Estate plans are not just for the wealthy. There are many options available in estate planning, and it is important to be completely informed. A good estate plan is one that is carefully designed to meet your needs and match your circumstances. While standardized estate planning forms and kits are available, there is no one plan that can meet the needs of every person. You deserve an experienced estate planning attorney who will take the time and put forth the effort to get to know you and your family.
The Law Office of Nicole A. Davidson offers comprehensive, custom estate plan packages. In most cases, estate plans can be prepared at predisclosed, value prices.
At a minimum, a basic estate plan includes:
A basic estate plan with a Revocable Living Trust includes:
- A Revocable Living Trust;
- A Certification of Trust;
- A Pour-Over Will;
- A Durable Power of Attorney;
- An Advance Health Care Directive; and
- Notably, assistance funding the trust and updating beneficiary designations.
Depending on your situation your Revocable Living Trust estate plan may include one or more of the following optional services:
- A Marital Property Agreement;
- Multiple Revocable Living Trusts;
- Testamentary Special Needs Trust(s);
- Disclaimer Trust(s);
- A Bypass/Credit Shelter/Exemption Trust;
- A Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust (QTIP); or
- A Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT).
Even the most basic estate plan is designed to take advantage of tax-savings opportunities. More complex tax planning strategies are discussed under the Estate Tax Planning section below.
Once your estate plan is in place, it is important to remember that your plan is a process, not a product. Your life is constantly changing. You cannot know in advance when your estate plan will take effect; therefore, your documents should be reviewed periodically and updated as needed. Even if Ms. Davidson did not draft your original estate plan, she is available to review your existing documents, discuss the impact of changing circumstances and changes in the law, and update your estate plan to continually accommodate your situation.
Estate Tax Planning
Since 2001, many of the significant developments in estate planning law have resulted from the ever-changing tax landscape. Ms. Davidson mastered the tax code at a top law school and now has a decade of experience utilizing creative but proven techniques to help her clients minimize the adverse impact of income taxes, estate taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, gift taxes, and real property taxes.
While tax considerations play a role in even the simplest estate plan, more sophisticated estate and gift tax tools include:
- Gifting Strategies; Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs);
- Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs);
- Sales Transactions to Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs);
- Dynasty Trusts (GST Trusts);
- Charitable Trusts;
- Charitable Foundations; and
- Gifts/Sales of Business Entities to Children.
Trust & Estate Administration
When a loved one dies, it can be overwhelming for the family member(s) who undertake administering the deceased person’s estate, regardless of whether the decedent created a Revocable Living Trust, a Will, or no documents at all. The Law Office of Nicole A. Davidson is experienced in trust administration, probate administration (where the decedent created but did not properly fund a Trust, created a Will only, or failed to create any type of testamentary document), and small estate administration (where probate is not required because the decedent’s assets are below $150,000 – or $50,000 for real property).
When a decedent has created a Revocable Living Trust, Ms. Davidson offers the following services to assist the trustee administering the trust:
- Interpreting the trust instrument;
- Advising the trustee of his or her duties;
- Providing requisite notices to beneficiaries and government agencies;
- Inventorying the decedent’s assets and debts;
- Advising the trustee which debts must be paid;
- When required by the trust, dividing the trust into subtrusts (i.e., Survivor’s Trust, Bypass Trust, and QTIP or QDOT Trust) upon the death of the first spouse; and
- Distributing assets to the beneficiaries.
If the decedent’s estate requires probate, the court oversees the execution of the estate in accordance with the California Probate Code. Probate can be slow, expensive, and tedious. But when you work with Ms. Davidson, you can rest assured that your legal paperwork will be prepared correctly, your case will progress as efficiently as possible, and all of the estate’s legal obligations will be fulfilled.
Additional estate administration services include:
- Small estate distribution;
- Spousal property petitions; and
- Disclaimer planning.
While Ms. Davidson advises clients who are fiduciaries (i.e., trustee, executor, etc.), she is not available to serve as the fiduciary. In addition, Ms. Davidson does not accept clients who wish to engage in contentious litigation over trust and estate matters.
While Attorney Nicole A. Davidson limits her practice to estate planning, estate tax planning, and trust & estate administration, she does offer selected business services because of their nexus to the estate planning goals of asset protection, continuity of business operations, and shared ownership of real property.
The form of a business is integral to its success and to the protection of the estate of the owner(s). Ms. Davidson routinely advises her business clients on the pros and cons of various business structures. She helps clients select and form the appropriate entity, including:
- C Corporations;
- S Corporations;
- Professional Corporations;
- Limited Liability Companies (LLCs);
- Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs);
- Limited Partnerships;
- General Partnerships; and
- Sole Proprietorships.
In addition to handling the necessary filings with the State, the Law Office of Nicole A. Davidson prepares custom operating agreements and buy-sell agreements. Ongoing assistance is available for routine maintenance, contracts, and sale or dissolution.
Business services, including entity formation and tenants-in-common (TIC) agreements, are also available to co-owners of real property, typically those who are preserving the family home or investing in rental real estate.