What is wealth management?

Estate planning lawyers and financial advisors work closely for their high-net-worth client facing financial challenges that did not exist 20 years ago. So who will help them handle their fiscal future?

Defining Wealth Management

Wealth management is a complex, professional service entailing a mix of financial and investment advice. It also includes accounting, estate planning, retirement, real estate, and law.

Cases of Wealth Management

A wealth manager or financial advisor Washington DC can count on uses an advanced level of technical expertise, experience and knowledge to assist high-net-worth clients. For example, estate planning for someone with $30 million would encounter issues with a Charitable Remainder Trust or a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust. A wealth manager will be familiar with the challenges faced by someone with a larger estate and can provide tax saving advice.

Additionally, someone with a net worth of $1 million would not be concerned about a Credit Shelter Trust and its federal mandates that apply to the 0.1 percent of the elite population.

Industry Overview

Though the history of wealth management goes back thousands of years, in today’s world the practice of transferring titles is handled by wealth managers that work at banking institutions such as like Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, Chase, Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

But they also secure positions at full-service investment companies like USAA, Edward Jones, Raymond James, and Charles Schwab. Within the last two decades, affluent clients have moved to Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas and private wealth managers have followed them.

Trends in Wealth Management

With the new Trump administration, the industry is expected to experience a lot of changes. Consider these five areas.

  1. Fiduciary Rules. Wealth managers will become fiduciaries if the Employee Retirement Income Social Security Act of 1974 is enacted. They will be morally and legally bound to meet a conflict-free standard.
  2. Global Policies. Compliance with global regulatory procedures may prove to be difficult, but nevertheless will be mandatory.
  3. Emerging Market of Millennials. Millennials account for eight percent of investable assets and overwhelmingly have a desire to use Internet technology instead of a human advisor.
  4. Offshore Banks. Foreign banks that act as tax havens will be required to address issues of tax evasion and compliance. Wealth managers will have to be more discerning regarding the locales of deposits and their product offerings.
  5. Fluctuating Market. Varying account levels and pricing will prompt more oversight of regulatory measures. New policies could adversely affect wealth managers’ profits.

Education and Training for Professionals

So what are the skills needed to become a wealth manager? A bachelor’s degree in finance, banking, accounting, or real estate is required. Some wealth managers have master’s degrees in law or business. Equally important in today’s competitive climate are exceptional client service and interpersonal skills.

Professional development

Some wealth managers take the General Securities Series 7 exam for registered representatives. This license allows them to procure business in a similar manner to a broker-dealer as well as trade stocks.

Certification

The Association of International Wealth Management is the governing body that handles the designation of Certified Wealth Manager and the Certified International Wealth Management diploma.

Investment Management Consultants Association administers the Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) certification. This nonprofit organization has 11,000 members with 1,184 CPWA designates.

The intricacy of today’s tax laws could jeopardize affluent families. For this reason it’s important to be educated about the maintenance, protection and growth of assets. An experienced wealth manager can offer the guidance needed to protect one’s legacy.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from CIC Wealth Management for their insight into wealth management.

revising will lawyer divorce

Revising Your Will After Divorce

Divorce in itself can be a tumultuous time, so it’s understandable that for many newly divorced people, revising their estate plan can be overlooked.  However, it’s absolutely critical that you do so, for multiple reasons.

  1. Your ex-spouse may be able to inherit assets

Your ex-spouse is most likely your main beneficiary on legal documents.  This includes your will; they’re most likely named as the administrator.  After your divorce, you may not want your ex-spouse to distribute your assets or inherit any.  You’ll want to revoke your will and execute a new one that aligns with your new plan.

  1. If you have children, your ex-spouse will automatically have custody.

This is especially important if you currently have full custody.  You’ll want to write the reasons why your ex-spouse shouldn’t have custody if you die, and attach the statement to your will for a judge to consider.

  1. Financial power of attorney and health care documents

In the event that you can’t make financial or medical decisions for yourself, your ex-spouse is most likely appointed as the advocate to make those decisions on your behalf.  You’ll want to designate someone else after your divorce.  This will not only ensure that you are protected, but your family as well, as a financial power of attorney can have broad powers, such as removing funds from your accounts or selling property.

  1. Take into consideration if your parents or family may have also designated your ex-spouse as any beneficiaries.

They will also want to update their estate plans should they no longer wish your ex-spouse to be the advocate for any of their legal needs.

You’ll want to work with an experienced Sacramento estate planning attorney to get everything in order after your divorce.  There are many legal documents that you may not have considered, so it’s best to consult an attorney about what needs to be done.

