Rodnunsky & Associates is ready to help with your family's legal matters.
Basic Estate Planning | Wills & Trusts
Wills and trusts lay the foundation for successful estate planning. The term “estate” simply refers to one’s personal assets. Whether large or small, an estate plan is an important part of your financial security.
A will is a testamentary document that allows you to decide how your assets and possessions will be distributed upon your passing. A trust is an essential tool for creatively passing on wealth while retaining control over how the assets are distributed, minimizing tax consequences, and protecting your assets.
Unlike a will only, a trust will help to avoid the probate court system in your state, where without a trust in place, your assets will be subject to the probate laws. The probate court process can take years, which means enormous costs (including taxes and fees) to be paid by your estate. A properly executed estate plan includes Powers of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives, and other related documents.
There are many different varieties and purposes for trusts. We have experience handling all trust issues, including:
Revocable trusts (living trust)
Irrevocable life insurance trusts
Domestic asset protection trusts
Intentionally defective grantor trust
Realty trusts (nominee trust)
Grantor retained annuity trust vs. sale to intentionally defective grantor trust
Qualified personal residence trust vs. home security trust
Special needs trusts
Having the proper legal documents to appoint guardians for your children and decide on critical health care issues is an important part of your entire estate plan. Everyone should have a living trust in place, created and updated by a qualified attorney.
Advanced Estate & Tax Planning
Our Advanced Estate Tax Planning Team is one of the best in California. We specialize in complex planning, preservation of wealth and the diverse legal needs of successful families. Complex and advanced planning techniques are tailored to an individual’s situation. We recommend an annual estate plan review, which allows us to suggest new approaches that may have developed since the plan was originally drafted.
If you have substantial assets, we are available to recommend strategies to help preserve your estate, including but not limited to:
Wealth Transfer and Dynasty Preservation
Spendthrift and other trusts that protect heirs and preserve income
Minimizing tax burdens to heirs, and protecting the inheritances of all generations
Insurance trusts that can be used to pay estate taxes
Charitable trusts that can eliminate federal estate taxes
Generation-skipping tax planning to reduce or eliminate future federal estate taxes
Family limited partnerships (FLPs) and LLCs to streamline family business interests and realize gift and estate tax savings
Private foundations that help people realize charitable goals
Asset protection trusts that can reduce exposure to future creditors
Foreign estate tax planning considerations
Trust, Estate & Probate Litigation
R&A has extensive experience in all areas of the probate court system. We have successfully litigated many disputed trustee and beneficiary claims. We handle the following issues:
Beneficiary Trust Disputes (Trust and Will Contests)
Elder Abuse Claims
All court-related claims and administrative procedures
Upon your death, the probate process involves paying debts you owe and transferring assets to your beneficiaries. Probate courts oversee this process. Some of these procedures vary by state. If you do not have a trust in place, the court will inventory your property, pay bills or take out any taxes that are due, using the existing assets to make these payments.
A comprehensive estate plan will make this process much easier, especially for the executor of your estate, whose main goal is to carry out your wishes. Your assets are protected when you have an estate plan in place.
Trust, Estate & Probate Administration
There are a variety of jobs that need to be covered, with regards to assets, when one passes away.
Whomever is chosen to be the trustee of your estate, it is their job to provide your beneficiaries with what is due to them, according to the statements made in your estate plan. It is also their job to settle any debts, deal with taxes and provide distributions to charities, for instance, as specified in your will. We can provide administration of this large task and guide trustees through the process of taxes, distributions and deadlines.
Special Needs Trusts
If you are the sole caretaker for a child or an adult with special needs, you have the difficult decision of what to do when you are no longer around.
Parents, relatives, or appointed caretakers of those with special needs, often consider having a Special Needs Trust. This will help ensure that health and welfare needs are met, in the event there is no longer a parent or caregiver in the person’s life. With the changing climate of health care and other government-provided services, a trust should to be in place for the future security of a person with special needs. We have experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the process of setting up a Special Needs Trust.
