Before and After Death in Tracy, CA
What are Irrevocable Living Trusts?
Estate planning near Tracy and Livermore can involve much more than just a last will and testament. Your lawyer can also create a living trust for you, which helps you protect property and minimize the tax burden . A living trust is one that goes into effect during your lifetime, rather than only after your death. An irrevocable living trust is one that cannot be terminated. The majority of living trusts are revocable, which means that they can be terminated.
You can hear more about irrevocable living trusts by watching this video. This expert discusses some of the common types of irrevocable living trusts, such as charitable trusts. Charitable trusts facilitate gifts to charity while reducing income and estate taxes. There are many other different types of trusts; you can consult a lawyer who specializes in estate planning to learn more.
Common Questions About Charitable Giving After Death
Charitable giving after death is a gracious way to make a difference with your legacy. There are multiple ways to structure your postmortem giving, and some of them can be advantageous to your other beneficiaries, if applicable. A lawyer located in Tracy or Manteca can counsel you as to the most beneficial way to structure your estate plan to maximize charitable donations.
Can’t I just leave assets to a charity in my will?
Absolutely, you can, but it may be more advantageous to structure your giving differently. For instance, if you have appreciated assets, you could transfer them to a charitable remainder trust. If you would like to give to multiple charities, it may be best to create a private foundation. The manager of the foundation will make individual grants to various charities, individuals, or scholarships. One of the benefits of using an alternative means of distributing your assets, other than your will, is that your surviving family members can contest your will. If you’ve decided to disinherit your family, there may be an increased risk of a contested will.
Can charitable giving reduce my estate taxes?
Yes, if it’s done properly. Your estate planning attorney may recommend leaving your retirement assets to charities. These assets tend to be taxed the most after death. Structuring your giving so that your retirement assets are directly transferred to the charity will give your estate a federal estate tax charitable deduction. This lessens estate taxes for your beneficiaries. Plus, the charity won’t be required to pay taxes on your gift.
Can I donate my life insurance benefits to a charity?
Yes, you can. This is one of the simplest methods of charitable giving after death, and surviving family members cannot contest the transfer of assets. The money is paid directly to the charity, bypassing probate. However, there may be a better way to give your life insurance policy to your favorite cause. Look for a life insurance carrier with optional charitable giving riders. You can attach the rider to your policy, and after you die, the rider increases the face value of the benefits. Usually, attaching a rider doesn’t increase fees or premiums, although there may be maximum thresholds on the total gift amount.
Trust administration is a complicated and lengthy process. If you have been named the administrator of a trust near Tracy or Manteca , it’s in your best interests to connect with a lawyer who handles estate planning cases. Your lawyer can work one-on-one with you to help you understand your duties and legal obligations. By working with an attorney, you can rest assured that you won’t neglect any important details of trust administration.
If you were close to the decedent, it’s only natural that you would need some time to grieve before working on estate matters. Fortunately, the first task you’ll need to perform is usually the easiest. The funeral home will order death certificates on your behalf; ask the funeral director for eight to 12 copies. You’ll need them for many of your upcoming tasks.
Last Will and Testament
Next, you’ll need to file the original will, death certificate, and a request for probate with the court for the county in which the decedent had been residing at the time of his or her death.
You’ll have lots of notifications to make. Consider asking your lawyer for a checklist of notifications to ensure that you don’t forget any of them. First, call the Social Security Administration (SSA) to notify the agency of the death. Regardless of exactly when the death occurred during the month, the Social Security payment for that month must be returned. You’ll also need to notify the state department of health of the death. Within 60 days of the death, you must identify and notify the beneficiaries and heirs. These notifications must be made in writing by mail and they must include certain information such as the identity of the decedent, date of execution of the trust instrument, and the name, mailing address, and phone number of each trustee.
Next, your lawyer will walk you through the process of making an inventory of all trust assets. You’ll obtain a taxpayer identification number from the IRS. This allows you to report the trust’s gains and losses before you distribute the assets. Then, you’ll transfer the property into your name (as trustee). Additionally, you may need to hire appraisers to determine the correct value of assets. Once these steps are complete, you can satisfy the decedent’s debts and tax liabilities, and begin distributing the trust property to the beneficiaries.
If you have your lawyer establish a trust , then the trustee is responsible for administering the trust in accordance with your wishes after your death. In Tracy and Livermore, trust administration is a significant responsibility and often requires in-depth knowledge of estate planning matters. The trustee you choose can receive assistance from a law firm, but it’s still important to select a trustee who is capable of handling this responsibility.
