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The Law Offices of Casey O'Connell
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Trust and Estate Administration In General

Upon the death of a trustor (a founder of a trust), it is necessary under California law to initiate a trust administration. This applies to both single trustors and married trustors.

Typically, the trust administration process takes weeks to complete. This differs greatly from the average duration of a probate court proceeding in San Diego County which, on average, lasts 16 months, if not more. Click the link below to read more.
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How to Protect Your Beneficiaries’ Inheritance After Your Death

What happens to a beneficiary’s inheritance if at the time he or she is entitled to receive the inheritance, he or she is wrapped up in litigation, bankruptcy, divorce, or has outstanding judgments in favor of creditors? Or what if your beneficiary’s spouse is being sued at the time of distribution? While most trusts include “Spendthrift” clauses to prevent a beneficiary’s creditors from seeking payment from a particular beneficiary’s share of the trust estate while the assets remain in the trust, once those assets are distributed to the beneficiary, third parties can take those assets. As a result, our firm offers our clients the option to include “Conditional Distribution Provisions” to their trusts. These provisions, what we call Protective Inheritance Trust provisions, create two conditions that must be satisfied before your beneficiary is entitled to receive his or her inheritance.
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Succession Planning
Planning for the transfer of a business interest upon the happening of some future event such as sale, retirement, disability, divorce, or death is imperative to the continued success of your business. Despite its importance, this type of planning is frequently neglected by business owners.
Addressing these issues in advance will save all interested parties time and money, and potentially avoid litigation in the future. Defining the transition of your business by creating a buy-sell agreement or other applicable documents will lend certainty to the current owners and any potential buyer. Additionally, business succession planning and estate planning go hand-in-hand to plan for the transfer of your wealth at a later date. Contact
the firm today to discuss these important planning matters of business formations and succession planning.
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Estate planning is the process of creating certain legal documents to nominate individuals to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated, to name guardians for minor children if the parents cannot care for their kids, and to direct the disposition of your estate upon your death. It is planning for contingencies and certainties to protect you, your family, your hard-earned assets, and your future.

For most San Diegans, a complete estate plan includes a revocable living trust, a pour-over will, a durable power of attorney for finances, an Advance Health Care Directive, a HIPAA Authorization and Release document, and, for married couples, a property agreement.

In addition, our firm offers our Free Document and Services Package with every new estate plan. The Free Document and Services Package includes instructional letters regarding your trust and accompanying documents, how to fund assets in your trust, and how to address qualified retirement plans and life insurance proceeds now that you have a living trust. The package also includes free communication with our firm regarding your documents while we create them and after the documents have been signed. We do not charge you for asking questions about your documents; we are here to help you understand your estate plan. Last, the package includes a FREE Three Year Review of your documents to ensure they are up to date under the law and that you do not desire any personal changes.
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Your estate plan often has a trust: a trust is a contract. You, the trustor (founder) of the trust, enter into a contract with yourself as trustee (manager) of the trust. You are also the beneficiary of your trust during your lifetime. This means that the assets you place in your trust are used for your benefit during your lifetime. Only upon your death do your named beneficiaries have a right to the trust assets. As a result, by setting up a revocable trust, you establish the vehicle to avoid probate court, but nothing changes during your lifetime with respect to management of assets, sale or disposition of assets, or other actions you’d seek to take during the course of your life. There are no restrictions on the use of trust property because it is your property!
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Casey O’Connell is a native of Colorado, but has resided in San Diego since 2008. A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting, Casey left Colorado to attend law school at California Western School of Law here in San Diego.

At California Western, Casey earned the Dean’s Merit Tuition Scholarship for his stellar academic performance in his first year. Casey was also invited to join the California Western Law Review on which he served as an associate editor for his subsequent two years of law school. Casey graduated in the top three percent of his class earning Magna Cum Laude honors. He was also on the Dean’s List every semester of law school. Read More...
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Internal disputes amongst successor trustees and trust beneficiaries are common. Despite the intent expressed in a trust document, beneficiaries may argue about distributions, clash with the successor trustee, or carry preexisting spats with siblings and family members into a trust administration. Our firm regularly sees beneficiaries who are disappointed or disgruntled with the trustee’s failure to communicate about trust administration or failure to properly distribute trust assets as called for in the document. This bickering between beneficiaries or between beneficiaries and the trustee can create such strife that court intervention is needed to interpret the trust and direct or correct the behavior of the trustee. After all, your trust was created to help avoid the need for court interaction with your estate so how do you keep your trust out of court and prevent your trustee and beneficiaries from dueling like the clowns below?
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California’s New Transfer on Death Deed and Why a Living Trust Remains Ideal

Effective January 1, 2016, those owning California real property may use the new “Transfer on Death Deed” (“TODD”) to pass property to a beneficiary upon the property owner’s death. I recently attended an educational course on the TODD and let me tell you, this thing scares me. The California legislature, in passing this law, was altruistically attempting to provide a less expensive vehicle than a living trust for property owners to pass property free of probate at death. I support that effort wholeheartedly, however, given the infancy of the law and the lack of settled case law to help interpret its provisions, a living trust remains far superior to the TODD alternative.
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2017 Estate and Gift Tax Update - The IRS has announced the 2017 Estate and Gift Tax Exemption amounts. Recall, California does not have a state estate tax, thus, the Federal Estate Tax and exemptions from it are all we are discussing here. Click the link to read the details.
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Whether you are just starting your business or now deciding to create a business entity for an existing venture, we are here to assist your business with planning, forming, implementing, and maintaining the correct business entity to suit your business. Our Business Formations and Succession Planning services include filing the appropriate government and organizational documents, as well as drafting agreements between business owners addressing capital contributions to the business, owner and employee roles in the business, and defining how the business will operate and for what duration. Sole proprietorship's, partnerships, limited liability companies, or corporations – don’t hesitate to contact the firm to discuss your business needs.
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