Category: Estate Planning

What to Know About Buying Rental Property Outside of California

Real estate investment can be a great way to grow wealth and even provide a steady stream of passive income. However, as every Californian knows, real estate prices in the state are often prohibitively expensive, leaving many people with few options. As a result, it is often necessary to look outside the state for more affordable opportunities.

For those who are drawn to the idea of buying rental property outside of California, here are a few critical points to consider.

1. Know the Market

Real estate values vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, even street to street. Most of us understand this intuitively regarding the area where we live, but it can be easy to lose sight of this fact when searching for property in another city. Without local knowledge, it’s easy to get lured in by a “great deal” that turns out not to be so great. Alternatively, there may be a part of town where real estate prices will likely  skyrocket in a few years, but you wouldn’t know about it.

If possible, it’s better to buy property in an area that you are already familiar with. If not, it’s a good idea to get to know the place and try to be physically present as much as you can throughout the process.

2. Find a Good Agent

Having a real estate agent you can trust is always important, but it is doubly so for people buying an out-of-state investment property. Tying in to the point above, a good real estate agent can be an invaluable source of knowledge about the local market. They can guide you toward great opportunities and steer you away from a money pit.  The wrong agent, or even just an indifferent one, may prioritize closing the sale over looking out for your best interests.

What’s more, your relationship with a real estate agent can be a great start to building a local network of connections. From inspectors to contractors to property managers, you’ll need a lot of help to make your rental property a success, and a good real estate agent can put you on the right path.

3. Property Managers Can Be a Big Help

It will be tough to administer an out-of-state rental property on your own. For starters, someone has to be on hand to show the property, collect rent, inspect the property for damage, etc. If maintenance issues crop up, they must be dealt with promptly, which may be challenging to orchestrate from another state. Also, you’ll need to be familiar with state and local laws regarding leases, evictions, and more.

Hiring a local property manager simplifies all of this. For a fee, often a percentage of the monthly rent, property managers will find renters, oversee the signing of the lease, collect rent, send maintenance workers, and take care of other problems as they arise.

4. Tax Implications

Owning an out-of-state rental property can be a great investment, but it will complicate your annual tax return. If nothing else, you will almost certainly have to file a return in the state where the property is located. 

You’ll want to take advantage of deductions for depreciation and other associated costs, such as fees paid to a property manager. If you operated at a net loss for the year, you may or may not be able to deduct that loss from your other earnings (like salary). To navigate all of this without incurring the wrath of the IRS, you should strongly consider hiring a tax professional.

Talk to a Real Estate Specialist

If you are considering purchasing a rental property, whether it’s in California or elsewhere, our team of experienced real estate attorneys can provide the expertise and assistance to make the process go smoothly. From minimizing tax exposure to reviewing contracts, we’ll be at your side every step of the way. 

Contact our office today to start putting your investment plan into action.

How to Set Up a Trust

How to set up a trust

A trust is one of the most effective tools for creating a successful financial plan. They can reduce the overall tax burden, provide for your loved ones, and give you some control to ensure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. However, trusts are also complicated legal arrangements that can be confusing, leaving some people wondering where to start.

Here we’ll review the basics and best practices of setting up a trust. We should say at the outset that we do not recommend attempting to create a trust on your own and strongly advise you to consult with an attorney to ensure your trust meets all legal requirements.

Trust Basics

A trust is a legal arrangement whereby one person holds property for the benefit of another. What does that mean? It’s easier to understand by thinking of the three principal parties to a trust: the settlor, the trustee, and the beneficiary.

The settlor (also called a grantor or trustor) is the person who creates the trust. They provide the property which will fund the trust, decide who will benefit from the arrangement, and define the rules by which the trust operates.

The beneficiary is the person who benefits from the arrangement. Put another way, the beneficiary is the person (or persons) whom the settlor wishes to help by creating the trust.

The trustee is the person who is responsible for managing the trust property and ensuring the terms of the trust are carried out.

