Estate Planning & Probate Law

Understanding the Estate Planning Process

Estate Planning refers to the development of a plan that directs how a person’s property will be distributed upon death and how related personal matters are to be handled. Related personal matters include child custody, incapacity, and individual medical care. Depending on the size of the estate, tax planning should also be part of the estate planning process.

Importance of an Estate Plan

Everyone should have an estate plan regardless of the size of their estate because when a person dies intestate (without a plan) they lose control of how their property will be distributed. More importantly, if a minor child is involved, the Court rather than the parents will determine the child’s guardian. Further, the probate process is expensive. Probate administration with attorney fees, court costs and other expenses can total 5% or more of a person’s estate. (Attorney fees are specified by the Probate Code and based on a percentage of the gross value of a person’s estate.)

Ensure the Success of Your Estate Plan

A comprehensive approach is essential for an estate plan to be successful and achieve its intended goals. A comprehensive plan will address not only property transfer issues and personal matters, but also potential tax implications, property management structure, business succession concerns and any identified family issues. For most people a basic estate plan is all that is necessary to provide for dependents and the disposition of assets. A basic plan includes: (1) a Revocable Living Trust; (2) the transfer of the primary residence into the trust; (3) a Pour over Will; (4) a Durable Power of Attorney; and (5) an Advanced Healthcare Directive.

Estate planning services include advising and counseling clients on:

  • Wills
  • Irrevocable trusts
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Revocable living trusts
  • Generation skipping trusts
  • Healthcare directives

Advanced Estate Planning for Larger Estates

For those individuals with larger estates, more sophisticated estate planning techniques should be considered. In addition to the basic plan discussed above, a more sophisticated plan often includes one or more of the following techniques: (1) a charitable trust; (2) a qualified personal residence trust; (3) grantor retained interest trust; (4) dynasty trust; (5) a conservation easement; or (6) entity formation. Estate planning for larger estates should be done in the context of an overall wealth management plan. In the case of a family business, farm or ranch an estate plan should also address business management and business succession issues.

Advanced estate planning services include advising and counseling clients on:

  • Family Limited Partnerships (FLP)
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)
  • Professional Corporations (PC)
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companys (LLC)
  • Corporations (including S and C corps)
  • Professional Associations (PA)
  • Joint Ventures (JV)

Dedicated to Serving the Needs of Your Family

Attorney Anthony Van Ruiten is dedicated to helping you and your family prepare for the future. He understands the needs of individuals as well as those of northern California farmers, ranchers and business owners. His concern for family and comprehensive approach sets him apart from other attorneys. His counsel is intended to compliment the advice a family may already be receiving from an accountant or other financial advisor. If a family or business is not already working with a team of advisors, Anthony is happy to recommend an experienced accountant or other professional. With his business background and legal expertise, Anthony is able to offer clients a unique service that results in an estate plan tailored to meet the individual needs of each client.

Probate and Trust Administration & Litigation

Attorney Anthony Van Ruiten also assists clients with probate matters, trust administration, and trust litigation. Anthony is committed to helping his clients through each step of the estate planning and probate process.