of the child’s parents. So, the moral of the story is, choose your guardian nominations carefully.
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