 

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

paid in full

“Paid in Full” and Accord and Satisfaction

Have you ever received a check in the mail with the notation “paid in full” or “payment in full?” Sometimes, if a check is not written “paid in full,” the business or person paying might send a letter with the check stating that the payment is for the full amount of the account or debt.

As a business litigation attorney Memphis, TN trusts with its important business matters, we’d like to warn you about the potential consequences of cashing checks with such notations, or which come along with correspondence indicating full payment. Under the laws of some states, if you cash a check marked “paid in full” or with other similar language, or if you cash a check sent with a letter stating that the payment was in full satisfaction of the debt, you might be prohibited from collecting any additional money, even if you are really owed more.

In breach of contract cases, a person who proves an “accord and satisfaction” is relieved of further liability to the creditor. To prove an accord and satisfaction, the person paying must prove that the amount owed to the creditor was disputed; that a check was sent which was clearly marked “paid in full,” or with other language establishing that the payment was in full satisfaction of the debt, or was sent with a letter saying that the payment was in full satisfaction of the debt; and, that the creditor cashed the check.

Here is an example of a breach of contract case where an accord and satisfaction defense was successful.

  • Creditor agreed to do certain grading and other work on Debtor’s property.
  • The parties orally agreed that Creditor would be paid $2,500 total, and the Creditor was paid $1,000 up front.
  • Creditor ended up performing additional work beyond the work to which the parties had agreed, but the parties never discussed what Creditor would be paid for the additional work.
  • After the job was complete, Creditor sent Debtor a bill for over $9,000.
  • Debtor told Creditor that he did not believe he owed more than the $1,500 he still owed for the total job cost of $2,500 as initially agreed.
  • Debtor sent Creditor a check for $1,500 with the notation “pd. in full.”
  • Creditor marked through the “pd. in full” notation on the check and cashed it.

The trial judge found in favor of Creditor, finding that Debtor was liable for breach of contract and had not proven accord and satisfaction.  But, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge, and held that the fact that Creditor had marked through the notation before cashing the check made no difference. The court stated that Creditor’s act of marking through the notation would have prevented an accord and satisfaction only if Creditor had notified Debtor of that fact beforehand and Debtor had agreed that he was willing to allow Creditor to cash the check and to still claim the balance owed.

One important point is that a debtor’s expression that the payment is in full and final satisfaction of the debt cannot be ambiguous. If this is not clear, then the accord and satisfaction defense will not be successful. It is also important to keep in mind that there may be state specific rules or statutes which can affect the analysis and end result of accord and satisfaction cases.  For example, in the state of Tennessee, if a creditor pays back the amount paid by the debtor within 90 days, the creditor can avoid an accord and satisfaction defense. Likewise, creditors are allowed in certain states to designate to whom exactly any check marked “paid in full” must be directed in order to be effective.

If you need help with any business litigation matter, contact the trusted a business litigation attorney.

Wiseman Bray PLLCThanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience in business formation and organization and litigation.

Pros and Cons of a Living Trust

A living trust, also referred to as a revocable trust, places your assets into a trust throughout your lifetime and then transferred to your heirs upon your death. It is a legal document just like a will, but it has several differences.

The Pros

Living trusts offer several benefits, so many estate owners are choosing them over wills. Here are a few upsides of living trusts:

  1. A living trust lets estate owners appoint a trustee to carry out their wishes upon their death or if they are no longer able to manage their financial or legal affairs while still alive.
  2. A living trust will not be vulnerable to estate taxes, lessening the tax burden on families.
  3. With a living trust, a trustee can take care of an estate owner’s assets if he or she becomes sick.
  4. A living trust offers the benefit of privacy. It doesn’t have to go through probate like a will, so details about assets won’t be open to the public. Families do not have to worry about the public having access to their sensitive information.
  5. The probate process can be avoided with a living trust. This means heirs don’t have to pay probate fees and can receive their assets a lot faster.
  6. A living trust can be favorable to individuals who own substantial assets, have complex finances or other unique personal circumstances.

The Cons

  1. Individuals who choose to establish a living trust have to be meticulous in transferring ownership of all their assets to the trust. An experienced estate attorney can help them do this in an efficient and timely manner.
  2. A living trust might not offer many benefits to individuals with no minor children, few assets and limited wealth.
  3. A living trust might not be needed for estate owners who live in states with uncomplicated probate processes, like as New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer

It is never too early to plan your estate. However, the planning process can involve many complications, so it’s important to hire a qualified estate planning attorney. He or she can ensure all legal requirements are met and that all the necessary information is included in your living trust. Schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ relies on soon to discuss your estate. Many estate planning lawyers offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose by speaking to one.

