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Funding the Living Trust

22 Aug

The benefits of forming a revocable living trust cannot be emphasized enough. This is especially true for married couples who have an estate in excess of $ 2M because as of January 1, 2013 (unless Congress miraculously takes action before then), the new estate tax laws will be in effect SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCING the marital deduction.


This short article however speaks to the big mistake people make by failing to fund their trust. Forming the trust itself is only step one. Step two requires transferring assets into the trust once it is formed. The benefits of having a funded revocable living trust include:1) it keeps the assets private because no probate court is involved  2) it eliminates expensive will contest proceedings 3) it speeds up the distribution process and 4) for those with just one child it simplifies planning for that child whom they wish to benefit.


A living trust therefore is the best means to hold assets for your benefit while you are alive and to specify who gets what when you die. However in order for your estate to enjoy the benefits of this estate planning tool, you must take the additional step of actually transferring your assets into the trust once it is formed. If you fail to the transfer assets you are defeating the whole purpose of the trust because if the trust is not funded, they will pass outside of the trust and possibly wind up before a judge in probate court.


Some  types of assets automatically bypass probate court such as life insurance, savings bonds, and jointly titled bank accounts. But if you own real estate as an example or a your own business, a failure to transfer title to the trust may result in these assets being subject to probate court division. this means time, money, and loss of privacy. 


Stephen J. Gross is an attorney with 30 years experience handling real estate and business law transactions and litigation including real estate agent/seller non disclosure cases, preparation of trusts and related estate documents, asset protection from judgment creditors for higher net worth individuals, college financial aid planning for people who own investment real estate and/or their own business, and arbitration of shareholder and business partner dispute cases. A free initial phone consultation is offered. To reach us please call 310- 652 8090 and/or visit


Learn all about Israeli Succession Law

23 Jul

The Israeli Succession Law 1965 (hereafter: the Succession Law) and the Succession Regulations 1998 are the main legislation governing the rights of successors and beneficiaries and the assets of deceased in Israel. The inheritance proceedings in Israel are considerably different from those dictated in the United States. Hence, when there are no complications and all parties consent to execute and distribute the estate, the procedures could be faster and usually less expensive from those accustomed in the U.S.

The article lists the legal procedures relevant for successors or beneficiaries and general aspects dealt with in cases of foreign residents having estates and inheritance rights in Israel.

Private international law: place of litigation and conflict of laws
Litigation in Israel: According to the Succession Law, the courts in Israel are authorized to judge in matters of inheritance of every person who resided in Israel at the time of death or a person who left property in Israel.
The choice of law is also set forth in the Succession Law: the Israeli court will apply the succession laws of the residence of the deceased at the time of death. This is the basic rule where there is a conflict of laws.

Probate and inheritance proceedings
We distinguish between two different situations:
a. Will – when the deceased left a will containing assets in Israel – the probate proceedings are initiated with filing a probate application for the competent authority in Israel: The Inheritance Registrar in the General Legal Guardian (executor) office of the ministry of justice.
b. b. No will – if the deceased left no will, the heirs by law are advised to submit an application for inheritance order to the Inheritance Registrar (the same authority mentioned in section “a” above).

 Executor of the estate
Section 78 of the Succession Law determines the court’s authority to appoint an administrator or executor for the estate (hereafter: “executor”). Although it is not obliged by law, most foreign residents choose to apply for an appointment of executor in order to ensure that the estate is managed legally and efficiently.

Dganit Toren, Adv. (Israel), L.L.M
D. Toren Law Offices is a civil and commercial Israeli law firm providing comprehensive business and legal solutions, tailored to meet the needs of clients in the United States and in Israel. Call us with any question: Tel: 1-818-986-7800

Dealing with Medical Malpractice

23 Jul

According to ABPLA Board Certified Medical Malpractice Attorneys, Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, after-care or health management.

Some examples of medical negligence include surgical errors, wrong diagnosis, improper medication, failure to recognize the symptoms, unnecessary surgery, poor follow up, ignoring laboratory reports.

If there is any violation of standard care, an injury caused by negligence or an injury resulted in significant damages, a case of medical malpractice can be registered to seek compensation. To be considered for medical negligence, it must be proven that harm was caused when the medical provider acted outside acceptable terms of standard care. While it is easy to assume that your case is eligible to claim for compensation, a wiser decision would be to seek advice of an attorney to see if there is a valid malpractice claim.

If you feel that you or a loved one has been affected by medical malpractice, please contact TOREM & ASSOCIATES now.

Posted by: Torem and Associates

TOREM & ASSOCIATES has been helping injured victims recover monetary compensation for their losses and pain and suffering.

Types of Immigrant Visas

23 Jul

Immigrant visa is for people to immigrate to the United States. In order to immigrate, one should either have an immigrant visa or have a dual intent visa, which is one that is compatible with making a concurrent application for permanent resident status, or having an intention to apply for permanent residence.

There are three types of immigrant visa categories:

Family Based Immigration – A foreign national who wants to become a permanent resident can apply for family based immigration if he/she has a relative who is a citizen of the United States or is a lawful permanent resident. The relative will need to sponsor the foreign national and prove that he/she has enough income or assets to support the person applying for immigrant visa during his/her stay in the country.

Employment Based Immigration – There are five employment based visa categories. The person applying for this type of immigrant visa must obtain a labor certification approval from Department of Labor and then file an immigrant petition with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services based on the employment based preference category. If the petition is approved, spouse and minor unmarried children below the age of 21 may also apply for immigrant visas by filling the appropriate application forms and completing the necessary formalities.

