Wills & Trusts

“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”

   A Will is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage the estate and it also provides for the transfer of property at death. In the strictest sense a “Will” has historically been limited to real property while “Testament” applies to dispositions of personal property. Thus, the popular title: “Last Will and Testament”.

   If the testator has minor children, a Will may also nominate guardians of the person and property of the minor children. A Will may also create a testamentary trust which becomes effective after the death of the testator. A testamentary trust might be the best vehicle to provide for the continued support of minor children, persons with special needs, to assure your gift is unavailable to beneficiaries’ creditors, or to maximize estate planning objectives.

   A Will should be part of any estate plan. It should be reviewed and updated regularly as needed, at least once a year. Birth, marriage, death, divorce, a change in the law, a change in your estate, and the simple passage of time are all reasons to review your Will and estate plan to determine if the provisions of your Will still match your intent and meet your planning objectives. If you already have a Will, review it now. If it was drafted more than one year ago, I bet circumstances have changed and you will discover it should be re-drafted or amended by codicil.

   A Will must be admitted to probate. Probate takes time, requires the supervision of the court, and can be costly as both the administrator and the administrator’s attorney are entitled to statutory fees. Statutory fees in California are as follows: 4% of the first $100,000; 3% on the next $100,000; 2% on the next $800,000; 1% on the next $9,000,000; .5% on the next $15,000.000; a reasonable amount, as determined by the court, for all amounts above $25,000,000. Fees are computed on the appraised amount, without deduction for liens or encumbrances.

   If your estate consists of real property appraised at $500,000 and personal property appraised at 100,000 total statutory probate fees would be $30,000, i.e., $15,000 each to the administrator and the administrator’s attorney. These are minimum fees. If your estate requires extraordinary services, such as the preparation of tax returns or the sale of property, fees may be higher. There are other expenses of administration, such as filing and publication fees, which also add to the cost.

   It is not surprising that individuals seek to avoid lengthy and expensive probate proceedings through other estate planning devices such as joint tenancy and living trusts. However, even when alternative estate planning devices are utilized, a Will may be necessary to dispose of after acquired property, such as a survival action, or property inadvertently omitted from, for example, a living trust.

   Mr. Daymude drafts wills, declarations of trust, and other estate planning documents to reduce or eliminate estate tax and avoid the delay and cost of probate. If you own real property, a revocable trust can save your estate tens of thousands of dollars or more. Most wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents are drafted for a reasonable, fixed fee. Need a will or trust? Call Michael Daymude at 818-971-9409. All estate planning documents may be securely delivered electronically by secure email or via the Client Portal.

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