Hildebrand LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into living trusts and estate planning.

will lawyer Sacramento CA

Just Married? Here’s Why You Need To Write A Will

Getting married means starting your lives together as a partnership; and that partnership often comes with a lot of joint ventures, whether that be property, assets, or even raising your children together.  So, whether you have a will already or not, you’ll want to write/re-write one with your partnership in mind.

Here are a couple of things to think about:

Recognize what happens if one of you dies without a will

If you or your spouse do not write a will, the law has provisions to distribute your estate for you called “interstate succession.”  This creates a hierarchy of spouse and relatives to whom the property may go to.  In California, it also depends on whether the spouse who died had community property or separate property (or a combination).  Community property is generally what was acquired during the marriage while separate are assets brought in before the marriage.

Although rules vary state-by-state, in California, if it’s community property, and you had no kids, the living spouse will get all the property.  If it’s separate, the property will go to the surviving spouse in totality if there are no children, parents, siblings, or siblings.  If there is one child, it will be split between the surviving spouse and child, if there are no children, but the spouse’s parents are alive, then it’s also split in half by parent and surviving spouse.  The list goes on by hierarchy of relatives and the split for remaining spouse.

As you can see, you may want (or not want) your surviving spouse to split property with relatives even if it’s separate.  By creating a will, your wishes are understood and clarified through a legal document.

Recognize that you won’t be able have a say for who takes care of your children should you both pass.

The state will nominate a guardian for your child should you both die without a will.  While the state will attempt to appoint a correct guardian, it may not align with your views.  Creating a will ensures your child’s best interests are at heart and will be fulfilled should you pass.

Consider getting a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement

Much of these complications can be avoided with a pre-nup or post-nup, especially if you have large assets that you want distributed in a non-standard way.

Writing a will with your partner may not be the most romantic date, but it’s incredibly important.  Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA respects to help you navigate the complex laws of estate planning and wills.

Yee Law Group, PC

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick form, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

Will

Duties of an Executor or Administrator of a Will

Unfortunately, the death of a loved one sometimes comes as a shock. Many people are unprepared for such a change in their life. Even with a Will in place, the probate process and the responsibility of those who distribute the belongings can be chaotic and cause discourse within the family. This process can become more complicated if there is no Will in place to help the courts and family determine who will oversee the estate of the deceased, and who receives what in the event of a passing.

Executors

Typically when someone draws up a Will, they appoint a person they trust to oversee the distribution of their assets. These assets could include money, their home, the property within their home, life insurance policies, and etc. The person appointed to gather and distribute the estate is called an executor. Normally this person is someone trusted by the family, and that may be a skilled estate planning lawyer Arlington TX trusts instead of a relative.

Roles and duties: Following are some of the duties an executor:

  • Giving notice to each beneficiary named in the Will whose identity and location you or the courts know of
  • Giving notice to creditors and identifying debts
  • Performing an inventory of all assets of the person who died and submitting that inventory to the court
  • Managing and overseeing the assets of those that have passed
  • Paying the remaining taxes that the deceased owes
  • If the Will states the beneficiaries and what they are to receive then the executor must distribute all articles and property to the appropriate people
  • Closing the estate

The role of an executor is very important. It is a role of great responsibility that if mismanaged may result in court action. It is very important that an executor respects the devices in the Will and performs all duties stated by the deceased despite contract beliefs of the executor.

Who should be an executor? It is important that the person you entrust to oversee your assets is someone you know will be fair and respect your wishes to the fullest. Look for someone that you trust and if you have doubts you can always appoint an attorney to be your executor.

Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLCThanks to our friends and contributors from the Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into estate planning practice.

Estate Planning

What keeps you up at night? Security in Estate Planning

I have a husband, three kids, and two pets.  I love all of them and I want to do everything I can to keep them healthy and safe.  I buy organic food.  We drink filtered water.  We wear sunscreen.  We avoid BPA, the chemical used to make certain plastic products.  When purchasing personal care products, I try to choose ingredients and formulations that are not harmful to our health.  I’ve read up about clean beauty, and I try to avoid endocrine disruptors.  I look for non-toxic home cleaning products for my kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.  I avoid harmful pet products and I use lawn products that are safe for pets.

We keep a baseball bat by the door.  We have a watchdog.  We have a home alarm system. I have a taser.  And bear spray.  Earlier this year I attended a women only shooting event where we learned self-defense and how to safely use handguns and pepper spray.

