Ensuring the Creation of a Valid Trust

Posted August 15, 2011 in Estate Planning by Jennifer Mispagel.

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August 15, 2011
Ensuring the Creation of a Valid Trust
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Many Californians fail to realize that a valid trust is created only if there is trust property.  It is, therefore, very important to expressly transfer some piece of property, real or personal to the trust when making estate plans.

Whether property is part of the estate (to be administered by the probate court) or part of a valid trust (to be administered by the trustee) is reserved for the court.  While written declarations and general assignments may be effective in transferring property to the trust and avoiding probate, this is not a risk that should be taken.  A court must consider each case on its merits and this process typically ties family assets up in litigation, delays administration of the trust, and results in substantial attorney and court fees.  An estate plan, designed to ensure that family and financial goals are met, can suddenly become a nightmarish burden on grieving loved ones.

Consulting an experienced estate planning attorney when planning for the future will ensure a trust is properly funded and timely administered.  If you are interested in learning more about individual estate planning or creating a comprehensive plan so your family members are well-prepared to handle your estate, contact the San Jose estate planning attorneys at Lonich & Patton, LLP.  Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Controversial Custody Decision Sparks National Attention of Child Custody Issues

Posted August 12, 2011 in Family Law by Julia Lemon.

An Oregon woman, Trisha Conlon, fought to keep her two teenage sons out of the care and custody of their father, John Cushing, after learning he reconciled with his first wife, Kristine Cushing.  Already the makings of a classic soap opera, the story only gets more twisted.

In 1991, Kristine Cushing was married to John Cushing and they had two daughters who were 4 and 8.  One night while they slept, she shot and killed both daughters.  After pleading insanity due to the side effects of Prozac, Kristine was acquitted of all charges and spent the next decade in a mental institution undergoing psychiatric monitoring.  During that time, John Cushing met and married Trisha Conlon.  They had two children together: two boys who are currently thirteen and fourteen years old.

Following the deterioration of their marriage, Trisha and John divorced.  The two entered into a shared custody agreement where the elder son lived with Trisha during the school year, the younger son lived with John during the school year, and both sons split the holidays and vacations between each parent.  This arrangement worked until Trisha learned that John had reconciled with his first wife, Kristine, after her release.  Now, Trisha is fighting to have the court modify the original custody agreement based on the potential danger to her children.  The trial court denied her request, ruling that Kristine did not pose a threat to the children since the boys had spent time with her since 2008 without any problem.  Trisha is currently appealing.  Final child custody parenting plans may not be modified absent a material change of circumstances and may be difficult to revisit.  While the general public will likely view the current living arrangement as a material change, it is unclear how the court will rule.

The Certified Family Law Specialists*  at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex and heavily disputed child custody issues. If you are contemplating divorce or seeking to modify an existing child custody agreement, please contact the Certified Family Law Specialists* at Lonich & Patton, who can provide you with an in depth analysis of your issues.  Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

*Certified Family Law Specialist, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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Meet our Estate Planning Attorneys at the L&P booth at the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes

Posted August 10, 2011 in In the Community by Lonich and Patton.

Join Michael Lonich, Managing Partner, and Jennifer Mispagel, Associate Attorney, at the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes.  Michael and Jennifer will be hosting a booth and providing information on the services that Lonich & Patton offer.  The L&P booth will also be raffling off such prizes as a comprehensive estate plan prepared by the L&P Estate Planning Group; a tax management consultation with Chan CPA & Company, Inc.; and a fitness package from Mint Condition Fitness.

Chan CPA & Company, Inc. provides Silicon Valley high growth companies a broad range of accounting, taxation, financial, and business expertise. The group includes California-licensed CPA’s and attorneys from a broad spectrum of key functions and roles such as: CFO, marketing and business development, tax and financial accounting, and management consulting.

With an average of 25 years of experience, their staff comes from Big 4 and leading regional accounting firms and top tier universities.  Chan CPA & Company, Inc. has worked with start-up companies ranging from networking to software to e-commerce. Many of their client start-ups have been successfully sold to Fortune 500 companies.

The tax management consultation includes a one-hour tax planning consultation for 2011 with principal, 2011 tax projection, and related Estimated Vouchers/or W-4 calculator Projection and $300.00 credit for the 2012 Entity or Individual Tax Return.

For more information, please visit http://www.chancpa.com or email at clientservices@chancpa.com


Mint Condition Fitness is located in the Vasona Station Shopping Center in Los Gatos. Opened in 2010 by Colin Triplett (Class of 2004), their mission has been to help others to lose weight and feel great, using safe and sustainable solutions. They work hard to provide their clients with everything they need to achieve their goals, including fitness coaching, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle recommendations.

This fitness package allows you to get a taste of what we do by taking you through our trial membership. The following sessions are included: one health and fitness evaluation and two fitness coaching sessions.

For more information, please visit www.mintcondition-fitness.com or e-mail at info@mintcondition-fitness.com.

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Don’t Forget About Fido: Ensuring Your Estate Plan Provides For All Your Loved Ones

Posted August 8, 2011 in Estate Planning by Lonich and Patton.

For most people, estate plans are a second thought.  In a last ditch effort to put something down on paper, people often rush the process and overlook smaller, crucial details of the estate plan.  The big ticket items, such as indicating an heir to your property, are typically covered; but what about Fido?  What about all of your online banking and computer passwords?  It is important to start planning your estate early so that the oft-overlooked items are not left in the dust.

In the United States, the Humane Society estimates that about 400,000 pets/year must find new homes because their owners pass away.  Many people do not realize that the most effective way to ensure your pet receives proper care is to set up a formal trust.  Any other option relies on other people to honor your wishes and spend money to care for your pets.

Another area which people do not consider involves assisted reproductive technology.  Imagine that your husband passed away; but prior, he had his sperm frozen and transferred to you upon death.  You conceive a child with the frozen sperm.  How will the child factor into your estate plan?  This very scenario will be considered by the Utah Supreme Court.  The Social Security Administration denied children’s and mother’s insurance benefits to the mother and child and argued that her husband never intended to father the child and they should not, therefore, receive any benefits.  This case would not be where it is has the husband provided for this scenario in his estate plan.  With technology steadily changing how our families are created, it’s important that all these scenarios are addressed in estate planning.

Now is never too early to consult an experienced estate planning attorney.  If you are interested in learning more about individual estate planning or creating a comprehensive plan so your family members are well-prepared to handle your estate, contact the San Jose estate planning attorneys at Lonich & Patton, LLP.  Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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