| Read Time: 2 minutes | Business Law

Estate Planning Tips for Small Business Owners

Starting with your initial idea, building and owning a business can be an exciting venture from day one. Developing a proper business plan, securing financing, marketing, paying taxes and all of the other small, but significant, details will surely be some of the most challenging yet rewarding work that you will perform in your lifetime. But have you ever thought about the role you will play in your business after your life is over? Developing a comprehensive estate plan provides a well-developed plan to ensure that your life’s work survives even after you pass. As a small business owner, you spend an incredible amount of time working to establish and grow your business throughout your life. It seems only reasonable that you should take the time to create a plan for your business upon your death. When talking to your estate planning attorney, consider these tips for your business: Avoid Exorbitant Taxes Upon death, the IRS may claim estate taxes on all assets of your estate. Reviewing your personal and business assets as part of a comprehensive estate plan can help minimize the tax exposure of your estate and facilitate an organized transition or sale of the business. To avoid taxes, there are various IRS sections that can help. One section, Section 6166, will allow your loved ones more time to pay the tax by paying the estate tax in 10 annual installments. Another, Section 303, will allow your family to redeem your stock with very little tax penalties. You should talk to your family about these tax sections and determine if your business will be eligible. Creating a plan and instructions for your survivors will help them to navigate these filings.  Create a Buy-Sell Agreement If your business is owned by more than one person, a buy-sell agreement dictates how the partnership or LLC will be distributed upon one owner’s death or incapacitation. Without one, family members may be stuck owning a business they do not want, and partners may be forced to work with people they did not intend. A buy-sell agreement puts in place a plan that when an owner passes, their shares must be bought out by the other owners at a fair market price. These agreements can even establish a sale price so that family members know what they can expect to receive from the sale. In a buy-sell agreement, you can also block certain individuals from having a role in the business. Purchase a Life Insurance Policy It is possible that you have no intention of your business surviving after your passing. Referred to as owner-dependent businesses, some small businesses provide a stable income for the owner, however, there is not a lot of money reinvested in the business and exponential growth is not the intent. If you depend on your business for income and you have a family, when you pass, that income will be gone. A term life insurance policy can serve as income replacement for your family. Additionally, a life insurance policy or irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can help your partners with the capital they might need to purchase your shares if you have a buy-sell agreement. As a small business owner, you owe it to your family and your business to make plans for your passing. Dealing with their loss will be complicated enough without navigating the intricacies of small business taxes and sales. Discuss your options with an experienced estate planning attorney and leave your legacy the way you would want it.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Estate Planning

Estate Planning | What To Include In A Comprehensive Estate Plan

ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER|WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A COMPREHENSIVE ESTATE PLAN Estate Planning Lawyer|Most people are familiar with the need to create a will, but less are aware of the forward thinking of a comprehensive estate plan. An estate plan includes a will and various other considerations for all of the facets of your life. After all, your life is much more than just your assets. Your healthcare, minor children, real estate and more need to be accounted for should you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Below is a list of items that should be included in a comprehensive estate plan. An estate planning lawyer can help you draft your plan and will be sure you consider all important aspects of your estate. WILLS A Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament is a document which divides up your property. Requirements for wills vary from state to state, but in order for your will to hold up in court, the best practice is to execute, or sign, the will in front of two witnesses and have them sign it as well. Wills that are drafted without witnesses are known as holographic wills and are easily challenged in court settings upon your passing. TRUSTS A trust is a legal document that lets you put conditions on how your assets are distributed before and after your death. Although these assets are named in your will, a trust can help keep your beneficiaries and your property out of probate court. Trusts are often used to avoid estate taxes and probate costs. To set up a trust you need the following: The Trustor: The person who creates and funds the trust A Trustee: The person overseeing the management and distribution of the trust assets Property: Items to disperse Beneficiaries: The person or persons who will benefit from the trust. DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY A durable power of attorney (POA) designates a person of your choosing to act on your behalf should you become unable. Spouses often set up reciprocal powers of attorney, while some choose other family members or trusted advisors with more financial savvy. This person can act as your agent to make real estate and other financial decisions. HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY Designating a healthcare power of attorney means someone will be able to make healthcare decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. It’s a good idea to choose someone you trust and who shares your views. This person is likely to have life sustaining/ending choices in their hands so discussing your wishes with them is important while you are still of sound mind and body. BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS There are a number of possessions and funds which pass to your beneficiaries outside of your will. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts are examples of assets that require their own beneficiary designations. It is important to make sure your beneficiaries designations are up to date so that they are consistent with the rest of your estate plan. GUARDIANSHIP DESIGNATIONS If you have minor children or are thinking of having children, you will want to make specific designations for the care of them should you be unable. Some wills provide for this, but not all. When you determine the potential guardians for your minor children, they should be financially able, share your beliefs and be genuinely interested in raising children. It is a good idea to make financial considerations in concert with guardianship designations so that adequate resources are available for the care of your children. Finally, you may want to leave a Letter of Intent. This is simply a document left to the executor of your estate. It is rarely considered a legal document, but if you’ve carefully chosen the executor of your estate, they will likely follow your wishes. This is where you would state the wishes for your remains and funeral arrangements. You’ve spent your life building your estate, it makes sense to spend some time planning for it once you’re gone. The tips above are a great place to begin to understand everything you need to consider as you think about drafting your estate plan. The estate planning lawyers at Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have. If you need help planning or settling an estate, contact The Estate Planning Lawyer Department at Young Wooldridge, LLP. http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/estateplanning_trusts.moneymag/index.htm https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-will.html https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/estate_plan_checklist.asp https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/12-simple-steps-estate-plan-29472.html http://www.dummies.com/personal-finance/estate-planning/what-is-a-trust/

