Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Your Most Valuable Asset (By Kyle A. Krasa, Esq.)


Estate planning generally focuses on two key elements.  First, in the event of your mental incapacity, having an Advance Health Care Directive, a HIPAA Waiver, and other related health care documents will ensure that your wishes with regard to your health care and your personal comfort and well-being will be carried out by the person of your choice in accordance with your own specific guidelines.  Second, in the event of your mental incapacity and upon your death, having a well-drafted revocable living trust, financial power of attorney, and other related documents will ensure that your monetary assets are managed by the person of your choice and distributed to your selected beneficiaries under any conditions that you provide.

While these two elements are crucial, there is a third element that is often overlooked: your legacy.  After you pass away, how will you be remembered? What “life lessons,” observations, and values do you want future generations to understand and appreciate?  What family history do you have stored in your mind that will be lost with your death if you don’t make a record of it?  Indeed, these are your most valuable assets and yet traditional estate planning avoids addressing their preservation.
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Friday, October 27, 2017

Six Ways to Modify an Irrevocable Trust (By Kyle A. Krasa, Esq.)

Your basic living trust is typically “revocable” during your lifetime, meaning that you can change it at any time.  However, once you have become mentally incapacitated or have passed away, your trust becomes “irrevocable.”  Furthermore, advanced estate planning might require that you create a trust that is irrevocable even while you are still living for tax purposes, Medi-Cal planning purposes, or asset protection purposes.  

Even when a trust is technically “irrevocable,” there might be an opportunity to make changes to the trust.  Below are six common methods for modifying an otherwise “irrevocable” trust.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Does Your Trust Have a “Flight Clause”? (By Kyle A. Krasa, Esq.)

Estate planning seems simple on the surface.  You sign a series of documents naming a responsible party to manage your assets in the event of your incapacity and directing how your assets should be distributed upon your death.  However, once you start to really think carefully about all the issues that are involved in the transfer and stewardship of your hard-earned assets, you begin to realize that an estate plan should be comprehensive and should address a multitude of detailed considerations.  One important but often overlooked consideration is which state governs your trust?

With the exception of federal tax considerations, estate planning is mostly governed by state law.  Each state has its own unique rules regarding the administration and interpretation of trust provisions.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Death and the DMV (by Kyle A. Krasa, Esq.)


The Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) has a reputation for layers of bureaucracy.  Indeed, many people might consider waiting in line at the DMV without an appointment as a “fate worse than death.”  As challenging as it can be to deal with certain aspects of the DMV, handling the transfer of a decedent’s vehicles in California can be surprisingly efficient.

If the decedent did not have a living trust and had other assets necessitating a probate, then the decedent’s vehicles will be subject to probate which will generally be a time-consuming and costly process.  However, if the decedent had a living trust, then the process of dealing with the DMV to transfer the vehicles to the beneficiaries can be painless.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Incapacity Planning (by Kyle A. Krasa, Esq.)

Often estate planning focuses upon the settlement of one’s estate upon death and the subsequent transfer of assets to the beneficiaries.  However, an often overlooked - and perhaps more important - aspect of estate planning centers upon incapacity.  In the event that you have a medical emergency that makes it impossible for you to make financial or personal decisions, does your estate plan provide an effective system for allowing a trusted individual to manage your assets?  Below is a summary of the options for addressing incapacity planning.

Choosing an Agent

The first consideration is choosing an agent to make decisions for you in the event of incapacity.  Choosing carefully is key to ensuring that your assets are managed for your benefit in an prudent and efficient manner.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Estate Planning for your Car Collection (by Kyle A. Krasa, Esq.)

This past week on the Monterey Peninsula is commonly referred to as “Car Week.” What started in the early 1950’s with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Pebble Beach Sports Car Road Race has blossomed into perhaps the largest concentration of car events in the world. Locals who are not car enthusiasts often understandably do not look forward to the additional traffic. However, for self-proclaimed “car nuts” like my dad and me, it’s one of the most enjoyable weeks of the year. Car shows, car rallies, car displays, car discussions, car auctions, car test-drives, and historic car races have kept us busy and entertained for years.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Ephemeral or Set in Stone? The Difference Between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts (by Kyle A. Krasa)

A revocable trust is a trust in which the Trust-Maker (“the Grantor”) may amend or revoke at any time.  In essence, it is a trust that is “not set in stone” and may change at the whim of the Grantor.  A revocable trust is often used as a will and power of attorney substitute.    The idea is to create a plan for the management and distribution of the Grantor’s estate in the event of incapacity and upon death.  The Grantor might include provisions in the trust that dictate a gift of a certain asset to a specified Beneficiary upon the Grantor’s death.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Your First Estate Planning Meeting (by Kyle A. Krasa)

You have made the decision to address your estate planning because you want to maintain control over your personal and financial decisions in the event of your incapacity or death.  You have found a competent estate planning attorney who is licensed to practice law in your community.  You have even taken the big step of scheduling your first appointment with your new attorney.  What should you expect at the first meeting?  Different attorneys have different approaches.  Below is a description of my typical agenda for a first estate planning meeting.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Questions to Ask When Considering a Retirement Home (by Kyle A. Krasa)

When I was a kid, one of the most popular sitcoms was Golden Girls.  I often watched it with my grandmother.  On a typical Saturday night in the 1980’s, my grandmother in her 70s, and I, an elementary school child, would laugh together at Rose’s St. Olaf stories, Blanche’s exploits, Dorothy’s bad luck, and Sophia’s witty yet insightful comments.  In college, a few of my friends and I agreed that when we were ready for retirement, we would get a house together and be the “Golden Boys.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

LLC's in a Nutshell (by Kyle A. Krasa)

Limited Liability Companies, or “LLC’s,” are popular legal structures for maintaining investment assets or operating a business. Although they involve additional administration and specific formalities, they can also provide many benefits.   

Establishing an LLC:

One of the first considerations in establishing an LLC is choosing the right jurisdiction.  LLC’s may be formed in any of the 50 states regardless of where the owners, or “members,” reside or where the LLC is to conduct business.  The home state of the members might not necessarily be the optimum jurisdiction for forming an LLC.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Not Your Father's Estate Plan (by Stefanie West, Esq.)

Estate planning attorneys commonly hear war stories from clients who served as the successor trustee of their parents’ estate. Some stories are more memorable than others.

Last year, a client was recounting her experience as trustee and beneficiary of her father’s estate. Dad’s trust divided the estate equally amongst the children. One of her siblings, while a “nice person,” never really grew up.

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Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for general information only.  Watching these lessons does not create an attorney/client relationship.  The information is designed to supplement – but not replace – your need to work with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your community.  You should consult with a licensed attorney before acting upon any of the information presented on this website. 

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