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Planned Giving & Tax Reduction Law

Do you have an Endowment (Waqf) set up for your organization? Having an Endowment and having a planned giving program in place is incredibly important as far as setting the tone for the future of your organization. It also enables you to start cultivating relationships with those prospective donors who are invested in what you do and the value you bring. Not having such a program or an endowment fund can make the process of receiving donations that are otherwise critical to your work nearly impossible in some circumstances.

At Cornerstone Law Offices, we have been able to help many of our members in terms of setting up endowment funds and initiating their planned giving programs. Cornerstone has worked with many regional charities and local families; they have established vital relationships between donors and nonprofits that emphasize the value of charitable giving in terms of the enormous benefits to the community.

Not to mention, many people don’t understand how essential estate planning is in general or even how it works. Nearly 70% of Americans don’t have a will in place and that number is even higher in our community. Educating donors about estate planning and about the ability to continuously give to their preferred charitable organizations after they’re gone is a very necessary service. Cornerstone can work with your donors, offering a one hour FREE educational estate planning meeting during which they will discuss their concerns and goals for their families, appropriate tax planning strategies, guardianship and disability options, as well as how to go about leaving a bequest to their favorite charity.

Given Cornerstone experience and in-depth understanding of the planned giving process, their team can walk you through the steps associated with establishing an endowment fund. They can help you pinpoint where and how to proceed in implementing your planned giving program, and in conjunction with their estate planning services, Cornerstone team can assist you in reaching out to those potential donors who want to make a difference over the long term by donating through their wills and various other estate planning options.

Testimonials

We recently received a rather large bequest, and the only reason this was possible was because of the endowment fund that we established. We cannot stress enough how critical it is to have such a fund set up. Cornerstone Law Services made the process easier than we anticipated. They walked us through the setup start to finish and were readily available to answer any and all questions. We highly recommend Cornerstone, particularly when it comes to something as important as establishing your organization’s endowment fund.
Islamic Shura Council of Southern California

When it comes to setting up an endowment for your non profit,it can seem an intimidating process. We weren’t certain of what direction to go or even of where to start for that matter. This is where working with Cornerstone Law Services really made all the difference. They showed us step by step how the many moving parts came together. Ultimately, because of their guidance and the proactive way they approached our fund, we were able to secure a bequest. For this we sincerely thank Cornerstone and will most definitely continue to work with them in the future.
Islamic Institute of Orange County



Planning For Your Children

Having a Will Alone Simply Does Not Ensure the Care of Your Kids If the Unthinkable Happens to You!

If you are a parent of minor children who are counting on you, your estate plan must begin with ensuring your children would always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what happens.

One of our areas of greatest expertise is in planning for the well-being and care of the children you love – all the way from newborn to age of majority, and all the way through adulthood if your child has a special need.

Without Proper Planning, Here's What Could Happen

  • Your children could be placed into the care of strangers while the authorities figure out what to do (yes, even if you have a will in place and even if you have a living trust). It’s true that this would likely only be temporary, but trust us: you never want your children in the arms of strangers, not even for a minute.
  • ​Your children could be put into the custody and care of someone you would never want, like that one family member who has good intentions but who you would never want raising your kids.
  • ​A judge who doesn’t know you or your family will decide who will raise your kids, even if it is the last person you would ever want.
  • ​Your family could get into a long drawn-out custody fight or there could be a challenge to the guardians you have designated.
  • ​Up to 5% of the value of your assets could be lost to court costs and other unnecessary fees through the probate process, a court process that can tie up your assets for years and deprive your kids of the resources they need to live comfortably.
  • ​When your kids turn age 18, they get a check for whatever assets are left, no matter how immature they might be or what financial lessons they have not had a chance to learn yet.
  • ​Unscrupulous people out there find out when 18-year olds are getting that inheritance check by searching the public court records.
  • ​Unfortunately, the vast majority of estate planning attorneys do not address these issues and do not plan from a parent's perspective.
Yes, these things scare us too.

YES! I LOVE MY KIDS TOO
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Estate Planning

Planning For Everyone You Love And Everything You Have

Do You Really Know?

Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what would happen legally and financially to you, your loved ones, your money and everything else you care about if something unexpected happened to you?

If you have an estate plan and it is out of date, your assets could be lost to the state department of unclaimed property or to an unnecessary and public court process.

If you do not have an estate plan, then your state has a plan for you, and it's probably not what you want.

Here’s the bottom line: If you do not know exactly what would happen to everyone you love and everything you own, then the first step is to find out exactly what would happen legally and financially so that you can decide if the current state of your affairs is okay with you.

How Do We Help You With Estate Planning?

We meet together for your Family Financial Planning Session where the sole purpose is to get you more informed.

Before your Family Financial Planning Session, you will complete your Family Asset Inventory, which will help you to get clear about what you own and what you have to think about when it comes to planning for the well-being and care of your loved ones and your belongings.

If you decide the current state of affairs is unacceptable, and if we both decide that it is a fit to work together, then we will design an estate plan together that will best suit the needs of your family.

The foundation of your estate plan will often include a revocable living trust, which, when done correctly and maintained over time, should help your family avoid the cost and delay of the public probate process and minimize or eliminate estate taxes.

For people with additional needs, we provide advanced estate planning services.

​“Can I DIY My Estate Plan?”

We get this question all the time.