Here’s an example: A single parent who owns an apartment building has a will that states that if they die before their child reaches age 25, the title to the apartment building will be transferred to a trust to be managed by their attorney. Any income generated by the building will be used to pay for the child’s care until they are 18, and then the child will receive monthly cash payments from the income until they are 25, at which point they take full ownership of the building. In the meantime, the attorney is responsible for maintaining the building, paying property taxes, etc., and is entitled to compensation for their efforts. In this scenario, the parent is the settlor, the child is the beneficiary, and the attorney is the trustee.

Setting Up the Trust

If you’re interested in creating a trust, follow these basic steps.

1. Define Your Goals

Trusts are a versatile tool that can be used for many purposes. You may wish to establish a charitable legacy, provide care for family members, or reduce the tax burden on your estate. Knowing your goals will help you make the best decisions for your trust.

2. Identify the Assets You Will Place in the Trust

Knowing your goals, consider the property at your disposal and how it can be used to fund the trust.

3. Identify Your Beneficiaries

Be clear on who you want to benefit from your trust. It can be anyone, from your spouse or children to a charitable foundation.

4. Decide Your Trustee

This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. A trustee can be a family member, an attorney, or even an institution such as a bank. It should be someone you trust, but the trustee should also be someone who can handle financial matters, such as paying taxes and investing money. It is common for the attorney who drafted the trust documents to serve as trustee, but additional safeguards should be in place to ensure the attorney has not abused their position for their own gain.

5. Have an Attorney Draft the Documents

Trusts shouldn’t be handled on a DIY basis, as many rules must be followed. If done improperly, the result may be that your wishes are not followed after you pass away. Meet with a lawyer with experience in trusts, tell them what you want, and they should be capable of creating the necessary documents.  

Getting Started

If you know what you want or need help exploring your options for creating a trust, the next step is to meet with an attorney. Our estate-planning experts have years of experience drafting trusts, wills, and other legal instruments that will accomplish your goals and survive legal scrutiny if challenged.

To schedule your initial consultation, contact our office today.

Wills vs. Trusts: What’s the Difference?

wills vs trusts

Estate planning can be confusing, especially when understanding the differences between wills and trusts. While both documents allow you to distribute your assets and property to loved ones after you pass away, they serve different purposes and have unique advantages and disadvantages.  

If you’re unsure which option is right for you, keep reading. We’ll explain the differences between wills vs. trusts so you can make an informed decision and protect your assets. 

Wills: A Brief Overview

A will is a legal document that ensures your assets and property go to the right people after you pass away. But a will can also be used to name individuals who will manage your state, care for your children, or even outline your burial wishes. 

Your will must be signed and witnessed according to each state’s rules to be considered a valid, legal document. And after you die, your executor must take your will to probate court to make it official. After that, your will will be subject to public record. 

Trusts: A Brief Overview

A trust is a legal arrangement where an individual transfers their assets to a trustee who manages them according to their wishes. The trustee must follow the rules that the individual sets up for how those assets should be managed and who should receive them.

To better understand the difference between a will and a trust, think of a will as a set of instructions that tells beneficiaries what to do with their assets once they pass away. On the other hand, a trust is more like a container that holds your assets, which a trustee then manages.

Advantages of a Will 

There are several advantages to having a will instead of a trust. However, keep in mind that these advantages are unique to your circumstances and goals:  

  • Simplicity: Generally, a will is a simpler document that requires less time and money to prepare than a trust, making it a good option if your assets are small and your instructions are straightforward. 
  • Flexibility: Wills can be changed or updated relatively easily, allowing for greater flexibility. 
  • No trustee necessary: When choosing a will, you do not have to appoint a trustee to manage your assets, simplifying the estate planning process. 

Advantages of a Trust 

Trusts also have several unique advantages over wills, including: 

  • No probate: Probate is a court-supervised process that can be time-consuming and expensive. It can also tie up your assets for months or even years. A trust ensures you avoid probate altogether. 
  • Increased privacy: Unlike wills, which become part of the public record, trusts remain confidential. 
  • Increased control: A trust also gives you more control over how your assets are distributed to beneficiaries and under what circumstances. 

