Good question! Find the answers in our FAQ section, and ask us if you have more.
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What is Succession Planning?
It’s the process a small business undertakes to map out the transition and transfer of the management and ownership of a small business to an individual or group of individuals. This will involve a thorough assessment of the business, identification of the individual or group that will assume the continuation of the business and the “map” to successful complete the transfer.
What is Trust Administration
The process can be summarized into Six Basic steps:
1. Inventory and Marshall the Assets of the Estate;
2. Determine Liabilities and Creditors of the Estate;
3. Determine if there is an Estate Tax Liability;
4. Divions of the Trust Assets;
5. If there is estate tax, file FORM 706;
6. Set-up Sub-Trusts or Distribute to Beneficiaries.
While this seems straight forward there is a great deal of work in assembling the assets of the estate and other related items. Utilzing a trust and estate lawyer will be a great asset to you in the trust administration process.
How much can I give away each year without having to file a gift tax return?
For the years after 2009, you're allowed to give away up to $13,000.00 annually without having to file a Form 709 - gift tax return.
If you're married, you and your spouse can gift $13,000.00 each, for a totally of $26,000.00 to one individual. This is a great way to help adult children purchase their own home by helping with a down payment. Or it can also be a way to fund a college plan for grandchildren, nieces and nephews (you'll want to look into a 529 Plan when funding college for younger children).
How long does probate take in California?
Probate can take as little as nine months if everything goes like clockwork and there are no complications. However, for the average probate it's not unusual for it to take at least a year to get through the entire process. The process starts with a petition to the Court, the setting of the initial hearing, publication of the probate in a newspaper, notifiy creditors (creditors receive a minimum of four months to file claims), appraisals, filing of the estate inventory, notifications to various government entities, preparation and filing of final accounting and report and then, if there are no contest and everything goes well the Court Order can be issued.
What is Probate?
A court supervised process that oversees a taking of inventory for all your assets, establishing values for your assets, listing of your debts and taxes and making sure the creditors and government is paid first. Then the court supervises the distribution of the remaining assets to your heirs. It begins with a petition to the Probate Court, lodging your Will, if you have one, publishing your death in the newspaper, and appointing an executor or personal administrator to do the work involved in a probate and that's just the beginning. The probate process is open to the public and anyone can review the court file on a probate. Probate is an expensive and time consuming process. While a Revocable Living Trust does not eliminate all the costs associated to a handling a loved ones estate, it can significantly minimize the cost and put the control of the estate in the hands of the individual you chose.
Do I have to go through Probate?
No, if you have a fully funded Revocable Living Trust going to the Probate Court can be avoided.
What is a Trust?
There are many types of trusts, the most common is a Revocable Living Trust or sometimes referred to as a Living Trust. A Trust is simply an agreement that spells out the rules that must be followed regarding the property held in the trust for the named beneficiaries. By establishing a trust you vest the trustee's with the power to protect the estate from probate, reduce estate taxes and to a certain extent protect the property in the trust.
Do I need a Will if I have a Revocable Living Trust?
Yes, by having a Will in combination to a Revocable Living Trust you provide for any assets or tangible property to be governed by the trust in the event the trust is not named on the title for the property. Life happens and there are times property is acquired after you've put your estate plan in place. Because life happens it is a good idea to review your estate plan on a regular basis.
Is there a difference between a Will and a Living Will?
A Living Will is somewhat of a misnomer and is unrelated to a Last Will and Testament or Will. A better title would be Advance Health Care Directive. The Advance Health Care Directive is your pre-determined health care decisions and choices set out in writing directing your physician, family and friends on the extent of the medical treatment, including special treatment you want or do not want at the end of life.
Is it easy to start a business?
Yes, according to the IRS you simply need to have the intent to make a profit to be in business and this is normally done by being a sole proprietor. While it's easy to start a business it requires careful planning to be successful in business.
What is a sole proprietorship?
It is an unincorporated business owned by a single individual. They are easily formed and may be a good starting point; however, there are numerous disadvantages to operating a business as a sole proprietorship that should be understood before beginning a business.
What is a partnership?
It is an association of persons or an unincorporated business that is created by agreement, either an oral or written agreement, where the partners intend to make a profit. One of the major concerns of a partnership is that the partners are subject to unlimited liability for any legal actions or debt related incurred by the partnership. While there are different types of partners, a partnership is not necessarily a good place to begin when forming a business.
What is a good business entity?
There isn't an easy answer to this question simply because there are numerous variables to consider. Are you a professional seeking to start a practice in medical, law, accountancy or architecture? Business entities for these types of professions may be bettered served by one form, while if you have a high-tech product and you hope to sell the business at some future date or take the business public, then another form of business entity would be more suited to accomplishing this goal. Then there are real estate professionals who may find an LLC more advantageous. So when choosing a business entity it's important to review all of the advantages and disadvantages in light of your particular circumstances before making a final decision.