Unfortunately, most DIY plans do not work because much of what passes for estate “planning” is little more than word processing.

You answer a few automated questions and then the drafter (normally just software, not a human being) decides which “plan” is right for you. And then you are forced into a template document that may not reflect your needs or situation whatsoever.

This is not estate planning; this is little more than a “search and replace” of your family’s name and then the hit of the “print” button.

We Are Professional Estate Planners

The Family Protection Lawyers at Cornerstone Law Services will educate you and take the time to get to know you, your family, your concerns, your goals and your issues.

Our Family Protection Lawyers will gladly and patiently answer all your questions to design an estate plan that is exactly right for you and will keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Special Needs Planning

Navigating The Complexities Of Special Needs To Protect Your Loved One

How To Leave Assets For Your Special Needs Child

Estate planning for a family with special needs children comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that some lawyers are ill-equipped to handle.

We at Cornerstone Law Services are dedicated to ensuring your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you are no longer able to serve as their primary caregiver.

We offer a variety of estate planning tools and strategies designed to accommodate the unique circumstances presented by children with special needs and their families.

We can help you pass on the financial assets needed for your child to live a rich quality of life without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. We will also assist you in finding and appointing a trusted guardian and/or trustee to look after them in the event of your death or incapacity. And we will help with locating the best residential opportunities and identifying the best means to pay for them.

Special Needs Trusts

One “Catch-22” situation that typically arises in estate planning for those with special needs is how to leave enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and support a special needs loved one typically needs throughout their lifetime, while not disqualifying them from government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income.

If you leave a large lump sum of money directly to a special needs child, immediately there are concerns about how that might impact governmental assistance and whether your child is capable of managing finances on their own.

Fortunately, we have an estate planning tool called a “special needs trust” designed to provide supplemental financial resources for the physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled child without affecting their eligibility for public healthcare and income assistance benefits.

This said, the rules for such trusts are quite complicated.

For instance, funds from a special needs trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary and must be disbursed to a third party who is responsible for providing the goods and services your special needs child will need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Even once you have established a special needs trust, the care and attention we pay to your special needs child is not over. We know that your child’s financial and emotional requirements will over time, sometimes dramatically. And the laws governing public benefits change over time.

Given this, it is vital to work with an experienced special needs attorney who can create a comprehensive special needs trust that is both properly structured and appropriate for your child’s specific situation.

Special Needs Planning ​And Trusts​

If you need estate planning for your child with Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, or any another developmental or intellectual disability, we are here to help you.

We will help you develop a sustainable living plan for your child with special needs that will provide them with the finances they need to live a full life, while preserving their access to government benefits.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Asset Protection Planning

Protect Your Dream

Nobody Expects To Be Sued

Just ask the 20 million people involved in lawsuits last year.

Divorce, inheritance, health issues, creditors, employee disputes, theft, changing markets, malpractice suits, sexual harassment claims, natural disasters and disgruntled business partners – these are just a few issues that can result in devastating lawsuits for unprepared business owners.

The highest level of risk falls on those who think they are immune.

Americans are now more concerned than ever about protecting their assets from creditor claims, taxes, divorce and other disasters. And rightly so.

The more success you have, especially in business, professional practice or real estate activities, the more at risk you are as others see your success grow.

​Risky Business

Here are some of the risky behaviors you may be engaging in right now without even realizing it:

  • Will you be signing loan documents, a personal guaranty or a lease in the near future?
  • ​Do you have rental properties or employees?
  • Are you an attorney or physician?
  • ​Do you work in construction or perform professional services?
  • ​Are you getting married soon?
  • ​Are you or will you be getting married and you have children from a prior marriage or separate property assets?

Here’s the thing: All of these activities are activities we want to see you do more of!

But we do not want you to create a negative impact on your life or your future.

How You Can Take Maximum Risk With Minimum Worry

This is where we come in. We set up your estate planning in proper ways to ensure that you can take maximum risk with minimum worry.

We assist our clients in determining the appropriate level of asset protection planning for their particular circumstances. We will consider insurance, prenuptial agreements, asset segregation, choice of jurisdiction, gifting, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and asset protection trusts.

There are many different strategies to accomplish the protection of your assets both while you are alive and for your family after you are gone.

To find out which strategies may be right for you, schedule your Family Financial Planning Session and we will talk about it one-on-one.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Estate Tax Protection and Planning

Excessive Taxation Is Not A Foregone Conclusion

Uncle Sam’s Cut

You work your entire life to save and have enough money to comfortably retire – and ideally leave something for your loved ones when you pass away.

During your life you pay all kinds of taxes: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and so on. And at the end, the government still wants to tax you on the assets you have left at your death.

This is known as the estate tax, sometimes called the “inheritance tax” or “death tax.”

The best way to protect your assets and your family’s future from excessive taxation is to hire an attorney who specializes in estate tax planning. We can help you reduce – if not entirely avoid – the federal estate tax burden.

How Does the Estate Tax Work?

Estate tax is totally separate from federal income tax, property tax, sales tax, and every other type of tax you’ve paid during your lifetime.

Estate tax is a tax paid on the net value of all your assets owned at your death.

However, there are fairly sizable exemptions to the estate tax so it is primarily a high net-worth individual or family who is affected.

This said, the estate tax rate is a whopping 40% on your net estate, so if you do have an estate tax problem, we are talking about potentially massive sums of money your estate will owe to the government before a single heir would enjoy a single penny.

