Thank Congress if You Made Big Gifts in 2012

Hank Wittenberg has a great article on estateplanning.com on why those of you who did year end planning in 2012 made the right choice, even though Congress extended the generous gift and estate tax exclusions with the American Taxpayer Relief Act. The tax act signed into law by President Obama last week provided some very good estate planning provisions. Surprisingly, I have … [More...]

Thank Congress if You Made Big Gifts in 2012

Hank Wittenberg has a great article on estateplanning.com on why those of you who did year end planning in 2012 made the right choice, even though Congress extended the generous gift and estate tax exclusions with the American Taxpayer Relief Act. The tax act signed into law by President Obama last week provided some very good estate planning provisions. Surprisingly, I have … [More...]

Advice from Jeff Bezos

From the 37 Signals blog (via GeekWire). Jeff Bezos says smart people change their mind. The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking. This doesn’t mean you … [More...]

Lifetime Bypass Trust

Until December 31, the lifetime gift tax exclusion is $5,120,000 per person. Unless Congress acts, this amount will drop to $1,000,000 on January 1, 2013.  It is usually best to use a tax exemption as soon as possible – use it or lose it. The opportunity, good now through the December 31, is to gift assets out of your estate and forever exempt the assets and all future … [More...]

8. You Can Give Your Children Divorce and Asset Protection

This is part 8 in my series, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know. Part 8 - You Can Give Your Children Divorce and Asset Protection. Of the thousands of clients I’ve worked with, most know how they want to distribute their assets when they die:  For married couples, it’s usually to the surviving spouse and then in equal shares to their children.  For a … [More...]

How We Can Help You

We are an intentionally small California law firm based in Sacramento. We help families with estate planning (things like living trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, wills, trust administration and probate), we counsel entrepreneurs and small business owners, set up corporations and LLCs, and we help churches and nonprofits with planned giving. We will treat you like we would want to be treated. This means we will be kind, we will teach you about legal issues- not lecture you.  We will return phone calls and emails usually in a few hours, and we will charge a fair fixed fee (we rarely bill by the hour – we think you should know in advance what it will cost). Our clients like working with us, and almost all our work comes from client referrals.

Recent Posts

Fund Your Living Trust

I can say this every day and it may still not be enough. Make sure you fund your living trust. This means transferring title of your real property, bank accounts, investment accounts and business to your living trust. One of the main reasons you created your living trust was to avoid probate. You may have the best living trust in the world, but if your assets have not been transferred to it, your estate may have to go through probate. My suggestion: 1. Review your property tax bill to confirm the title to your house or other real properties is in your living trust. 2. Review your bank and investment account statements to confirm the title of those accounts is in your living trust. 3. … [More...]

Are You Working Like It’s 1980?

The world is not what you were taught by your parents, teachers and employers. We are beginning to see what researchers have known for years, that what motivates us is not incentives and consequences, but self determination. Daniel Pink writes about this in his excellent book, Drive. In addition, we may be structuring our work as if it was still the 1980s, because our industry still does it that way and our teachers and bosses still think that way. Professionals like lawyers are especially guilty of this. Most lawyers and law firms still organize their work and delivery of services to their clients like it was done 30 years ago, although maybe with more email. A great quote from Eric Hoffer … [More...]

Supercharge Your Living Trust for FREE

The main reason you establish a living trust is to make things easy for your loved ones. There is one thing you can do to make sure things go easy, and it's free. What is it? Make a list of your assets and place the list in your estate planning binder. This should only take about 30 minutes to prepare. When we meet with a client to do the trust administration when a parent or spouse has died, in many cases, most of the work involves identifying the assets. What did the deceased person own? It can involve rummaging through desk drawers, computer files and safe deposit boxes - a real hassle. Things go so much smoother if there is a simple spreadsheet listing each asset, financial institution or … [More...]

Vacation Planning

School is out or almost out and you may have lined up a vacation or two. Now is a good time to check to see if you have a plan in place to protect your family if something happens to you. Do you have enough life insurance for your spouse and children to make ends meet if something happens to you? Have you done a will to name guardians to raise your children if something happens to you and your spouse? Have you done a living trust to make sure your assets go where you want them to go in an easy and cost effective way - without probate? And if you have done a will and living trust, are they up to date? Are you still ok with the person you named five years ago to raise your children? Estate … [More...]

The Biggest Impact on Your Child’s Life

How much time and money do you invest to help your children get into the right college or develop their athletic skills? Yet, getting into the right college or excelling in sports are, for most children, short term achievements. On a scale of 1 to 10 on what will positively impact your children's lives, college choice and youth sports are at best a 5. Who they marry, however, is a 10. Who your child marries will impact your child's life more than any other decision he or she makes. How do you help your child make that decision? The good news is it doesn't require private schools, SAT prep courses or sports camps.  It's done by loving and treating your spouse the way you would want your child's … [More...]

Should You Make Gifts in 2012?

The 2012 gift tax exclusion is a whopping $5,120,000. It is scheduled to drop to $1,000,000 in 2013. If you have an estate value greater than $1,000,000 or greater than $2,000,000 if you are married, you may, depending on your age and your relationship with your children, want to take advantage of this year's big gift tax exclusion by making significant gifts to your children, thereby reducing or eliminating your potential estate tax. And if you do make gifts to your children, we highly recommend you use irrevocable gift trusts. If you make outright gifts to your children, the gifted asset could be fair game in a lawsuit or divorce claim against your child. If you make gifts in trust, the … [More...]

Happy Mother’s Day

Jason Gay has a great column on the real MVP. My mother never really helped me with sports. I'm not even certain if she loves sports. All she ever did was pack me up in the car for the first 17 years of my life, dragging me out of bed and telling me to eat something before driving me off to tryouts, to practice, to tournaments and playoff games that I can no longer remember. All she ever did was make sure that I always had a ride home after the game. All she ever did was abandon huge chunks of her day—her life—to make sure I could play sports with my friends because I enjoyed playing sports with my friends. I am not sure what the big deal is about this. It's not like my mother taught me how to … [More...]

WIlliam Jessup University

Counsel Protect supports William Jessup University, the Sacramento private university, that is making a positive difference in the Sacramento community at large and in the lives of its students. We encourage you to support its transforming work by participating in their "Because of You" campaign to keep tuition affordable and graduate debt low. My friend, Eric Hogue, says they are looking for 500 viewers to give $10 to $50 today. Check out the video. Here is the link to participate. … [More...]

hand holding key

Estate Planning is Not Complicated

If you have a family, you need to protect it. It's your job. If you die, what happens to your spouse and children? The solution can be simple. An estate plan and life insurance. The estate plan usually involves a living trust and the life insurance can be a 20 year term policy. That will protect most families. It doesn't have to be difficult, but it does have to be done. Don't make it more complicated than it has to be. Guardians. Of the people you know, who is the best one to raise your kids if needed, Hint - not some best case scenario person you haven't met yet, but the best of the people you know. For good or bad, your choice is limited to the people you already know. Who is the best of … [More...]

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