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Koza Law Group, APC
Estate & Business Planning
Estate & Business Planning


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If you had to run out of your house quickly, would you be prepared? Have you assembled your "red file"? #planning #Carlsbad
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We are moving! Effective January 1, 2018, our new address will be:

2011 Palomar Airport Road, Suite 302
Carlsbad, CA 92011

Until then, you should still be able to find us at our current 5650 El Camino Real address.

Click on the link for more details.

#Carlsbad #estateplanning #businesslaw #newaddress
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What's the Deal with the Proposed Estate Tax Repeal?

With President Trump and the Republicans in Congress hoping to rewrite the U.S. tax code before the end of the year, the House of Representatives and the Senate will eventually have to agree on what to do with the estate tax.

Under current law, the estate tax is not assessed on estates which fall below the federal estate tax exemption level. The exemption level is presently set at...

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(Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash)

#estatetax #Trump #TaxReform #Carlsbad #estateplanning #attorney
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Do Not Try This at Home (Unless You Absolutely Must!): Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

If you are one of the millions of people who have already purchased an estate planning document, such as a living trust or will, from an online template document mill service (i.e. Rocket Lawyer, Legal Zoom, etc.), you may want to speak with a licensed estate planning attorney in your state to get a second opinion.

MORE HERE- (via Carlsbad estate planning firm, KOZA LAW GROUP APC)

#DIY #Lifehacks #estateplanning #carlsbad #lawtips #Tuesdaythoughts
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Statutory Fees and Court Costs

Full article with working links found here:

When an estate valued at over $250,000 is probated, even in the simplest situation where there is no contest or dispute, the process is likely to take at least a year in California. During that time, your assets may be in a state of limbo, and possibly even unmanaged.

But beyond these non-monetary hardships which can themselves be difficult for the surviving family to endure, there are also attorney and executor fees to consider. These fees are set by California’s Probate Code §10810. The statutory fees prescribed by §10810 are based on the value of the estate, as determined during the probate process.

The value of the estate is generally determined by the inventory conducted by the estate’s executor, and sometimes with the assistance of court prescribed referees. Unfortunately, in making the valuation, the court does not consider the debts of the estate to offset the gross valuation, and thus determines the fees based upon just the gross valuation of the assets in probate. For example, if a house is appraised at $1,000,000 but has an outstanding mortgage of $800,000, the house is still valued at $1,000,000 for the purposes of calculating statutory probate fees.

Statutory probate fees under §10810 are as follows:

4% of the first $100,000 of the estate
3% of the next $100,000
2% of the next $800,000
1% of the next $9,000,000
5% of the next $15,000,000

Table 1.0 (below) lists the California statutory fees for various sizes of estates. Be mindful, however, that these fees may be applied twice-- once to cover legal costs related to probate, and once to cover executor fees.

It is also important to note that such statutory fees contemplate only ordinary probate. If the probate proceedings are complicated by lawsuits or tax issues, or if there is a larger than normal inventory of assets going through probate, the court may approve additional fee amounts in excess of the statutory amount, at its discretion. The court is typically known to approve additional fees in cases where a dispute arises during the probate process.

In addition to the statutory fees payable to the attorney, the executor, and to the probate referee(s), an estate undergoing probate must also pay court fees and other related costs. The total amount of these costs varies from case to case but are usually between $1,000 to $3,000 in additional charges to cover procedural items such as filing fees with the probate court, fees for publication of probate notices (required by statute), and certification of court documents.

In most cases, probate referees assist in determining the estate’s value by appraising the estate’s non-cash assets. The court usually assigns a probate referee to the estate when the probate proceedings are opened. Probate referees receive a fee based on 0.1% of the non-cash assets appraised. For example, in the case of a home valued by the probate referee at $1 million dollars, this amounts to a fee of $100. Although this fee isn't too bad, it's just another probate related cost that could be avoided with proper trust-based planning.