​Is The Estate Tax Really Your Problem?

President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the allowable exemptions to the estate tax that existed prior to 2017. This ensured that even fewer families would be affected.

The estate tax exemption for individuals increased from $5.4 million to $11.2 million, and the estate tax exemption for married couples increased from $10.9 million to $22.4 million.

Unless your estate is valued at more than $11.2 million, you do not have to worry about the estate tax at this time.

But for those who are affected, there are numerous estate planning strategies available that can greatly reduce the amount owed. We can advise you on the best options for your family.

Advanced Estate Planning Strategies

Families with high-value estates face several complex legal and tax issues – estate tax is only one of them.

We offer a number of advanced estate planning strategies that are aimed primarily at reducing a family’s tax burden. In addition to minimizing or eliminating the estate tax liability, we also help you leverage the advantages of gift tax and generation-skipping tax to pass assets on for successive generations without risk of a tax liability decimating your estate at each generation.

Some of our most popular advanced estate planning tools and strategies include:

  • Life insurance trusts
  • Qualified personal residence trusts
  • Grantor retained annuity trusts
  • Asset protection trusts
  • Land trusts
  • Dynasty Trusts
  • Family limited partnerships or limited liability companies
  • Asset gifting
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Protecting Your Estate During Your Life And After You Are Gone

You have worked hard to build you family’s wealth and legacy, so it makes sense to put similar effort into protecting those assets after you are gone.

This includes protecting your assets against excessive taxes.

At your Family Financial Planning Session, we can go into detail about how you can minimize the potential tax burden faced by your family so that you can maximize the inheritance you pass on to your loved ones.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Elder Law And Medicaid Planning

Whether for yourself or your aging parents, at Cornerstone Law Services we can help you plan for the financial, medical, and legal challenges that come with growing older. Our elder law attorneys can help you develop a comprehensive plan to ensure your wishes and preferences are honored in the future, along with protecting you and your assets if you become incapacitated and require assisted-living or nursing-home care.

Who Needs Long-Term Care Planning?

Thanks to healthier lifestyles and enhanced medical technology, life expectancies in the U.S. are at an all-time high. But that also means more seniors will require some form of long-term care. Whether in-home assistance or a long-term nursing home stay, it’s becoming inevitable that most of us will require such care at some point in our lives.

Problem is, such long-term care is growing more expensive every day. In fact, some studies estimate that nearly two-thirds of families will run out of money within the first year or two of moving into a nursing home. Unfortunately, most private health insurance plans and Medicare don’t cover long-term care costs—which can average $4,000 to $12,000+ per month in the U.S., depending on where you live and what level of care you require.

Elder Law & Medicaid Planning Attorneys Can Help

With such exorbitant costs, it’s no wonder we’re facing a looming elder-care crisis in this country. Indeed, it’s heartbreaking for seniors to see their entire life savings (and the inheritance they worked so hard to leave their family), get gobbled up by long-term care expenses.

Fortunately, with the proper planning in place, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will have the proper safeguards in place to keep you at home as long as you desire, cover the expenses of your care and receive the maximum quality of care, when it’s needed. We can also help you qualify for Medicaid and other benefits to help cover these ongoing expenses.

Indeed, using trusts and other asset-protection strategies, you and your loved ones may be able to take advantage of government benefits without “spending down” all of your assets or losing everything you own. Our elder law attorneys can help you create a comprehensive plan that allows you to live out your golden years without worry or financial hardship.

Additional Elder Law Issues

Elder law involves a number of issues that are intertwined with traditional estate planning. For example, its essential to have your durable power of attorney, will, living trusts, and advanced directives reviewed by your Personal Family Lawyer®.

There are special provisions that need to be present in these documents that—if not included—can create unnecessary obstacles for your estate planning attorney. We can provide the legal assistance you need to navigate this and other elder law issues, such as probate or adult guardianship.

Elder Law & Medicaid Planning Attorneys

Navigating the complex elder law landscape can be a daunting task. Having an experienced lawyer who’s familiar with the process of long-term care planning can be invaluable for ensuring not only the security and care of your loved ones, but also your peace of mind. Contact Cornerstone today for elder law attorneys who can help you put the proper planning in place.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Adult Guardianship And Conservatorship

Protecting You In Times Of Illness And Injury

When Guardians And Conservators Are Needed

Whether through illness, injury, or mental decline, anyone can require a guardian or conservator to care for them if they become mentally or physically incapacitated.

Children automatically qualify is not having the “capacity” to be in charge of their own financial affairs and decisions about their well-being.

And an adult may qualify as not having “capacity” if you become seriously ill or injured.

Unless you have the proper estate planning in place that names the individual who will be your guardian or conservator in case of illness or injury, a probate judge will be deciding who is your guardian or conservator.

At Cornerstone Law Services we can guide you through the often complex and emotional process of the probate court appointing a conservator or guardian for you or for your loved ones.

Obtaining Adult Guardianship Or Conservatorship

Seeking appointment of a guardian or conservator for an adult is a serious undertaking.

The law presumes that a person over age 18 can act for themselves unless shown otherwise. As a result, the probate court typically requires extensive proof that a guardian or conservator of an adult is warranted.

The process begins with the interested party filing a petition in court that requests the court declare the adult essentially “incapacitated,” at least from the legal perspective.