Selecting a Family Member
It’s common to select a family member as a trustee or two select two family members to serve as co-trustees. If this is an option for you, then be sure to choose a family member who has solid business sense and good judgment. Your trustee should be expected to outlive you. Before settling on a relative, carefully consider whether family dynamics or family conflicts might interfere with the trustee’s ability to administer the trust in an appropriate manner. Even when a family trustee has the best of intentions at heart, he or she might be influenced to make an emotional decision. If you do decide to use a family trustee, make sure that person is willing to carry out these duties after your death.
Choosing a Professional Trustee
Many people choose a professional or corporate trustee. This option may be right for you if you do not have a family member whom you trust to faithfully administer the trust or if none of your relatives are willing to assume this role. Bear in mind that a corporate trustee will charge a fee, which might be a problem for trusts that are modestly funded. However, the advantage of choosing a corporate trustee is that he or she won’t be swayed by family dynamics or conflicts.
Authorizing a Relative and an Independent Advisor
It is possible to find a middle ground between choosing a family trustee versus a corporate trustee. You might decide to select a trustworthy family member to serve as a trustee, but then to also hire an independent investment advisor. This advisor could provide guidance to the trustee without charging the same high fee that would be typical of a corporate co-trustee.
Far too many people die intestate, which means they pass on without a will. When this happens, their assets are dealt with in accordance with state intestate succession laws. In some cases, when an heir cannot be identified, it is possible for the state to claim these assets. You can easily avoid these problems by consulting an estate planning lawyer in Tracy or Livermore. Your estate planning attorney will carefully review your finances, offer sound recommendations, and provide you with all the information you need to make wise decisions for your heirs.
A last will and testament is a crucial document to have, regardless of your health or age. As your circumstances change, you may wish to visit your lawyer to have your will revised. For example, if you have more children or if grandchildren are born, you may wish to adjust your will to reflect your new inheritance preferences. Your lawyer will draft your will for you to ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes after you pass on. Your will can be as detailed as you like. For example, some people simply prefer to leave all their assets to their spouse, while others prefer to designate heirs for specific items. You might leave a valuable jewelry collection to a granddaughter, for example, and leave a vehicle to a sibling. You can alsouse your will to leave gifts for your favorite charities. For parents and legal custodians, having a properly drafted will is particularly important. Your will can designate a guardian for any children who are still minors when you pass on. If you take care of someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated, you will also need to designate a guardian for that individual.
Another basic component of estate planning is creating trusts. A living trust goes into effect during your lifetime, while a testamentary trust goes into effect after your death. You can transfer certain assets to a trust to protect them and reduce the tax burden. Trusts allow for the speedy distribution of assets to beneficiaries after a death. They may also place limitations on inheritances.
If you’ve been thinking of consulting an estate planning attorney, you may already be considering what information to include in your will . It’s true that creating a last will and testament in Tracy or Manteca is part of estate planning; however, the estate planning process may also include the creation of a trust and the designation of a trustee. When you do create a will with the help of your lawyer, you may prefer that the will include instructions for settling any tax debts, designating a guardian for minor children, and providing for any pets, in addition to naming beneficiaries of your assets.
Your attorney may recommend that you create a trust if you would like to minimize estate and gift taxes, or avoid the probate process for all assets in the trust. Your trust could also be used to establish conditions for the distribution of your assets after your death. A third essential component of estate planning is designating a trustee to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death. Many people name loved ones as trustees, while others designate their lawyer.
Michael C. Belden is an estate planning lawyer in Tracy who is also a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. This program is a California Supreme Court-approved method for certifying attorneys as specialists in different areas of law. In earning this distinction, Mr. Belden had to successfully pass a written examination, attend a number of education programs, complete specific tasks in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate, and undergo a peer review.
In order for Mr. Belden to register to become an estate law specialist, he needed to practice in the specialty area for a certain period of time. Once Mr. Belden passed the Legal Specialist Examination, he is eligible to continue on in the certification process. Through this rigorous process, the State Bar of California ensures that Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law specialists have the knowledge and experience necessary to help his clients.
At Bakerink, McCusker & Belden , our attorneys in Tracy are dedicated to providing our valued clientele with comprehensive legal guidance in our areas of specialization. Attorney Michael C. Belden, one of our partners, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, and bankruptcy. In 2014, the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization granted Mr. Belden the designation of Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. The exhaustive certification process involved a number of continuing education programs, peer reviews, and an intensive examination.
Before Mr. Belden joined our law firm, he served as Assistant Banking Center Manager for Bank of America. He later reviewed appellate cases for the Civil Justice Association of California. Mr. Belden joined the law offices of Bakerink & McCusker as a law clerk in 2003, focusing on estate planning and related matters. He graduated from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2005 and was subsequently admitted to the California State Bar. Since joining our law offices, Mr. Belden has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to client education and counseling.
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