Santa Monica Estate Planning Lawyer

West LA & Santa Monica Area Estate Planning Lawyer Offers “Come-To-You” Legal Services

Estate Planning provides your family with the peace of mind that comes with having an estate plan for the unexpectedProper Estate Planning provides you and your family with the peace of mind and security that comes with having a well-executed estate plan for the unknown future including incapacitation or death. While many people associate estate planning with preparation for ones’ passing, the truth is that estate planning may also be incredibly valuable should you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. The majority of people do not die suddenly, but have some years of warning: such as an illness or accident (not immediate death) and may become unable to make competent decisions regarding one’s own care —including the management of your assets, nor decisions for your children.


Located in Santa Monica – I routinely travel to my clients in the surrounding communities:

Most of my clients appreciate my coming to them —to home or office— where any documents we might need are more easily accessible. Over the years about 4 of 5 clients would leave key information or documents at home or office and we’d have to reschedule. It recent years it has become the norm of my practice to travel to my clients home, office, or meet them at their corner Starbucks where, if need be, they could make a quick dash home for that missing document while I continue cataloging the initial data —thus making the entire estate planning process easier than ever. Following that first meeting, we will need a second get together for document review and signatures. It’s that simple.

Santa Monica Estate Planning Lawyer Map of Service Area

  • Santa Monica
  • Marina Del Rey
  • Venice
  • Pacific Palisades
  • Brentwood
  • Beverly Hills
  • Century City
  • Culver City
  • West Los Angeles
  • And more…

Every Family Benefits From an Estate Plan

Estate Planning is an intelligent and logical undertaking for pro-active individuals and families of any income bracket and can be put in place with the assistance of a competent and experienced estate planning attorney. Santa Monica Estate Planning Attorney John Donahue will take the time necessary to educate you on these vital matters so that you can make informed and prudent choices. There are countless benefits to taking a couple hours to getting your estate plan underway.

Four Estate Planning Benefits

#1 – You can avoid Probate

Avoiding probate by having an Estate Plan that will likely be comprised of a Living Trusts and a Pour Over Will is the best-known way to avoid subjecting your family to the great expense and long, drawn-out burden left to your survivors to deal with a probate court proceedings following your death for up to 2 years.

#2 – Reduction of Estate Taxes

Reduction of Estate Taxes because you can transfer your wealth to your heirs: not a tax burden. It is shocking to learn that estate taxes, income taxes, and transfer taxes could diminish your estate by as much as half if not properly dealt with ahead of time. This is especially true considering the new tone coming from Washington DC where lawmakers are raising taxes across the board (no matter the rhetoric). Your estate has a bulls-eye on it, but you can defend against the government’s greed. Estate planning trusts can go a long way toward sheltering your life’s assets, and devising a simple plane to make gifts during your remaining years can help you save considerable taxes while giving you the added blessing of looking on as loved ones or charities use your gifts while you are alive to see the seeds of your legacy bless the next generation.

#3 – Specify Who Gets Your Stuff

Specify who gets your life’s assets after you are gone with a carefully-crafted Estate Plan. But an estate plan does so much more. An affordable Estate plan allows you to take care of yourself by appointing the exact right person to handle your affairs and make decisions for you if you become ill or disabled. Moreover, an Estate plan can protect your spouse or partner, children and other beneficiaries from loss due to their incapacity, immaturity, or creditors that may enter their life when you ar not there for counsel.

#4 – Affordable Cost

Affordable Cost of an Estate Plan – Estate planning can be affordable for your family to have prepared and even more cost-effective in the future. Estate planning is often put off for years since folks just don’t want to deal with planning their last years. It’s so unfortunate that many well-meaning individuals put it off until it’s too late. It’s far less stressful (and expensive) as a typical dentist visit. All an estate plan requires is just a few basic legal documents to be drafted including a simple Trust, a Pour Over Will and perhaps a Power of Attorney to protect your assets and life’s inheritance while you are alive, and especially so following your passing.

What is an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a collection of documents that specify how you want your assets, money and property distributed, making it easier for your loved ones to handle your affairs during a time of grief.

Don’t allow an Accident, Illness or Death to Overwhelm your Loved Ones

If you are severely injured, incapacitated, or even killed in an accident and do not have valid life-documents in place, you will have no way of making certain that your intentions are carried out the way you’d desire. Instead, the Probate Court will decide these matters —slowly and painfully— on your behalf while your family is sidelined for up to 2 years. Ensuring that your spouse, children, or others of your choosing are not prevented from being blessed as you intend, requires only a couple hours of your initial time to sit down with an experienced estate planning lawyer. Not only can your assets can be protected, but you will be in control over your assets while you are alive, and your ultimate desires will be carried out upon your passing. “Peace of Mind” is very much a meaningful phrase once your estate plan is finished.

