How the Law Has Reshaped Estate Planning

The death of a loved one floods us with feelings of grief, loss, and sadness. As those left behind grapple with this human loss, the absolute last thing that is needed is the dagger of probate.

probate - estate planningProbate is a trap for the unwary. It can quickly ensnare one’s estate upon death even for uncontested wills. This can plunges the estate into a painstakingly slow and costly probate process. While this process is foreign and confusing to a layperson, it is a boon to the pockets of estate lawyers.

There is a misnomer that the government stands in the loot line as well, ready to pillage the decedent’s estate by way of what is commonly known as the death tax. In truth and fact, it’s not death and taxes most of us should be worrying about but death and probate. In large part, this is due to a very friendly and favorable federal exemption that shields most estates from taxation.

Historically the federal exemption was not friendly at all, and estate attorneys had to resort to complicated trusts designed to shelter an estate from the sting of the death tax. Indeed, the federal exemption was as low as $675,000 in 2001. Upon one’s death, the taxman would cometh like the hovering presence of the grim reaper, He can carve out a deep 37% tax on every dollar of the decedent’s estate over the exempt amount.

probate law, estate planning lawyer, estate attorney, estate lawyer, The result was so harsh and unfair that former President George Bush orchestrated the passage of a massive tax reform relief package in 2001. It dramatically raised the federal exemption incrementally over time. Now it exceeds five million dollars. Many taxpayers gave an enormous sigh of relief. Although there was a possibility that these highly welcome and beneficial changes would sunset and phase out, Congress acted again under President Barrack Obama and in 2013 passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act. This Act made permanent the dramatic increases in the federal exemption. The wisdom of Congress was not lost on the next presidential administration, and in 2018 came the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which doubled the exemption. The end result is that as we sit here today, the federal exemption is over $11,000,000 – yup, that’s a whopping eleven million dollars. And for a couple, this can exceed $22,000,000.

Sounds great, huh? Well, don’t relax just yet, as the dagger of probate still awaits those who do not undertake proper estate planning. If the value of your estate does not exceed $150,000, then the estate is thrust into the nightmare that is probate. No matter what your estate is worth, you need an estate lawyer that can help you with estate planning and a living trust.

Lets Get Started With Your Estate Planning

As an attorney, my law firm can make tens of thousands of dollars probating an estate. The cost of a living trust package averages only $1,000. It can entirely insulate an estate from probate. It can allow those you leave behind the ability to seamlessly tend to the affairs of your estate. The living trust leaves probate courts and with the lawyers on the sideline. A living trust carefully crafted and customized to the individual client also carries multiple other features that protect your assets and your estate.

Our Estate Planning Lawyer and Estate Attorney will help you optimize your Estate Planning.

Licensed to Practice Law Since 1991 in All State Courts in California