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Newport Beach Estate Law Blog

Have you created a plan for your special needs child?

A special needs child is a child who requires specific care. In many cases, special needs children need to be cared for after they become adults, and they never become fully independent. In other cases, special needs children require costly medical services and round-the-clock attention to ensure that they're healthy and happy.

The responsibilities involved with taking care of a special need child are usually attended to by the child's parents, but what happens if something happens to the parents and they're no longer able to care for their child? This is where a special needs trust comes into play. A special needs trust can give the parents of child with a disability the peace of mind that their child's needs will be met financially, medically and emotionally -- even if they're no longer available.

Transferring property deeds to an adult child

As you approach old age, you may be wondering how to transfer your real estate holdings to your adult children. There are several reasons why seniors may wish to transfer their real estate: Some people decide to unburden themselves of their house and travel the world; others make the choice to downgrade to a more manageable living space. For some seniors, the physical strain of maintaining the property may no longer be an option.

Whatever your reason, you are now wondering how to transfer your property. One of the most common ways is through the transfer of a deed. There are a few different deeds to choose from, and you should think carefully about which one is best for you before making a decision.

Tips for cleaning up your estate for your heirs

At some point in their lives, most California residents begin to realize that they may not have many years left to spend with their families and loved ones. During these last years, most people try to make the most of them and cherish the lasting memories they have. They may also choose to prepare their estates so that their wealth can be passed on to their loved ones in the most uncomplicated way possible.

The practice of tidying up your estate for your heirs comes from an old Swedish tradition called dostadning, which literally means "death cleaning." Here's how you can follow the dostadning tradition for your heirs and loved ones:

5 Estate planning strategies for women

Many women tend to neglect the estate-planning process. This is a shame, because estate planning is an important step in protecting your wealth and ensuring your loved ones’ wellbeing. 

If you have not yet planned your estate, now is the time to start. Many women feel overwhelmed when beginning the estate planning process, but this is not necessary with a few key strategies. To help you get started, here are five of the best strategies that women can use for planning an estate.

Deceased billionaire's kids call his widow a 'material girl'

The alleged "billionaire" John Paterakis died in 2016, in Maryland, at the age of 87 from complications related to bone marrow disease. The man left assets to his children and his widow, but the estate is now embroiled in controversy.

Paterakis made his name and his fortune through the expansion of his father's tiny bakery into a massive business empire. He also transformed a piece of waterfront land in the luxurious Harbor East neighborhood.

Preparing for a family business succession

When you're running a family-owned business, you might want a family member to take over the company in the event your death, but what about retirement? If you want to retire, and enjoy yourself in your golden years, you might want to consider a business succession plan.

Whenever you create a plan for business succession, you'll discover that it's not an entirely simple process. For one, you will have a lot of tax and insurance matters to navigate. Secondly, you'll also need to make sure that the family members who take over your business know how to properly run the company in a way that will be profitable for many years to come.

Talk to your family before finalizing your estate plan

A lot of California families think it's best to keep their estate planning a secret. They meet with their estate planning lawyers and create a solid plan, but they don't tell anyone about it. Although this can work in many cases, it also increases the chances that family members will try to contest the estate plan after you're gone.

If this happens, it doesn't have anything to do with the morality of your family; it's just human nature to question what's true and what's best after a loved one dies. There is, however, a way to avoid such a problem: Don't keep your estate plan a secret. Talk with your family about what you hope to do with your money after you're gone.

Who should I grant with the power of attorney?

As you start writing your wills, one of the questions you will need to answer is who you want to be given power of attorney. This person will be able to make decisions related to your care and treatment, as well as whether or not to continue life support.

It's a lot of responsibility and pressure to place on a person. How do you decide who gets this power?

Special wording for your special needs trust

Parents of special needs children may want to create a special needs trust to provide for their kids in the event the parents die or become incapacitated. Such a trust brings a great deal of peace of mind. Because it will allay the all-encompassing fear of "Who's going to take care of my child when I'm gone?", a special needs trust should be a part of every estate plan belonging to a parent caring for a child with a severe disability.

A special needs trust will require specific language in order for it to be effective. Here is the wording that your trust will require:

  • The trust should say that it's intended to offer "supplemental and extra care" in addition to regular government benefits.
  • The trust should say that it's being created as a "basic support trust."
  • You do not want to include an estate tax provision in the trust. These are referred to as "Crummey Clauses," and you should not put such a clause in your trust.
  • Refer to the Social Security Operations Manual where it authorizes the use of a special needs trust.
  • Put language in the trust that refers to Medicaid payback.
  • Include language that explains the Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act exception.
  • Copy the relevant portions of the United States Code.

Estate planning for your retirement assets

Imagine you've been toiling away at your job for the last two decades, diligently setting aside as much as you can for your Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Maybe you don't have to imagine it; maybe you've been doing exactly that for the last three decades. Regardless of your IRA situation, this account needs a special approach when you include it in your estate plan. Don't just put your spouse's name on the beneficiary and think you're done with this account -- you may need to revisit your estate planning for your IRA at a later time.

For example, be very careful with the beneficiary designation on your IRA. Common errors involve forgetting to complete the beneficiary designation, failing to update the designation after inheriting an IRA or failing to update the designation with a new name after you divorce your previous beneficiary. These errors could result in your IRA going to an unintended person, or they could result in your IRA going through the delays and expenses of probate.

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The Soto Law Group
1101 Dove Street,
Suite 200
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Phone: 949-945-0415
Fax: 949-945-0197
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