Silicon Valley Estate Planning Journal

News and Articles from the Law Offices of John C. Martin

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57 Posts in Uncategorized

Federal Tax Reform is Coming. Are you Ready?

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Lots of legal changes are coming for Californians. These changes may have profound impact on our tax liability, as well as in estate, business, and asset protection planning. This article explores some of the more pertinent changes that may be coming with Federal tax reform, and discusses a few strategies to consider today. Tax Reform […]

Register for John Martin’s Strafford Live Webinar on Qualified Domestic Trusts

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We are pleased to announce that John C. Martin, Esq. will be speaking in an upcoming Strafford live webinar, “Structuring QDOTs for Non-Citizen and Nonresident Spouses: Deferring Tax Through Qualified Domestic Trusts” scheduled for Tuesday, May 9, 10:00am-11:30am PDT. Our panel will provide estate planning counsel advisers with a thorough and practical guide to the rules […]

Join us for Two Upcoming Live Radio Appearances

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Join John C. Martin for two upcoming live radio appearances. The first will be this Saturday at 3:15PM PST with Michael Finney of Channel 7 News on KGO Radio, 810 AM. The program will discuss proposed changes to Proposition 13. The second will be live broadcast on both NPR and KALW 91.7 FM from 7PM to […]

Tune in to John Martin Radio Appearance at 7PM PST, Wednesday, February 1st

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On Wednesday, February 1st at 7PM, John Martin will appear in a radio program with Chuck Finney, called “Know Your Legal Rights”. The station is 91.7 FM, KALW, and listeners can also live stream from the website: http://kalw.org/programs/your-legal-rights#stream/0 During the program, John Martin will talk about ways to preserve a Proposition 13 property tax basis […]

Have You Ever Wondered What Happens to Your Facebook Account After You Have Passed Away?

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If no one contacts Facebook to alert the company of that you have passed, your profile will remain active indefinitely. Facebook doesn’t delete inactive accounts without notification. Facebook has established three options for your account when you have passed away: 1) Memorializing the account, 2) Removing the account and 3) Designation of a Legacy Contact […]

John C. Martin, Esq. Earns Specialist Status

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We are pleased to announce that as of August 1, 2014, the California Board of Legal Specialization has certified John C. Martin, Esq. as a legal specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, & Probate Law. This title is held by less than half of one percent (.5%) of practicing attorneys in California, and by only about three percent (3%) […]

BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court Ruling on Inherited IRAs

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Today, the Supreme Court ruled in Clark v. Rameker that inherited IRAs cannot be excluded from the bankruptcy estate using the “retirement funds” exemption under 11 U.S.C. 522(b)(3)(C). The full text of the Supreme Court’s opinion is available here. This has important implications in estate planning, particularly when determining whether to name individual beneficiaries or an accumulation […]

Why Does a Living Trust Cost More than a Will?

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It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared. A true cost comparison should include not only the expense to establish the will or trust, but also what it will cost should you become incapacitated and after you die. The Key Takeaways: A living trust […]

Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners (Part One: Planning for After Death)

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Estate planning is creating a set of instructions that specify how property is handled after death, and how property and health care decisions are handled during a period of incapacity. Proper estate planning is important for everyone. But for unmarried partners—opposite sex or same sex—it is critical. Part One of this two-part article will address […]

Estate Planning in 2013 and Beyond under the New Tax Law

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The recent tax legislation dealing with the “fiscal cliff” included significant revisions to the estate tax law that will affect estate planning for the foreseeable future. These revisions include:   *    The federal gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer tax provisions were made permanent as of December 31, 2012. This is great news because, for more […]

Estate Planning for Young Families

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Many young families put off estate planning because they are young and healthy, or because they don’t think they can afford it. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness. And while none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is […]

Take Advantage of the Gift Tax Exemption

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Take Advantage of the $5.12 Million Dollar Gift Tax Exemption . . . Before it’s too late.  There has been a lot of media coverage about the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire on December 31, 2012 and whether they will be extended for all taxpayers or if they will be discontinued for […]

Family Values and History Are Still the Best Inheritance

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According to a recent study, family values, traditions and history still mean more than money as an inheritance.  These results are from the 2012 Allianz Life American Legacies Pulse Study* which surveyed baby boomers (age 47 to 66) and “elders” (age 72 and older). Allianz Life conducted a similar study in 2005. Interestingly, despite the […]

Defensive Estate Planning Series: Other Areas to Consider

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Other Areas to Consider There are many other changing circumstances that should be anticipated with flexible estate plan design. These include qualifying for California Medi-Cal benefits through authorizing the gifting down of incapacitated individual’s estate; minimizing income tax from distributions from an IRA account made payable to a living trust; minimizing generation skipping transfer tax […]

Defensive Estate Planning Series: Special Needs

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In the world of estate planning, the best offense to changes in the law and life circumstances is usually a good defense. Rather than running to court or the drafting attorney each time a crisis occurs, estate plans can be drafted “defensively,” such that several escape hatches or other planning options spring into existence whenever […]

Trust Funding Series: Assets that Don’t Require Funding

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Certain assets do not have to be funded to the revocable trust. For instance, retirement accounts and life insurance policies will remain outside the trust. Instead, these accounts transfer to named beneficiaries upon death. In these cases, greater attention must be paid to the beneficiary designation than to the title. It may, in certain situations, […]

