What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning involves planning for your family, friends and even charitable organizations regarding your home, your investments, your life insurance, your retirement plans, your business and other property, in the event of disability or death. Any estate plan can be implemented by the use of wills or by the use of a revocable trust.


What is a Revocable Living Trust?

The Living Trust provides a mechanism for the management of your property. You and your spouse are the Trustees and the beneficiaries of your trust during your lifetime. During your lifetime you can alter, add or revoke your living trust at any time and for any reason. In your living trust you will also name a successor trustee who will manage the trust assets once you are unable or unwilling to so yourself. You would still need a will - known as a pour over will - to cover any assets that have not been transferred to the trust and to name guardians for your minor children. 


What are the advantages of a Living Trust?

Some of the advantages of a Living Trust are: A Trust can avoid the Probate process and save you thousands of dollars. A Trust also can manage your assets in the event of your incapacity without the necessity of Conservatorship. A Living Trust maintains privacy unlike Probate which is a public procedure. In addition a properly drafted Trust can minimize certain estate and income taxes. In addition, certain Trusts can provide your beneficiaries protection from creditors.


What will happen if I do not name guardians for my minor children?

If you do not nominate guardians to take care of your minor children, a judge is going to make a decision without being able to consult with you. Parents with family aboard should nominate a temporary guardian until the relative can get here and gain appointment as the child's guardian. You should nominate two to three people to serve as guardians for your children in case your first choice can't do it.


Will I have to file an income tax return for my living trust?

No, not during your lifetime. The taxpayer identification number for accounts held in the trust is your Social Security number.


What are the ordinary probate proceedings fees in California?

In California attorneys' and executors' fees are usually determined by a sliding scale based upon the gross fair market value value of the estate subject to probate, as follows:

Size of Estate





Additional Probate Fees

+3% of next $100,000

+2% of the next $800,000

+1% of the next $9,000,000

+1/2% of the next $15,000,000

Basic Probate Fee





The attorney and the executor of the state may collect additional fees for filing tax returns, selling real property and doing other extraordinary work.

Are U.S. citizens subject to estate taxation on their property located world wide?

Yes. U.S. citizens are subject to estate taxation not just on their property which is located in the United States but also on their property located world wide. If you are a U.S. resident but a non citizen, you are subject to the same estate tax rules as U.S. citizens, including taxation on your world wide property.


Insurance proceeds that are payable directly to your minor children will most likely lead to an appointment of a conservator by Court. This can be avoided by naming a trust or custodial account under the state transfers-to-minors law as the beneficiary. Most often it is recommended to name your spouse as the Primary Beneficiary and If you have minor children to name the trust as your Secondary Beneficiary. This way if the proceeds are payable to a trust, they will be held and distributed in the same manner as the other trust assets and may be protected from creditors' claims. 

Tax Advice Notice

Any tax advice contained in this website is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed upon the taxpayer or for the purpose of promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters (IRS Circular 230).