Attorney Larry Hymes Recognized as a Martindale-Hubbell Top Rated Lawyer

AV Preeminent AwardMartindale-Hubbell®  has designated our Estate Planning Attorney in Woodland Hills, Larry Hymes with an AV Preeminent® rating which serves as an objective indicator that a lawyer has demonstrated ethical standards and professional ability and is used by buyers of legal services to justify their hiring decisions. Attorney Larry Hymes of Anker, Hymes & Schreiber, LLP is one of a select group of Southern California lawyers to receive this well-earned distinction.

About Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™:
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. A threshold number of responses is required to achieve a rating.

The General Ethical Standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. Those lawyers who meet the “Very High” criteria of General Ethical Standards can proceed to the next step in the ratings process – Legal Ability.

Legal Ability ratings are based on performance in five key areas, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest). These areas are:

  • Legal Knowledge - Lawyer’s familiarity with the laws governing his/her specific area of practice(s)
  • Analytical Capabilities - Lawyer’s creativity in analyzing legal issues and applying technical knowledge
  • Judgment - Lawyer’s demonstration of the salient factors that drive the outcome of a given case or issue.
  • Communication Ability - Lawyer’s capability to communicate persuasively and credibly
  • Legal Experience - Lawyer’s degree of experience in his/her specific area of practice(s)

The numeric ratings range may coincide with the appropriate Certification Mark:

  • AV Preeminent® (4.5-5.0) - AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
  • BV Distinguished® (3.0-4.4) - BV Distinguished® is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
  • Rated (1.0-2.9) - The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.

For more information about our Woodland Hills Estate Planning Attorney, please contact us at (818) 501-5800.

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Is Your Agreement Worth the Paper it is Written On?

California Supreme Court logoThe California Supreme Court recently answered that question with a resounding “No”.  In one of its early decisions in 2013, Riverisland Cold Storage vs. Fresno-Madera Production Credit Association, the Court rejected what had previously been a long standing exception (since 1935) to what is known as the “parol evidence rule”.  In brief, the parol evidence rule restricts one’s ability to present evidence, in certain situations, that would contradict, alter or add to the terms of a written agreement.

The situation involved a couple who feel behind on their loan payments.  They entered into an agreement which involved the lender agreeing not to take any enforcement action provided they continued to make the newly agreed upon payments.  A representative of the lender told the couple, among other things,  they would have a two year extension on the loan.  When the couple was presented with the mountain of paperwork for them to sign which documented the agreement (which they, not uncommonly, did not read), the actual additional term was three months.

Ultimately the couple sued the lender, claiming that they had been defrauded in that they were told something contrary to what was in the agreement they signed.  The Supreme Court, in a break from precedent that had been in effect for more than 75 years, held the couple could proceed with their claim.  The court did note though that the burden of proving the necessary elements of their claim was significant.

If you have a question regarding this decision or a specific agreement, you can contact our Contract Attorney in Woodland Hills at Anker, Hymes & Schreiber, LLP.

Announcing the Change of Firm Name from Anker Reed HSC to Anker, Hymes & Schreiber, LLP

Anker, Hymes & Schreiber, LLP logoLarry S. Hymes and Douglas K. Schreiber are pleased to announce that Anker Reed HSC has become Anker, Hymes & Schreiber, LLP and will continue the Anker Reed HSC tradition of serving your legal needs in the areas of:

The law firm’s headquarters will remain at its current location:

21333 Oxnard Street, First Floor
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Phone: (818) 501-5800
Fax: (818) 501-4019

IRA Beneficiary Designation: How to Turn a Modest Inheritance Into Millions for Your Family

How would you like to turn your modest tax-deferred account into millions for your family? Depending on whom you name as beneficiary, you can keep this money growing tax-deferred for not only your and your spouse’s lifetimes, but also for your children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes. That can turn even a modest inheritance into millions.

1) Don’t I have to use this money for my retirement?

When you reach a certain age, usually 70 1/2, Uncle Sam says you must start taking your money out. (This is called your required beginning date.) But if you don’t use all this money before you die, naming the right beneficiary can keep it growing tax-deferred for decades.

2) How much will I have to take out?

Calculating the amount you must withdraw each year (your required minimum distribution) is much easier now than it used to be. Each year, you divide the year-end value of your account by a life expectancy divisor from the Uniform Lifetime Table (provided by the IRS). The result is the minimum you must withdraw for that year. You can always take out more.

For example, the divisor at age 70 is 27.4. If your year-end account balance is $100,000, you divide $100,000 by 27.4, making your first required minimum distribution $3,650. Each year the divisor is smaller, but it never goes to zero. Even at age 115 and older, the divisor is 1.9. “To recalculate or not to recalculate” is no longer an issue. Everyone now gets the benefit of recalculating their life expectancy.

3) Doesn’t my beneficiary affect my distribution?

