Hello and Happy Summer!
As you all know, Heather Reynolds is now officially a mermaid in Kona, and I have taken over her law practice. I am excited to continue to work with Heather’s clients and will strive to provide as high of level of service as she did. Our office is at the same location on 1808 Santa Clara Avenue in Alameda with the same phone number, and same wonderful staff. Only our email has changed (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). I have attached a one page document with my contact information if you want to add it to you estate planning binder (click here).
I was thrilled to chat with many of you at our Open House in April, and I look forward to meeting all of Heather’s clients. For those of you who I have not met yet, I would like to provide you with some background. I am a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, having been born in San Francisco, raised in Fremont, and educated at Cal Berkeley and USF School of Law. I have been practicing law since 2004, and my legal background includes representing individuals, employers, and insurance companies in various litigation matters, including workers’ compensation, employment, and property.
I have continued Heather’s practice of offering all new clients a free 30 minute initial consultation. For all returning clients of Heather’s, I am also offering a free 30-minute consultation to review your estate plan. Updating your estate plan is important. As time passes, change is inevitable in life. Common changes may include changes in your family, health or finances (including asset ownership), as well as changes in the law. It is therefore important that you have your estate plan reviewed every few years or so to ensure it is still serving its strategic purpose and reflects your current wishes. I look forward to working with you in keeping your estate plan updated and current.
ESTATE PLANNING UPDATES IN 2016
End of Life Options
California Assembly Bill 15, the End of Life Option Act, became effective June 9, 2016. Also known as physician-assisted dying or aid-in-dying, this end-of-life option allows certain terminally ill people to voluntarily and legally request and receive a prescription medication from their physician to hasten their death.
To be eligible, a patient must be a resident of California of at least 18 years old and have a terminal illness that will lead to death in 6 months or less. Two licensed physicians must verify the patient’s mental competency, diagnosis, and prognosis. Only the patient can make the oral requests for medication, in person, and the patient must also be able to self-administer and ingest the prescribed medication. A patient can rescind the request at any time.
If you are in favor of using this option if the circumstances warrant so, we can include this in your Advance Health Care Directive.
Federal Tax Exemption
Signed into law in January 2013, the federal American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) established estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions. For 2016, the federal tax exemption is $5.45 million per individual, or $10.9 million for a married couple.
How does this affect estate plans? This means that if a person dies in 2016, their estate will only be subject to estate tax if their total estate assets are over $5.45 million. Prior to ATRA, estate tax was a concern for many estates, and an A/B/C trusts was the standard trusts formed. With the higher tax exemption, this more restrictive trust may not be necessary, and other more flexible options are now available.
Transfer on Death Deed
Effective January 1, 2016, the revocable transfer on death deed (TOD) became effective in California. Such deeds transfer real property on the death of its owner to a beneficiary(ies) without having to go through Probate. The TOD deed is a simplified option for a person whose only asset is their primary residence. However, there are some caveats:
– A TOD deed allows naming of beneficiary(ies), but not successor beneficiary(ies)
– If a beneficiary dies before the real property owner does, the TOD deed has no effect.
– Minor children should not be named as beneficiaries.
If you have created a living trust, and your property is in your trust, a TOD is unnecessary, as your property is already protected from Probate. However, for people that have not created a living trust, or for property sims freeplay hack android that is not yet in the trust, the TOD deed may be an option.