Beneficiary Designation Series: The Wrong Beneficiaries

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            Sometimes, naming a beneficiary can result in disaster. For instance, naming an “estate” as beneficiary may result in probate proceedings in California when the plan and other probate assets exceed $150,000 in value. In addition, naming an improperly drafted trust as beneficiary could speed up distributions from the trust. Finally, […]

Beneficiary Designation Series: Trusts

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            Individuals should use extreme caution when naming a trust as beneficiary of a retirement plan. Most revocable living trusts—whether provided by attorneys or do-it-yourself kits—do not include adequate provisions regarding distributions from retirement plans. When a living trust fails to include “conduit” provisions which allow distributions to be funneled out […]

Beneficiary Designation Series: Naming a Charity

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            Many people wish to benefit charities at death. The reasons for benefiting a charity are numerous, and include: a general desire to benefit the charity; a desire to minimize taxes; or the absence of other family relations to whom bequests may be made. In general, leaving assets to charities at […]

Estate Planning After Divorce

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One area that is often overlooked in the divorce process is the need to update estate planning. Most people would agree that their ex-spouse is the last person they want to inherit their assets when they die—or to have that person make life and death decisions for them. But that is exactly what can happen […]

Paying for College

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According to the College Board, the average cost of attending an in-state four-year public college in 2011-2012 is more than $19,000 per year; for a four-year private college it is nearly $40,000 per year. Over the last decade, published tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities increased at an average […]

Blended Families Underscore the Need for Estate Planning

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Anyone with children or modest assets should seriously consider some minimal estate planning, but the increasing number of blended families underscores the need for proper estate planning.  Blended families can involve children from a prior marriage as well as joint children, sometimes joking referred to as “his, hers and theirs.”  And blended families involve both […]

Estate Planning – A Process, Not an Event

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You have signed all of your estate planning documents and, if your plan includes trusts, completed their funding. You sit back, relax, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with completing that task. But don’t bask in that feeling for too long—estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. In this post, we […]

Potential Problems with Beneficiary Designations

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Many clients use beneficiary designations, and for good reason. Some significant assets, including life insurance policies, IRAs, retirement plans and even bank accounts, allow a beneficiary to be named. It’s free, it’s easy, and, when the owner dies, these assets are designed to be paid directly to the individual(s) named as beneficiary, outside of probate.  […]

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

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In first marriages, the couple generally has the same goals when it comes to their estate planning: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, then whatever is left will go to the children. They may own many of their assets jointly and, at the death of the first […]

Online and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning

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With the number of online and do-it-yourself (DIY) legal providers continuing to grow, some of individuals may be wondering if they could do their estate planning themselves. The advertising is seductive: attorneys use similar forms, the cost is significantly less than hiring an attorney, and many of these websites and kits are created by attorneys. […]

Why You Should Name a Stand-Alone Retirement Trust as Beneficiary (For IRAs and Other Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts)

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Naming the right beneficiary for tax-deferred retirement accounts is critical. Most people want to continue the tax-deferred growth for as long as possible, pay the least amount in income taxes and get the maximum stretch-out. Required distributions after the owner dies will be based on the new beneficiary’s age and life expectancy, so the younger […]

The Many Needs for Life Insurance in Our Lives

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The main reasons most people have life insurance are to pay final expenses (medical, funeral, burial, etc.), replace an income stream and/or create wealth for our dependents after we die. Life insurance can also play an important role in business, estate planning and charitable giving.  When considering whether or not you need life insurance, think […]

The Most Important Love Letters You’ll Ever Write?

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Many Americans have the misperception that estate planning is simply preparing for one’s death and is only necessary for the affluent. To the contrary, estate planning is as much about passing values to loved ones as it is about passing material possessions.  Thus it should come as no surprise that a recent Forbes article describes […]

Planning Opportunities Available to Affluent Families

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With the $5.12 million per person exemption from federal estate tax ($10.24 million for married couples), most of the estate planning “talk” recently has been on the planning opportunities available to affluent families. However, the need for estate planning remains for everyone.  According to a recent Forbes article, 55% of Americans do not have even […]

Using Advanced Irrevocable Trusts for Income and Estate Tax Savings: Making 2012 Count

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The next nine months are an exceptional window of opportunity for your clients to make family wealth transfers. The federal gift and estate tax exemption is $5,120,000, and both income tax rates and interest rates are at the lowest point in a generation. With federal deficit spending also at record levels, tax and interest rates seem sure to rise. […]

Planning for Advanced Asset Protection

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Asset protection is vitally important in our ever more litigious society, and more wealth planning teams are needed who understand the intricacies of this area and can collaboratively implement advanced strategies. Whether creating an entire plan for the client or creating additional asset protection measures added on to an existing plan, you want to know […]

Trust Funding Series: Options after Death for Unfunded Trusts

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Often, individuals pass away without fully funding their revocable trust. In these cases, a probate is ordinarily required in California when probate assets exceed $150,000. Probate assets exclude accounts that are held in joint tenancy or that transfer by beneficiary designation, but include real property, cash accounts, or investment accounts which are held outright. If […]