Not any longer. Now, almost everyone uses the same chart to calculate distributions, even if you have no beneficiary. After you die, distributions are based on your beneficiary’s life expectancy (or the rest of your life expectancy if you die without one.) Naming the right beneficiary is still critical to getting the most tax-deferred growth. That’s much easier to do now, because you are no longer locked into the beneficiary you name when you take your first distribution.

Additional questions regarding IRA beneficiary designation will be posted in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact our Estate Planning Attorney in Woodland Hills, CA today.

7 Benefits of a Life Insurance Trust

  1. Provides immediate cash to pay estate taxes and other expenses after death.
  2. Reduces estate taxes by removing insurance from your estate.
  3. Inexpensive way to pay estate taxes.
  4. Proceeds avoid probate and are free from income and estate taxes.
  5. Gives you maximum control over insurance policy and how proceeds are used.
  6. Can provide income to spouse without insurance proceeds being included in spouse’s estate.
  7. Prevents court from controlling insurance proceeds if beneficiary is incapacitated.

For more information about Life Insurance Trusts, you can contact our Estate Planning Attorney in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles today.

Estate Planning Attorney KC Marie Knox of Anker Reed HSC to be Adjunct Law Professor

Attorney KC Marie Knox

Los Angeles Attorney KC Marie Knox

Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney KC Marie Knox of Anker, Reed, Hymes, Schreiber and Cohen, A Law Corporation (Anker Reed HSC) has accepted an offer to be Adjunct Law Professor at Abraham Lincoln University School of Law.

Esteemed attorney KC Marie Knox will be teaching Wills, Trusts and Estates starting this winter quarter.

About Abraham Lincoln University School of Law:

Abraham Lincoln University (ALU) provides law education via online legal programs for those desiring to take the complete program online, but ALU does not stop there in giving students what they need. ALU offers an interactive education for students so that they know where to go to get their questions answered and to discuss classroom topics.

In-classroom interaction occurs on weekday nights and weekend morning classes. Students and faculty communicate through Live Chat Rooms, even during lecture time, allowing a free-flowing discourse. Lectures are recorded and are made available online for students who missed lectures.

Students also can set up their own Live Chat Rooms serving as small study groups. While traditional law schools and law programs in California have not fully embraced the potential for online student study groups, Abraham Lincoln University School of Law has been a pioneer in creating new ways for students to engage and study through our innovative online legal programs. Abraham Lincoln University School of Law will always strive to be at the cutting edge.

Follow the link to learn more about KC Marie Knox, Estate Planning Attorney in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, Ca.

San Fernando Valley’s Most Trusted Advisors Nomination

Los Angeles Attorney Rob Cohen

Attorney Rob Cohen, nominated as Most Trusted Advisor by San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Los Angeles Attorney Robert A. Cohen of Anker, Reed, Hymes, Schreiber and Cohen (Anker Reed HSC) has been nominated by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal as one of the Valley’s Most Trusted Advisors in the practice of law.

This event held by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal on October 12, 2011 recognizes 10 CPAs, 10 attorneys, 10 business bankers and 10 insurance professionals in the Los Angeles area for being the most trusted advisors to their clients.

Four specialty awards will be presented in the following categories:

Client services award
Trailblazer award
Community leadership award
Best managing partner (or equivalent top executive for financial services, banks, credit unions or insurance firm)

Attorney Rob Cohen specializes in many areas of the law including:

Probate and Trust Litigation
Business Formation
Corporate Formation
Business Transactions
Civil Litigation

About Anker, Reed, Hymes, Schreiber and Cohen, A Law Corporation:

Since 1974, Anker, Reed, Hymes, Schreiber, and Cohen, A Law Corporation is a full service business, real estate, employment, civil litigation, intellectual property and estate planning law firm based in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, CA.

Contact Anker Reed HSC today to speak with a:

Estate Planning Attorney in Los Angeles
Business Attorney in Los Angeles
Real Estate Lawyer in Los Angeles
Intellectual Property Attorney in Los Angeles
Civil Litigation Law Firm in Los Angeles

When Should I Set Up an Insurance Trust? : Understanding Life Insurance Trusts

This is part 4 of the blog series discussing life insurance trusts and estate taxes.

14. When should I set up an insurance trust?

You can set up one any time, but because the trust is irrevocable, many people wait until they are in their 50s or 60s. By then, family relationships have usually settled – and you know whom you want to include as a beneficiary.

15. Are there any restrictions on transferring my existing policies to an insurance trust?

Yes. If you die within three years of the date of the transfer, it will be considered invalid by the IRS and the insurance will be included in your taxable estate. There may also be a gift tax. Be sure to discuss this with your trust attorney.

16. Can I make any changes to the trust?

An insurance trust is irrevocable, so you can’t make changes after it has been set up. Read your trust document carefully, and be sure it’s exactly what you want before you sign.

