Stephen C. Ross

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: PERSONS DISQUALIFIED FROM RECEIVING GIFTS

 

“Articles Concerning Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By: Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

March 9, 2015 (San Diego County) – The California Probate Code invalidates gifts to certain categories of people unless one of the exceptions applies. The Code mentions categories of people, considered “disqualified persons,” who are presumed to be disqualified from receiving donative transfers (written gifts).

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: 2015 FEDERAL ESTATE AND GIFT TAX LIMITS

 

“Articles Concerning Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By: Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

February 13, 2015 (San Diego County) – The federal estate tax exemption for 2015 is increased to $5,430,000.00 per person from $5,340,000.00 per person in 2014. A husband and wife each have an exemption. Therefore, a couple can pass on up to $10,860,000.00 without paying estate tax. This assumes they have not made prior lifetime gifts. This is important to people with a large estate as they can pass on $90,000.00 more tax free this year than in 2014. The top federal estate tax rate is 40% and is applied to amounts exceeding the exemption amount.

THE ATTORNEYS CORNER: LIFE INSURANCE AS AN ESTATE PLANNING TOOL

 

“Articles Concerning Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

July 4, 2014 (San Diego County) – Life insurance can often be used as a significant element of an estate plan. It may provide a liquid source of funds for the insured’s estate to pay estate taxes and other death-related expenses. Such insurance is often used to establish or supplement an estate to support the insured’s family should he or she die. A family business may use life insurance to create a source of funds for surviving owners to purchase the decedent’s company interest pursuant to a buy-sell or shareholder’s agreement.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: PROBATE INVENTORY AND APPRAISAL

 

“Articles Concerning Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

May 31, 2014 (San Diego County) – The court appoints a personal representative at the commencement of a probate proceeding to administer the decedent’s estate. One of the primary duties of a personal representative during probate administration is to collect the decedent’s real and personal property. An Inventory and Appraisal (I&E) must be filed with the court as part of the probate. The I&E a public record of all probate property the decedent owned or had an interest in at the time of death.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: FUNDING YOUR REVOCABLE TRUST

 

 

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

April 11, 2014 (San Diego County) – “Funding” a trust is the process of taking assets titled in your individual name, or in joint names with others, and changing the title into the name of your revocable trust, or taking assets requiring a beneficiary designation and naming your revocable trust as the primary or secondary beneficiary of those assets. An asset not retitled into the name of your trust is not governed by the trust terms, the trustee has no power over the asset, the asset may be subject to probate and the asset may not transfer to your intended beneficiaries at your death. The following are trust funding suggestions to ensure assets are included in your trust.

THE ATTORNEY'S CODE: WHO CAN PROBATE AN ESTATE?

 

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

February 19, 2014 (San Diego County) – Probate is a court-supervised process whereby a decedent’s (deceased person) real and/or personal property is located, its value determined, his or her final bills and taxes paid (if any) and any remaining assets are distributed to his or her beneficiaries and/or heirs.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: MAKING GIFTS OF COMMUNITY PROPERTY

 


By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

Gifts of real and/or personal property may be used to achieve estate planning goals and minimize death taxes. However, in California, a married person cannot make a gift of community personal property, or dispose of such property for less than fair and reasonable value, without obtaining the written consent of the other spouse. Community real property, with the exception of short-term leases, cannot be transferred or encumbered by a spouse unless the other spouse joins in the deal. Written spousal consent should be obtained for gifts made to children and others under the California Uniform Transfer to Minors Act.

One exception to the spousal consent rule is that neither written consent nor joinder is necessary if both spouses make a mutual gift to a third party, or one spouse makes a gift of community personal property to the other.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: IS A PREMARITAL AGREEMENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

August 3, 2013 (San Diego) – A “premarital” (also called “prenuptial” or “antenuptial”) agreement is a contract entered into between prospective spouses in contemplation of marriage, or between domestic partners in contemplation of registering their partnership with the State. The agreement establishes property rights and financial responsibilities upon consummation of the marriage or registration of the partnership. A premarital agreement is typically intended to create conditions that will preserve a forthcoming marriage or registered domestic partnership.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT TYPES OF WILLS ARE AVAILABLE?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

June 18, 2013 (San Diego County) – There are several types of wills available in California. It is important you choose the type best suited to your needs and make sure you comply with all the drafting requirements for the will type chosen. An improperly drafted will may not be admitted to probate, may result in a will contest and may result in your assets not being distributed pursuant to your wishes. This article discusses the various will types.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT IS NULLITY OF MARRIAGE?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By: Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

May 30, 2013 (San Diego County) – There are three potential legal remedies for couples who want to terminate or alter their marital or domestic partnership status. They include dissolution, legal separation and nullity. Dissolution terminates the status of a valid marriage resulting in the parties being considered single persons commencing on the date status is terminated. Legal separation is an option for spouses and partners who choose not to live together while maintaining the marital or partnership status. The third potential option, nullity, is the subject of this article.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DECISION PLANNING

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By: Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

May 16, 2013 (San Diego County) – Advance planning concerning your medical care decisions is important for both you and your family. It ensures your desires will be met while providing guidance to loved ones making difficult decisions regarding your care. People have varying opinions concerning what procedures to allow, medications to take, whether-or-not to prolong life and organ donation. Having an understanding of the terminology and decisions you may have to make will help ensure your wishes are met by those responsible for making your medical care decisions in the future.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: POWERS OF ATTORNEY & ESTATE PLANNING

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

April 23, 2013 (San Diego County) – A power of attorney (POA) is a written document wherein a person (the principal) appoints another person (the agent) to transact business and manage property on behalf of the principal. A POA has many purposes in estate planning, including: allowing the agent to transfer property into a revocable trust that is the principal’s primary estate planning tool; facilitating gifts to take advantage of the federal annual gift tax exclusion; and, allowing the agent to operate the principal’s business that is not included in a trust.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: AVOIDING PROBATE, PLUS SUMMARY DISSOLUTION

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

March 16, 2013 (San Diego County) – Probate is a legal proceeding whereby the court ensures the decedent's assets are collected, creditors paid and the remaining assets distributed pursuant to the terms of the decedent's will. If the decedent died without a will (intestate), the estate assets will be distributed pursuant to the California law of intestate succession.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR ESTATE PLAN

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

February 17, 2013 (San Diego County) – I often talk with people who believe estate planning is only for the wealthy. However, even people with few assets may benefit from proper estate planning.

You may be subject to formal probate proceedings if the gross real and personal property value of your estate exceeds $150,000 and you do not have a revocable trust. A properly prepared power of attorney for health care may avoid the need for a costly conservatorship proceeding if you subsequently lack capacity to make your own decisions. A power of attorney may avoid a conservatorship proceeding and ensure that a person you trust is ready to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.