Practice AreasEstate & Business Succession Planning
An estate plan may include the preparation of the following documents:
- Advanced Health Care Directive
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
- Trust (various kinds)
- Funding Documents - the transfer of assets to your Trust (Certification of Trust, Declaration of Personal Property, Trust Transfer Deeds, etc.)
The first two documents allow a third party to make decisions for you according to your wishes as you have indicated in the documents. The authority can be effective when you are deemed incompetent or immediatley. The Will dictates how your estate is to be administered and distributed on your death. Having a Will alone does not necessarily avoid the court process called Probate. You may also use a Will to nominate guardians for minor children. There are several benefits of holding your assets in a Trust in addition to avoiding probate. Having assets held by a Trust provide clarity and continued control of assets which can be very helpful when there are blended families from second marraiges and or when there is a disabled family member.
Trust Administration & Probate
Both are processes by which assets held by the decedent's estate and or the trust estate are managed.
Probate involves an interested person petitioning the court for the authority to manage and distribute the decedent’s assets. Such a process can be expensive, time consuming and complicated. The process can be avoided if the decedent passed away having created a trust that properly held title to their assets. There are probate codes that apply if the total value of the estate does not exceed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000).
If someone becomes incompetent or passes away having established a trust that was properly funded, the process by which the assets are administered may be referred to as the trust administration process. The Trustee of the trust has to comply with the trust terms and with CA trust rules. Although there is a cost to administer a trust the fees are usually much less than that associated to a probate process. If you are appointed as trustee of a trust you owe legal responsibilities to the trust and its beneficiaries and may want to seek advise from an attorney as to those fiduciary obligations.Conservatorship
Conservatorship is needed when an adult becomes incompetent and or a child with disabilities turns eighteen year (18) years old and are unable to make decisions for themselves. Conservatorship can be avoided if an adult has the mental capacity to execute a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and an Advance Health Care Directive. Conservatorship is a legal process by which someone (conservator) goes to court and petitions for the authority to act on behalf of someone else (conservatee). There is the conservatorship of the person (medical, where they will live, right to contract etc.) and conservatorship of the estate (controlling the funds) of which you can petition for both or just one. There is also limited conservatorship which refers to the situation where a child with disabilities turns 18 years old. Attorney Mrs. Mitchell can assist with general and limited conservatorship proceedings.
Planning for the future can entail creating a system where others can act in in case of your mental deterioration or that minor children are provided for in the event their parent(s) pass away. Planning can also entail reviewing your business and making sure that it will continue even when the owner falters. A large part of people's assets that they need to plan for includes real property.
Attorney Mrs. Mitchell will review the title to your real property holdings and ensure they properly reflect your ownership interest, if not, she will assist in correcting any errors that may show up. Mrs. Mitchell can help review purchase agreements, boundary disputes and assist with present transfers of your real property interest or transfers that are to occur in the future.