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law offices of merwyn j. miller
191 calle Magdalena, suite 270 • encinitas, San Diego County, ca  92024 • 760-436-8832

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Practice Areas

[Estate Planning] [Veterans Pension/Aid & Attendance] [Probate & Estate Administration
[Elder Law & Medicaid/Medi-cal] [Conservatorship/Guardianship] [Asset Protection]

  • Estate Planning (Living Trusts, Wills, etc.)
         Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of wills, trusts and other estate planning documents, using strategies appropriate to each situation -- from the basic to the most complex. He advises clients of the options available to them in the planning process, and makes recommendations based on each client's needs. In addition to addressing the complex tax and asset protection issues, he also assists clients with the important practical and emotional aspects of the estate planning process.
         While every individual, regardless of the value of his or her assets needs certain basic estate planning documents, such as a Will and Powers of Attorney, both for property management in the event of disability or old age and for health care matters, the needs and opportunities for planning go far beyond the basics.  Coordination of insurance and employee benefits, education funding for children and grandchildren, and the shifting of value from one generation to the other with little or no current or future transfer tax (estate and gift tax) are often the most important, and most overlooked, aspects of estate planning.
         When appropriate, Mr. Miller is particularly well suited to advise his clients upon the intricate nature of estate and gift taxation, asset protection planning (whether from future creditors or unfortunate marriages), and asset management protection (for the time when we are no longer able to manage our assets without assistance).

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  • Probate & Estate Administration
         Estate Administration is the legal process by which a person's debts are paid and assets distributed upon death. Estate administration includes the probate process as well as the administration of trusts and other non-probate transfers to ensure the estate is distributed appropriately and with a minimum of tax impact. 

    Services may include:
    »  Probate of wills, collection of decedent's assets, payment of debts, calculation and payment of estate taxes, trust funding and asset distribution;
    »  Advice to minimize estate and income taxes for the estate and its beneficiaries;
    »  Advice regarding timing and structure of sale or disposition of estate assets, to include business interests; and
    »  Preparation of Federal and State “Estate Tax” returns, which are required for all estates over a certain exemption amount (see Estate Tax), which is $1.5 million in 2005 (generally including life insurance).

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  • Elder Law VA Benefits and Medi-Cal/Medicaid 
    Elder Law encompasses all aspects of planning, counseling, educating, and advocating for the senior client concerning illness, incapacity and death. 

    There are three major categories that make up elder law:

    • Estate planning and administration, including tax questions;
    • Medi-Cal (see Medi-Cal basics), referred to as Medicaid outside of California, veterans benefits (see VA Aid & Attendance benefit), disability and other long-term care issues; and
    • Guardianship, conservatorship and commitment matters, 
      including fiduciary administration.

    Services May Include:
    » 
    Health and Personal Care Planning (including advance medical directives 
    and living wills);
    » Benefits Planning, which may involve wills and trusts as well as asset repositioning to maximize benefits form Medi-Cal or the VA;
    »  Fiduciary Representation (including guardianship, trustees 
    and personal representatives);
    »  Legal Capacity Counseling (advising how capacity is determined and the level of capacity required for various legal activities);
    »  Individual Representation (of those who care or who may be the 
    subject of guardianship or conservatorship procedures);
    »  Housing Counseling (reviewing options and financing of options 
    such as mortgage alternatives, life care contracts and home equity conversion);
    »  Income, Estate and Gift Tax Advice;

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  • Conservatorship/Guardianships
         A conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a manager for the financial affairs or the personal care of a person who is either physically or mentally unable to handle either or both.

    When Might a Conservatorship be Needed?

    • When you know a person who needs someone to protect them from neglect, financial abuse and isolation,
    • When an individual has no family and is not able to completely manage their own affairs,
    • When an individual has family and wishes not to burden them regarding assistance,
    • When relatives/friends are busy with their own lives and need assistance for the care of a loved one.

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  • Asset Protection
         Asset protection is generally considered to be the area of the law in which one plans to shelter his assets from future lawsuits, divorce, and creditors.  Many of our clients are concerned about their children/beneficiaries losing their inheritance in a divorce or to a car accident lawsuit or malpractice claim.  They are relieved to know that we offer advice and guidance on the protection of their children/beneficiaries' inheritances from their own creditors, divorces, or child's/beneficiary's own financial indiscretions.  In the case of your children/beneficiaries, this planning is not limited to future problems but could also cover existing creditors.  Since there can be a fine line between legal asset protection and criminal behavior, it is imperative that planning take place at the earliest opportunity.

    Services May Include: 
    »  Counseling with the repositioning of assets;
    »  The setting up of Trusts, partnerships, or other entities;
    »  Trusts within your own Living Trust for the protection of your children/beneficiaries.

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