Protecting Family Wealth Through Estate Planning
Proper estate planning ensures that the maximum amount of wealth transfers to the intended beneficiaries in a predictable and efficient manner. Through careful drafting of various documents, your wishes are preserved and your family assets are shielded as much as possible from creditors and lawsuits.
The experienced estate planning attorneys of Darling & Wilson, PC, offer sophisticated estate planning services to give you peace of mind that your legacy is intact and that you and your loved ones are provided for. We serve clients throughout the San Joaquin Central Valley and throughout California.
We realize that contemplating your death or disability is a sensitive subject. We create a comfortable environment in which to discuss these personal but important issues. Schedule an appointment today.
Estate Plans Tailored To Your Needs
Many of our clients are business owners, professionals and other high net worth individuals who need asset protection strategies. But we also welcome wage earners, retirees and people of moderate means who want to put their wishes in writing and protect what they have.
For all clients, we provide the basics, including:
- A last will and testament: A will prescribes how your property is to be distributed upon your death. It is important to have legal assistance when creating a will to avoid ambiguity. The problem with a will is that if it is defective, you will not know about it, but those whom you leave behind will find out the hard way. In addition to naming your heirs, a will may nominate guardians for minor children and express your wishes regarding funeral and burial rites.
- Powers of attorney: This authorizes a trusted person to manage your business and financial affairs if you become incapacitated. You decide which powers are granted and under what circumstances.
- Living will and health care proxy: An advance directive (living will) instructs doctors and your family of your specific wishes regarding heroic measures, life support and end-of-life care. A health care proxy grants a family member the power to make medical decisions on your behalf in conjunction with your known wishes.
Advanced Estate Planning Solutions
Other clients need more sophisticated tools to accomplish specific goals. We have helped clients with big estates create family limited partnerships or limited liability companies for wealth preservation and succession planning. Our lawyers are well-versed in different types of trusts, offering the greatest degree of protection and certainty while still complying with California and federal laws.
A revocable trust is a common form of a trust. Also referred to as a living trust, it is a legal instrument created to hold and manage assets during your lifetime. A benefit of this instrument, like all other trusts, is that it bypasses the probate process. A revocable trust can be revoked or amended as desired by the trustee.
Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust can be very beneficial if you have a child or grandchild with special needs. Some of the potential benefits of a special needs trust for the person with special needs include: preserving public benefits to provide for lifetime financial support and medical care; providing supplemental lifetime financial support; providing a system of advocacy to preserve rights; providing a safe and clean living arrangement; aiding in finding appropriate employment; and providing avenues for social and recreational activities.
Intentionally Defective Grantor Irrevocable Trust (IDGIT)
An intentionally defective grantor irrevocable trust can be created to freeze certain assets while passing on the market growth to beneficiaries free of gift and estate taxes. This is accomplished by setting up an IDGIT for the benefit of your chosen heirs and then selling, without capital gains tax, an appreciated growing asset to the IDGIT in exchange for a note for the value of the asset. The benefits of an IDGIT are no capital gains taxes on the assets you sell to the trust, no income taxes due on the note from the IDGIT to you and no gift or estate tax on the value created inside the IDGIT from the sale.
Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT)
A grantor retained annuity trust is a financial instrument whereby a donor makes a donation into a trust, which is set up as an annuity. After the donor receives the annual payments for the predetermined period of time, the remaining value is passed onto the beneficiaries. The benefit is that the remaining value is taxed at the initial rate of when it was donated to the trust, which potentially could be zero, thereby avoiding the gift tax. There can be a drawback, however, if the grantor (i.e., the person who made the donation and is receiving the annual payments for the predetermined time) dies prior to the predetermined time. In this situation, the potential tax benefit will not be realized.
Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT)
A qualified personal residence trust is useful to remove the value of a home from an individual’s taxable estate. In order to do this, an individual would transfer the title to the QPRT and retain the right to live in the home for a predetermined length of time. During this time, the grantor would not have to pay rent but would be responsible for real estate taxes, maintenance costs and the costs of ordinary repairs. After the predetermined period of time, assuming the grantor is still alive, the home would pass to the beneficiaries free of estate tax, and the grantor may remain in the home if they agree to pay rent to the beneficiaries. There are several tax advantages to creating a QPRT, mainly that the gift of the house is not taxed at the rate of its value but rather at the actuarial value as determined by using tables published by the IRS.
A pour-over will is a necessary document even if you have a trust. Even though a trust is already created, there might be more assets that are acquired after the creation of the trust and the decedent’s demise. A pour-over can make sure that all remaining assets at death will “pour over” into the trust.
Personalize Your Estate Plan And Asset Protection
One of our attorneys will sit down with you to discuss your assets, goals and options. We will explore different scenarios so that your wishes are clearly expressed no matter what transpires. Our firm also handles probate and trust administration, including probate litigation.