Diversity Visa Program – People from countries of low rates of immigration to the United States are eligible to apply for Diversity Visas. People applying for this visa do not require a U.S. sponsor and are not required to file an immigration petition. Persons who meet strict eligibility requirements are drawn from randomly selected countries annually. The only way to apply for this visa is online.


Posted by: Nitza Ben Yehuda

Nitza Ben Yehuda is an immigration law attorney who helps clients both within and outside of the United States with applications for permanent resident status (Green Card), applications for visitor, student, or work visas, defense in deportation or removal proceedings, change of status, and other immigration matters.



22 Jul

If you are married there are two very important issues which you need to consider when planning to have drawn a revocable marital trust:

1. If you have children or anticipate that you will, a question arises as to what happens if a child (who is not necessarily a minor) were to predeceased you? No one wants to consider such a horrific event but if not carefully planned out ( particularly if there is more than one child who stands to inherit), a lot of problems can develop.  For example, if a child ( whether a minor or of majority) predeceased you does that child’s share go to your other children, if any, or is it left for the benefit of his/her surviving children (your grandchildren whether already born or to be born)? If your trust is silent or vague on the issue, you are setting the stage for disputes later amongst your family members.

2.What if after the death of the 1st spouse, the surviving spouse becomes mentally or physically incapacitated? If the surviving spouse is unable to carry out the terms of the trust who is going to take charge? Normally the husband and wife will appoint one of the children as a successor trustee. But if that person is unwilling or unable to serve, there is no one to carry out the terms of the trust. We therefore always advise spouses to appoint an alternate co-trustee to cover this contingency.

Successful marital trusts require a lot of planning. It is your job to think about what you want to happen if various contingencies were to occur and explain this to your attorney.


Stephen J. Gross an attorney in West Los Angeles specializes in real estate law, trusts and estates, rental property/ asset protection through entity formations, business and commercial law transactions and litigation. A free 1/2 hour phone consultation is offered to Pages LA readers. We can be reached at 310- 652 8090 or please visit

Asset Protection – What A Judgment Creditor Can’t Get

16 Jul

If A sues B and wins, A is now the judgment creditor and B the judgment debtor. If B doesn’t pay A the amount of the judgment, A can go to court to seize certain assets owned by B, sell them off, and apply the proceeds to the judgment.

Some assets can be protected through the use of entities such as corporations and LLC’s. Certian assets have built-in asset protection features as provided under state law. This means certain types of assets may be beyond the reach of judgment creditors in certain states. Every state is different. Examples include certain types of annuity contracts, life insurance, and IRA’s. For example suppose B the judgment debtor above, owns an annuity policy. Under California law there is limited protection for an annuity. It is exempt if the policy has matured and to the extent “reasonably necessary” for support purposes. For example if the annuity owner needs a certain amount to live on, the court will protect that much of the annuity to be drawn out of the policy provided the annuity has reached maturity. In contrast, under New York asset protection laws an annuity policy (whether matured or unmatured) is entirely exempt from judgment creditor execution. In the example above, under California asset protection laws, A may be able to reach at least a portion of B’s annuity to satisfy the judgment.

What happens if  B moves to New York ? Can B avoid judgment execution on the annuity? Answer: No. Automatic asset protection laws CANNOT be transported to other states. B is bound by the more limited protection under California law.

The moral of the story is to seek out legal advice and prepare your asset protection plan BEFORE an event such as a judgment in a lawsuit goes against you. Planning in advance affords you the opportunity to consider which of your assets have exposure and if you are contemplating a move out-of-state, whether it makes sense to do so.


Stephen J. Gross & Associates is a business, real estate, trusts and estate planning, and asset protection law firm. We offer a free 1/2 hour consultation to Pages LA readers. We can be reached at 310- 652 8090 or via

What is a POD Account?

9 Jul

A POD account is a simple way to leave assets to your heirs without having to rely on a will or trust. The symbol “POD” stands for payable on death. With a POD account you name the beneficiary(s) when you open the account typically at a bank. In the event of your death, the beneficiary assumes ownership of the remaining resources directly while avoiding the time-consuming and often costly process of probate.

Although the above sounds appealing, unfortunately POD accounts do NOT provide for a comprehensive estate plan. What happens if the account holder is incapacitated and unable physically or mentally to make important decisions regarding his/her business affairs? In such instance a POD account would not solve the problem because  with a POD account the beneficiary only takes over at death, NOT upon incapacity.

Another consideration is that while you are alive, your bank account is fair game for a judgment creditor. There is no asset protection nor does making it a POD account make it so.

A POD account does not give you control over how and when the heir receives the asset. If for example the beneficiary at the time of your death is still a minor, chances are the beneficiary will not have the experience to manage the account.

There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing the right estate plan options for you. Avoiding the cost of probate is an important objective. The POD account may be feasible for bank accounts but won’t work for other assets such as real estate, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, rental property, etc. It is always best to sit down with an estate planning attorney to discuss your objectives and options before choosing a particular path.


Stephen J. Gross is an attorney with 30 years experience located in West Los Angeles . The office focuses on real estate law, wills, trusts, and other estate planning techniques, asset protection, corporate and LLC formation, and general business litigation cases. We offer a free 1/2 hour phone consultation to Pages LA readers. We can be reached at 310- 652 8090 and  via