Sometimes, these proceedings are initially “ex parte” (in secret) so that a guardian or conservator may be appointed before other interested parties are aware, if there is a concern about other interested parties’ intentions or even the anticipated behavior of the adult at issue.

Many times, guardianship and conservatorship filings can lead to heated disputes between family members or close family friends who may claim they are better suited for the role.

Regardless of who files the petition, guardianship and conservatorship will only be granted if the court determines there is enough evidence to show the person is legally “incapacitated” to the point where they can no longer make legal, financial, or healthcare decisions for themselves.

​Who Is Eligible To Serve As An Adult Guardian Or Conservator?

Although courts typically give preference to a spouse or another close family member, a guardian or conservator does not have to be a relative.

Provided the person seeking appointment is a competent adult, close friend, or any other interested party, they are eligible to serve as long as the judge determines they are best suited for the role.

If a relative or friend is not willing or capable of serving, the court will appoint a third party to serve as guardian or conservator.

Sadly, this can lead to horrible financial and/or physical abuse of the incapacitated so it is best to plan ahead and name a guardian and conservator in your estate planning documents to keep the courts out of the picture entirely.

​Guardian And Conservator Responsibilities

Depending on the extent of the person’s incapacity, a court-appointed guardian or conservator can be given near complete control over your life.

There are two areas of decision-making where a guardian or conservator has authority: decisions about your well-being and decisions about your finances.

Decisions about well-being include determining your place of residence, your attending physicians, and your medical treatment.

Decisions about your finances include how your home is paid for, what your income is used for, whether to pursue legal actions on your behalf, how to manage your assets, filing your insurance claims, and many other matters.

Usually one person is appointed for both roles, but the court can also split the responsibilities among multiple parties.

For instance, one person may oversee the financial decisions, while another person handles living arrangements and healthcare.

Moreover, the court often requires the guardian and conservator to file detailed status reports such as financial accountings at regular intervals or whenever important decisions are made, such as when an asset is sold or when you require a substantial expense for your care.

Some of the most common duties of adult guardians and conservators include:

  • Paying ​your bills
  • Determining where ​you live
  • Monitoring ​your residence and living conditions
  • Providing consent for your medical treatments
  • Deciding how ​your finances are handled, including how ​your assets are invested and if any assets should be liquidated
  • Managing your real estate and other ​property
  • Keeping detailed records of all ​expenditures and other financial transactions
  • Making your end-of-life and other palliative​ care decisions
  • With the huge responsibility and loss of control that comes with guardianship and conservatorship, the process can often feel overwhelming.

The best course of action is to do your estate planning ahead of time to name exactly who is your preferred guardian and conservator so that your family will not have to deal with a courtroom or lawyers in the first place.

Unfortunately, some of our clients did not do estate planning soon enough, and we were called upon to help their family members with establishing guardianship or conservatorship.

If you are in this situation trying to help a loved one, we can help.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Probate Process

Helping You During A Time Of Loss

Our Condolences

If you are here to learn about the probate process after the passing of a loved one, we first want to say that we are very sorry for your loss.

We hope that the information you find on this page will simplify any legal and administrative headaches you might otherwise face during such a difficult time.

​Overview Of The Probate Process

Probate is a process through the court system to ensure the legal transfer of assets from the deceased’s name to the names of the deceased’s legal heirs or beneficiaries.

Probate is generally also necessary to prove the validity of a will, appoint someone to manage the estate, inventory and appraise estate property, pay the deceased’s debts and taxes, and distribute the estate property as directed by the will (or by state law if there is no will).

What Is So Bad About Probate, And What Should I Do Next?

You might read online that probate is ‘bad news’ and that it tends to be very expensive and time-consuming.

It depends, but one thing is for sure: The probate process is a public process that can be avoided with proper planning in advance.

But if you are now in a situation where you must go through the probate process to administer the estate of a loved one, the best thing you can do is get educated and get help to complete the process as quickly and with as little expense as possible.

​How Does Probate Begin?

State law designates who is entitled to begin the probate process.

The person with highest priority is the person who is named in the deceased’s last will as the “executor” or “personal representative.”

If there is no will, then the law generally establishes a hierarchy of who is eligible in what order, normally starting with a surviving spouse, then surviving adult children, and so on.

The individual who has priority would start the probate process by having an attorney prepare the legal documentation to initiate probate and by filing the original will with the probate court.

Depending on the circumstances of the estate and the family, sometimes probate can be opened without advance notice to interested parties; other times, advance notice to interested parties is required before probate is officially opened.

The best way to determine exactly what probate process applies to the estate is to meet with [Firm Name] so we can review your particular circumstances and give you the best possible guidance.

How is the Executor Chosen?

If the deceased person left a last will that is recognized as valid by the probate court, then the person named in the will as the executor or personal representative typically will be appointed, barring extraneous issues such as that person’s illness or old age.

If the person named in the last will is unable or unwilling to serve as executor, or if there is no will at all, then the probate court may appoint an adult family member, trusted friend, or professional third party.

How Does ​The Executor Get Paid?

State law provides that executors may be paid reasonable compensation for the time spent in administering the estate. This said, some executors, particularly if they are the surviving spouse or family members of the deceased, decline to be paid.

​Could I Be Held Personally Liable For Making A Mistake As An Executor?

Being an executor is a big responsibility.