Wills vs. Trusts: Which is Right for Me? 

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the size and complexity of your estate, your goals for distributing your assets, and your preferences for managing your assets during your lifetime.

Generally speaking, a will may be the best option if you have a simple estate with few assets and straightforward distribution goals. But if you have a larger or more complex estate, a trust may give you the control, flexibility, and privacy you need to manage your assets successfully. 

It’s also important to consider other factors, such as the potential tax implications of your estate plan and your desire for privacy and asset protection. 

Talk to an Estate-Planning Specialist

If you need legal assistance with estate planning, including wills, trusts, and probate matters, contact Hoffman & Forde. Our team of estate planning attorneys is perfectly suited to help you plan for the future and protect your loved ones. With our extensive expertise, we can provide the protection your estate needs in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Orange County. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation.

6 Questions to Ask an Estate Planning Attorney

Questions to Ask an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is an important process for anyone with assets to pass on, but it’s also unfamiliar. For this reason, it’s best to have assistance from a lawyer who knows all of the options available to you and how to prepare the necessary documents to stand up to scrutiny later.

If you plan on consulting with a lawyer, you probably want to get the most out of your meetings. To help with this, here are a few questions to ask your potential estate planning attorney.

1. How Much Experience Do You Have with Estate Planning?

As you may be aware, most lawyers have specialized areas of practice, and many have little or no experience with estate planning. In contrast, any attorney could draft a simple will, anything more complicated that should be handled by an estate planning specialist. Many rules govern the preparation of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents, so you want to be sure everything is done correctly and efficiently.

2. What Do You Charge for Your Services?

No doubt, this is already on your mind, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask about the attorney’s fee structure. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for estate planning, others charge by the hour, or they may offer both options.

3. How Long Will It Take to Draft My Estate Plan?

With any legal service, it’s always good for both lawyer and client to be on the same page concerning how long the process will take. Attorneys are used to working on longer time lines and sometimes forget to communicate this to their clients. Estate planning is a fairly straight-forward service, so an attorney should be able to give you an accurate estimate.

4. Can You Create a Comprehensive Estate Plan?

A comprehensive estate plan involves more than just a will. You may want to prepare trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance documents, and more. A good estate planning attorney should be able to assist you with any of this, and provide you with guidance to decide on the best course.

5. Do You Offer Periodic Reviews of My Estate Plan?

Estate planning may seem like a “one and done” process, but it’s important to check periodically that everything is up to date. Life events such as marriage, divorce, and children will likely profoundly affect your estate planning goals. Many attorneys offer a periodic review for a set fee, so it’s good to ask about this service.

6. What Happens If You Retire or Change Firms?

Hopefully, it will be many years before you pass away and your estate plan goes into action; it’s possible that, in the meantime, your attorney retired, moved to a different firm, or even passed away themselves. However, estate planning lawyers should have a plan in place for this eventuality, and it’s important to find out what it is for your peace of mind and to make things easier for your loved ones.

Schedule Your First Meeting

Now that you have some questions prepared, the next step is to schedule an appointment. At Hoffman & Forde, our estate planning team has years of experience helping clients craft plans that meet their unique needs. We are at your disposal to answer any questions and to get the process started right away. Contact our office to set up a consultation.

The Different Types of Power of Attorney

attorney and older clients

Power of attorney (POA) is a very useful legal instrument that authorizes someone to make decisions on your behalf. Similar to an executor who has the power to handle your affairs after you pass away, the person to whom you grant power of attorney (called an “agent” or “attorney, in fact”) has the power to handle things while you are still alive. Contrary to what the name implies, this other person does not need to be an attorney or even have any special skills. Additionally, there are different types of power of attorneys.

Creating one or more POA documents is a common component of estate planning, as it helps protect you, your family, and your property in certain situations. Here are the different types of power of attorney you should know.

