Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Practice Areas

Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

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VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

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Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

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An Estate Fit for a King…

By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Estate Planning

Although the Revolutionary War rid Americans of the requirement to care about the British monarchy, the news media has been abuzz with the happy news of a prince.  Prince William and Kate Middleton have had their first child, who is third in line to the throne after Prince Charles and Prince William.  So far, the child does not have a name, but it already has a number of things “to its name.”  As heir to the throne, the child is automatically heir to the family fortune and can boast causing millions in economic activity as people scurry about collecting royal birth paraphernalia.

As those who were formerly on “baby watch” switch gears to “baby name watch,” you might consider the as yet unnamed members of your family.  Your unborn children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren may be named as beneficiaries of your estate. Instead, they are given “class gifts.”  Understanding who the unnamed beneficiaries may be in your estate plan ensures that you are not accidentally disinheriting or excluding certain individuals.

For example, a federal judge in Ohio recently interpreted as valid an out-of-state same sex marriage even though same sex marriage is not recognized in Ohio.  The ruling was important because the dying spouse will be buried in his family’s plot, which is reserved for direct descendants and their spouses.  Similarly, the inclusion or exclusion of step-children, foster children, and adopted children in future generations ought to be considered when drafting class gifts.

When you are creating your plan relatively early in life, it is also important to consider your yet unborn children or grandchildren.  By specifically naming each beneficiary, you may exclude potential progeny who will challenge your estate plan in court in order to be included.  Similarly, by planning your estate for your family solely as it exists now (e.g. without grandchildren), you will have to amend your estate plan to account for changes.  The same result occurs when, for example, you name your child’s spouse as beneficiary by name rather than by class.  You may end up leaving an inheritance to an ex-spouse while excluding the current spouse!

In some cases, it is wise to create a long-term trust that may last for several generations.  In California, a trust may not be continued forever; they are subject to the “rule against perpetuities,” which restricts the amount of time a trust may continue in existence.  However, properly drafted estate plans may nevertheless continue for a very long time where the beneficiaries will be entirely made up of people you will never meet and whose names you could not possibly know!  A variety of safeguards and restrictions may be incorporated to encourage certain behaviors, such as attending college.  Ultimately, no matter how long or how far you would like your estate plan to eventually reach, understanding all the implications of your choices can reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings, unintended consequences, and expensive court battles!

Estate Planning: The Price of Organization, Rewards, Gifts, and Wondrous Tax Things… FREE REPORT: This complimentary report, focused on Estate Planning, is comprised of many of Mr. Miller’s articles from his long running column for the largest regional newspaper in San Diego County. This report will guide you through the questions surrounding getting your estate planning in order.

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About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning

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