Top Rated Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney for Wills & Living Trusts
At McKenzie Legal & Financial, we offer a variety of services that help you move forward with confidence. Our financial and estate planning services help make the most of your life’s work and increase your nest egg for retirement. Thomas L. McKenzie, a registered Financial Consultant and a trusted Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney, works across a broad range of areas to make sure your final wishes are carried out the way you want.
Los Angeles, the Sprawling City in Southern California
From its humble beginning, Los Angeles has grown to be one of the largest and most well-known cities in the world. The City of Angels has a diverse economy that spans a broad range of professional fields, cultural influencers, and impressive entertainment. It’s a hub for travel, where people visit every day to see some of the world’s most well-known sights. Los Angeles, to many, is a dream destination.
Los Angeles has demographics almost as diverse as its economy. Of the nearly four million people who call LA home, just over ten percent are over the retirement age; 20 percent are under 18; and 30 percent from 25 to 45.
Estate Planning in Los Angeles, CA
Meeting with an estate planning lawyer in Los Angeles isn’t just for those nearing the end of their lives. Young people are starting their lives and careers, married and unmarried couples joining their lives, those nearing retirement, and everyone in between.
Creating the proper estate plan allows you to determine how your financial legacy lives on. You get to choose who takes over your property, assets, minor children, and more. Your estate plan also helps minimize family conflict after you pass on while helping reduce taxes on your assets. A proper estate plan also helps prepare for your end of life care, retirement, and for situations where you may be incapacitated.
Without a legal estate plan, the placement of your assets, minor children, bank accounts, etc. will be determined by a probate court. This could result in arrangements counter to your wishes. You might also make it more difficult for your loved ones to move on after your death.
Our Estate & Financial Planning Services:
We can help you set up and modify trusts, wills, and more. More importantly, we can work with particular groups on their specific needs: the elderly, same-sex couples, veterans, and more. Here are some of the services that estate planning attorneys Los Angeles professionals can handle:
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust is an arrangement under which one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. Los Angeles trust attorneys are licensed professionals who can help by providing legal advice and preparing relevant documents. You can be the trustee of your own living trust, keeping full control over all property held in trust. A “living trust” (also called an “inter vivos” trust) is simply a trust you create while you’re alive, rather than one that is created at your death. In Los Angeles County, different kinds of living trusts can help you avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, or set up long-term property management.
Two Types of Living Trusts in California
Revocable Living Trust:
With a revocable living trust, you transfer all your assets into the ownership of the trust. You retain control of those assets as the trustee of your revocable living trust. You can change or revoke the trust at any time you want. The assets in the trust pass directly to your beneficiaries without going through probate upon your death. Many individuals and couples who establish a living trust, establish a “revocable” trust as the basis of their estate plan.
Irrevocable Living Trust:
An irrevocable trust allows you to permanently and irrevocably give away your assets during your lifetime. Usually, after you give away these assets, you have relinquished all control and interest in these assets. Due to that fact, these assets are no longer considered part of your estate and aren’t subject to estate taxes. Irrevocable trust may also provide certain asset protection benefits, since you no longer own the assets of the trust.
All living trusts are not the same. Unfortunately, it has been our experience after reviewing thousands of trusts drafted by our competitors, that most of the Living Trusts and other estate planning documents drafted today, are boilerplate documents, cranked out on a computer software program. As a result, many crucial provisions are often left out. For example, if someone become incompetent and require nursing home care, under California law, we can do much to protect their assets, as well as their home.
However, if that person is no longer competent to sign documents, then we must rely upon the plan they already have in place. If that plan does not adequately address long-term care asset protection issues, the individual or couple may lose thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars unnecessarily. If, on the other hand, the recipient of long-term care services had established his or her plan through our office, under current law we could protect their principal residence, and a substantial amount (or even all) of their liquid assets. It is, indeed, crucially important to make sure your documents are comprehensive enough to cover a multitude of issues, and flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances.
Other extraordinary provisions which, upon your option, may be included in our Estate Plans which are generally not found in typical estate planning documents drafted by other firms include, but are not limited to:
- Several alternate provisions to reduce or eliminate estate taxes on the passing of a spouse;
- Provisions to reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes on appreciated properties on the passing of a spouse;
- Provisions which assure that your trust may be amended or modified at any time, without a required court petition;
- Provisions which protect the inheritance of your minor beneficiaries;
- Provisions which protect the inheritance of your beneficiaries from possible losses due to divorce, lawsuits, etc.;
- Provisions which protect the inheritance of your beneficiaries from possible losses due to their own improvidence (e.g. drug use, gambling, incarceration);
- Provisions which assure that if you have a disabled beneficiary, or if you have one who becomes disabled in the future, his or her share is protected against loss due to complex public benefits laws; and
- Provisions which provide that any trust which survives you and becomes irrevocable, may still be updated and modified without having to spend thousands of dollars for a court order.
Our Los Angeles estate planning lawyer can help with comprehensive and flexible nature of the documentation. For the entire duration of Mr. McKenzie’s professional experience in California Law, not one of his clients who have established his comprehensive plan, has ever had to resort to a court to protect their assets, modify their documents, or otherwise accomplish any needed or beneficial objective.
WILLS OR LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
A Will or Last Will and Testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the Testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate, and provides for the distribution of his or her property at death.
The estates of those who pass away without a Will, will be required to go through the expensive and time-consuming probate process, unless the value of their probatable estate is less than $150,000. Because there is no Will or Trust, the beneficiaries of the estate will be those determined by the State of California under the law of Intestate Succession.
The estate of those who have established a Will as the basis of their plan (meaning, that they do not have a Living Trust), will also be subject to the probate process, as described above, however, the beneficiaries of the estate will be those persons and/or entities as set forth in the Will.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you’ll need what are known as “durable” powers of attorney, so that your agent can assist you without having to initiate an expensive court procedure (e.g. a conservatorship).The Durable Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents of your comprehensive estate plan, even for those who have a Living Trust, for although the Successor Trustee of your Living Trust can step in and manage your trust property in the event that you cannot do so yourself, there are many other issues which arise outside of the purview of your Living Trust.
ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
Generally, an Advance Health Care Directive is a document under which you give instructions about your own health care; you name someone else to make health care decisions for you, in the event that you cannot make them yourself; and you set forth your wishes regarding the administration of life support in the event that you are, for example, in a coma or persistent vegetative state. As with the other documents we have discussed, the Advance Health Care Directive is an extremely important component of your overall estate plan.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late. Meet Your Attorney Today.
While making plans revolving around the end of your life may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list, it’s something that you should make a priority. Tragedy can strike at any time, and you don’t want to be caught off guard. You may also be missing out on opportunities to make the most of your financial legacy.
Thomas L. McKenzie, Esq. is one of the top rated estate planning lawyers in Los Angeles, CA. He gives a personal guarantee to all his clients, that each and every Living Trust, Durable Power of Attorney and other estate planning document, is PERSONALLY drafted by him in accordance with your unique circumstances. He is one of the super lawyers that help clients avoid probate and reduce estate tax. Check out his Avvo lawyer profile for client reviews or our law firm profile for more information about our practice.
Please be advised that the information on this site is not meant to be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice on probate procedure, or for more information about creating or evaluating a Living Trust, please contact our Los Angeles law firm at (562) 594-4200. Schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with our top rated estate planning attorney.
McKenzie Legal & Financial – Thomas L. McKenzie, Esq.
Address: 2631 Copa De Oro Dr, Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Phone: (562) 594-4200