Durable vs. Non-Durable Power of Attorney

You may have heard the term “durable power of attorney” before. It means the agent can act on the principal’s behalf even if they become incapacitated. (“Incapacitated” means you can no longer make decisions on your own.) On the other hand, non-durable power of attorney ends when the principal becomes incapacitated. So, for example, if you were to grant POA to your stock broker so they could make trades on your behalf, it would usually be a non-durable POA.

Springing Power of Attorney

Whereas power of attorney usually goes into effect immediately upon signing, a springing power of attorney only becomes effective once certain conditions are met. Most commonly, it becomes effective in the event the principal becomes incapacitated.

While springing POA makes sense in theory, it can create complications and delays. This is because incapacitation is not always clear. For example, if the principal has dementia or has a brain injury, there may be disagreements as to whether they can make their own decisions. In the meantime, medical bills and other affairs that must be managed could be piling up.

General Power of Attorney

In California, a general power of attorney allows the agent to handle any of the principal’s financial affairs, such as paying bills or selling real estate. However, a general POA does not authorize the agent to make healthcare decisions. Typically, this POA is non-durable, meaning it ends if the principal becomes incapacitated.

Limited Power of Attorney

Limited power of attorney also usually relates to handling financial affairs but is restricted in scope. For example, if you own an apartment building, you might grant a limited POA to a property management company to enter into leases, pay bills, etc.

Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney allows the agent to make healthcare decisions on the principal’s behalf if incapacitated. This can include anything from regular checkups to end-of-life care. Often, the principal will have previously created some healthcare directives defining what they want to happen in certain situations, such as whether to continue life support if they are in a vegetative state.

Choose the Right Power of Attorney

Regardless of which type of power of attorney you might need, a power of attorney should be an integral part of your larger estate plan. Speaking to a lawyer is usually the best first step in determining what POA documents are right for you and ensuring all contingencies are covered.  

Speak with one of our experienced professionals. They will review your current situation, and help you design a strategy to meet your needs. Contact our office to get started.

Estate Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Estate Planning Attorney with clients

Estate planning is a unique area of law. It’s not adversarial, so it’s relatively easy to accomplish all your goals, but if you make any mistakes, you won’t be around to fix them. For this reason, it’s essential to put a lot of thought into every aspect of your estate plan and benefit from a professional’s advice.

To help you understand your estate planning needs, we’ll go over some of the most common mistakes people make and how to avoid them.

1. Waiting Too Long

This is easily the most common mistake people make. Even though most people recognize the need for an estate plan, it is easy to keep putting it off. None of us enjoy contemplating the prospect of our death, but it will happen someday, and it’s not always as far in the future as we might hope. An unexpected death is tragic enough; failing to leave a clear plan for your estate only makes things harder for your loved ones.

How to avoid: Stop delaying and start thinking seriously about your estate plan. It’s not as time-consuming or expensive as you might think.

2. Failing to Minimize Tax Burden

Every person wants the maximum portion possible of their estate to their beneficiaries and the minimum amount possible to the government via taxation. However, with a little guidance, it is possible to minimize your estate’s tax burden or avoid taxes altogether.

How to avoid: Not all estates will be taxed, so it’s important to first out if all or portions of yours could be taxed. If so, various means, such as living trusts and charitable donations, could reduce or eliminate those taxes. This is best accomplished with the aid of an attorney.

3. Drafting Complex Documents on Your Own

It is possible to create a straightforward estate plan with a fill-in-the-blank will, you find online, but it’s not always a good idea. It may work for someone with few possessions and very specific wishes about who should receive their property after they die. Still, the larger and the more complicated the estate, the more problematic a DIY approach is likely to be.

Because the decedent is not around to answer any questions, estate law is full of formalities that must be followed to prevent mistakes and fraud. This is especially true when it comes to more complicated procedures such as creating a trust. If done improperly, the probate court may set aside your documents and come to its own conclusions.

How to avoid: If you are working on your own estate plan and you’re not sure if you are doing something correctly, it’s a good indication you should speak to a professional. You should talk to an attorney if you have a large estate.

