Planning for the protection of your loved ones after your death is a personal process. As such, it is important you have a trustworthy, compassionate attorney who knows the best way to achieve your goals. With the Law Offices of Michael Dobrov as your ally, you have the power to protect your family after your death.
It is a common misconception that estate planning is important for only those with money or who are advanced in age. This myth is a cruel deception. Everyone can benefit by creating an effective estate plan. Most estate plans consist of a revocable “living trust”, a pour-over will, financial durable powers of attorney, advanced health care directives and documents to properly fund your trust.
Arranging for the distribution of one’s wealth is what estate planning is all about. A critical part of estate planning is creating documents that outline your wishes for distributing your wealth after you die. Every individual has an estate plan. If you do not have a formal written will or trust, your estate plan is created out of default. Every state in America has laws governing the distribution of property when a person dies without a last will and testament (i.e., dies intestate). The question is not whether you will have an estate plan, but whether you will have an estate plan of your own selection or one imposed upon you by law.
Regardless of your age, health, or financial circumstances, there are a variety of estate planning services that can help you attain peace of mind. If you are thinking about the future and want to form a legal plan that will protect the people you care about, we encourage you to contact our law firm today.
Trust and Probate Administration
Following the death of a loved one, grieving families often suffer added stress trying to navigate the complex legal, financial and administrative aspects of probate administration. Depending on the circumstances, the court-supervised process of probate can be lengthy and costly for heirs. If you are responsible for probate or you are an intended beneficiary, you want a responsive attorney with the expertise to guide you through this process as quickly and cost efficiently as possible.
We deliver expert administration management and guidance for individuals involved in probate matters, and we will help you:
- Determine where to start
- Prepare documents
- Administer the estate
- Handle tax issues
- Resolve government liens
- Manage all of the legal and technical aspects of probate administration
We also help families facing difficult decisions for incapacitated elderly or disabled loved ones that require probate court oversight. Sometimes an appointment of a conservator or guardian is necessary to protect an individual’s rights and property during their lifetime and the court process can be difficult and confusing for families. Our attorneys strive to protect the quality of life and dignity of the elderly and disabled, while steering the family and supporting institutions through the legal maze with speed and compassion.
Gift and Estate Taxation
In a world of changing tax laws, complex rules and regulations and fluctuating financial markets, it is more important than ever to have sound legal advice when planning your estate. Without proper planning, the assets you have worked hard to accumulate could be unnecessarily subject to tax, administrative and probate expenses and could even be distributed in a manner contrary to your intent. The “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010″ offers many opportunities for those with estates that may be facing significant estate taxes. That makes planning now even more important. Solid planning can protect your assets, maximize their value and minimize your tax burden.
Tax and Wealth Transfer Planning
Protection and transfer of your wealth can be complex and requires careful planning. Wealth transfer planning is unique in every situation. Effective wealth transfer planning focuses on the current needs of your desired beneficiaries and needs that they may face in the future. This usually begins with making sure that your needs and your spouse's needs are provided for now and that surviving spouse is provided for in the future. This may also include your children or grandchildren or it could include a favorite charity. It is important to consider the unique situation of each of your beneficiaries to determine how you can best utilize your wealth to help each one. Some may not need your wealth or some may be harmed if given too much wealth. It may make sense to provide some of your beneficiaries with assistance now rather than later. It is not required that all beneficiaries get an equal amount. Also, it is not required that your children receive all of your assets.
Your life purpose and your values should be considered as part of your wealth transfer planning. How can you further your life purpose and values through your planning? Have you properly trained your successors with the values and wisdom to handle the wealth that you could pass on to them? Also, in the case of business owners, this will require looking at business succession planning.
All of the above planning can take some time, so we always want to make sure that an initial plan is in place to cover the question, "What if something happens to me before we complete the wealth transfer planning process?"
Business Entity Formation
New and existing businesses often struggle with the idea of incorporating or forming a limited liability company (LLC). They are bombarded with information from advertisements, the media and even entertainment sources praising the virtues of formal incorporation or similar business formation that would limit an owner’s personal liability and offer tax advantages. At the Law Offices of Michael Dobrov, we help our clients sift through all the complicated forms of incorporation, LLCs and partnerships to help determine whether a corporation, LLC, or partnership is right for your business in the first place. For many businesses, start-ups and existing companies, the sole proprietorship or general partnership may still be the best business entity.