Just don’t wait too long – you could become uninsurable. And remember, if you transfer existing policies to the trust, you must live three years after the transfer for it to be valid.

17.  Should I seek professional assistance?

Yes. If you think an irrevocable insurance trust would be of value to you and your family, talk with an insurance professional, estate planning attorney, corporate trustee, or CPA who has experience with these trusts.

Related articles

Who Can be Beneficiaries of the Trust? : Understanding Life Insurance Trusts

This is part 3 of the blog series discussing life insurance trusts and estate taxes.

10. Who can be beneficiaries of the trust?

You can name any person or organization you wish. Most people name their spouse, children and/or grandchildren.

11. How does an insurance trust give me control?

With an insurance trust, your trust owns the policy. The trustee you select must follow the instructions you put in your trust. And with your insurance trust as beneficiary of the policies, you will even have more control over the proceeds.

For example, your trust could allow the trustee to use the proceeds to make a loan to or purchase assets from your estate or revocable living trust, providing cash to pay expenses. You could provide your spouse with lifetime income and keep the proceeds out of both of your estates. You could keep the money in the trust for years and have the trustee make distributions as needed to trust beneficiaries, which can include your children and grandchildren. Proceeds that stay in the trust can be protected from courts, creditors (even ex-spouses) and irresponsible spending.

By contrast, if your spouse or children are beneficiaries of the policy, you will have no control over how the money is spent. If your spouse is beneficiary and you die first, all of the proceeds will be in your spouse’s taxable estate; that could create a tax problem. Also, your spouse (not you) will decide who will inherit any remaining money after he or she dies.

12. Are there other benefits to naming the trust as beneficiary of an insurance policy?

Yes. If you name an individual as beneficiary of a policy and that person is incapacitated when you die, the court will probably take control of the money. Most insurance companies will not knowingly pay to an incompetent person, and will usually insist on court supervision. But if your trust is beneficiary of the policy, the trustee can use the proceeds to provide for your loved one without court interference.

13. Where does the trustee get the money to purchase a new insurance policy?

From you, but in a special way. If you transfer money directly to the trustee, there could be a gift tax. But you can make annual tax-free gifts of up to $12,000 ($24,000 if your spouse joins you) to each beneficiary of your trust. (Amounts may increase periodically for inflation.) If you give more than this, the excess is applied to your federal gift/estate tax exemption.

Instead of making a gift directly to a beneficiary, you give it to the trustee. The trustee then notifies each one that a gift has been received on his/her behalf and, unless he/she elects to receive the gift now, the trustee will invest the funds – by paying the premium on the insurance policy. Each beneficiary must understand the consequences of taking the gift now; for example, it may reduce the trustee’s ability to pay premiums.

For additional questions on life insurance trusts and estate taxes, please contact our Trust Lawyer in Los Angeles today.

Understanding Life Insurance Trusts: Can I be my own trustee?

This is part 2 of the blog series discussing life insurance trusts and estate taxes

6. What if my estate is larger than this?

 I) If the trust buys the insurance, it will not be included in your estate. So the proceeds, which are not subject to probate or income taxes, will also be free from estate taxes.

II) Insurance proceeds are available right after you die. So your assets will not have to be liquidated to pay estate taxes.

III) Life insurance can be an inexpensive way to pay estate taxes and other expenses. So you can leave more to your loved ones.

7. How does an irrevocable insurance trust work?

An insurance trust has three components. The grantor is the person creating the trust – that’s you. The trustee you select manages the trust. And the trust beneficiaries you name will receive the trust assets after you die.

The trustee purchases an insurance policy, with you as the insured, and the trust as owner and (usually) beneficiary. When the insurance benefit is paid after your death, the trustee will collect the funds, make them available to pay estate taxes and/or other expenses (including debts, legal fees, probate costs, and income taxes that may be due on IRAs and other retirement benefits), and then distribute them to the trust beneficiaries as you have instructed.

8. Can I be my own trustee?

Not if you want the tax advantages we’ve explained. Some people name their spouse and/or adult children as trustee(s), but often they don’t have enough time or experience. Many people choose a corporate trustee (bank or trust company) because they are experienced with these trusts. A corporate trustee will make sure the trust is properly administered and the insurance premiums promptly paid.

9. Why not just name someone else as owner of my insurance policy?

If someone else, like your spouse or adult child, owns a policy on your life and dies first, the cash/termination value will be in his/her taxable estate. That doesn’t help much.

But, more importantly, if someone else owns the policy, you lose control. This person could change the beneficiary, take the cash value, or even cancel the policy, leaving you with no insurance. You may trust this person now, but you could have problems later on. The policy could even be garnished to help satisfy the other person’s creditors. An insurance trust is safer – it lets you reduce estate taxes and keep control.

For additional questions on life insurance trusts and estate taxes, please contact our Estate Planning Lawyer in Woodland Hills, Ca today.

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