4. Not Naming an Executor

An executor is tasked with putting your estate plan into action after you pass away. For example, if your estate includes a home or real estate, the executor will have the legal authority to transfer the deed or sell the property as appropriate. If you don’t name an executor in your will, the probate court will assign someone to the role. However, that person may not be the one you want to take on the task, or they simply may not be up to the responsibility.

How to avoid: Choose someone capable and trustworthy to be your executor, discuss the situation with that person, and name them your executor. If you’re unsure who to designate or if your estate is particularly complex, having your attorney act as executor may be a good idea.

5. Communication

Depending on the nature of your estate, there may be potential for conflict between beneficiaries after you pass away, which is the last thing most people want as their legacy. The most common root cause for such conflict is when someone fails to communicate their wishes while still alive, leading to surprise, resentment, and confusion.

How to avoid: Simply speaking to people in advance (including those who might be disappointed by your plans), giving them notice, and allowing them to ask questions can clear up many problems and reduce the likelihood of conflict later.

Consult with a Professional

With your legacy on the line and no ability to correct any mistakes after you’re gone, the best choice you can make is to sit down with an estate-planning attorney. You can ask questions, identify issues that may not have occurred to you otherwise, and create a comprehensive estate plan that accomplishes everything you want.

To start the process, schedule an appointment today.

Estate Planning Checklist: What You Should Know

Estate planning meeting

Everyone should have an estate plan—we are have at least some possessions to pass on—yet most people will put off creating an estate plan as long as possible. It’s easy to understand why, but the fact is that while it’s never too early to make an estate plan, someday, it will be too late.  If you’re reading this, the issue is already on your mind. So here’s a must-have estate planning checklist to help you get started.

1. Make an Inventory of Your Assets

The first step in any estate plan is determining what makes up your estate. Once you sit down and start making a list, you may be surprised by how many assets you have: your home, furniture, vehicles, collectibles, insurance policy, etc. So don’t worry if you can’t create a comprehensive list on the first go; think of it as a working document you can add to as new things occur.

Take special care to identify property that other people might not know. For example, cryptocurrency can easily be lost when a USB drive is tossed into the trash. Include information on where these assets are located, passwords, etc.

2. Decide Where Your Property Should Go

Once you know what your estate consists of, think about who you’d like to receive that property after you’re gone. For some people, it is simple; they want their surviving spouse to be their sole beneficiary or have the estate liquidated and divided equally among their children. Others may wish for a specific property to go to certain people or to give money to a charity.

It would also be beneficial to start thinking about how you want to transfer the property or plan for specific scenarios at this stage. For example, if you have minor children, consider what will happen if you die before or after they reach adulthood. Or perhaps your spouse is not the biological parent of your children, and you want them to have continued use of your home during their lifetime and then pass it to your children.

 3. Consider What Happens If You’re Incapacitated

If you are incapacitated, someone will likely need to make decisions on your behalf. For example, if you are severely injured in a car accident, someone may have to make financial decisions for you or even decide whether to continue life support. Thinking about these scenarios in advance can relieve the burden on your loved ones and ensure your wishes are respected.

4. Draft the Documents

After having defined your estate and decided what to do with it, it’s time to create the necessary documents. A wide variety of legal instruments are available to accomplish virtually any estate planning goal. For some, this may consist only of a simple will and perhaps a medical directive. Others may require more complicated measures, such as setting up a trust. You may already have some assets, such as insurance policies or retirement plans with named beneficiaries; verify that those beneficiaries match your current wishes.

At this stage you should also consider who you would like to be appointed as executor of your estate. This person will have a lot of responsibility—e.g., selling your property to distribute the proceeds—so choose someone you trust who is up to the task. A judge will decide who to appoint if you don’t name an executor.

5. Review Your Plan Regularly

An estate plan created when you were 30 years old may not be sufficient when you are 50. Periodically revisit your estate plan to see if your inventory of assets is up to date or if you need to change your beneficiaries. This is especially important after significant life changes, such as divorce.

