Sherman Oaks, CA

Wills and Trusts

Sherman Oaks Wills and Trusts Attorney

At the estate planning Law Offices of Rodney Gould, located in Sherman Oaks, California, we work diligently to help you prepare for the future. Nobody wants to think about death, but facing the inevitable squarely will give you peace of mind. Knowing that your assets will be passed on and distributed as you wish can be a tremendous relief. Trusts have the added advantage of protecting your loved ones not only if you predecease them, but if you become incapacitated while they still depend on you. Rodney Gould is sensitive to the needs of each individual client. Aware of the emotional complexities involved in creating wills and trusts, he will see to it that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Creating a Will

When a will is crafted by our offices, it is individually tailored to your specifications and Mr. Gould, an estate planning attorney with fine credentials, strong skills, and a formidable background in law, will always work with you personally. In your will, you will name an executor, a responsible person you feel certain will manage and distribute your assets as you desire after you pass away.

In your will you will also name your beneficiaries, those to whom you leave your property and accumulated wealth. It pays to remember that, in California, your home, if you are married, is considered community property, as are any joint bank accounts, so these assets will automatically be inherited by your surviving spouse. You may name other beneficiaries in your will, including family members, friends, and charities of your choice.

An important part of a will is that it is the document in which you name a guardian for any minor children if you do not leave behind a surviving spouse.It is necessary to name both an alternative executor and an alternative guardian for your children in case the first person you’ve selected for either job predeceases you or becomes unable to perform the necessary tasks. Your will is also the place in which you leave instructions about your funeral or memorial.

If You Die Without a Will

If you die without having a will (intestate), California law will decide who gets your property, using a formula that starts with your closest relatives and moves out to include cousins and your spouse’s relatives. If you have no family and you die without a will, the state will claim your assets. These are very good reasons to speak to a competent attorney and take care of wills and trusts as soon as possible.

Why You Want to Avoid Probate

If you have a will, the document will have to go through probate, a court-supervised legal process that is more time-consuming and costly the larger your estate. Mr. Gould, however, knows precisely which steps to take to create revocable trusts to protect your accumulated wealth from taxation and creditors.

The Benefits of Establishing Trusts

Not only will establishing trusts decrease your tax liabilities and protect your funds from being liquidated to pay creditors, but trusts, unlike wills, are private documents, not available to public scrutiny. Each type of trust has a specific purpose and the Law Offices of Rodney Gould can craft each effectively and efficiently. Mr. Gould has worked extensively with clients with special needs children, drug-or-alcohol-addicted children and families facing long-term illness. He is caring as well as knowledgeable, and frequently becomes not only your wills and trusts attorney, but a trusted friend.

Administering Trusts After the Death of the Trustor

One of the important functions a trust attorney like Mr. Gould performs is helping clients tasked with administering trusts to fulfill their duties. Trustees have a legal and moral responsibility to fulfill the deceased person’s wishes when handling the trust’s assets. They must also file tax returns, make any necessary tax payments for the trust, and distribute assets to beneficiaries according to decedent’s instructions. Because failure to comply with your duties as a trustee can make you personally liable for any losses the trust incurs, it is essential that you have a competent professional advise you as you administrate a trust.

Minor’s Trusts are designed to manage and protect assets for a child until they reach a specified age. Some minor trusts provide funds to benefit a minor during childhood. Others disallow any expenditure until the minor reaches adulthood.

Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs/Spendthrift Trusts are created for those who have a beneficiary who is incapable of managing money responsibly, A beneficiary with a cognitive or psychiatric disability, or has an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or overspending, can be protected from depleting assets meant for his or her own protection.

By establishing a special needs trust and appointing a trustee (who may be yourself) to manage and disperse funds, the money is available to help the special needs loved one, but is not in that person’s name or control. This means that the beneficiary is still able to receive needs-based government benefits like Medicaid and SSI as well as prevented from spending assets in a frivolous manner. It is important to designate an alternate trustee to attend to the special needs individual in case you die or become incapacitated.

Revocable trusts, also known as living trusts, can be revoked or altered for as long as you live. This flexibility means, however, that the trust remains part of your estate and can be taxed. Nonetheless, when you die, the trust will become irrevocable and the property will be passed on to your beneficiaries. Such trusts avoid probate and preserve your financial privacy.

Irrevocable Trusts

You cannot alter or revoke an irrevocable trust once it has been created. Irrevocable trusts offer tax advantages that revocable trusts do not. Examples of irrevocable trusts are insurance trusts, charitable trusts, and trusts for minors.

Testamentary Trusts

These trusts are created by your will and go into effect after your death. They are designed to deal with assets not only accumulated during your lifetime, but also activated by your death, such as the proceeds from a life insurance policy or the compensation won through a wrongful death settlement.

Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trusts

QTIP trusts qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. This means that the surviving spouse does not have to pay estate taxes on assets received when the first spouse dies. A QTIP trust also permits untaxed assets to pass to successor beneficiaries after the surviving spouse dies.

Charitable trusts are irrevocable. Frequently, they are set up as charitable remainder trusts to also benefit the donor and the donor’s family, so that while the charity receives the basic asset, the donor retains the income the asset generates while he or she is alive. In some cases this “remainder” also benefits the donor’s surviving spouse.

Generation-skipping trusts have the advantage of qualifying the beneficiaries for the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption. This type of trust enables the receiving beneficiaries to avoid estate taxation.

Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT) allow you to gift your beneficiary with your house at a low gift tax value while you continue to use your home during your lifetime. The QPRT also avoids estate tax.

Pet trusts provide for your pet’s care for the rest of its life if you predecease your pet or become unable to care for it due to physical or mental incapacity.

You Can Trust the Law Offices of Rodney Gould

When you come to our offices, you will always be treated with respect and concern. Rodney Gould knows the intricacies of trusts and estate law in California and on the federal level. He will make sure to create a will and establish trusts that will be the most beneficial to you and your family. It is wise to act promptly to secure your future and the future of your loved ones by calling us or filling out a contact form on our website.