Our Trusts and Estates practice focuses on both estate planning and post-death administration of estates.
The most important goals of any estate plan are to provide for beneficiaries and minimize estate tax liability. We accomplish these goals by providing comprehensive planning, preparation, and implementation of estate planning documents while balancing our clients’ interests in limiting estate and gift taxes.
We also work closely with clients who own and manage family-owned and closely-held companies to provide a coordinated, full-service approach to the estate planning issues affecting their businesses and families.
BOLD’s estate planning services include:
- Development, analysis, and creation of estate plans
- Preparation of wills, revocable living trusts, powers of attorney, durable powers for health care, real property deeds, and irrevocable trusts
- Consultation with clients’ bankers, investment advisors, insurance agents, and pension managers to ensure proper transfer of assets to the trust and beyond
- Estate, gift, and income tax planning
- Business succession planning
- Charitable gift planning
- Life insurance trusts
Before any estate planning documents are drafted, we meet with clients to review their family and financial goals and to explain the role of estate planning in carrying out those goals. Once the documents are drafted, our goal is for clients to know what their estate plan does and says. We see each of our clients as an individual, and each individual’s estate and goals are distinct from the next client.
In our role as estate planning attorneys we often serve as the family counsel, allowing us to stay in touch with our clients and to monitor their financial well-being. We encourage our clients to review their estate plans every few years and communicate with us if there are significant changes in their lives, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, the acquisition of real property, or the inheritance of assets.
We have been drafting estate plans for southern California families for five decades. Over the years, we have developed a multi-generational estate planning approach for many of our clients. For those clients, we counsel each generation with their own estate planning, and where a family-held or closely-held business is involved, we help the family in succession planning for the business.
Multi-Generation Estate Planning for Affluent Families
Successful entrepreneurs, executives and professionals accumulate wealth but often have little experience in how to manage the transfer of their wealth to their families, or turn success into lasting significance. Families of such wealth face unique challenges as they endeavor to preserve assets and create a sustainable legacy for future generations.
For families to successfully preserve and transfer their wealth over generations, the focus must extend beyond finances, and must embrace fostering effective family communication and developing confident stewards of wealth in each generation. BOLD attorneys go beyond traditional estate planning and explore the human, intellectual, and social dimensions of significant wealth, such that we help clients and their families ensure that the totality of their wealth has a positive impact within the family and the community around them. We deliver the processes and tools that help families clarify shared values, promote effective communication, foster financial literacy, and raise responsible heirs.
We also assist clients, as trustees, in the administration of decedents’ trusts. It is essential that the successor trustee consult with an attorney to understand his or her duties as trustee, follow the provisions set forth in the trust document, and comply with state and federal laws. The successor trustee’s duties include the following:
- Notify each of the decedent’s beneficiaries regarding the trust administration
- Gather and consolidate the decedent’s assets
- Identify the decedent’s creditors and arrange for payment
- Maintain records and provide trust accounting to beneficiaries
- Prepare and file an estate tax return and trust income tax returns
- Plan for and carry out the distribution of assets to beneficiaries in a timely fashion
When a person dies, important estate matters such as changes in property titles and completion of tax forms must be handled. If the decedent executed only a will, neglected to fund his or her trust with certain assets, or failed to sign any estate plan documents at all, then the decedent’s estate will likely be subject to probate. Probate is the court procedure that oversees the determination of succession payment of debts, and transfer of assets following a person’s death.
Executors or personal representatives may be faced with various challenges, such as the sale of real estate, pending legal claims against the estate, tax issues, and unsatisfied beneficiaries who threaten to sue. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you overcome these obstacles and provide the expert legal advice that is needed when tackling the probate court process.
The BOLD Approach
- Integrated legal services for your business and personal goals. BOLD serves as the one-stop shop for all your legal needs. Our Trusts and Estates attorneys can advise you on efforts to protect and extend your family’s wealth.
- Strong tax experience. Sophisticated estate planning requires in-depth knowledge of income, estate, and gift taxes. Our attorneys include certified tax specialists with decades of experience in understanding how tax laws affect multi-generational wealth transfers. We can employ advanced techniques to assist in disposing your wealth as you see fit, while minimizing the estate and gift tax implications of doing so.
- Sensitivity to family issues. Estate planning involves dynamic and complicated areas of the law that intersect with family issues. We take the time to learn about your inter-personal relationships so we can provide counsel that is tailored to your unique situation.
- Comprehensive counsel. When designing an estate plan, we help our clients organize and structure their business and investment assets with one eye on the present and one eye to the future. Though we are not investment advisers, we take a comprehensive look at your overall investment portfolio and advise on how to structure your estate plan so you can maximize your wealth and minimize estate taxes for future generations.