The probate code contains pages upon pages of complex legal rules and procedures that an executor must follow during the probate process. In addition, there are certain deadlines that an executor must meet in filing papers with the court and providing notice to interested parties.

If an executor does not comply with any of these rules, he or she can be held personally liable for any losses to the estate.

​My Loved One Had A Trust… Will We Need To Go Through Probate?

In most cases if your loved one left a trust as the cornerstone of their estate plan, then no you do not need to go through probate.

However, there is one big caveat here: The deceased must have ensured that all of his or her assets were properly titled in the name of the trust or properly named the trust as beneficiary in order to completely avoid probate.

Unfortunately, not all estate planning attorneys who draft a trust for their clients ensure that assets are properly owned and beneficiaries are properly designated.

Time and again we have helped family members of a recently passed loved one who found out title and beneficiary designations were not proper, and then they face the frustration, expense and delay of a probate proceeding even though the person they loved had a trust.

You may be asking: Why is that?

Oftentimes, a trust was prepared many years ago and was never updated. Assets changed, the law changed, but the trust only got more out of date. That is why it is so very important that you carefully choose your estate planning attorney who will meet with you for regular reviews of your estate plan and your assets so that the planning you do now works as planned later.

This is why we do things so much differently than most other lawyers and law firms here at [Firm Name].

What Assets are Subject to Probate?

As a general rule, assets owned solely in the name of the deceased person are subject to probate.

By contrast, assets with title designated as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” are not subject to probate and pass by operation of law to the surviving joint owner. Also, assets with a “transfer on death” or “pay on death” designation, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, are not subject to probate and pass by operation of law to the designated person.

In some situations, however, assets that would otherwise pass by title or beneficiary designation to a specified person can be subject to the probate process. Please call us if you have questions about your specific situation.

​How Are Probate Assets Distributed If There Is No Will?

When there is no will or trust to dictate who receives what, then probate assets will be distributed according to state law.

In other words, the state legislature has made their best guess as to who you would want to receive your assets.

The typical hierarchy is that all probate assets go to your surviving spouse; or if you do not have a surviving spouse, then all probate assets are split equally among your children; and so on following the branches of your family tree.

Where it gets tricky is if your surviving spouse is not the parent of your surviving children; or if you have a surviving spouse, no children, and a living parent (some states dictate that your surviving spouse split your estate with your living parent in this scenario); or even if your surviving spouse has children who are not your children (some states have complicated formulas for who gets what in this case).

You can see how things can get complicated quickly when you rely on state law alone instead of doing your own planning upfront.

How Long Does Probate Take And How Much Does It Cost?

Probate proceedings typically take around 6-12 months if there are no snags whatsoever. Some probate cases linger for two or more years if beneficiaries are disputing or if the deceased left property in multiple states.

In terms of cost, every probate proceeding is different. Probate costs include court filing fees, attorney fees, appraisal fees, professional fees such as tax preparation, executor compensation, document certification fees, recording fees, and more. Some states allow fees to be determined as a percentage of the probate assets, and other states provide that fees are determined pursuant to a statutory schedule.

​How To Choose The Right Attorney For Your Probate Case

The best way to ensure your probate proceeding is handled properly and quickly is to choose your attorney wisely.

Do not assume that all attorneys are the same.

Too many lawyers only “dabble” in probate or trusts. Do not choose a lawyer who does probate “on the side” – this exposes you to blunders throughout the process, causing problems for you that should have never come up and ultimately delaying the resolution of the probate proceeding.

Plus, please know you are not required to hire the attorney who drafted the will!

Just because a particular attorney drafted the will does not mean that attorney must handle the probate process, nor are they necessarily the right person for the job. You need to be comfortable with the attorney and confident that they are the right attorney for you.

Choosing your probate lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make.

If you put in the time and effort to find the right lawyer, you will be rewarded with a compassionate advisor who will help you navigate the probate process with minimum headache and hassle.

“What Do I Do Now?”

If you are ready to get started with the probate process after the passing of a loved one, please contact us and we will help determine your next best steps.

We are here in service to making this all as easy as possible on you, and we look forward to relieving any administrative or legal burdens you may face during this time of loss.

Schedule Your Family Wealth Preservation Session

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Trust Administration

Peace Of Mind For Trustees And Beneficiaries

Here For You

We understand how you feel if you are here because a loved one has passed away. Please know we express our condolences to you if that is why you are at this page.

Trying to handle the technical details during a time of loss can be a challenge. We are here to help.

We want to help you through this process and take as much off your hands when it comes to locating assets, paying bills and making sure your loved one’s assets get to the right people without court or conflict.

If your loved one created a trust prior to their passing and all of his or her assets are in trust or named the trust properly as the beneficiary, then the good news is that we can begin the estate administration process completely outside of probate court.

Who Do We Help?

We work closely with the deceased’s family members, beneficiaries, and trusted advisors to ensure the deceased’s trust assets are inventoried, debts are paid and the assets are distributed to the named trust beneficiaries.

Depending on the type of trust involved, the assets may be distributed outright to the named beneficiaries, or the assets might be held in trust for the future benefit of the named beneficiaries.

​How Does Trust Administration Work?

Every trust has named a “trustee.” The trustee’s job is to ensure that trust assets are handled properly and the trust terms are complied with.

