The information contained on this website is not intended as a source of legal advice. You should not act upon or rely on information at this or any other website without the advice of competent counsel. Nothing provided by this website is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or an engagement for legal services. Neither forwarding a questionnaire nor sending an e-mail to this firm or to an attorney at this firm will create an attorney-client relationship. This website is intended for educational and informational purposes only. I am licensed in California and Colorado, and may offer my services only to those residing or doing business in California or Colorado, unless associated with local counsel.
Circular 230 Notice: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, the Law Firm of Allen T. Ratcliffe, Jr. informs you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this Website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed within.
Our approach is as follows:
1) Determine the client's objectives through active listening and ascertaining the emotional content of the message;
2) Present alternative solutions in a clear and comprehensible manner;
3) Facilitate the selection of an appropriate solution; and
4) Efficiently implement the agreed upon strategy.
We bring the same approach to basic estate and business matters, offering competitive prices when the legal, tax and personal issues can be dealt with in a straight forward manner. When dealing with complex matters involving tax, business and family dynamics our process is designed to utilize a team-oriented approach to meet our client's objectives efficiently.
We are pleased to offer you a half-hour complimentary and confidential consultation to discuss your specific situation and possible strategies and techniques to assist you.
3150 Crow Canyon Place, Suite 250
San Ramon, CA 94583 925-806-9008
© 2011 Law Firm of Allen T. Ratcliffe, Jr. All Rights Reserved.
Occasionally, a client’s situation is very simple and straight forward. For example, “I have a house, a bank account and an IRA; I want everything to go to my wife if she survives me and then to my kids. Keep it in trust for my kids until they are say, 30 (or give them, for example, 1/3 at 25, 1/3 at 30, and the balance at 35) with my sister as trustee, and then distribute everything to them. I would like my sister to be the guardian of any minor child.” People with this simple fact pattern may not appear to need the customization provided by a thorough estate planning process, and therefore may be tempted to go to an internet legal document production site and pay only $800-$1,000, or less, for seemingly the same package.
There are four problems with the bargain basement choice. First, how do you know that what you are getting is really suitable for you if all you do is fill out a form and receive “help” from a technical assistant? Second, no one with any legal expertise is available to explain the “business points” of your plan. Third, there is security in knowing that if a real issue arises, you have a law firm that you trust to assist you. Fourth, there may be issues that you are not aware of that should be addressed.
Companies via the internet are marketing massed produced estate planning documents which are prepared without legal supervision. In addition, because the estate tax exemption is so high, and many people have no estate tax exposure, attorneys who do not devote a substantial part of their practice to the estate planning area are preparing these documents. Individuals should be wary of estate planning documents drafted in this manner. Estate planning is a complex area of the law. Any individual or firm engaged in providing estate-planning techniques and services should have a solid understanding of estate and gift taxation and the suitability of the documents to your particular situation.
Typically our estate planning process is as follows:
An initial meeting of approximately an hour-and-a-half is necessary to discuss the client's specific situation and customize a plan. Many potential considerations are raised and the client determines which should be addressed, which should be explored in greater depth and which can be dismissed or dealt with another day. The documents are then prepared and mailed to the client for their review. At a second meeting the plan is explained and, if acceptable, executed. The documents are then packaged and delivered to the client for safekeeping. We prepare documents such as deeds and assignments to transfer assets to the trust ("funding the trust") and are available to assist the client in transferring bank accounts and securities to the trust and modifying beneficiary designations, if requested.
There are numerous issues that go beyond the typical basic estate plan. Estate tax reduction strategies, insurance trusts, incentive trusts, special needs trusts, asset protection, generation skipping trusts, special trustees for business, business succession, complex trustee arrangements, and income tax considerations are a few matters that fall under Advanced Estate Planning. In our basic estate planning process, these topics may be identified and briefly discussed, however, detailed discussion and design is addressed in subsequent meetings.