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Irvine, CA Estate Planning Blog

Friday, June 14, 2019

3 Asset Protection Tips You Can Use Now


A common misconception is that only wealthy families and people in high risk professions need to put together an asset protection plan.  But in reality, anyone can be sued.  A car accident, foreclosure, unpaid medical bills, or an injured tenant can result in a monetary judgment that will decimate your finances.  Below are three tips that you can use right now to protect your assets from creditors, predators and lawsuits.

What Exactly is Asset Protection Planning?

Before getting to the tips, you need to understand what asset protection planning is all about.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Selling Your Business

The majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. To understand the impact that small business has, consider the fact that small business generates nearly 60% of all new jobs within the United States. Amazon, Walmart, and other big companies often stand out with their massive revenues and employment numbers, but at the end of the day, the primary drivers behind the economy are small business.

If you have a family business or personal business that you’ve built up, you are likely one of these economic drivers. For many families and individuals, the business becomes an identity. Family businesses in particular are susceptible to acting as an identity for that family. Thus, for many small business owners planning for retirement, the question of what to do with the small business is a major stressor. For a family business, the transfer of control and ownership from one generation to the next can be incredibly complicated and strenuous. If it’s not a family business, then the question is primarily how to effectuate the sale and estate planning repercussions. The following sections will give an overview of general considerations for family-owned businesses and then general concerns relating to the sale of a business.


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Monday, May 13, 2019

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees


Today, it is impossible to put together even a simple estate plan without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Why? Because estate planning laws vary greatly from state to state and these laws are extremely convoluted and constantly changing.  

One wrong word, one missing signature, or one procedure not followed to the letter of the law can partially or completely invalidate a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust, Advance Health Care Directive, , or Durable Power of Attorney.  

Though attorney fees may feel expensive, they’re actually not when viewed in light of the service and protections provided.  In fact, estate planning fees are best viewed as an investment, not an expense.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Preventing Will Contests

So, you have a will, but is it valid?  A will can be contested for a multitude of reasons after it is presented to a probate court.  It is in your best interest to have an attorney draft the will to prevent any ambiguity in the provisions of the document that others could dispute later. 

A will may be targeted on grounds of fraud, mental incapacity, validity, duress, or undue influence.  These objections can draw out the probate process and make it very time consuming and expensive.  More importantly, an attorney can help ensure that your property is put into the right hands, rather than distributed to unfamiliar people or organizations that you did not intend to provide for. 


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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Six "Must Haves" for Nursing Home Contracts

The decision to place a family member into a nursing home is a dilemma for an ever-increasing number of Americans. In addition to the emotional difficulties inherent in making such a decision, if a family decides to place a member into a nursing home, there is a mountain of paperwork awaiting them. While nursing homes will often argue that their contacts are standard and cannot be changed, this is rarely the case. To ensure that your contract doesn’t have any hidden or illegal clauses, it’s essential to consult with an experienced elder law attorney before you sign it.

When you receive the nursing home contract, make sure to actually read the contract in detail to understand the provisions. Make sure that the following provisions are included:


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Friday, April 12, 2019

Why Does Probate Take So Long?

Probate can be easily avoided, but most estates are dragged through the process.  Why?  Many people fail to create an estate plan, so probate is required.  And - others plan with just a Will, so probate is required.  As a result, assets end up at the mercy of a probate judge, open to public scrutiny, and delayed passing to beneficiaries.


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Friday, April 12, 2019

What is the Medicaid Lookback Period?

Medicaid is a healthcare program jointly operated by the individual states and the federal government. Medicaid is designed to help individuals with limited income and resources pay for healthcare costs including nursing home care, assisted living, or in-home care. However, qualifying for Medicaid can be difficult. While eligibility is state-dependent, there are generally four key requirements: (1) you must be 65 years of age or older, permanently disabled, or otherwise qualify depending on your specific state’s class requirements, (2) you must be a resident of the state in which you are applying, and either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien, (3) your income must be within your state’s income limitations, and (4) your assets must be within your state’s asset limitations.

To help individuals qualify for much-needed Medicaid coverage, multiple strategies exist to reduce one’s income and assets to the state threshold without adversely affecting the individual’s life. These include gifting assets to family and friends, transferring assets to a spouse, and investing in exempt assets (exempt assets are assets that do not count as “assets” for Medicaid purposes – most states allow certain home values to be exempt).


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Monday, April 1, 2019

The Effects of Gifts on Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is a healthcare program designed to help individuals with limited income and assets afford needed medical care. Importantly, Medicaid covers long-term healthcare services such as nursing home costs and costs for at-home personal healthcare. Because Medicaid is intended to benefit those with limited income and assets, there are strict eligibility requirements based on income and assets. Although Medicaid is a federal creation, it is jointly operated by the federal and state governments. As a result, the specific income and asset eligibility requirements for each state are different and you should consult with a Medicaid planning attorney in your area for specific eligibility advice.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Reverse Mortgages and Older Americans

Perhaps you’ve seen the catchy commercials for a reverse mortgage stating that many older Americans are struggling to get by because they currently do not have enough in savings and retirement funds to manage their expenses, but yet many have equity in their homes. To solve the financial difficulties, the commercial recommends using a reverse mortgage to access that equity.

Suppose you’re one of the many individuals such commercials are targeting. You’re struggling financially but have significant equity in your home – perhaps you paid off your mortgage ten years ago. How exactly does a reverse mortgage help you?

At a basic level, a reverse mortgage is a loan from a bank secured by your house – just like a regular mortgage. The primary difference is that for a reverse mortgage, you receive a lump sum payment or continuous payments from the bank and do not make payments on the principal balance. Whereas in a regular mortgage you take out a loan and then make monthly payments, a reverse mortgage doesn’t require any payments to be made until a specified event occurs, such as your death, the sale of the property, or another event identified in the loan agreement.


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Friday, March 15, 2019

Preventing Falls in the Home

Unfortunately, as we get older, falls become more serious as they can result in health complications such as fractured arms or hips, internal bleeding, and head trauma. To minimize your risk of falling while at home, consider taking the following steps.

Add assistive devices

 Assistive devices can be installed throughout your residence to provide for better support in day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

  • A handrail for the stairs provides extra support when going up and down the stairs
  • Handrails in the shower and bathtub provide support in an area that is notoriously easy to slip and fall
  • A seat in the shower or bathtub reduces your time standing and helps to reduce the risk of slipping and falling
  • A handheld showerhead can be combined with a shower seat to allow you to bathe while sitting down, significantly reducing your time standing in the shower or tub

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Legal Issues of Caring for Parents with Dementia

Ever increasing life expectancies mean we get to spend more time with our loved ones, but it also means facing greater health problems as we age. One of the most challenging health issues for aging adults is dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather describes a group of symptoms that are associated with a decline in memory and cognitive function. In severe cases, those suffering from dementia may not remember their family members, or who they are, and may generally not be able to continue to live independently. As a result, many families take on a caregiver role for parents who suffer dementia. The following legal issues should be considered by families when caring for parents with dementia at any stage:


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Law Offices Of Michael J. Wittick, A Professional Law Corporation is located in Irvine, CA and serves clients with estate and wealth preservation matters throughout Irvine, Lake Forest, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Foothill Ranch, Tustin, Aliso Viejo and the surrounding areas.



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