Last year we reported on the fact that the estate tax exemption limit doubled between 2017 and 2018. This was a sharp divergence from the usual uptick, which has been gradual for many years. As a result, the number of estates subject to taxation is even less than before. Did the trend continue in 2019? And what about tax exclusions on gifts?
Estate Tax Exemption Regulations
In 2018, any estate with a total value of under $11,180,000 was exempt from taxation under the law. That number has once again increased. While the change was back to a normal increase rather than doubling, the figure for 2019 is $11,400,000. What can you do if your estate is larger than $11.4 million and you want to avoid taxes for your heirs? One option is to distribute some of your estate while you are still alive.
Gift Exclusions in 2019
Gift exclusions have remained the same this year at $15,000 per person per year. What does that mean? You can distribute $15,000 to each person you want to give a gift to this year, and they won’t have to pay taxes on that gift. And remember that this is per person, so you can gift a couple (make sure both names are on the check) $30,000 per year tax-free.
Assistance in Avoiding Tax Penalties on Gifts and Estates
The laws are making it easier than ever to avoid taxes for heirs and the recipients of large gifts. Learn more about how to make sure your estate goes to the people you love rather than on taxes by calling 619-344-0360 to speak with the estate planning professionals at Petrov Law Firm.Read More
Sometimes our clients mistakenly believe that their spouse automatically has power of attorney. The answer to the question in our title is no, but it is important to understand why this is the case and how to correct the problem.
What Is Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney refers to a legal document that allows someone else to make decisions or sign legal documents on your behalf. For example, you may execute a power of attorney to allow someone else to sell your home without you present, to give a person access to your brokerage accounts while you are traveling abroad, or to make medical decisions for you in a situation where you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make your own choices.
When a power of attorney is executed, you determine the extent of responsibility given to the person. For example, in the scenarios noted above, you may decide that a different person will be responsible for making financial decisions than the person who is designated to make medical decisions.
Why the Confusion?
In short, people think their mate has power of attorney since many documents may already be in the names of both individuals. For example, you may both be able to write checks and make deposits on your bank account, but that is because both of you are named to the account. Your home may automatically pass to your mate if you die, but that may be because both names are on the deed.
Executing a Power of Attorney in San Diego
If you need to execute a document to give power of attorney to an individual, regardless of the scope or the timeframe, Petrov Law Firm can help. Our San Diego, Chula Vista, and North County offices are conveniently located for our southern California clients. Call 619-344-0360 to schedule an appointment.Read More
An irrevocable living trust is just one of the many ways that you can choose to leave assets to your heirs. This is a popular option for a number of reasons. Here are three things you should know about irrevocable living trusts.
- They can help you avoid probate – Trusts are cared for by a successor trustee who is designated to take care of the trust and make sure your beneficiaries get the money faster and without court fees.
- You can be the trustee while alive – This means that you can make changes to the trust on an ongoing basis (unless you choose to declare it irrevocable while still alive). This makes a living trust a popular option for people who want to be able to control what goes into the trust and who the beneficiaries are.
- The trust becomes irrevocable at death – While a trustee has a little more leeway with a regular trust, an irrevocable trust is set once you die. The successor trustee will carry out your instructions for distributing the trust in the amounts and to the individuals set forth by you.
Planning Your Estate in Chula Vista and North County
Petrov Law Firm has the experienced estate planning attorneys that Chula Vista and North County residents can trust. Start planning for the future of your family now, or have our attorneys look over your existing trust to see if it can be structured in a better manner. Call 619-344-0360 to get started and see the benefits that come from having seasoned estate planning lawyers in your corner.Read More
A conservatorship is formed when the courts decide that an individual no longer has the capacity to take care of themselves. Is there a way for you to avoid this unfortunate process should you fall victim to some sort of incapacitation or even a debilitating mental illness? Here are a couple of things you should know about California conservatorships.
- The legal term is “gravely disabled” – Therefore, there is some room for the courts to make their own determination as far as what gravely disabled entails. In the meantime, you can head things off at the pass by listing someone in your estate planning documents to care for you should you ever become gravely disabled.
- There must be sufficient proof of disability – If you are eating three meals a day, paying your rent, and keeping your body and clothing clean, it would be tough for a court to declare you gravely disabled. This means that most mental illnesses won’t result in a conservatorship.
That having been said, someone with a condition like schizophrenia who is not taking their medication properly may be disabled to the point of needing a conservatorship. In other cases, this is reserved for people in comas and other forms of complete incapacitation.
Estate Planning Attorneys in San Diego and North County
If you are looking for estate planning attorneys to help you plan for your future in San Diego or North County, then Petrov Law Firm can help. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you to designate a health care surrogate or power of attorney in advance, so the courts don’t have to. Call 619-344-0360 today to learn more.Read More
If you are presently going through or have recently been through a divorce, there are probably many things on your mind. However, you don’t want to let estate planning changes slip through the cracks. Here are a couple of important changes to make following a divorce.
- Beneficiary changes – There are some accounts that do not go through probate. For example, if your mate was listed as the beneficiary of your retirement account, life insurance policy, or a payable on death (POD) bank account, you need to change the beneficiary if you want someone other than your ex to get the money.
- Factor in children if you remarry – If you end up remarrying in the future, you don’t want any children from the first marriage to get left out. Therefore, you may need to add the children from your first marriage directly to the will or a trust. Otherwise, if you remarry and forget to adjust your estate plan, you may end up leaving everything to your second mate and their children rather than children you had with a previous mate.
