Experienced Santa Cruz Lawyers Offer Advanced Estate Planning Strategies      

California attorneys design comprehensive plans to protect your wealth

Clients with high net worth estates and complex family situations frequently need to give extra attention to preservation and distribution of their assets. For these clients, our Santa Cruz estate planning attorneys at Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP offer advanced estate planning. You’ve worked too hard at building your wealth to miss any opportunities to secure your retirement and maximize your legacy. Whatever your particular needs entail, our California lawyers will draw on decades of experience to help you find the optimal solution.

What is advanced estate planning?

An estate plan is a legal strategy for protecting your wealth and providing a legacy for your heirs. If your estate is modest and your intentions are straightforward, a basic estate plan is probably sufficient. But if you have significant wealth, you need greater asset protection, which can require a multi-layered approach. In addition to a will and revocable living trust, you could benefit from a variety of irrevocable trusts designed to maximize estate tax savings, business succession planning, life insurance planning and other sophisticated estate tax planning techniques. With these added legal instruments, you can enjoy greater protection from liability, taxation and creditors. You can also tailor your giving to best serve your beneficiaries’ needs.

Who needs advanced estate planning?

You might be a candidate for advanced state planning if:               

  • You own a small to mid-sized business
  • Your assets are sufficient to trigger the federal estate tax (the current exemption level is $11.7 million, decreasing to approximately $5.85 million in 2026)
  • Your business exposes you to the risk of litigation
  • You are divorced and have children from your first marriage
  • You have beneficiaries with special needs or circumstances
  • You wish to establish a charitable legacy
  • You have health concerns that could escalate

Any one of these issues is enough to require a personalized plan. A combination of these concerns justifies the multi-faceted approach we call advanced estate planning.

Advanced estate planning techniques

Advanced estate planning involves complex legal tools and strategies. Foremost among these tools is a trust, a legal entity you create to hold the assets you place into it. Some trusts allow you to access the assets during your lifetime. After your passing, the trust can continue to exist for a generation, or the trust can transfer the remaining property to your beneficiaries without going through probate.

Common trusts include:

  • Qualified personal residence trust — This allows you to live in your home for a specified period, then transfer the home to beneficiaries while minimizing the gift tax of the transfer.
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trust — A GRAT is an irrevocable trust that allows you to establish an annuity for yourself, then minimize gift taxes for beneficiaries who eventually receive the remainder of the funds.
  • Generation Skipping Trust — A GST allows you to provide for your grandchildren.
  • Dynasty trust — This long-term trust passes wealth from generation to generation without incurring gift taxes, estate tax or generation-skipping transfer tax. 
  • Life insurance trusts — This irrevocable trust provides tax-free life insurance benefits to loved ones.
  • Special needs trust — With this trust, you can provide for a son or daughter with special needs without disqualifying them for federal assistance programs.
  • Spendthrift trust — You can create a spendthrift trust to provide support for a loved one who is not responsible with money.

Other strategies include:

  • Private family foundations — These foundations allow you to set and manage family philanthropic goals.
  • Family limited partnerships/LLCs — These entities allow business owners to share business interests and revenue with their children in a tax-friendly way.

We design and draft advanced estate plans meticulously to avoid any shortcomings that could lead to trust and estate litigation.

Contact a knowledgeable lawyer to schedule an advanced estate planning consultation

Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP in Santa Cruz provides advanced estate planning services for Californians. To speak to a qualified attorney, please call 831-515-3344 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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