All that said, the most important thing that I have done to keep my family safe is my estate plan.  Specifically, my incapacity plan.  Most people think that an estate plan is a bunch of legal documents that say what will happen to your stuff when you die.  This is true.  But to me, the most important part of the estate plan is where you say what will happen if you don’t die.  Imagine this, you and your husband are in a terrible car crash on date night.  You are both in a coma.  Your last will and testament says who gets your assets and who will raise your children if you both die.  But who takes care of them if you are alive, but in the hospital, incapable of making decisions?  And who is authorized to take control of your financial and medical decisions until you are able to do so yourself? There are three basic legal documents that typically make up the incapacity plan – the living will, the HIPAA Authorization, and the Power of Attorney.  If you are looking for the best Montana estate planning lawyer, you’ll want someone with experience. It may be in your best interest to contact an experienced Montana estate planning attorney to discuss the particulars of your specific situation.

The living will is a legal document that gives the person you select the authority to make life-sustaining and life–ending decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  The HIPAA Authorization gives your doctor or other health care provider the authority to disclose your medical information to the person you select.   Remember Terri Schiavo.  Terri’s husband argued that Terri would not have wanted prolonged artificial life support and elected to remove her feeding tube.  Terri’s parents argued in favor of continuing artificial nutrition and hydration.  The highly publicized and prolonged series of legal challenges presented by her parents caused a seven-year delay before Terri’s feeding tube was ultimately removed.  A HIPAA Authorization and a living will that clearly expresses your wishes could help you and your loved ones avoid a situation like the Schiavo case.

The Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document where you give someone else the authority to make financial decisions for you.  For example, you could give them the authority to pay your bills, manage your investments, file your tax returns, mortgage and sell your real estate, and address other financial matters that are described in the document.  Financial Powers of Attorney come in two forms: “Durable” and “Springing.”  A Durable Power of Attorney goes into effect as soon as it is signed, whereas a Springing Power of Attorney only goes into effect after your are determined to be mentally incapacitated.

The key to remember is that your incapacity plan must be in place before you are incapacitated.  So, don’t delay!  Before heading out on date night, protect your family and get these legal documents properly drafted and signed.  It is worth it.

Matrium Law Group PLLCThanks to our friend and blog author, Lili Panarella of Matrium Law Group PLLC for her insight into the estate planning practice.

estate planning lawyer sacramento ca

Estate Planning For New Parents

Just started a family or planning to have a child soon?  While there are most likely a lot of things on your mind, one of the last things on the list (if it’s even there!) is probably estate planning.  However, it is absolutely crucial to begin estate planning if you’re a new parent.  Here are the top items to consider and reasons why estate planning is critical:

Nominate a guardian for your children.

Perhaps the most important of all, with minor children, you’ll want to to carefully consider who you would like to take care of your children should anything happen to you or your partner.  If you won’t name a guardian, the courts will appoint one in your absence; while they will try their best at nominating the best one they see fit, their decisions may not align with yours.  

There are a variety of factors to consider, as this person, ultimately, would be the one to raise your children.  Would they be able to financially care for your child?  Are they in good health?  Are they supportive?  Will your kids have to relocate?  And, of course, you’ll need to have a conversation with that person if they would even want the role, as it is a huge responsibility.

Creating trust accounts for your children.

By determining how you want your assets allocated in your will, you may prevent your heir’s inheritance from being in a court-controlled locked account.  Like a guardian, you can nominate a trustee, who will manage the funds, and ensure the money goes to things you believe are important, such as education, health, etc.  You can also determine at what age your child will gain full control of the assets in the trust; you may want to allow them to have the lump sum at 30 rather than 18.

Set up a durable power of attorney for both financial and medical decisions.

Should you become incapacitated, a Durable Power of Attorney appoints a person of your choosing to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf.  These can be two different people as these are separate realms of responsibility.  If you have not set up a durable power of attorney, the court will appoint a guardian for you.

Estate planning may sound like a daunting task, but your loved ones and children will thank you for it.  Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can put your mind at ease and help you finalize your documents.  

Contact Yee Law Group if you’d like to begin your estate planning process, either by filling out a quick contact form here, or calling our office at 916-927-9001 for a free consultation.

ESTATE AND INHERITANCE TAXES

What Should I Know About Estate and Inheritance Taxes?

While the term inheritance tax and estate tax are often used in an interchangeable manner when referring to the collected tax after someone dies, these terms have very different meaning. Therefore, let’s look at the differences between inheritance tax and estate tax.