Serving as a trustee entails a huge level of responsibility and liability. We have seen many instances where the person named as trustee will have limited background or experience in carrying out the legal and financial duties that come with administering a trust.

That’s okay. As long as the trustee is aware the most careful course of action is to hire an attorney to help with trust administration, then the trustee can feel comfortable knowing the trust is being administered properly, all legal requirements are being satisfied and the trustee is minimizing or eliminating any personal liability related to the role of trustee to the extent possible.

During trust administration, we will evaluate title to and beneficiary designations of all of the deceased’s assets to identify which assets fall under trust administration and which assets might need to be probated. We will also coordinate appraisals of significant assets to get a clear picture of the deceased’s net worth for estate tax purposes.

​What Are The Trustee’s Responsibilities?

​Trustees are typically responsible for all of the following:

  • ​Notification to all heirs and beneficiaries of the pending trust administration
  • ​Identification and collection of assets
  • Determination of values of assets
  • Payment of all debts, expenses and taxes of the trust estate
  • ​Preparation of regular accountings during trust administration
  • ​Solicitation of professional advice as to the disposition of jointly held assets, life insurance, and retirement benefits that pass through or outside the trust
  • ​Preparation of federal and state tax returns, as well as gift tax and generation-skipping transfer tax reporting
  • ​Communication with beneficiaries throughout the trust administration process

​What Happens When Trust Administration Is Complete?

Once the trust assets are ready for distribution, the trustee will refer to the trust terms as to how assets will be distributed to the named beneficiaries or held for the benefit of the named beneficiaries in the trust.

Sometimes the trust terms dictate that assets may be distributed outright to the named beneficiaries, and other times the trust terms dictate that the assets should be held in trust for the benefit of the named beneficiaries.

It is very common, for example, for trust assets to continue to be held in trust for named beneficiaries if the beneficiaries are minors or young adults, have special needs, or might have creditor issues that would unnecessarily expose their trust inheritance to risk.

If the trust assets are to be distributed outright to named beneficiaries, then the trustee will prepare and sign the appropriate conveyance documents to the named beneficiaries.

This part of the process admittedly can be complicated and time consuming.

Plus, the trustee will likely want some sort of assurance that upon transferring trust assets to the named beneficiaries that the trustee does not remain open to future claims of wrongdoing or omission. That is where attorney guidance comes in to help you cover gaps you may not even know exist if you are navigating trust administration on your own.

Giving The Trustee Peace Of Mind

We are here to help you in your role as trustee so that you have the peace of mind you are performing your trustee duties as law the requires and that you are not exposed to undue risk or liability.

We will help you administer the trust as quickly and smoothly as possible.

And most importantly, we will help you communicate with the trust beneficiaries in a way that makes them feel an integral part of the process, not simply a bystander or a “nuisance.”

You would be surprised at how many litigious situations we have seen arise simply from the failure to communicate with beneficiaries. That will not happen when we are guiding you in your duties as trustee.

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Employment Law

Plaintiff’s Employment Litigation Firm Dedicated to Obtaining the Highest Level of Results for Mistreated Employees.

Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C. was built upon the foundations of honesty, hard-work, and experience. Too often, those who have been injured by the negligence of their employer are often bullied, pressured, or intimidated into settling for less than they deserve. At Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C., our goal is to not only protect and fight for our clients' rights, but to ensure that they get the settlements and verdicts they rightfully deserve.

The attention our employment litigation lawyers give to our clients is one of the many distinguishing characteristics that set Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C. apart from other firms. Our hard work and dedication serve as the backbone to our firm and our experience delivers the results our injured clients’ deserve.

Our plaintiff’s employment services include:

  • Wage and Hour Class Action for Unpaid Wages.
  • Consumer Class Actions.
  • Individual Employment
  • Harassment, Discrimination & Wrongful Termination
  • Personal Injury

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Tax Resolution Services

We understand that dealing with the IRS/State can be a very time consuming and stressful experience, especially if you’re negotiating an IRS payment plan. Our goal is not only to attempt to achieve tax debt relief and tax debt settlement at the lowest amount allowed by law, or a payment schedule that least disrupts your economic life, but also to reduce your anxiety and stress by having our CPA/TAX Lawyer deal and speak directly with the federal and state income tax agencies. We communicate with them professionally, so you don’t have to. ​

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Contract Drafting and Reviews

Get Legal Protection With Your Contract Lawyer

We ONLY FOCUS on drafting & reviewing legal documents for business and personal contracts. Our contract attorneys provide legal advice specific to your situation and corresponding legal concerns.

This includes legal consultation, negotiation, all for a flat-fee. Often these advantages are not offered by 'big-box' services. When finalizing legal agreements that will affect you and your business, it is imperative to have an experienced contract lawyer on your side.

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Bankruptcy Law

Are you worried about losing your home, vehicles, or property? Are you late on a mortgage or car payment? Can’t you afford to make payments on your credit cards or medical bills? At Cornerstone Law Offices, our Bankruptcy attorneys are here to help you through your financial distress and get you a fresh start! Upon filing for bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect which obligates all of your creditors to immediately halt all collection activities, foreclosure, and vehicle repossession.

Filing a bankruptcy on your own is complex and risky. There are different options for filing bankruptcy, therefore working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney is of utmost importance to protect your interests and whatever assets you may have. During your free initial consultation, one of our Bankruptcy attorneys will thoroughly analyze your current financial situation and provide you with the best available options!

CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY

Eliminate most debt and get a fresh start! Chapter 7, or Liquidation bankruptcy, eliminates most of your debt while allowing you to retain all, or in certain circumstances some, of your possessions. Under federal bankruptcy law, there are many exemptions that will allow you to protect your property, including but not limited to your home, vehicle and retirement plans. Generally, you will be qualified to file a Chapter 7 if your average monthly income is less than the median income for a household your size in your residing state. If your income is greater than the median and no special exceptions apply, then you may need to consider a Chapter 13.

Debts that are dischargeable under a Chapter 7 include but not limited to: Credit Cards; Medical Bills; Repossessions; Judgments; Loans- Payday & Personal. Non-dischargeable debts include but are not limited to: Certain Taxes; Child Support; Alimony; Student Loans; Court fines and/or restitution.

Chapter 11 & 13 Bankruptcy

Behind on your mortgage or car payments? A Chapter 13 filing will halt foreclosure proceedings and may allow you to repay unpaid mortgage payments through a repayment plan. Chapter 13 protects your property by stopping a foreclosure and/or repossessions. Is your driver’s license suspended for delinquent parking ticket fines or child support arrearage? Get your driver license back. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a reorganization and partial repayment of debts based upon what you can afford.

CONVERSION

Have you previously filed a bankruptcy and wish to convert it to a different Chapter? Stop in to discuss the option of being qualified for a Bankruptcy Conversion.

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Tax Saving Strategies

Financial success helps to determine a lot of the actions we take in life, and in light of this fact: keeping more of what you earn can be as important as how much you earn. Making sure that taxes eat up less and less of your paycheck is an important element to anyone’s financial success. CPA’S and tax preparers often times seem more like IRS compliance officers than tax reduction specialists. Their education is focused more on what they can’t do then on what they can do to reduce their client’s tax burden.

CPA’s will often do the books for different companies on a daily basis and some do taxes as well, but most tax preparers are interested primarily in doing as many returns as possible in that window between Jan 1st and April 15th. There are firms that specialize in tax planning and these firms go the extra mile in making sure that you get full advantage of the tax code while at the same time making sure that you never step over the IRS line for non compliance.

Most deductions in today’s world come from being self employed or having your own business. The proper use of the legal entities for tax purposes is very important because different entities are allowed to take advantage of different laws. There are laws on the books that can be used to take serious deductions that will be life changing savings. If asked about these laws, most tax preparers have no idea that these laws even exist.

One of the most common questions we are asked is “why doesn’t my accountant know about these laws”, and the only real answer is that even though they are legal and work for anybody with their own business, these laws were intended and created for the super wealthy and are not publicized by the IRS. That doesn’t mean that they won’t work for you, because they will and they will always pass the muster from the IRS.

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Real Estate

Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C. is dedicated to various aspects of Real Estate law for individuals and businesses. Our attorneys can assist you in the purchase and/or sale of residential and commercial real estate; title review; real estate closings; contract review and negotiations.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate, Cornerstone Law Offices also has on-site real estate brokers that can assist you. Whatever your needs may be, our experienced real estate attorneys and brokers are proactive in ensuring smooth transactions.

We will be there every step of the way to address your real estate needs. Using Cornerstone Law Offices for your real estate transactions is the right move!

Contact us today by phone 714-678-9770 or online to speak with an experienced real estate attorney!

“Our success is measured by our clients’ satisfaction”

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Personal Injury Law

What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal Injury Law includes slip and fall, car, truck, motorcycle, boat, bicycle, airplane, cruise ship, bus, amusement park, and ATV accidents. Personal Injury Law also covers drunk driving and distracted driver accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, defective product, worker’s compensation, and nursing home abuse. A victim of any of these events may have broken bones, scars, bruises, paralysis, amputations, injury to their brain, spine or eye, or they may have died because of the incident.

How can CORNERSTONE help?

Personal injury victims may suffer from bumps, bruises, scars, broken bones, paralysis, amputations, brain or spinal injury, and in the most tragic cases, death. Our goal is to make the victim and the victim’s family whole again. We can’t turn back the hands of time to prevent the accident from occurring, but we are committed to doing everything in our power to put our clients back in the position they would have been had the accident not occurred, which includes getting financial compensation for our clients to make up for their injuries.

Financial compensation can come in many forms: lost wages and benefits, past and future medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. The spouses and families of victims may also receive financial compensation.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, we can help you understand your options and determine your next steps. We have the experience to navigate what may seem like an overwhelming process and can provide the personal attention you deserve. When you have a question, we have an answer. Contact us now to get the help you need right away.

Can’t make it to us? We’ll come to you. Home visits are also available.

What do you do if you've been in an accident?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, first, get yourself and others to safety. Call the police so that the accident can be documented and medical help will be sent, if necessary. Once you are out of immediate danger, call Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C.so that we can dispatch an investigator to the scene of the accident to document the event, interview witnesses, and collect physical evidence. You will immediately have a team of experts on your side.

Keep our phone number 714-678-9770 in your cell phone for just such an emergency. Take photos of the scene, license plates, weather conditions, signage, and damage to all vehicles with your cell phone. Collect the names of witnesses and the other drivers, along with the other driver’s car insurance information. Report the accident to your insurance company, and seek medical attention for any injuries. We’ll be sure to guide you through the process every step of the way.

