10 Steps for Developing and Implementing an Estate Plan, Part II

There is no ideal way to handle new estate planning engagements, and it’s important for an attorney to develop his or her own procedure. But there are common procedures taken by many experienced attorneys from which to learn. The first 5 steps in 10 Steps for Developing and Implementing an Estate Plan, Part I set the stage for an estate plan; these final steps take you through the process of putting the plan into place.  Continue reading

(Almost) Never Ask Why

One of the time-honored rules of cross-examination of a witness is “never ask why.” Asking “why” or “how can you say that” or “please explain” gives a witness the chance to launch into a poignant, self-righteous, or injured monologue. But sometimes you should break that rule. Continue reading

Pass the Pease, Please: A Modest Proposal to Help Out the “Fiscal Cliff” Negotiations

cliff_158409051Updated January 4, 2013: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 restores the original 3 percent phaseout of itemized deductions for income above $300,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $250,000 for single taxpayers. The Act also restores the 39.6 percent top rate for income above $450,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $400,000 for single taxpayers.

Most readers are aware that many provisions of the tax law “sunset” or expire at the end of 2012 if nothing happens before the end of the year.  One little-noticed provision could help both sides move beyond the current impasse. Continue reading

Whither Windsor: What to Do About the Estate Tax Marital Deduction While the Court Considers DOMA

hands_147261872Updated: The Supreme Court heard oral argument in Windsor v U.S. on March 27, 2013, with negative implications for domestic partners, as discussed in the April 2013 issue of CEB’s Estate Planning & California Probate Reporter.

The U. S. Supreme Court’s grant of review in Windsor v U.S. puts the marital deduction in doubt for same-sex surviving spouses but it doesn’t change the advice: for now, practitioners should keep filing estate tax returns claiming the marital deduction until someone tells them to stop. Continue reading

Return to Sender

The files you keep on your clients’ cases usually include documents (and sometimes other property) that your clients have given to you in connection with their cases. What happens to all this stuff when you’re no longer on the case? The answer: You’ve got to give it back. Continue reading

10-Steps for Developing and Implementing an Estate Plan, Part I

Every attorney has his or her own style and system for developing and implementing an estate plan, but that doesn’t mean there are no commonalities. In fact, there are certain considerations and practices that are common to the estate planning process for most attorneys. For those of you new to estate planning practice—and those who want to confirm they aren’t missing anything—here are the first five of the 10 steps of this common procedure for developing an estate plan and putting it into place (stay tuned next week for the next 5 steps!). Continue reading

Approach the Bench

When you want to object or argue an objection but you don’t want the jury to hear, you may want to ask the judge’s permission to approach the bench. But beware: the judge may not like it and the jury could get annoyed. Continue reading

Should You Go Solo?

Before taking the plunge and opening your own law practice, there are some initial considerations you should ponder. Your success may depend on your personality, resources, and ability to get up to speed fast.   Continue reading

Standing by Your (Wo)Man

It’s one of those legal concepts that is imbedded in popular culture: the privilege not to testify against one’s spouse. Let’s go a bit deeper than the privilege’s depiction in movies and TV and consider the scope and limitations on the marital privilege under California law. Continue reading