Areas of Practice
With 20+ years of experience, Catherine specializes in five major areas of law: Estate Planning, Estate Tax Planning, Trust Administration, Probate, Real Property & Business Transactions, Marital Property Issues including Pre-marital Agreements. Her goal is to provide you with a clear understanding of relevant California and Federal laws to come up with a perfect estate plan for you.
We all want to provide and care for those we love. An estate plan is a series of legal documents that allow you to state your wishes and how you want your estate to be distributed to your beneficiaries. Your estate is the cash, property, investments and business you've accumulated. The estate plan creates an orderly transition of your assets and provide for those you're responsible for.
- Every estate plan has these basic goals.
- Letting your loved ones know your intentions
- Insuring that your estate is transferred to your beneficiaries in the simplest manner
- Avoiding the complications of probate
- Paying the least amount of taxes on your estate
- If needed, assigning guardians for minors
Estate plans reduce anxiety, stress and confusion over how you intended to distribute your assets. You will also be passing on your legacy, giving your beneficiaries an opportunity for a better future.
Estate Tax Planning
When you want to preserve your wealth for your heirs, estate tax planning provides forecast of what potential estate tax liabilities you may encounter. This insight will help minimize your tax exposure. Ms. Catherine Yee can guide you through this process and discuss the exemptions available to minimize your estate's taxes. The rules for estate taxes changes, and may adversely affect how you or your beneficiaries pay taxes. It is always smart to have your estate plan reviewed frequently, depending on your situation.
For those who have estate plans, it is also wise to conduct a review when your situation changes. On occasion, your change in situation may change your tax liability. Here are just a few of the situations that can trigger a review.
- You just got married
- You just started a family
- You purchased your first home
- You recently lost a spouse or other family member
- You were recently divorced
- You're in a second (or later) marriage
- You have a disabled family member
- You have no direct heirs
- You own one or more businesses
- You own real properties or substantial amounts of cash or investments
- You want to leave some or all of your estate to charity
If you fall into one of the above categories, meeting with Ms. Catherine Yee to review your estate plan will allow you to keep current with the most recent tax laws and any changes you may want to incorporate into your estate plan.
Trust administration is a necessary process that occurs after the death of either one or both settlors. To protect the assets and successor trustees, there are many things that must be done to ensure proper administration. Trust administration is a process that will give the successor beneficiaries and trustees a great peace of mind knowing that it has been administered correctly.
Probate is a legal process that takes place after an individual dies. In this process the court will verify that the deceased person's will is valid. The process then identifies the individual's assets then pays their debts and taxes. Finally the remaining assets will be distributed as the will (or state law, if there's no will) directs.
The goal of any estate plan is to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate consequently saving valuable time. When you have a plan in place, it will also maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. With an estate plan, probate is a matter of properly administering what you've stated in the estate plan.
Dying without a will is known in law as dying intestate. This can be costly to your heirs and leaves you no influence over who gets your assets. If this were to happen in the U.S., intestate succession laws would come into play, and your relatives would have to go through probate to claim ownership and perhaps even fight over assets. The state would determine how your property passes to your heirs. If no heirs fit the state's formula, your assets may become property of the state. A will can help you avoid the pitfalls of dying intestate; however, even if you have a will, your assets will still be subjected to the timely and costly probate process (court involvement). If you are in this situation, Ms. Catherine Yee can assist in advising you of what rights and options you have.
Real Property and Business Transactions
Catherine represents her business clients advising them on how best to reach the goals they've set. Among the types of transactions include, negotiating, preparing, and analyzing business contracts, partnership agreements and other operating agreements, real property sales and transfers.
Marital Property Issues
Marital Property Issues primarily covers divorce and pre-marital agreements. California is one of eleven states that can make the division of assets a complex process. There are two categories that you should be aware of: Community property and Separate property. California law defines community property as any asset acquired or income earned by a married person during marriage. Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest, and after the parties separate. The law requires that the community estate be divided equally if there is no written agreement requiring a particular division of property. This means that from the total fair market value of the community assets, the joint obligations of the parties are subtracted, yielding the net community estate.
Clients usually have questions regarding the division of pensions, retirement, profit sharing and privately held businesses. It is not at all unusual for our clients and to have an interest in marital property issues, particularly in the context of their own estate planning.
When you need representation, Ms. Catherine Yee can guide and advise you through this process to get the best possible outcome possible.