Please schedule a 15 minute phone call so we can quickly hear your story.

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Business Law Services

Ready For Greatness

Imagine this: You have a GREAT business idea and you’re ready to get going.

What do you do next?

What you should do next is decide what type of business entity is ideal for what you are wanting to do and accomplish. Choosing the proper business entity for your business is vital to the success of your business idea.

With almost no exception, the best course of action is to organize as some type of legal business entity, not as a sole proprietor.

Do you want your home, personal bank account, and retirement savings on the line for a business liability? If the answer is no, then you do not want to be a sole proprietor.

What Type Of Entity Is Best For Your Business?

Many factors come into play when deciding what type of entity is right for your business: the extent of protection from personal liability that you are seeking, the desired tax treatment of your business profits and take-home income, management structure, whether you anticipate adding future equity partners, capitalization, and more.

State laws determine how particular entities should be set up and conduct their business. These laws are very specific and set out the legal responsibility of each business form.

In addition, depending on your county and locale, other taxing authorities and regulatory agencies may also have regulations with which your business must comply.

We Turn Over Every Stone

We ask you the questions you may not even know to ask so that you do not worry that you are missing something.

And then we discuss your options with you in a way that allows you to know you are making informed decisions about the common questions that come up with proper business planning:

  • Where to form your entity
  • What type of entity to form
  • How to set up your bank accounts
  • What type of insurance you should have and how much you need
  • Which agreements you need immediately and which can wait
  • How to protect your intellectual property now and whether to own it in a separate entity from your operating assets
  • How to work with your CPA for maximum tax savings, and more

A Quick Debrief On The Most Common Business Structures

  • A general partnership is a business in which all partners participate fully in running the business and share equally in profits and losses. While forming a general partnership is easy (typically there are no filing fees or filing formalities), partners of a general partnership are typically all equally and personally liable for all debts and obligations of the general partnership.
  • A limited liability partnership (LLP) is like a general partnership in that the LLP allows all the partners to take an active role in the management of the business. However, unlike a general partnership, the LLP offers partners some liability protection from actions of the other partners and the partnership and the partnership employees. LLPs are most often used by groups of professionals such as doctors, accountants or architects.
  • A limited partnership is a partnership comprised of one or more persons who control the business as general partners and one or more persons as limited partners who contribute capital and share profits but who do not manage the business and are liable only for their amount of their contribution to the limited partnership.
  • A limited liability limited partnership (LLLP) is a limited partnership which registers with the Secretary of State as an LLLP. One benefit of registration is to limit the vicarious liability of the general partners in the same fashion that registration as an LLP limits the liability of the general partners of a general partnership.
  • A limited liability company (LLC) is a statutorily created entity comprised of members with limited liability. Limited liability companies can be managed by either their members or managers. This is the most common form of entity formation for entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • A corporation is an entity that provides limited liability for shareholders and centralization of management.
  • An S-Corporation is not an entity type in and of itself. Instead, “S-Corporation” is a status for tax purposes only. Both an LLC and a corporation can elect S-Corporation status for purposes of tax treatment. S-corp status means that the entity is a “pass-through entity.” All profits and losses of the business entity are passed through to the owners on their personal tax returns in their respective ownership proportions, regardless of how much money was actually distributed to each owner during the calendar year. S-corp status is a favorite planning tool for many business owners because it allows you to take a salary (which is always subject to self-employment tax) but the distributions are not subject to self-employment tax, giving you the opportunity for substantial savings and more financial flexibility to continue building the business you love.
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Islamic Faith Based Estate Planning

Learn How To Fulfill Your Religious Obligations, Protect Your Family, & Leave A Legacy After Death!

  • 100% Sharia-Compliant Wills, Trusts, & Other Documents
  • Leave Clear Islamic Funeral Wishes & Avoid Probate Court
  • Obey Directions In The Quran and Sunna
  • Take Matters Into Your Own Hands To Secure Valuable Assets

Trust Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C., To Lead You Through The Islamic Estate Planning Process With Excellence & Empathy

We Offer You Reliable Legal & Spiritual Guidance!

Prescribed for you when death approaches [any] one of you if he leaves wealth [is that he should make] a bequest for the parents and near relatives according to what is acceptable – a duty upon the righteous -Qur’an 2 : 180

To males belongs a share of what was left by parents and closest relatives, and to females belongs a share of what was left by parents and closest relatives, be it little or much—a portion decreed. —Quran 4:6

The Islamic law of inheritance is a religiously mandated fixed-heirship system. That means that upon death, a Muslim's estate is distributed to his or her Islamic heirs according to the Qur'an and Sunna: "an apportionment from Allah”. Islamic estate planning - the process of preparing your estate to pass to loved ones after your passing according to your religious values - can be a complicated and confusing process, which is why you need to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who can educate you on what you need to know and guide you every step of the way! Cornerstone Law Offices, P.C., is a group of family protection lawyers who specialize in providing legal services for the Muslim community.

Our lawyers will not only provide you with a carefully constructed, Sharia-compliant estate plan, but they will also make sure that you get more financially organized than you have ever been before. We empower you to make the best choices for your life, your family’s lives, and your legacy! Estate planning according to Islamic values can seem like an overwhelming process, but our goal is to simplify it for you and help you understand how it can be a wonderful tool to protect your family from court and conflict after you pass. Call today to schedule a consultation and discover what your options and obligations are!