Our planning process has evolved over the years, as we apply the experience gained during thirty years of preparing plans and administering many of those plans upon incapacity or death. But the process still begins the same way it always has, with a meaningful conversation. At Hiskey Law Firm, we focus on understanding your concerns and goals for your family as the essential first step in providing the wise counsel needed to design your plan. Fundamentally, estate and wealth transfer planning involves ensuring the efficient and appropriate transfer of your assets at death and protecting you and your family in the event of diminished capacity; in short, protecting your family’s future. However, wise planning will also reflect the values you hope will influence your family and community, transferring not only your assets, but your experience, and the virtues and values that have shaped you. This approach also equips you with tools to better impart those virtues and values now, not just at your eventual death.
After it becomes clear what you wish to accomplish, and after evaluating your financial assets, the focus turns to identifying the appropriate planning tools to utilize for your plan. Recent tax law changes have provided exclusions of $11,580,000 in 2020 (indexed for inflation) against estate taxes, and the ability of a surviving spouse to preserve their spouse’s estate tax exclusion without the necessity of an irrevocable trust. As a result, conventional planning for many couples in the past may no longer be appropriate. However, the issues are still complex when trying to plan for long time horizons, and many families will still have non-tax reasons for plans that create irrevocable trusts at the first spouse’s death, protecting the surviving spouse from those who may inappropriately influence them, and protecting the intended beneficiaries.
Even with simpler tax planning options available for many clients, revocable trusts remain critical to avoid the probate which is generally required in California when an individual dies having more than $150,000 of assets in their name alone if those assets are passing to someone other than a surviving spouse.
Our process helps ensure that you have a thorough yet flexible estate plan that accurately reflects your objectives, allowing you to not only protect, manage, and distribute your estate properly, but to leave a legacy for succeeding generations and your community.