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Revocable Living Trust and Pour-Over Wills
In California, this is the standard “work-horse” of estate planning. Due to the high cost of probate (an estate of $100,000 is a minimum $4,000 probate fee), a Revocable Living Trust is essential for anyone with even a moderate estate, and particularly if you own real estate. The trust, when created properly, avoids probate and provides for a detailed administration of your property in the event of your death or incapacity. A “pour-over” will simply provides that any assets not already in your trust will be “poured over” into the trust and administered in accordance with the terms of the trust. Thus, your estate plan is also private as only the will, but not the trust, becomes public.

Special Needs Trust
If one of your beneficiaries now or in the future should be incapacitated and dependent on government aid, a Special Needs Trust can be utilized to provide for certain needs of the beneficiary without also causing the beneficiary to be disqualified from receiving government help.

Multi-Generational “Dynasty” Trusts
Because there is, in addition to estate tax, a “generation-skipping transfer tax,” gifts to grandchildren or other persons more than one generation removed from the donor, require special planning. The law currently provides for an exemption from the generation skipping transfer tax of $2,000,000 per donor and thus, for certain estates, careful planning and creation of multi-generational trusts that leverage the exemption amounts can be an important aspect of the overall plan. In addition, such multi-generational trusts can protect family wealth from creditors.

Life Insurance Trusts
Most people believe that life insurance proceeds are “tax-free.” While in many cases life insurance proceeds are income tax free, they are not estate tax free. If you own life insurance on your life, as many people do in order to provide for their loved ones, the proceeds are included in your estate for purposes of determining estate tax. A life insurance trust can be utilized to own insurance outside your estate and can be a very useful way to provide the liquidity necessary to pay estate taxes and provide for your family at your death.

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