If you enjoy the outdoors, Santa Cruz County has a lot to offer. From the beaches and hiking trails to the forests and mountains, it’s no wonder so many Californians call this scenic county home. If you and your family have made your home in Santa Cruz County, you may be wondering how best to protect the legacy you’ve built. It starts with having the right Santa Cruz trust and estate planning attorney.
That’s where Loew Law Group, PLC, comes in. We help residents of Santa Cruz County accomplish their goals and safeguard what matters most.
Estate Planning and Beyond in Santa Cruz County
Who will inherit your property after you die? How will your final expenses be paid? Who will make sure these matters are handled responsibly? These and related questions are handled by your estate planning documents, often including a last will and testament and a revocable living trust. These important legal documents determine what happens with your assets when you pass away. Your estate planning attorney will discuss your property and debts, among other things, and devise a customized solution for you.
A revocable living trust is especially important for addressing real property and other complex assets, and to ensure that your assets pass exactly the way you want them to upon your death. Contrary to popular belief, trusts can help almost anyone, not just higher-income earning clients. Trusts are commonly used to minimize estate taxes and help your estate avoid the complex and expensive probate process. A trust can also ensure that minors or other vulnerable beneficiaries may receive a share of your assets in trust, rather than outright, to protect those assets from creditors and to ensure that the assets are used for the benefit of those beneficiaries.
Executing a trust may be a great way to begin your estate planning. But what happens if you’re suddenly hospitalized and can’t make decisions for yourself? Suppose you own a business and have employees to pay. Or you simply don’t know who would take care of your mortgage and bills each month. Another consideration is who will make your healthcare decisions if you lack the ability to do so. Fortunately, there are a number of legal instruments that people can use to designate someone else to handle such personal, financial, and medical matters. Talk to a knowledgeable attorney about executing a durable power of attorney, advance health care directive, or a business succession plan.
Civil Litigation Attorney
Our firm works hard to carefully draft and execute estate planning documents. But some wills and trusts end up fought over in court, and even the best estate plan can be challenged by an aggrieved heir or overlooked beneficiary.
On the other hand, you or a loved one may have been wronged by an estate plan and you may need a skilled civil litigator to fight it and restore your rightful inheritance. Lawsuits arise over wills, trusts, and other estate documents more frequently than you might think. Some of the allegations we’ve seen involve claims such as:
- Undue influence used to manipulate an elder to change his or her will or trust
- The mismanagement or misuse of an elder’s trust, estate or other assets
- Breaches of a trustee’s fiduciary duties
- Wrongfully being excluded as an heir
We represent both plaintiffs and defendants (generally referred to as petitioners and respondents in Probate Court) in these and other civil litigation matters. Hiring an attorney should help reduce the stress and expense of a lawsuit, so we also explore out of court solutions such as mediation or settlement — which can often resolve the issues without the need for a trial. When you hire us to represent you, we investigate the claims involved and then get to work. If you’re dealing with a legal challenge to a will or trust, or you wish to initiate your own challenge to protect your rights, talk to us.
Administering a Trust and Estate Planning in Santa Cruz
If you’ve been named a trustee, what should your next step be? This important responsibility demands more than simply understanding the trust. You will be confronted with demands from a variety of parties such as beneficiaries and creditors. And you will need to know the complex trust administration rules that come with the territory.
Trustees are considered fiduciaries under California law. Basically, that means they owe the highest ethical obligation in executing their duties. We work with trustees to help them understand and carry out their responsibilities under the California Probate Code. Some of those obligations include obtaining property appraisals, preparing a trust accounting, and taking inventory of the trust assets. Let our firm help you complete the trust administration efficiently and professionally.
Putting an End to Elder Abuse
As America’s aging population grows, elder abuse becomes an increasing problem. Elder abuse is typically financial in nature and takes the form of identity theft, telemarketing scams, internet and email fraud, and other schemes that cheat the elderly. Tragically, we most often see unscrupulous family members, close friends, or caregivers trying to take advantage of an elderly and vulnerable adult.
We don’t tolerate elder abuse, and we can use the courts to put an end to it. If you have concerns that someone you love is being victimized, reach out to us.
Probate is a lengthy and expensive court process that many estates require in order to be settled. Although we try to design estate plans that avoid probate for our estate planning clients, other clients often come to us with estates that require a probate. Our attorneys can help with probate, whether you’re named as an executor, administrator, or personal representative. We’ll be with you each step of the way, from proving the will to closing the estate.
Contact Our Santa Cruz County Probate, Trust and Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation Attorneys
We are a comprehensive estate planning, trust, and probate law firm, so we handle everything from estate planning to trust, probate, and civil litigation. If you have a question or concern about a will, trust, or similar legal matters, you can count on Loew Law Group, PLC. Call us today to learn more and to schedule a confidential consultation.