The principal goal of estate planning is to smoothly and efficiently pass wealth from one generation to another with the least amount of tax and to achieve any philanthropic goals.
Dushkes Law Corporation has vast experience in sophisticated estate planning. We draft highly individualized wills and trusts, and are proud of the ways in which we tailor our advice to each client’s unique personal needs. We design estate plans that minimize income, estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes, and address financial and personal objectives such as asset protection, business succession, charitable gifting, non-citizen spouse planning, and caring for disabled family members. We work closely with our clients’ financial planners and other trust advisors to ensure a coordinated approach to our clients’ goals.
The documents we prepare run the gamut from trusts and wills to durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives. In addition, we often create or restructure corporations, limited liability companies or family limited partnerships in order to both provide a mechanism for business succession planning and minimize or even eliminate the impact of death taxes.
Probate and Trust Administration
When a person dies either intestate (without a will or trust) or leaves a will (but no trust), court-supervised proceeding may need to be instituted in order to pay the person’s creditors, pay any death taxes and then transfer the remaining estate to heirs or beneficiaries. This court proceeding is commonly known as “probate.” It can become complicated and is almost always lengthy and expensive.
On the other hand, when a person dies after having created a trust, probate is avoided and the payment of the person’s debts and taxes and the transfer of the trust assets to his or her designated beneficiaries is most often considerably less expensive and time-consuming as a probate. In addition, trust administration is private and not subject to public inspection as is every probate.
Dushkes Law Corporation has represented both executors/administrators in connection with court-supervised probates, and successor trustees in connection with post-death trust administration (including simple and complex trusts).
Will and Trust Contests
When differences of opinion arise over the administration of an estate or a trust, those differences may wind up in court. Typical issues range from undue influence and testamentary capacity, to the validity of documents, the choice of beneficiaries, financial elder abuse and accounting and financial questions.
Dushkes Law Corporation has successfully represented beneficiaries and heirs, as well as executors and trustees. Our clients trust us to effectively manage the strong emotions connected with will and trust contests, and to efficiently handle the litigation so as to be as cost-effective as reasonably possible under what are often trying circumstances.
Conservatorships and Guardianships
In California, the court-supervised administration of the persons and estates of minor are known as guardianships. If the person is 18 years of age or older, the proceedings are known as conservatorships.
Many times, the need for these proceedings is clear and all of the family members are in agreement. Other times, however, there can be serious disagreements over who is to serve as the guardian or conservator and even whether a guardianship or conservatorship is even necessary.
Additionally, once a guardian or conservator is appointed, the matter is closely supervised by the court, requiring regular accountings and petitions seeking special or additional authority to act on behalf of the ward or conservatee.
Dushkes Law Corporation has represented parties across the spectrum of guardianships and conservatorships; sometimes where all parties are in agreement and other times when serious disagreements arise. We recognize the need for discretion and counseling that many of the proceedings require.
Dushkes Law Corporation counsels small to medium-sized businesses on the formation, operation, merger, transfer and liquidation of corporations, partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability companies.
Our goal is to take the worry out of the legal aspects of operating a business so that our client can concentrate on what they do best – running a business.
The services provided by Dushkes Law Corporation in this field are concentrated in the area of breach of contracts. The type of contracts involved range from sales of goods and services, promissory notes and real property sales.
Effective litigation strategy begins with a thorough review of client objectives, measured against the risks and realities of modern-day business litigation before formulating a comprehensive strategy. We customize strategy in each case to maximize cost-effective results. We thoroughly prepare each case early, investigating and gathering all facts and documents (both favorable and unfavorable) at the outset so that we can present our clients’ cases with maximum credibility and confidence.
State and Local Tax Controversies
From California’s unitary tax system, to its steep sales and use tax rates, to the Byzantine rules developed to implement Proposition 13, California can be a veritable land mine for the unwary taxpayer. At Dushkes Law Corporation, we represent individuals and business who need to interpret or untangle all these statutes and regulations, so as to minimize the amount of tax paid.
We have extensive experience representing taxpayers before all of various the state and local administrative agencies that review appeals, including the Franchise Tax Board, the State Board of Equalization and county boards of equalization. We have also litigated numerous tax disputes in the state courts, from the Superior Court to the California Supreme Court.