Discussions are held with the client to understand the unique qualities of their family, and to create an estate plan which will consider the needs of our individual clients and how to transfer assets to the next generation. In planning for the transfer of assets to the next generation, account is taken of the strengths and weaknesses of the next generation, all with an eye toward saving estate taxes. Sometimes the most cost effective and efficient estate plan is one that is identified and developed within the family unit.
a) Our basic package Estate Planning Document package includes a Revocable Living Trust, a General Assignment of Assets to the Revocable Living Trust, Pour Over Wills, Springing Durable Powers of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives and Hippa Statements.
b)The firm either will transfer all the assets to the Revocable Living Trust or assist the client in whole or in part to transfer of all the assets to the Revocable Living Trust.
c) Specialized trusts are proposed for reasons such as reducing the value of a family residence or vacation home gifted to designated beneficiary(s), keeping the proceeds of insurance policies from being subject to the estate tax, and taxing income of the trust to the Settlor (for income tax purposes) while completing a gift to the trust beneficiary (for gift tax purposes).
1. Civil Examination Representation (i.e., Audit) – the firm usually works in conjunction with the client’s accountants during an examination, with the firm acting as a behind the scene consultant. However, in complex examination matters and those cases involving unreported/unexplained income and fraud issues, it is not unusual for the firm to act in the lead role during the representation. Regarding state issues, the firm represents clients before the appropriate administrative agencies (Franchise Tax Board, State Board of Equalization, Employment Development Department).
2. Appeals – If civil issues cannot be resolved at the examination level, the firm provides representation at the Appeals Office or Board levels to facilitate settlement without the necessity of a trial.
If our client owes a back tax liability to the Internal Revenue Service (or a state tax agency), which the client is unable to pay, we can help in various ways.
1. Offer In Compromise (Doubt As To Collectibility) – An offer in compromise on the grounds of doubt as to collectibility is an offer to pay the IRS less than the full amount due, in full settlement of the tax liability. This method of resolution normally is available when equity in assets, and current income and expenses are not sufficient to full pay the tax up front or over a period of years.
2. Offer In Compromise – Doubt As To Liability – When there is a dispute with the IRS as to the existence or amount of the correct tax liability, and the normal audit procedures have already expired without the client having presented his or her position to the IRS (which frequently occurs when the client is not familiar with various time constraints during the audit process), an offer in compromise – doubt as to liability – will provide the client with another chance to present his or her position. We assist our clients with recognizing the availability of this method and properly pursuing it.
3. Currently Not Collectible Status – Quite often, we can demonstrate to the IRS that our client does not have the financial ability to make monthly payments, considering his or her equity in assets, and current income and expenses. We can seek to place our client’s IRS account in a “currently not collectible” status. While in this status, the IRS will not engage in collection actions. However, unlike an offer in compromise, the tax liability will not be extinguished. Instead, it will remain due until the expiration of the statute of limitations (which normally occurs 10 years after the tax is first assessed).
4. Payment Plan – If our client is not eligible for an offer in compromise on the grounds of doubt as to collectibility (or our client cannot obtain the money needed to make the offer), but has the financial ability to make monthly payments, we can negotiate an installment agreement under which monthly payments will be made. The monthly payment amount will be based on the client’s ability to pay, considering equity in assets, and current income and expenses. We will negotiate for the lowest possible payment plan.
1. Penalty Abatement – A client owing tax to the IRS frequently also will owe a late filing penalty for not timely filing a tax return, or a late payment penalty for failure to timely pay tax due. The primary method to abate these penalties is to show that reasonable cause existed for the late filing or late payment. We will help prove the existence of reasonable cause.
2. Tax Liens – In order to protect the government’s interests, it will seek to record a tax lien. Aside from credit ramifications, it could seriously hamper the ability to sell or transfer assets. We can assist in having the lien released, discharged or reviewed in an administrative hearing. In the absence of a favorable administrative outcome, we can initiate action in the Tax Court.
3. Tax Levies – If the IRS has issued a levy which freezes our client’s bank account, or has sent a wage levy to our client’s employer which will result in a portion of salary being paid over to the IRS, we can assist with the immediate removal of these levies. Included in this category of relief are due process procedures at an administrative hearing or in Tax Court.
4. Innocent Spouse – If the IRS is billing our client for taxes which the client believes should be the sole responsibility of his or her spouse (or ex-spouse), we can assist with showing that our client is an “innocent spouse” and should not be responsible for the tax liability.
5. Interest Abatement – On occasion, we can abate interest, if caused by certain IRS errors.
The firm represents clients during examinations and appeals of the City of Los Angeles business tax determinations. For instance, the actual method of computation or the proper tax classification may be in issue. We represent clients at the audit, the assessment appeals hearing, the Board of Review and, if necessary, we will arrange for litigation counsel and work with this counsel at trial in Superior Court.
The firm represents clients in the Probate Court concerning the probate of an estate or trust.