Practice Areas

My practice is now limited to estate planning and small business formation. I have specialized in those fields of law since 1974. For more information, please click on the buttons below.

Living Trust

A trust is an arrangement under which one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. A living trust is a trust that becomes effective when the trust maker is still living, (as opposed to a testamentary trust, which does not take effect until after death.) You can be the trustee of your own living trust, keeping full control over all property held in trust. Living trusts enable your estate to avoid probate. With special drafting, living trusts can also reduce estate taxes, or set up long-term management of the property in your trust.
The principal advantage to your estate when you establish a living trust is that your property, when left to your beneficiaries through the trust, does not need to be subjected to a long, expensive proceeding in the probate court. Probate is the court-supervised process of paying your remaining debts and distributing your property to your beneficiaries. Probate can continue on for many months or even years before your beneficiaries get anything. When the proceeding is finally completed, there is less for them to inherit, because lawyer fees and court costs will have taken some of the estate. Is it inconvenient to hold property in a living trust? No. Setting up a living trust does require some initial documentation, but that is mostly done by the drafting attorney, and there is little for you to do after that other than to keep in mind that your titled assets should be held in the name of your trust.
A simple probate-avoidance living trust has no effect on taxes. More sophisticated living trusts, which are designed for larger estates, can significantly reduce the federal estate tax bill.
Generally, no. A creditor who wins a lawsuit against you can go after your trust property just as if the property were held directly in your name. After your death, all property you own at the time of death -- including assets held in a living trust -- is subject to your lawful debts. For example, if your house is held in trust and passes to your beneficiaries at your death, a creditor could demand that your beneficiaries pay the debt, up to the value of the house. Ownership of real estate is always a matter of public record, so creditors can always find out who inherits real estate. It can be more difficult for creditors to know who inherits other property, however (because a trust document, unlike a will, is not a matter of public record), and they may not bother to track it down. Also, there is a procedure in California for protecting the assets in your trust estate from your creditors if they do not assert their claims within a certain time after your death.
A well-drafted estate plan includes, (in addition to the trust declaration,) a certificate of trust, a pour-over will, a durable power of attorney for assets, an advance health care directive, and certain documents necessary to transfer assets to the trust. A legal professional should also provide assistance with your designation of beneficiaries for pay-on-death assets. If I should have the opportunity to draft a full estate plan for you, I will include all these features.

Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is a special type of living trust. Like a standard living trust, an irrevocable trust also avoids the probate of its maker’s estate, but it differs from a standard living trust in several respects. Its primary functional difference is irrevocability. Once it is set up, an irrevocable trust cannot be amended by its creator or creators. That rather strict feature of the irrevocable trust (irrevocability) can be mitigated by the use of a device I will explain to you, if you elect to have me prepare one for for you. One of the reasons for setting up an irrevocable trust is to enable the trust’s creator to qualify for Medi-Cal.

Small Business Formation

For 44 years, I have assisted clients in the central valley in forming general partnerships, limited partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies.

S Corporations get their name from a certain section of the Internal Revenue Code. A corporation can eliminate the disadvantage of double taxation of corporate income and shareholder dividends by applying for S Corporation status. Owners report profit and loss on their individual tax returns. They still have the opportunity to separate and protect their personal assets from judgments against the business.
There are several advantages of having an S corporation: limited liability for directors, officers, shareholders, and employees; owners can report their share of profit and loss on their individual tax returns; attract investors through the sale of shares; and perpetual existence, even if an owner should leave the business.
The IRS refers to general corporations as "C" Corporations. Forming a C Corporation allows a business owner to create a separate legal structure that can shield his or her personal assets from judgments against the business. Unless a corporation applies for S Corporation status, the IRS taxes corporate profits as well as dividends paid to shareholders. Many tax professionals refer to this scenario as "double taxation."
This tried-and-true business structure has many advantages, including: limited liability for directors, officers, shareholders, and employees; attract investors through the sale of shares of stock; can issue more than one type of stock (example: common and preferred classes); no limit to number of shareholders, who need not be U.S. citizens or residents; perpetual existence, even if an owner leaves the business; can deduct ordinary business expenses as well as benefits to employees; can split profit and loss between owners and the business for a possible lower overall tax rate.
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) combines the tax flexibility of a partnership with the personal liability protection of a corporation. LLC owners report their share of business profit and loss on their personal tax returns, similar to tax reporting for a general partnership. Forming an LLC can help you separate yourself from your business, protecting your personal assets in the event of a judgment against the company.
This business structure has many advantages, including: owners have limited liability for business debts and obligations; owners can report their share of profit and loss on their individual tax returns without filing a separate corporate tax return; owners do not need to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents; LLCs are not required to hold annual meetings or record meeting minutes (although I recommend it); LLCs can be owned either by individuals or other companies.
Educational, scientific, religious, and charitable organizations typically form non-profit corporations to provide limited liability for the people involved in their management. Incorporating your nonprofit association can help you to establish the legal protection that separates your personal savings and possessions from the activities of the corporation. Though other types of nonprofit organizations exist, most of my clients seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). I can assist you in filing a tax exemption application with the IRS.
A corporation that is able to qualify as a public charity under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) is eligible for federal exemption from payment of corporate income tax. Once exempt from this tax, the nonprofit will usually be exempt from similar state and local taxes. If an organization has obtained 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, an individual's or company’s charitable contributions to this entity are tax-deductible.