Our services include:
- C Corporation
- S Corporation
- Professional Corporation
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
- Limited Partnership
- General Partnership
- Joint Venture
- Non-Profit Corporation
A corporation or LLC offers many advantages including protecting personal assets, reducing tax burdens (in some cases), providing group health insurance plans and pension plans and creating a perpetual business entity that makes it easier to raise capital, finance and sell. Whether incorporation is right for your business depends on a number of factors and the ultimate decision is best made after consultation with an attorney and accountant.
Generally, the size of a business is an important consideration. Businesses with a large number of employees, multiple owners and a significant capital investment will find that incorporation most often offers significant benefit. Smaller businesses are more likely to benefit from an S-Corporation, LLC, or even sole proprietorship. The tax and limited liability advantages are generally less advantageous to the smaller business. The tax differential to single owners is most often negligible or non-existent and new business owners that incorporate may find that their personal guarantee is still required for financing. Given the expense and time-consuming nature of maintaining important corporate formalities, operating a sole proprietorship with adequate insurance is all that the small business owner may need.
Family Business Succession Planning
Thoughtful, legally-sound business succession planning is the single most important way to prevent your business from getting caught up in ownership or control disputes upon your retirement or death. Whether your concerns involve family members or other shareholders, you may need a well-documented plan to ensure that your wishes involving your business are clear and enforceable under California law.
Transitioning a business from one generation to the next is probably the most difficult and complex process a family business will face. It requires much thought, trust and planning. Developing next generation leaders, assuring that estate planning documents are both tax and succession friendly, evaluating the company’s financial ability to sustain succession and managing conflict and expectations within the family are all required for family businesses to achieve reliable successions between generations.
Our approach is highly collaborative and comprehensive. We work closely with CPA’s, key non-family executives and family stakeholders both in and out of the business in order to develop a plan that works for both the company and the family.
Succession planning is often delayed in a family business due to either active conflict or fear of conflict. Our expertise in managing conflict when the continuing relationships are important is a crucial element of our succession planning work.
Conservatorships and Guardianships
Caring for loved ones when they have become incapacitated can be a complicated and emotionally draining affair. Unfortunately, it is often because, left to their own devices, incapacitated loved ones can jeopardize their own health and financial well-being.
Conservators have court-ordered authority and responsibility to manage the affairs of those who can no longer make their own decisions about finances or health care. If the incapacitated person planned ahead and signed durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, that person won’t need a conservator because the person named in those documents can take charge. However, if no planning has been done — a common situation — then family members must ask a court to appoint a conservator or guardian.
No two guardianship applications are alike and the guardianship attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael Dobrov will carefully tailor a guardianship petition to fit the needs of the incapacitated person.
We have a great deal of experience in dealing with guardianships of varying types, including:
- Adult children seeking guardianship over parents who can no longer care for themselves
- Parents of children who were injured at birth, during medical procedures, or in accidents
- Parents of children with autism and other disabilities who are seeking guardianship before the child turns eighteen (18) and is no longer a minor.
The granting of guardianship over another is not something that the Courts take lightly and neither should you. Our office can advise you on your powers, your rights and your responsibilities if you believe that a loved one is in need of guardianship.
Occasionally, family members are not in agreement as to who would be the best guardian or if there is even a need for guardianship. Let the attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Dobrov represent you in the process and advocate your position to the Court.
In addition to petitioning the Court for guardianship, we also petition the Court for other relief as necessary by the circumstances, including:
- Petitioning the Court for the use of Guardianship funds for the purchase of handicap-accessible transportation or even the renovation or purchase of a handicap-accessible home for your disabled family member; and
- The creation of a Court-approved Special Needs Trust for your disabled family member.
Professional Trusteeship Services
When your estate or financial planning calls for the service of independent trustee, put your trust in us. Preserve and grow your trust with an experienced trustee. A professional trustee can provide:
- Experienced asset management
- Skill and knowledge specific to the trust industry
- Objective, independent management
- Professional safeguards and insurance to protect your beneficiaries
Make sure the fiduciary you chose as your trustee is someone you trust completely. At the Law Offices of Michael Dobrov, we provide professional estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and financial planning services for clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. We provide clients with high-caliber trustee services.
When you establish a trust, you have the opportunity to name anyone as your trustee. Family members and trusted friends are often empowered to oversee trusts. Naturally, people are often drawn to entrust people closest to them – even if they are inexperienced in financial management or have a personal or emotional interest in how trust assets will be distributed.
We offer an impartial, experienced approach. Attorney Michael Dobrov has focused much of his legal practice on advanced estate planning, including developing complex trusts.