Estate Tax

An estate tax is a type of taxation on a deceased’s property after they pass away. It’s calculated based on the property’s net worth as it was valued during the deceased person’s lifetime. In some states, the estate may qualify for a state tax exemption for both non-residents and residents who owned that property prior to their passing. For example, these exceptions range between $340,000 and $675,000 in Hawaii and Delaware. In other states, it’s possible to have as much as a $1 million exemption. Check with a tax attorney or accountant to verify how an estate tax will be calculated for the property you own or will inherit.

Inheritance Tax

This is a type of death tax that is paid by the person who inherits the property. The estate tax is based on the value of the property that they inherit. The net value is payable after tax exemptions and deductions are applied.

Transfer of Property

In states where inheritance tax is collected from the surviving spouse, they may be exempted from paying taxes on property that they inherit. Check with a tax attorney to see if this applies in your case. In several states, when property is transferred to the deceased’s surviving children they are not subject to paying inheritance tax on those properties.

Your Responsibilities as the Executor

If you were named as the executor of an estate, either because you were appointed by the court or you were named as such in the will, you have certain legal responsibilities.

  • One of the first orders of business is to determine what assets the estate has at its disposal to pay any outstanding debts of the deceased.
  • It may be necessary to liquidate some or all of the estate’s assets in order to fulfill the debt obligations. Debts may also include funeral expenses.
  • After all debts have been paid and the probate process is complete, you will have to disburse the assets to the heirs named in the will. If one or more heirs are minors, in most cases they are not eligible to receive those assets until they become of age. In the interim, you will have to set up a trust to hold those assets on their behalf. A tax attorney or estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ trusts can assist you in this. He or she can also make sure that the trust is set up in such a way as to minimize the amount of taxes that the young heirs will have to pay once they come of age.

Tax inheritance rates vary from one state to another. The tax rate is also affected by the relationship of the heir to the deceased. In nearly every situation, settling an estate and making sure the required tax obligations are met is more easily handled with the help of an experienced accountant or estate planning attorney.

Hildebrand LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into estate planning practice.

Don’t Lose Your Savings to Long Term Care Costs

America is aging, and as we get older, more and more of us have health problems that require long term care.  Usually when we think of healthcare, we think of acute care meant to cure or treat a specific illness or ailment, like taking medicine, performing surgery, or receiving treatments over time.  By contrast, long term care is care over an indefinite duration for people who cannot take care of themselves due to physical ailments, such as a severe stroke, or mental ailments, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  Caretakers often provide custodial care – looking after the person – and help with basic activities of daily living such as eating, bathing and moving around the person’s living space.
Long term care can be provided in several settings:  in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or at home with home health aides.  The problem with all of these settings is that long term care is very expensive.  In New Jersey, nursing homes typically cost more than $10,000 per month.  Prices are cheaper is some other parts of the country, but still very expensive.  Likewise, assisted living facilities (which provide less intensive care than nursing homes) typically cost around $8,000 per month.  Licensed home health aides often cost more than $20 per hour, which can add up if a person needs full-time care every day.  (Family members can provide long term care, but that often takes a toll and becomes unsustainable over time.)
How do people pay for long term care?  If a nursing home costs $120,000 per year, even a family that has saved significant funds will quickly deplete their nest egg, leaving their spouse impoverished and heirs bereft.
Fortunately, the government will pay for nursing homes and other long term care through Medicaid.  Medicaid is a public benefit program, funded in part by the federal government and administered by each state, that provides healthcare to people.  Medicaid can pay for the full cost of nursing home care, after the person’s income is applied.  However, to qualify for Medicaid’s long term care benefit, you must meet strict eligibility requirements.  Applicants usually must have less than $2,000 in qualifying assets (called resources), must have limited income, and must meet stringent medical requirements.
There are opportunities for Medicaid applicants to preserve assets within their families while qualifying for Medicaid.  Those opportunities are complex – Medicaid has strict rules with which applicants must comply.  If a Medicaid applicant makes gifts within the five year look-back period before applying for Medicaid, the applicant is penalized for those gifts.  So applicants cannot simply give all their money away and then go on Medicaid.
However, there is room within Medicaid’s rules for Medicaid planning in order to preserve wealth and assets for family members that otherwise would have to be spent on long term care costs.  Medicaid planning may involve a trust, annuity, structured gift, exempt purchase, or other technique, with the goal to realize value from property that otherwise would be lost to care costs.
If you’re interested in Medicaid planning, you should speak with an elder law attorney familiar with Medicaid’s complex rules.  The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF), accredited by the American Bar Association, maintains a directory of Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA’s, certified by NELF) in every state.  The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) also maintains an attorney directory.
If you or a loved one may need long term care in the future, it is a wise idea to consult an elder law attorney for guidance on your options.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from FriedmanLaw for their insight into elder law, special needs and trusts and estates law.