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-- PRACTICE AREAS --
What is an estate plan?:
An estate plan is, simply put, a collection of documents that sets the rules for deciding two basic things:
(i) What will happen to you and your things when you lose the ability to make those decisions while you're alive?; and
(ii) What will happen to your things after you pass away?
Why should you have an estate plan?:
Again, there are two (main) reasons:
(i) Avoid probate court -- Probate court will require your loved ones to be in court for one to three years. They will also have to pay mandatory attorney fees ranging from, e.g., $13,000 (for an estate worth $500,000) and $63,000 (for an estate worth $5M); and
(ii) Set the rules for who gets what -- If you don't set the rules, state law will do it for you. The state's one-size-fits-all rules probably won't be what you would have wanted.
Are you "wealthy" enough to need this?:
If you expect to pass away with assets valued at more than $150,000, then you are wealthy enough to need an estate plan. Almost everyone who owns a home in California fits into this category.
The first choice to be made by every new business is how to structure the business at the entity level:
- Sole proprietorship
Choosing an entity type for your business will require a consideration of factors such as: liability exposure; taxation; restrictions on who can be an owner; how the company’s profits will flow to its owners; and whether wages must be paid.
Buying or selling a business:
There are a host of issues -- some of which are not obvious -- that need to be addressed during the process of buying or selling a business to ensure the that disputes and lawsuits can be avoided or more easily handled down the road.
Contract review and drafting:
It's not always obvious, but a significant portion of a business's day-to-day operations are governed by a variety of intertwined contracts. And sometimes those contracts are oral when they definitely should be written. A prudent business owner will want to have those contracts reviewed closely by someone with their best interests in mind.
PROBATE & TRUST DISPUTES
What is probate court?:
Probate court is the collective name for any court process involving a will, trust, estate, guardianship, or conservatorship.
Will and trust disputes:
If anyone chooses to contest or dispute someone's will or trust, that dispute will take place in probate court. These lawsuits are often emotionally draining, there is no certainty as to when they will be resolved, and they are not private. These negative aspects should be reason enough for everyone to establish strong estate plans that drastically reduce the likelihood of any probate court dispute ever arising. But if disputes do arise, having a strong estate plan in place will put those families in the best position possible for a favorable result.
Guardianships and conservatorships:
Conservatorships are put in place for an adult who is found to be incapable of handling his or her own affairs.
Guardianships are put in place to protect children. They generally arise when a child's parents have passed away, or when parents are unfit or unwilling to care for their children.
Both processes are usually contested, which means that the petitioning party will usually meet some degree of opposition from someone else who has a stake in the process.
As the saying goes, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Don't let your goal be to have a lawsuit-proof plan. There is no such thing. Instead, take an approach that puts you in the best position possible to prevail in a lawsuit should one arise.
To that end, I provide experienced and personalized representation in state and federal court at both the trial and appellate level. I prosecute and defend cases in a broad range of disputes, most especially matters concerning will and trust disputes, business disputes, and general probate.
I also represent clients in mediation, arbitration, and other ADR methods, regardless of whether they are conducted in connection with an active litigation matter.