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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Passing On Your Values…


By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Estate Planning

Estate planning does not need to be simply about passing on the wealth you have accumulated during your life to your heirs.  As Black Friday reminds us, this season is often marked by obsessive shopping and consumerism.  It is easy to think of the next month as simply a time for buying.  However, during the next month there are a number of religious and cultural holidays that remind us of great struggles and great joy.  For many, the reason for the season is deeper than an opportunity to give gifts to their family and friends; it is meant to appreciate the holidays themselves.

Similarly, estate planning does not need to be simply about dividing up assets.  Instead, you may pass your estate with purpose and with the idea of keeping your values intact. One common estate planning tool is to allow funds held in trust to be used for college tuition.  By keeping funds in control of the trustee, you can ensure that your heirs have access to higher education, but not to the money itself.  Similarly, a higher percentage of the estate might be distributed upon graduation, giving the heirs faster access than if they forego a college education. Doing so encourages your heirs to attend college.

Although college is a common goal included in estate plans, people have included many contingencies that must be met before an inheritance may be received.  In 2000, in the midst of his vice presidential bid, former Senator Joseph Lieberman was involved in a public scandal in his role as executor of a Will requiring the decedent’s children to marry people of Jewish birth and faith.  Two of the decedent’s children were disinherited as a result of this requirement.  The parties ultimately settled based on evidence that the decedent had softened his approach in later years, but did not execute his later Will.  Provisions created to enforce religious observance, scholastic performance, and other overly restrictive contingencies may be unenforceable.  If certain conditions are very important to you, ensuring that the clauses creating the restrictive provisions are carefully written and explained is vital to their enforceability in court.

You may also wish to donate a portion of your estate to a charitable or religious organization that promotes your purpose.  Many organizations will allow you to direct that your gift is used for a specific purpose or program.  For example, if you have a child who is afflicted with addiction, you might condition his inheritance on sobriety and, as a backup beneficiary, direct that the funds be used at a treatment facility for treatment of that particular addiction. Additionally, you can designate gifts with a purpose to organizations as a primary beneficiary in order to ensure that a portion of your estate is used toward a cause about which you feel strongly.  It is important to remember that you do not have to designate your beneficiaries in any particular manner; it is completely your decision.  If your values or religious beliefs prompt you to want to create contingencies for gifts after death, it is possible to pass on your values with the rest of your estate!

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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