Navigating Estate Planning Laws in San Diego, California
To help you get your estate planning just right so that your assets are left to the people you want to give them to, be sure to seek the assistance of the estate planning attorneys at Petrov Law Firm. Call 619-344-0360 today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced California attorneys.Read More
Probate court isn’t always a bad thing, but it can sometimes mean that your heirs will have to wait a while to get their inheritance. It can also be expensive since creditors may get their share and the courts will, of course, take a cut for fees. So how can you use your bank accounts to avoid probate? Here are a couple of ways.
- Payable on Death (POD) Accounts – If you make your bank account payable on death to a specific beneficiary, then you cut out the middleman and get your money directly to the heir. The only negative is that you will need to change the name of the beneficiary right away if you have a change of circumstances or just want someone else to get the money.
- Joint Savings or Checking Accounts – If someone else’s name is on your bank account with you, then they can continue to use the account as usual when you pass. The money is already theirs in the eyes of the bank anyway since the account is shared. This is an easy way to leave funds to someone who you trust not to take anything from you while you are alive.
California Estate Planning Attorneys
If you need help planning for your estate in the state of California, the experienced attorneys at Petrov Law Firm can help. To schedule a consultation, give our San Diego office a call today at 619-344-0360. We look forward to helping you plan ahead for the future of your family.Read More
When you are planning for your estate, the people who come to mind are likely your relatives, and perhaps a charity that is dear to your heart. However, you may not have any close relatives, or at least not anyone you feel close to. What can you do then? Does California force you to leave your estate to blood relatives?
State Laws in Regard to Naming Beneficiaries
This question comes up because of certain European nations which have laws forcing heirship. In the US, such laws don’t exist on the federal level, and California has not done much to impose its own will on whom you may choose to name as an heir. There is only one primary exception.
When a couple holds an asset as a community property (e.g., you each own 50% of your home), you can only dictate who receives your portion of the asset, not the entire asset.
Can I Make My Beneficiary a Random Person?
Sure. While this is a rather unorthodox way to pass on your estate, you could technically look in the phone book and select names at random to place in your will. The main issue will come when your executor is trying to get in touch with these individuals. They may pass away before you, or they may have moved without you knowing, or they could potentially refuse to speak with the executor thinking the call is some kind of scam.
California Estate Planning Law Experts
Whether you want to pass on your inheritance to your closest blood relative, a charity, or even just a good friend, Petrov Law Firm can help. Contact our estate planning attorneys today at 619-344-0360 to schedule a consultation.Read More
At Petrov Law Firm, we see each of our clients as an individual. As a result, we help you to determine what is best of you and your beneficiaries. For some families, leaving a life insurance policy to a trust as a beneficiary is a good idea. Here are a few situations where this method works well:
- Your beneficiaries are minor children – If your kids are under 18, they won’t get your life insurance policy until they come of age anyway. Having the money go directly into a trust can allow a trustee to dispense some money to the children as needed such as for new outfits at the beginning of the school year.
- You want to avoid executor and court fees – If your estate ends up in probate court for any significant amount of time, a good portion of the assets can go toward court fees and executor expenses before your family sees any of it.
- You are concerned about the simultaneous death of yourself and your beneficiary – Let’s say the person you were going to name as your life insurance policy beneficiary is someone who is always traveling with you. What happens if you die together in some sort of travel-related accident? Having the money go into a trust is a good way to ensure it passes on to your other family members.
Personalized Estate Planning in San Diego, California
Let our professional estate planning attorneys help you to determine what methods will meet your family’s needs. Call 619-344-0360 to schedule a consultation today.Read More
If you give a gift to a family member or friend that exceeds a specific value, it can be taxed. Because of this, some people decide to leave gifts in the form of a trust. It allows you to leave much more money to a person without a portion of it going to the government. Here are some of the best ways to leave a gift via trust to your loved ones.
- IDGT – The intentionally defective grantor trust is used to leave the family business to another household member, and it protects the beneficiary from the company’s creditors.
- QPRT – A qualified personal residence trust is a great way to transfer a house to your family when you don’t want them to pay the full market value. Your family will receive asset protection as well as tax benefits.
- CRT – A charitable remainder trust is for when you want to leave the gift to a charity rather than an individual. It also provides tax benefits to your estate.
- Gift trust – A gift trust with annual exclusions allows you to give family members the maximum exempt amount per year with the rest going into a trust that will be dispensed later. While the family doesn’t get access to all the funds immediately, they also don’t have to pay half of it in taxes.
Generous Estate Planning Options in Southern California
For more generous estate planning options in southern California, contact the estate planning experts at Petrov Law Firm by calling 619-344-0360. Our experienced attorneys can help you leave assets to your heirs with the minimal tax burden, so your family enjoys your assets rather than the government.Read More
When it comes to couples, you have estate planning options that are unique to your legal relationship. Here are some things that a couple should know about when planning a future together.
- A/B Trusts – While rare, this is a type of tax shelter that you may want to take advantage of if you have a huge estate. Most estates will not need something of this nature due to the current estate tax laws.
- Marital Disclaimer Trust – This is for couples who want to give the surviving mate a Bypass Trust option. Don’t try to set up this kind of trust on your own. You will want the help of an estate planning attorney to ensure this is the best option for you financially.
- Survivor’s Trust – This is a simple way to leave your mate everything that you own. Just remember that if the survivor remarries, it may affect whether your kids get anything in the future when the survivor eventually passes away.
- Survivor’s Trust w/ QTIP – Qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) can be of benefit if you are dealing with a smaller estate or have a blended family. The surviving spouse receives the maximum asset distribution, but you also get the best deductions while you are both alive.
Estate Planning for Couples in San Diego, CA
If you live in San Diego or the surrounding areas, Petrov Law Firm is your source for Southern California’s top estate planning attorneys. To get your estate plan started, give us a call today at 619-344-0360 and schedule a consultation.Read More