Before You Begin, Speak to an Attorney

Estate planning is about peace of mind. You want to know that your loved ones are taken care of and that your property goes where it should. However, doing it on your own presents risks because if the documents are not prepared correctly, they may be challenged in court. Also, you may miss out on simple ways to minimize your estate’s tax liability.

Talking to one of our experienced estate attorneys will simplify the entire process and ease your mind. We can help you evaluate your estate and create a comprehensive plan that covers your needs. Contact our office to set up an appointment.

How COVID Can Affect Your Estate Planning Needs

How COVID could change the needs of your estate plan

Life is always changing. With it, our estate planning needs to change as well. As far as major life upheavals go, nothing quite compares to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. As it appears to be winding down, at least we hope, now is a good time to take a hard look at your existing estate plan (or to create one for the first time) and evaluate whether your needs have changed over the last couple of years.

Major Economic Changes

Fortunes were made and lost during the pandemic. There’s hardly a single business that wasn’t affected in some way, and the stock market has been, at times, unpredictable. This means it’s time to re-assess the value of your assets. 

The overall valuation may have changed significantly, you may have sold off some properties or acquired new ones, or perhaps you put off retirement for a few more years. Any of these means your existing estate plan needs to be updated and adapted to your new economic circumstances. New investments and legal instruments should be considered to match your goals and minimize tax exposure.

Inflation is also a major factor to consider in updating or creating your estate plan. It’s no secret that high inflation rates currently afflict the global economy, and the U.S. economy is no exception. There are hopeful indicators that inflation has already peaked, but it has likely already affected your estate in a number of ways. The most common is an increase in real estate value and property taxes. There are ways to reduce the overall tax liability of your estate in situations like this, such as putting the property into an irrevocable trust. A general diversification of your investments is also a good way to ride out economic uncertainty.

For some people, inflation brings a few benefits. In 2022, the IRS increased the estate and gift tax exemption from $11.7 million to $12.06 million (double that for married couples). This means that a married couple who already maxed out their lifetime exemption can give away another $720,000 tax-free.

Similarly, the annual gift tax exclusion per individual was raised for the first time in several years, from $15,000 to $16,000. Married couples may give away $32,000 tax-free per individual per year without affecting their lifetime exemption total. It’s important to note that the lifetime exemption amount will be cut in half starting in 2026, so anyone wishing to take advantage should do so without delay.

Change in Outlook

While less tangible, the COVID pandemic has profoundly affected many people’s overall perspective on life. Perhaps they lost loved ones or became seriously ill themselves and started to rethink the legacy they would leave behind. 

Owners whose businesses had been stable for years went through great uncertainty, forcing them to reconsider succession plans and their long-term prospects. 

If you’ve arrived on this side of the pandemic and your outlook has changed, you should be sure your estate plan changes as well.

Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney

Any estate plan should be revisited from time to time as your goals and economic circumstances change. The COVID pandemic has almost certainly affected your estate planning needs, so now is a good time to sit down with an attorney and take stock of the situation. 

Our team has the experience and knowledge to create the plan that is right for your unique situation. Contact our office today.

What Do Estate Planning Attorneys Do and Do You Need One?

What Do Estate Planning Attorneys Do and Do You Need One?

Although estate planning affects virtually everyone during their life and after it, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about it. This misunderstanding extends to estate planning attorneys as well, to the point where many are unsure what it is they do and whether one is necessary.

What Is an Estate Planning Attorney?

Understanding what an estate planning attorney does requires understanding an estate plan. The term “estate” means all of your property.  That is, everything in your name that can be passed on to someone else after you die. An estate plan, as you might guess, is the plan for what will happen to that property when you die or become incapacitated to the point where you can’t make decisions for yourself. If someone dies without an estate plan, their property is distributed among surviving relatives (or to the state, if there are none) according to the laws of intestacy.

Because someone dead or incapacitated can’t speak for themselves, many laws and safeguards are in place to prevent abuse. Estate planning attorneys specialize in this area of law and the documentation required to enable their client’s wishes. They primarily draft wills, trusts, and power of attorney forms that clearly express what the person wanted and hopefully reduce conflict among the surviving parties. Estate planning attorneys also work to minimize the tax consequences of passing along one’s estate.

Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

Not everyone needs an estate planning attorney, but many people could benefit significantly from consulting with one. There is no one-size-fits-all test to determine if you should talk to an estate planning attorney. However, there are several factors to consider that may be helpful.

Size and Complexity of the Estate

It should be no surprise that the greater the value of the estate, the greater the need for comprehensive estate planning. Larger estates generate more intense interest from survivors, potentially leading to conflict. Additionally, the tax consequences are often a bigger concern. Generally, the more complex estates and deceased person’s wishes require the expertise of an estate planning attorney.

Creating a Trust

Trusts are an excellent and versatile estate-planning tool that can help you care for your loved ones, establish your legacy, and even avoid estate taxes. However, they require careful planning and should be created with the help of an attorney.


Parents, especially single parents, can gain peace of mind by recording how they want their children cared for in the event they pass away before the children become adults. This can involve establishing a trust and perhaps designating someone to be a caregiver.

Business Owners

If you are an owner or partner in a business, a succession plan sets out who will be in charge and receive your interest in the company.

Health Concerns

If you have a serious health condition (and even if you don’t), you should consider taking a moment to communicate what will happen if you pass away or if you become incapacitated. For example, if you are about to have major surgery, granting power of attorney and detailing your health directives can help your loved ones make decisions if there are complications.

Talk to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Creating a clear estate plan ensures your wishes are met after you’re gone and reduces uncertainty for your loved ones. Our team has years of experience creating estate plans that range from the basic to the extremely complex. Schedule a consultation today to learn how we can help you with your estate plan.

What You Should Know About Cryptocurrency and Estate Planning

What You Should Know About Cryptocurrency and Estate Planning

Estate planning has been thrown for a loop when it comes to figuring out the best way to negotiate crypto-assets alongside traditional assets and holdings. While cryptocurrency can be arranged into estate planning, securing digital assets falls outside of a typical will. 

For those who are just beginning to enter these murky waters, it’s important to find out how to reconcile crypto-assets in the estate planning process and which pitfalls to avoid. 

Understanding the Concerns With Crypto

Like in typical estate planning, digital assets will need to be divided among beneficiaries and distributed by an executor or a trustee. However, the primary stumbling block in the process has become how to locate and transfer the necessary information to access digital accounts. Unlike a will, there is no template for managing cryptocurrency after death, and keeping the digital information private is of utmost importance.

Documenting and Establishing Who Has Access

While there is no unified form to direct crypto allocation in the estate planning process, the options have become more streamlined. The most important aspect is to make sure that any crypto-assets have been clearly documented in the estate plans and that someone, somewhere, will have access to the seed phrases and private keys necessary for access and distribution. 


As it stands, digital-asset custody services are available and equipped to hold seed phrases or private keys necessary to access crypto accounts. Ownership is not easily transferred in self-sovereign assets, and, as such, the custody of the keys for safekeeping relies on specific guidelines for release. 

Placing Crypto in a Trust

Placing crypto in a trust can help shield it from estate taxes while keeping access keys safe and secure. For example, suppose clients are unsure that other family members or executor services are proficient enough to access and evaluate the digital assets. In that case, financial advisors can be named as trustees. 

Naming Beneficiaries

Naming beneficiaries in a traditional will can be risky unless the signer has explicitly communicated plans. Many beneficiaries with access to parts of the seed phrase can make distribution difficult to negotiate if tensions are high. 

Guiding Clients on Wallets 

The current guidance is for users to appoint trustees, advisors, or trusted family members to be two out of a three-part multi-signature wallet rather than the self-sovereign option. Then, when the account holder is no longer available, the two other keyholders will be able to access the necessary information with their signatures alone. 

We Can Help With Cryptocurrency Estate Planning

Cryptocurrency can be a great addition to your legacy strategy, but you must know to ensure it is passed on. Our experienced cryptocurrency estate planning attorneys can help you navigate through the process. Contact us today for a consultation.