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 How to Avoid Probate, Save Estate Taxes and More

 By Don D. Nelson, Tax Attorney at Law
Partner in Kauffman Nelson LLP CPAs

 If I have a Will, why would I want a Living Trust’? A will is not now the best way to plan your estate for most people.  Why? Because a Will does not avoid probate.  Wills must be probated and verified by the court before it can be enforced. Probate is a state court proceeding and can take one to two years with large statutory attorney fees.  A will provides you with no protection if you become physically or mentally disabled... which is a real concern if you are growing older. lf you only have a will, and become physically or mentally incapacitated, you can easily end up in an expensive conservatorship requiring court approval and attorneys for almost all of your finances.

There is an alternative. The REVOCABLE LIV1NG TRUST. It avoids probate and provides for the administration of your financial and business affairs if you become disabled without the use of expensive attorneys or conservatorships. If you have a large estate it may also save estate taxes.  Your estate can be administered quickly, with limited attorney's fees and remains private (Probate makes  all of your assets public)

What Is probate? It is the legal procedure where the court, after your death, makes sure all taxes and debts are paid, and that the assets of your estate are distributed to the individuals named in your Will.  In California a probate usually goes on a year or two.

 Doesn’t joint ownership avoid probate? Not really, though it may postpone it. It does avoid it when the first owner dies, but not when the second owner dies. If both owners die at the same time the property must be probated.

 What is a Living Trust? It looks a lot like a will. It does what most people think a will does and lot more. Since a trust is not probated, there are no expensive court proceedings and delays are eliminated. Privacy is preserved. It can reduce or eliminate estate taxes. it is extremely hard to contest and often provides effective pre-nuptial protection. Your estate is administered by the individuals you chose and special dispositions of your assets are made easy.

 Who should have a Living Trust? Everyone can benefit from a living trust. You will especially benefit  if you have children and/or own real estate in the USA.

 How does a living trust avoid probate? When you establish your trust, you transfer all of your sets into the name of the trust, which you control or you and your spouse control jointly. Legally you longer own anything, your trust does. Therefore there is nothing to probate when you die.

What if I Live Abroad and Many of my Assets are not located in the USA. We recommend you use a living trust to bequeath your US assets and comply with the foreign laws to dispose of your assets located in other countries. You should discuss this with an attorney in the country(ies) in which your assets are located.

 Do I lose control of the property in my trust? No! You are trustee of your trust and have full control. You can do everything you could do with your property before you transferred It to the trust...buy id sell property and borrow against it. You can cancel your trust or amend it at any time. Its revocable. Nothing changes but the manner in which you hold title.

 If something happens to me, who has control? You chose the successor trustees who take control of the trust and administer it for your benefit or for the benefit of your heirs.. People usually pick their spouses, and then their adult children or brothers and sisters to serve as successor trustees. You can also chose a bank.

 Is a Living Trust expensive? Not when its compared to the cost of probate. How much you pay depends on the complexities of your estate plan and the need for additional tax saving provisions and, planning.

 How long does It take to have a Living Trust prepared? It should take only a week or two after you meet with your attorney and make the basic decisions.

 Should I have an attorney do my Trust? Yes. One who specializes in taxes, trusts and estate planning. Such an attorney can provide you with valuable assistance and guidance for your particular situation and assure that the legal documents are prepared correctly. Avoid generic do it yourself kits and form books… they can’t address every family’s unique needs and can be very dangerous.

If I have a Living Trust, do I still need a Will? Yes, you need a Will in the event you fail to put all of your assets into the name of the trust. It will transfer any such assets to the trust in the event of your death. That property will still have to go through probate, but it will then be distributed pursuant to your overall plan. A will is also important if you have minor children. It will name their guardian in the event both you and your spouse are deceased.

 Included with your living trust we also provide you with a personal Advanced Health Care Directive  and a Durable Power of Attorney (for legal and financial matters) When you became physically or mentally disable while alive it is important you have these two documents appointing the individuals you chose to administer your health care and financial affairs.





  •  Avoids all probate and related costs

§         Can reduce or eliminate estate taxes (in excess of $11 million plud in larger estates)

§         Allows quick distribution of assets to beneficiaries

§         Preserves Privacy

§         Very hard to contest

§         Can be changed or canceled at any time

§         Protects assets for minor children

§         Minimizes emotional distress on family

§         Inexpensive to set up and maintain

§         Avoids the problems of joint ownership

§         Avoids conservatorships when mentally or physically incapacitated



Don D. Nelson, Attorney at Law, has prepared living trusts, wills and performed estate planning for over most of his 35 years in professional practice. Due to his multiple professions, as a legal and tax expert, he knows how to draft your trust to fit your particular needs and maximum tax estate tax savings. Please call Mr. Nelson if you have questions or wish to set up an appointment. We can discuss your situation with you by phone, skype, WhatsAPP and provide you with the answers to your questions.

Appointments are available  with Don on evenings and weekends and at times that take into account your different time zones abroad

Don D. Nelson, Attorney at Law
Partner in Kauffman Nelson LLP CPAs
Huntington Beach, California USA
Phone (949) 480-1235
Email: ddnelson@gmail.com
Skype: dondnelson
WhatsApp: (818) 519-9219

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