On March 15, 2018 Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney KC Marie Knox of law firm Hymes, Schreiber & Knox, LLP was informed by the State Bar of California that she passed the Legal Specialist Examination in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law.
California Rule of Court 9.35 served as the basis for the creation of the State Bar Legal Specialization program. The program was intended to provide a method for attorneys to earn the designation of certified specialist in particular areas of law, increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competence.
The program was the first of its kind in the United States, and it has served as a model for other state programs for certifying legal specialists around the nation.
Estate Planning Attorney KC Marie Knox was invited by the National Business Institute (NBI) to serve as a faculty member for their Elder Law: Start to Finish seminar. The Health Care Decisions and Advance Medical Directives Webcast will take place on September 7, 2016 and will cover:
This legal course is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit nursing home administrators, financial planners, trust officers, accountants, social workers, geriatric care managers, and other professionals working with elder clients on estate planning issues.
Tom was fairly successful in life and had a love for travel. To maximize his options, Tom was enrolled in several different programs which generated reward points. These points could then be redeemed for travel, hotel stays, car rentals, etc. Tom assumed that when he passed away, his accumulation of reward points would simply pass on to his kids, or whomever else he designated as part of his estate plan. Despite Tom’s intended plan, the reward programs had a different plan in mind.
Tom was enrolled in three specific reward programs, each of which was linked to a specific credit card:
The task of a fiduciary (e.g. executor, trustee or attorney in fact), when you are no longer around or able to provide guidance, can be a difficult one. He or she is charged with the job of gathering/marshalling all your assets. Effectively he or she is taking your place when you are unable to act or are no longer with us. To make that task easier, there are a number of things you can do. Here are some suggestions:
Non-Legal Records. There are documents, in addition to the legal ones, that may also assist your legal representative. Consider adding a section called “Records” and include the following:
Any information on pre-paid funeral or cemetery arrangements;
A list of valuable assets (such as stocks/bonds, artwork, jewelry, collectibles) and their location (such as closet safe, freezer, lockbox under bed);
Deeds for real estate holdings (residential, commercial or timeshares) with copies of related insurance policies;
As many estate planners anticipated, The Internal Revenue Service has raised the limit on tax-free transfers during life or at death. Beginning in 2015 that amount, known as the basic exclusion, will increase to $5.43 million per person, up from $5.34 million this year. This announcement, in Revenue Procedure 2014-61, indicates there will be no change in the annual exclusion, allowing you to give $14,000 in cash or other assets each year to as many individuals as you want without using the basic exclusion. The annual exclusion gifts don’t count towards the lifetime gift exemption. Another tactic is to fund a Continue reading →
This following article titled “In Support of Sensible Legislation on Digital Assets” is featured in the October 2014 issue of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association‘s Valley Lawyer Magazine (view pdf):
For the past ten or so years, new articles have abounded regarding the difﬁculty in accessing the digital records of the dearly departed. Famous examples include:
Justin Ellsworth, the U.S. Marine who was killed while serving in Fallujah, and his father’s desperate pleas to access his Yahoo account, which were denied.
Karen Williams, whose 22-year-old son was killed in a motorcycle accident, and her desire to access his Facebook account, which was also refused.
Both parents were faced with bureaucratic roadblocks during a time when emotions were already being pushed to their limits.
Continuing from last month’s post (The Care and Preservation of Your Digital Assets), digital assets do not necessarily have to have monetary value. Many people store their modern day diaries i.e. blogs or similar writings on their computers, along with photographs and other matters of sentimental value. In a famous but tragic case, a young marine deployed in Iraq wrote regularly on his Yahoo! account (email and blog) about his experiences. He was killed in action and his mother wanted access to his account so she would have a record of his writings about his service. Yahoo’s policy was to delete the accounts of a deceased user. Without a plan for dealing with his digital assets, his mother had to go to the probate court, which while it ultimately ordered Yahoo to turn over copies of the emails, did not give the family access to his account.
Continuing on our estate tax discussion from last month, there are a number of other reasons, besides minimizing estate tax, to consider whether to engage the services of an estate planning attorney:
Without an estate plan, the State determines what happens to your property when you die.
Without an estate plan, and in particular a trust, the transfer of your estate will require a probate except in the limited circumstance of what is referred to as a “small estate”. The probate process can be expensive and time consuming. For example, an estate of $2 million, well under the 2012 $5.12 million threshold in the IRS study, would incur attorneys’ fees set by statute of approximately $40,000.00.
Without an estate plan (which would typically include powers of attorney and healthcare directives), should you become ill or incapacitated, your loved ones could not easily step in to take care of health and/other decisions and needs.
So the next time the question of an estate plan comes up and you think to yourself, I have “nothing”, I do not need a plan, do yourself a favor and reconsider.
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