Estate Planning

Beckman, Feller & Chang can assist you with all aspects of estate planning and administration. Whether you need to place your properties in an LLC, partnership or trust, the necessary documents will be created for you. A basic estate plan will usually include a Living Trust, a Will, a Power of Attorney for finances, and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care also known as an Advanced Health Care Directive. More complex estate plans require sophisticated planning to minimize the impact of estate taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes and other financial challenges. The state and federal tax laws have been and will change over time. You can rely on our lawyers to keep your estate plan current, so that when you pass, your wishes are carried out.

By working with our experienced lawyers, estate planning can protect your assets, ensure the largest inheritance possible for heirs and help guide you in deciding how your estate can be distributed. Avoiding probate and the additional costs and emotional drain of having the estate be part of a court proceeding is an important goal reached by estate planning. With proper estate planning, you can save tens of thousands of dollars, especially if married, and those who you leave behind will have a clear guide of your wishes are so they can be followed.

Drafting Legally Enforceable Wills
A will is a legally enforceable document that dictates how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. A will can also designate a guardian for your minor children and appoint an executor for your estate. Wills can be as simple or complex as you wish and can be structured to achieve a wide range of family and tax objectives. A will, however will not allow your estate to avoid probate, unless your total assets are valued at less than $100,000. Often, we find that avoiding the expense of creating a trust in life, results in paying more expenses in probate after death. For those individuals whose assets are minimal, we can confirm that a will may be better than a revocable trust. However, with real estate values increasing greatly over the past decade, the number of property owners whose assets can efficiently be transferred by will are greatly diminished and the full costs of probate is ever increasing due to higher filing fees and congested courts.

Managing Your Estate With Trusts

Trusts are very important tools for managing your estate. A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person or entity (the trustee) holds certain assets for the benefit of another person or entity (the beneficiary), in accordance with a written trust document. One person may be both the trustee and the beneficiary of the same trust. Trusts are often used to avoid probate, which is costly, time consuming, and may not properly address the original desires the person whose estate is in probate. Assets placed in a trust generally avoid probate and can be passed on to heirs almost immediately and at very little cost. If an individual has set up a trust during his or her lifetime and has transferred title to all of their assets to the trust, the Successor Trustee can bypass the court process and administer or distribute the estate assets following the directions in the Trust far more efficiently, and at a much lower cost.

Beckman, Feller & Chang can draft, amend, and review trusts to ensure that your needs and desires are in place for the future. We advise our clients to have their trusts reviewed every five years or whenever there is a significant change in circumstances such as a divorce, marriage, birth or death of an intended heir, or material change in estate value. We would be honored to add you to our estate planning client list.

Contact Our Office With Your Estate Law Needs

We are available nights and weekends by appointment. Call our San Francisco office at 415-766-0647 or our Berkeley office at 510-548-7474. You can also send us an online message using the form on this website.