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Estate Planning

Durable Powers of Attorney: Does Your Estate Plan Need an Extra Layer of Protection?

This article was originally published in the August/September 2017 issue of Kern Business Journal A few months ago my car broke down. As you can imagine, this was very frustrating because I still needed to get my kids to school and myself to work.  Fortunately, I decided a year earlier to pay for an extended warranty. At the time I thought to myself, “Do I really want to pay for something I hope I will never have to use?” Well, a tow truck, a rental car, a new transmission, a new thermostat, and a new water pump later I was sure glad I made the investment. Our bodies are a little bit like cars. Eventually, some parts may start to wear down, but with modern advances in medicine and technology, many of us are living longer than the generations that preceded us. An unexpected consequence arising from longer life spans is that now it is possible for our bodies to outlive our minds. Fortunately, Durable Powers of Attorney can be created as a layer of protection if a person is unable to make good decisions and competently handle their affairs. These documents allow that person, named the “principal” in Durable Power of Attorney documents, to grant a trusted agent the authority to handle legal matters on their behalf. In doing so, they prevent the need for lengthy and expensive court proceedings associated with the creation of a conservatorship. There are two primary types of Durable Powers of Attorney that are executed as part of a comprehensive estate plan: Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management gives the designated agent authority to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of the principal. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives the designated agent authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal. It is important to explain to your designated agent(s) the significance of these documents and their responsibility to act on your behalf, if necessary. Many people choose to designate the same agent for both documents, but different agents may be designated if desired. Agents should be identified and legal documents should be prepared long before the principal starts facing challenges handling certain aspects of life. Durable Powers of Attorney can provide trusted agents and families with guidance on a number of issues including the management of assets and guidance for medical professionals on the principal’s care preferences. They can also cover important areas such as retirement plan elections and continued receipt of insurance benefits. A comprehensive estate plan with proper Durable Powers of Attorney in place can protect your assets from unnecessary taxation and allow you to provide gifts in a timely manner to your intended heirs. Like an extended warranty for your car, a Durable Powers of Attorney as part of your estate plan can provide peace of mind for you and your family because of the protection they provide for you, your heirs, and the assets you’ve worked so hard to save. Kevin M. Danley is an attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP, who focuses his practice on estate planning and probate, will and trusts, as well as business formation, contracts and transactions.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Estate Planning

Lack of Will Can Cause Hardship | Estate Planning

Lack of Will Can Cause Hardship | Estate Planning Lack of Will May Cause Hardships for Loved Ones Estate Planning | After a lifetime of providing and caring for them, one of the last things you probably want to happen to your family is subjecting them to the stress and expense of settling your estate. Yet too many people fail to adequately and thoroughly put plans in place to account for the distribution of their property and assets. Putting a will together can ease your family of considerable pressure and allow them to focus their energies more productively. There are a number of problems associated with failing to have an estate plan, including a will, in place when you die. Most obviously, you will have zero control over whom your property goes to. It’s possible that you don’t want your property to go to certain family members, or that you want to leave certain property to a charitable organization. Without documentation in place, these decisions are left up to state law. Leaving the settling of your estate up to the law may also mean your family is left to make difficult choices. Depending on family dynamics, this can lead to stress and conflict, and the after-effects of the experience can stay with your family members for years. As California is a community property state, a spouse will generally inherit all of the property you jointly owned during your marriage. But states have different laws regarding intestate succession, and the only way you can feel secure about what happens to your assets and who benefits from them is by having a strong estate plan outlined before your death. Having a proper estate plan in place is a crucial final step in a lifetime of caring for your family. If you have questions or concerns about your existing plan, or if you need to begin drafting a will or other documents related to estate planning, an experienced Kern County attorney from Young Wooldridge, LLP can offer the guidance you need. The compassionate estate planning attorneys at Young Wooldridge, LLP have the resources of an experienced litigation firm and will make sure that your wishes are fully carried out.  Call today for a confidential consultation – 661.327.9661 Like us on Facebook for more information.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Estate Planning

