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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Back to Reality (and Work!)

By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Uncategorized

Now that Election Day is behind us, it is time to get back to the working toward resolving the real issues of our times.  All of the incumbents, whether re-elected or not, have a major task facing them before they end their terms in January: avoiding sequestration and the fiscal cliff.  Additionally, as California’s ballot initiatives meet their fates, this may be your last opportunity to engage in some personal income, gift, and estate tax planning .
In 2011, the federal Congress created “sequestration” as part of its debt ceiling and budget debate wherein a series of automatic cuts would take effect January 1, 2013 if Congress did not take action.  It is worth noting that, although half of the proposed cuts are to be directed at defense spending, the Obama administration has explicitly exempted Veteran’s benefits from the cuts.  This means that veterans receiving VA Aid & Attendance Non-Service Connected Disability Pension or other aid from the VA, including education, retraining, job, and housing assistance should not be affected by the pending cuts.

Similarly, a number of tax provisions are set to expire at the end of the year.  The payroll tax deduction, which provided a tax break to all working individuals, will expire.  Additionally, tax rates will increase on both ordinary income and capital gains.  Depending on the final outcome of the California ballot initiatives once the vote is certified, there could be personal income tax rate increases at the state level as well.  Finally, estate taxes are set to increase dramatically when the estate tax exemption returns to $1 million on January 1.  (Take a look at how to “lock in” the current $5 million exemption.)

Rarely are so many tax increases converging simultaneously in such a dramatic fashion.  Time is running out to work with your financial advisors to develop your financial plan!  If you have not already done so, you should schedule an appointment with your estate planning attorney and tax advisor.  In consultation with each other, your advisors can help you determine your long-term financial outlook and whether you ought to make any year-end gifts, sell stock in order to take advantage of lower capital gains rates, or modify your trust.  Depending on your age, you may also want to keep track of highly appreciated stock for which you intend to receive a basis “step up.”
It is always important to regularly review your estate plan.  Looking it over annually to ensure that it still reflects your preferences for health care, who will make over your financial affairs and decisions, and who will inherit your estate ensures that your wishes will be carried out even after you can no longer make them known.  However, these next two years are especially important given the tumultuous nature of the recent laws.  In the last 5 years, we have seen the estate tax exemption fluctuate from $3.5 million in 2009 to a complete repeal in 2010, then $5 million the last two years, and now $1 million next year.  If your estate plan was drafted during this time, it may be more conservative or more aggressive than is necessary for your situation.

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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