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Lawyers
Los Angeles Guide

Estate Planning Lawyers



Mozafarian & Vaughn, LLP

20501 Ventura Blvd., Suite 205
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 346-0029
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The purpose of Estate Planning
The purpose of estate planning is essentially to allow you to maintain control over your assets. Generally, when no estate planning is done, this power will be taken away from you. Mozafarian & Vaughn want to ensure that this does not occur to you or your loved ones. Our goal is to create a flexible estate plan to meet your goals and to eliminate the expense and inconvenience of probate. We encourage you to take an active interest in your estate plan so that together we can achieve the perfect plan for your individual estate.

  • Primary Reasons for Estate Planning Transferring property on your death.
  • Avoiding unnecessary taxes.
  • Providing for minor children.
  • Handling personal affairs on the event that you become incapacitated.
  • Avoiding the unnecessary expense and hassle of probate.
  • Financial ramifications of marriage and divorce .
  • Potential Estate Planning Objectives
    Protecting your assets.
  • Charitable intentions.
  • Eliminating dissention among your beneficiaries.
  • Setting up Spendthrift Trusts not reachable by creditors.
  • Fair distribution of property to your children, taking into consideration lifetime gifts or loans.
  • Reduction of stress for surviving spouse, family, and personal representative.
  • Efficient transfer of business to children.

Probate
What is Probate?
After an individual dies, unless specific estate planning techniques have been implemented, his or her estate must pass through probate.
The typical probate in the state of California takes approximately eighteen months, and includes the following processes:

  • Proving in court that the deceased individual's will is valid.
  • Properly identifying the deceased individual's property.
  • Compiling an inventory of the deceased individual's property.
  • Paying any debts or taxes owed by the deceased individual.
  • Distributing any remaining property to the deceased individual's heirs.
  • Can probate be avoided?

Mozafarian & Vaughn will implement multiple estate planning tactics so that your family can avoid the expense and inconvenience associated with probate. Examples of ways to avoid probate are:

  • Revocable living trusts.
  • Owning property in the form of Joint Tenancy or Community Property with the Right of Survivorship.
  • Designating a beneficiary under life insurance policies.
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts.
    Gifts made during lifetime.

Trusts

Introduction to Trusts
Mozafarian & Vaughn can draft a trust to hold your property for the benefit of someone you specify, while allowing you to retain control over your property during your lifetime. There are multiple types of trusts and just as many different uses for them. A trust can be created and put into effect during life or put into effect upon death. Your trust can be drafted so as to allow for changes or amendments, or it may be drafted so that it cannot be altered.

Living Trusts
If your goal is to maintain control over your property, then Mozafarian & Vaughn can set-up a living trust so that you can change or amend it whenever you desire. Upon your death or incapacitation, your trust property will go to your beneficiaries without going through probate.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
ILITs—Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs) are great techniques for wealth transfer and asset preservation. ILITS are irrevocable trusts set up by an individual who wishes to transfer money to their beneficiaries without paying estate taxes and/or desires to pay their estate taxes without having to liquidate assets. An ILIT will be set up for the individual (the insured) with the trust as both the owner and the beneficiary of the insured’s life insurance policy. The proceeds of the insurance policy will not be part of the insured’s estate because he/she is not the owner of the life insurance policy, the trust is. Thus, the proceeds of the policy will pass to the trust’s beneficiaries estate-tax free, allowing the individual to pass significant amounts of liquid wealth to his or her heirs. ILITs can also be used to pay the estate taxes owed by the insured’s estate, thus nullifying the need to liquidate the insured’s non-liquid assets in order to pay estate taxes. This enables the preservation of, for example, real property which might otherwise have to be liquidated in order to cover the estate taxes.

Charitable Remainder Trusts
Certain individuals may be interested in setting up a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) to provide payments to their beneficiaries for life or for a term of years, and once the trust terminates have the balance distributed to a qualifying charity of their choice. A CRT is ideal for those who sincerely have charitable intentions and also have a highly appreciated asset which they want to sell. By placing the asset in a CRT, the individual (donor) will attain the following benefits: the gift to the CRT will generate an income tax deduction for the value of the remainder interest; once the CRT sells the asset, no current capital gains tax will be generated because a qualified CRT is a tax-exempt entity; if the donor and the donor’s spouse are the only income beneficiaries of the CRT, the gift they make to the CRT will not cause gift or estate tax liability; the income beneficiary will receive income for life or for a term of years, depending on the donor’s preference; and upon the termination of the CRT, its assets will be distributed to the charities specified by the donor. While these benefits are tremendous, it should be noted that CRTs are irrevocable and extremely difficult if not impossible to amend. Additionally, CRTs are best reserved for those with significant estates and substantial liquidity, not for those of modest net worth who would be better off not tying up their assets in an irrevocable trust.

Special Needs Trusts
A Special Needs Trust is useful for those who wish to make a transfer to a beneficiary who is mentally impaired. By using a trust to make such a transfer, the beneficiary may receive the benefits of the trust without jeopardizing any public benefits he or she might already be receiving. Furthermore, the trust assets can be used to supplement the benefits the beneficiary is receiving. For example, if the public benefits the beneficiary is receiving do not entirely cover a given expense, then the trust can pay for the difference. Similarly, the trust can pay for housing or for an advocate for the beneficiary should one be needed. If you are not of substantial wealth, you can still set up a special needs trust for your loved one by funding the trust with life insurance.

College Savings Trusts
If your goal is to maintain control over your property, then Mozafarian & Vaughn can set-up a living trust so that you can change or amend it whenever you desire. Upon your death or incapacitation, your trust property will go to your beneficiaries without going through probate.

Wills
What is a will?
A will is a document that must satisfy certain legal requirements in order for it to be valid. There are various purposes for a will besides transferring your property at your death. Mozafarian & Vaughn can assist you in determining, for example, if you should establish a trust upon your death, transfer property into an already existing trust, or appoint guardians for your minor children.

Nomination of Guardian of Child
Should you and your spouse predecease your minor child, you should have a Nomination of Guardian clause in your wills that specifies whom you wish to appoint as the guardian of your child’s person as well as the guardian of your child’s estate. You may appoint the same person to fulfill both roles, or if you feel that one individual is better suited to make decisions regarding the raising of your child and a different individual is better suited to make financial decisions with regards to your child, you may split the nomination.

Powers of Attorney
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person you designate to act on your behalf. There are numerous situations in which you would prefer someone to act on your behalf.

  • Types of Powers of Attorney:
  • General Powers of Attorney are limited to simple transactions.
  • Durable Powers of Attorney allow the person you designate to manage your affairs and remain valid even if you become incapacitated.
  • Medical Durable Powers of Attorney authorize the person you designate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • Springing Powers of Attorney spring into effect at either a particular date you specify or on the occurrence of a specific event.
  • Advance Health Care Directive
    An Advance Health Care Directive is an estate planning document that combines a Living Will and a Power of Attorney for Medical Decisions.
  • A Living Will allows you to explain in writing what medical treatment you desire when you are unable to communicate these wishes on your own.
  • A Power of Attorney for Medical Decisions authorizes a person that you have designated to make medical decisions on your behalf when you become unable to do so for yourself.

By implementing an Advance Health Care Directive you are making all of you medical decisions clear and designating a proxy to carry out these wishes. By doing so you will avoid leaving these difficult decisions to your loved ones and you are also avoiding any potential disagreements among your family members with regard to your wishes.

 

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