$100,000 $4,000*
$200,000 $7,000*
$300,000 $9,000*
$400,000 $11,000*
$500,000 $13,000*
$600,000 $15,000*
$700,000 $17,000*
$800,000 $19,000*
$900,000 $21,000*
$1 million $23,000*
$2 million $33,000*
$5 million $63,000*
$10 million $113,000*
$15 million $138,000*
$20 million $163,000*
$25 million $188,000*


Probate can usually be avoided with proper estate planning. If you wish to avoid the hardships and costs associated with probate, contact an experienced probate attorney. #estateplanning, #probate, #carlsbad

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President Donald Trump’s one page tax proposal was released on Wednesday morning. Within this proposal, the Trump administration is pushing for a repeal of something they refer to as the death tax.

What’s the reason for this push, and what does it really mean for you?

Let’s get to it!


According to the White House’s webpage, “The threat of being hit by the death tax leads 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘸𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴 and 𝘧𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘴 in this country to waste countless hours and resources on complicated estate planning to make sure their 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 aren’t hit with a huge tax when they die. No one wants their 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 to have to sell the family business to pay an unfair tax.” (𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘥.)


What is the death tax? SURPRISE! There is no such thing as an actual death tax.

The term is just a clever marketing gimmick for politicians (and critics of the estate tax) to make you despise what is primarily, at the federal level, only an estate tax. ( )

Simply put, this is a tax that affects only 0.02% of all estates, or better yet—1 in 500 estates.

So why not just say “estate tax”? Because taxing an estate doesn’t get people too riled up. But the specter of Uncle Sam taxing your death—that must surely bother you.


Based on 2017 exemption amounts, the federal estate tax is levied only against a tiny minority of the wealthiest of Americans. If you are single and have assets valued at less than $5,490,000 at the time of your death (in 2017), then you don’t need to worry about the federal estate tax. If you are married and have combined assets valued at less than $10,980,000, then you don’t need to worry about the federal estate tax. (There are 15 states which have a state level estate tax, but those too have exemption amounts which effectively keep the tax from touching most estates.)


It’s worth mentioning that there is something called an inheritance tax. The inheritance tax is not a federal tax. It is a state tax levied in only 6 of our 50 states (and barely so!).

Some people like to include the inheritance tax in their discussion of death taxes as a way to make their case that Uncle Sam is out to get your wallet. Resist the bait. Uncle Sam has nothing to do with the inheritance tax. If we are discussing federal tax policy, any mention of a tax which only exists at the state level (in 6 states!), is just a distraction.

So when the President is referring to death taxes, he can only be referring to the federal estate tax—and nothing more. For this is all that his federal government can legislate upon.

(But just to be clear anyway, if you don’t live in Nebraska, Kentucky, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland, you don’t need to worry about it. And in most of those states, the tax doesn’t touch an inheriting spouse. And in some, even kids and grandkids are exempt from the tax! Let’s not forget that each state has its own exemption level which basically means that the tax only affects relatively few people in those 6 states.)


Consider that the Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that a repeal of the estate tax would cost the federal government $269 billion over 10 years. ( )
In all likelihood, that’s $269 billion that will have to come from somewhere else to satisfy the federal budget’s needs.

Does a repeal help at all?

Surely those 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯 Mr. Trump is so concerned with, and those 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘸𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴 and 𝘧𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘴-- they must be paying astronomical taxes on those estates above the federal exemption amount, right?


Estate taxes only tax the amount over the exemption limit. This means, the first $5.5 million (or $11 million for married couple estates) is not taxed at all. Only that amount above the exemption level gets hit with a tax. And the rates vary. Considering that the highest tax rate is 40%, which applies only against estates that exceed the previously mentioned exemption levels by more than $1,000,000, let’s suppose our imaginary unmarried farmer’s estate is valued at $6,490,000 at the time of his death in 2017, his estate would only have to pay a $400,000 estate tax, which is an effective 6.1% tax rate on the estate.

Not really bankrupting anybody now, is it?

𝗤𝗨𝗜 𝗕𝗢𝗡𝗢? (𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀?)

So who gains the most from repeal of the so-called death tax?

Simply put-- only the ultra-wealthy. Not your average 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘸𝘯𝘦𝘳. Not your average 𝘧𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘳. Not-- 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘯-- unless perhaps the child’s name is Ivanka Trump.

#estatetax #deathtax #DonaldTrump #Trump #IvankaTrump #KozaLawGroup
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Five Reasons a Legal Expert Should Review your Business Documents #businesslaw #KozaLawGroup #Carlsbad
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