Experienced California Wills and Trusts Attorneys Secure Your Legacy
Comprehensive plans to protect your family’s future
Wills and trusts are the principal legal instruments attorneys use to help clients transfer assets to their heirs. The experienced attorneys at Wheatley, Sopp & Madsen, LLP can advise you on the best means for you to address your legacy concerns, including the transfer of financial and real property assets, estate tax avoidance, guardianships for minor children, and support for philanthropic causes. We draft precise wills that reflect your desires and establish various types of trusts that serve your estate planning needs.
Draft your living will and last will and testament
A will is essential at every stage of your life. A living will sets the parameters for medical intervention should you become incapacitated. This assures that when you are most vulnerable, your wishes will be honored.
Your last will and testament provides the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes upon your death. A will is the primary means by which you can leave property to a person or entity other than a blood relative, such as a domestic partner, a friend or a charity. If you die without a will, the court determines how your property is distributed, who cares for your children and even what happens to your pet – making decisions that might not reflect your desires. We draft valid wills that clearly convey your intentions.
Changing your will
It is a good idea to review your will with your attorney every three to five years, and update the will to reflect changes in your circumstances and priorities. We draft valid codicils that address changes in your financial situation, marital status, number of children, philanthropic interests and general lifestyle decisions.
Trusts specially tailored to meet your estate planning goals
Depending on your financial circumstances, a will may not be the best way for you to transfer assets to your heirs. Trusts, legal entities you create to hold and transfer your property, can shield your wealth from losses due to liability and taxation, so your heirs can keep more of what you bequeath to them. We can help you select the type of trust instrument that addresses your legacy concerns, such as:
- Revocable trusts. As the grantor, you can retain control of your assets and may revoke or revise the trust at any time.
- Irrevocable trusts. Once you establish this kind of trust, its assets no longer belong to you, and you can’t amend the trust without your beneficiary’s consent. However, appreciated assets are not subject to estate taxes.
- Credit shelter trusts. Also called a bypass or family trust, this allows a grantor to place enough wealth in the trust for heirs that the remainder which the grantor passes on via a will does not trigger estate tax. The assets in the credit shelter trust are also not subject to estate tax.
- Generation-skipping trusts. Also called a dynasty trust, this enables a grantor to transfer a substantial amount of tax-free money to beneficiaries at least two generations your junior. It’s an excellent way to provide a legacy for your grandchildren.
- Qualified personal residence trusts. A QPRT prevents the value of your primary residence or vacation home from being added to the grantor’s estate. It prevents real property which may appreciate in value from triggering the estate tax.
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts. This trust remove a grantor’s life insurance from the taxable estate. It’s an excellent way to leave a tax-free legacy to loved ones.
- Qualified terminable interest property trusts. A QTIP trust helps grantors in second marriages provide for the lifetime needs of a second spouse while preserving a legacy for children from the first marriage.
Trusts are very flexible instruments. We can help you create an instrument that addresses your unique estate planning needs.