Elder Law & Medi-Cal Planning
Elder Law involves planning for the complex health care, long-term care, and other issues facing elderly and disabled individuals and their families. Studies show that if we reach age 65, we have a 40% chance of going into a nursing home in our remaining lifetime. Therefore, everyone should take into account that at some point, residency in a nursing home or an assisted living facility may be needed.
The substantial cost of nursing home care for an incapacitated person can wipe away a family’s nest egg and the inheritance planned for surviving family members. The primary alternative to privately paying the nursing home is Medi-Cal.
Often times, families come to us in crisis. They don’t know what to expect from the Medi-Cal process. They are under the mistaken impression that there is nothing that can be done to protect assets from nursing home costs. Some people are told by nursing homes or other facilities that they need to spend all their assets to qualify for benefits. This is not true. You do not need to be impoverished to qualify for Medi-Cal. With our help, many of the assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating can be protected from high nursing home expenses.
Our certified elder law attorneys can assist you in drafting a will to transfer property at death. Perhaps more importantly, we can also help you develop a comprehensive care plan for you or your loved ones, including financial planning for quality care and asset protection, assembling a caregiver team and connecting with appropriate community services.
Our elder law legal services include:
Preparation of advance directives for financial and health care decision making
Evaluation of opportunities to qualify for benefit programs, including Medi-Cal
Assistance with conservatorship proceedings
Evaluation of long-term care insurance options
Advocating for seniors in nursing homes and with in-home service providers
Creating “care teams” for seniors and disabled adults, including geriatric psychiatrists, care managers, and home care providers
Crisis planning for seniors, disabled adults and their families
Creating Special Needs Trusts
Guardianships & Conservatorships
Some people designate a guardian or a conservator, giving a trusted individual legal authority over their personal and health-related decisions.
Typically, it is one person who is designated, however co-guardians and co-conservators can be appointed as well. They are often given Durable Power of Attorney and/or Medical Power of Attorney, which places them in the position of making decisions about another person's medical treatment, safety, and living arrangements.A conservatorship is a legal relationship that gives authority to a designated conservator to make financial decisions, such as managing another person's bank accounts, investments, and additional assets, on behalf of an individual who has been deemed incompetent or incapacitated.
The appointed conservator is responsible for paying bills, as well as managing debts and cash flow from the person’s estate.If a person has already made a decision to appoint a guardian or conservator, the court may still determine what is best for the individual in need. This is where an experienced attorney can help navigate the court system and guide the appointee(s) through critical legal decisions.
At R&A, we understand that dealing with family matters can be an emotional and sensitive time for many.
Our Family Law division can advise you in all legal aspects of family law, including but not limited to, pre- and post-nuptual agreements, divorce, property division, child support, spousal support, child custody, restraining orders, paternity, and post-judgement modifications.
Private Foundations & Charitable Entities
Private Foundations and Charitable Entities will likely fall under the title of a 501(c)(3) organization, which refers to non-profit organizations that must be in compliance with federal and state filings.
If you are interested in starting a foundation to fund a particular interest, or starting a charity to support a specific cause, contact our attorneys for guidance through this process. Setting up foundations and charities can be confusing without the help of a professional who understands the importance of compliance and understands the intricacies of tax laws.
Corporate & LLC Formations
Your choice to set up a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a good way to protect your growing business.
It is important not only to understand the specific legal requirements to do this, which often vary by state, but to also have assistance with taxes, fees, legally required filings, and licenses. These details could be missed without the guidance of an experienced attorney. We can assist you in all areas of business planning, from forming entities such as Corporations and LLCs, to preparing buy/sell agreements and partnership agreements.
Mergers & Acquisitions
This area of law refers to the consolidation of two company’s assets.
If you are looking for an attorney with extensive experience in Mergers and Acquisitions, look no further than R&A. This includes purchases and sales of businesses, mergers, acquisitions, covenants not to compete, leveraged and management buyouts, entity reorganizations, and entity dissolutions.
As a business owner, or one who is thinking of opening or investing in a business, you often wear many hats.
Rather than trying to deal with the important legal matters that come with business transactions on your own, hire an experienced attorney from R&A. We can assist you in the process of navigating financial institutions, partnership agreements, and additional legal documents to insure your business transaction goes as smoothly as possible.