No Will, No Way? | Estate Planning

No Will, No Way? | Estate Planning What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will in CA? Estate Planning | Thorough estate planning is essential for ensuring your property is distributed according to your wishes and avoiding unnecessary taxes and delays in distribution. Nevertheless, many people put off estate planning until it is too late. While your family members still typically receive your property even if you die without an estate plan, the distribution may not follow your actual intentions. Moreover, some of your property may become unnecessarily tied up in probate, delaying your family’s ability to use and enjoy your legacy. As is the case in most states, California’s Probate Code controls the disposition of property not covered by a valid will. This can include cases in which there is no will and cases in which a will is incomplete and does not address all the property in the estate: A surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to all of the deceased’s non-community property if the person had no surviving parents, siblings, children or grandchildren. A surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to half of the non-community property if the deceased leaves a surviving parent or parents, siblings or half-siblings, or one surviving child or grandchild. A surviving spouse or domestic partner is entitled to one-third if the deceased was survived by more than one child, one child and one or more grandchildren, or grandchildren from two or more predeceased children. Any portion that does not go to a spouse or domestic partner goes first to children and other issue by degrees, then to the parents if there are no descendants, then to siblings and half-siblings if there are no surviving parents. These rules continue from this point and become more complicated as they advance into more remote areas of the family tree. They do not, however, take into account any wishes the deceased expressed except through a valid will. This is just one of the reasons that establishing a thorough estate plan with the help of a California wills and trusts lawyer is so important. If you need assistance establishing a thorough estate plan, contact Larry R. Cox at Young Wooldridge, LLP for a free initial consultation. Mr. Cox will be able to answer your questions, provide the information you’re looking for and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones can be free of hassle and worry. Call today for a confidential consultation! 661.327.9661 Like us on Facebook for more information!

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Estate Planning

Be Smarter Than Your Smart Device When It Comes To Estate Planning | Estate Planning Attorney

This article was originally published in the October/November 2015 issue of Kern Business Journal. Almost every day, it seems as if someone is trying to sell me on some hot, new technological device. Over here, I have someone selling the latest and greatest smartphone on the market. What’s so great about it? Well, for starters, it has a screen that is a whopping one-quarter inch larger than the three-month-old smartphone sitting next to me. They say it can even replace my computer! Later, I’m watching a program on my Smart TV and an ad comes along selling me a Smart-er TV, one that can operate as efficiently as the fastest computer. Why is everyone trying to turn every device I own into a computer…don’t they know that I have an actual computer for that? The era of technological innovation that we live in has many people demanding the best of everything. Luckily, these advancements have not been limited to the world of consumer products. People are living longer and healthier lives today, thanks to technological development in the field of medicine. Quite impressive, but it’s important to be aware that with advancement can come unforeseen consequences. As an Estate Planning Attorney, a major consequence I frequently see is that now our bodies often outlive our minds. Decades ago, there was little that could be done for a person whose body outlived their mind. In almost every case, the remedy was extensive – and expensive – court proceedings. They are called conservatorships and still exist today, however, proceedings can be long, emotionally painful and often result in more chaos than progress. Ultimately, through the efforts of attorneys, we were able to expand upon the principle of the power of attorney concept brought over from England prior to the American Revolution. Now, with a properly prepared Durable Power of Attorney, a person can grant a trusted agent the right to handle legal matters, before they are unable to do so for themselves. Today, Durable Powers of Attorney provide guidance on a number of issues to the selected advocate.  They can outline how to guide your medical professionals on your preferred care. They also cover important areas such as making retirement plan decisions and ensuring that you continue to receive insurance benefits. They can protect your assets from over taxation and allow you to make gifts to others, avoiding sending yet more money to the government. Ultimately, they protect you, your heirs and the assets you’ve worked your entire life to save. I’ve seen over the years that people are recognizing the importance of planning for the time when your mind isn’t keeping up with your body. However, another unforeseen consequence of this technological era is the emergence of online legal forms. When we are used to information we need being a click or the tap of the fingertip away, it’s quite easy to turn to the computer or one of the aforementioned devices trying to replace it, to complete a variety of legal documents these days. Though these documents may seem revolutionary, typically they are anything but. Most online estate planning documents that I see are poorly written, vague and not generally sufficient. They may not be tailored for your state’s laws, may not include provisions for your business to be properly handled and could even provide for heirs that you did not intend. Most often, the canned online documents result in higher legal fees for correction in order to make them enforceable. When planning for your family’s future, keep in mind, computers don’t always have the expertise to create a Durable Power of Attorney or comprehensive estate plan tailored to your unique situation. Be smarter than your smart device and consult an attorney when laying out your final wishes. Larry Cox is a partner at Young Wooldridge, LLP with over 30 years of estate planning experience.

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