Estate Planning provides Protection All Families Need

Careful and prudent Estate Planning, may provide a strong measure of protection for you, your family, and loved ones. Through the use of various Wills, Trusts and other estate planning instruments, many people have been able to distribute their property to their intended Beneficiaries while simultaneously limiting their exposure to unnecessary estate taxes and avoid or dramatically minimize the time and cost of Probate.

John Donahue provides estate planning services to clients in Santa Monica, West LA, Brentwood, Venice, Century City, Culver City, Pacific Palisades, Marina Del Rey and coastal cities around Mr. Donahue’s service area. Mr. Donahue assists individuals and families in creating an Estate Plan custom-tailored to their specific circumstances. Such an Estate Plan may include some or all of the following documents:

  • Will
  • Trust (Living “Revocable” Trust, Special Needs Trust or other customized Trust)
  • Living Will
  • Advance health care directive
  • Durable power of attorney

Why the need for an Estate Plan

Any person who owns property in his or her own name, upon death, will enable the state-run probate court to decide and order the assets of their estate to be distributed in accordance with a valid Will. If there is no Will, the court will also interject itself by the laws of set forth by “Intestate Succession.” Welcome to the long and arduous world of “Probate.” If possible, you want to enable your survivors to forgo this DMV-like Probate process, where complete strangers have the ultimate authority to rule over the distribution of your life’s accumulated assets. It is not hard for you to have the final word and the court system would have NO say; nor would your death result in a publicly-recorded ordeal as your parting legacy.

It is vitally important to learn, and fully comprehend that Probate can be costly, time-consuming, and psychologically traumatic to those who might outlive you. For most families, a carefully drafted Living Revocable Trust can help an individual and their family avoid the unnecessary complications of Probate.

What Are the Advantages of Having an Estate Plan?

  • Provides the quickest, most efficient, and least costly way to transfer property to the people you want to receive it.
  • Saves on costly income and death taxes.
  • Precludes the need for probate, an expensive and prolonged court proceeding.
  • Provides emotional security for you and your family.
  • Allows you, rather than the state, to select your heirs and the amount of property to be distributed to each heir.
  • Allows you to provide most effectively for beneficiaries with disabilities and others whom you want to protect.
  • In the case of a second marriage, allows you to provide for your spouse and then your children.

Commonly-Used Trusts for Estate Planning

Let’s face it, no matter the fluctuation of average incomes, most people have a spouse or domestic partner, a home with a mortgage, and possibly children or other loved ones that would benefit from acquiring some or all of your “stuff.” One of the most common and effecting estate planning instruments consists of a Revocable Living Trust coupled to what’s called a “Pour-Over Will.” A Revocable Living Trust protects you while you are alive and removes your heirs and other loved ones from the trauma associated with a Probate upon your death.

Moreover, for some married couples, an Estate Plan may provide that on the death of the first spouse the Revocable Trust is divided into new Trusts which are known as a “Survivor’s Trust”, an “Exemption Trust” (also called a Bypass of “B” Trust) or a “Marital Trust” (also called “QTIP” Trust). Santa Monica Estate Planning Lawyer, John Donahue, will be able to share with you why you might want to consider these optional Trust strategies and how beneficial they can be.

Trusts addressing Minor Children, Immature Adults and Special Needs Situations

You may feel it imprudent to leave the bulk of your assets in a “lump sum” to a Beneficiary. A Beneficiary may have a special need, may be immature, may have alcohol or drug addictions, or simply be too young to receive a substantial distribution of cash and other assets. In such cases we might advise you to use a variety of appropriate trusts to manage the assets for the individual Beneficiaries such as “Discretionary Trusts,” “Special Needs Trusts,” “Trust for Minors,” or perhaps an “IRA Designated Beneficiary Trust.”

Trusts for High Net Worth Individuals and Business Owners

Living Revocable Trust may also create upon the death of the trust creator a “Special Irrevocable Generation Skipping Transfer Trust” for the benefit of one or more Beneficiaries. It is critical to have an experienced estate planning attorney brainstorm your unique circumstance with you to devise a Trust strategy that makes sense for your unique family situation.

Contact a Santa Monica Area Estate Planning Lawyer.
John Donahue is an experienced estate planning lawyer. You are welcome to call and have a complimentary and confidential discussion about your estate planning matters with Mr. Donahue. John will evaluate your estate planning needs and share with you your available options.