February 2014      

Team Tisser Foundation (TTF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Doron M. Tisser and his wife Laurie. TTF raises money for various charitable purposes and does not focus on any one charity or charitable purpose. The goal is to raise as much money as possible to "Help Make A Difference" by "Improving Life for Others." TTF has made donations to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Challenged Athletes Foundation, as well as charities helping people affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunamis. Since 2000, TTF has donated over $250,000 to over 40 different charities. Friends and clients generally donate money to TTF to support Doron's participation in triathlons and marathons. If you would like more information about TTF, please contact Doron at doron@tisserlaw.com, or visit www.teamtisser.org

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About
Doron M. Tisser

Doron M. Tisser has specialized in estate and gift planning, tax planning, trust and probate administration, charitable giving, buy-sell agreements, and related areas for over 30 years. Mr. Tisser is one of less than 100 attorneys in California who has been designated as both a Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law, and as a Certified Specialist in Taxation Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Mr. Tisser has been chosen by his peers as a Top 100 Super Lawyer in Southern California since 2011. In addition, he has been selected by his peers as Super Lawyer for Southern California since 2009. Mr. Tisser has also been awarded the highest possible rating by his peers, an “A.V.” rating, for the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. This rating is based on ethical considerations and legal skills.

Mr. Tisser has been quoted and referenced in many magazines and newspapers across the country including Forbes Magazine, US News and World Report, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Doron competes in triathlons, including Ironman races, and raises money for charities through Team Tisser Foundation, a non-profit corporation he co-founded with his wife Laurie.

 

What’s Happening

Doron M. Tisser has been named a Super Lawyer for 2014 in the field of Estate Planning by his peers. In addition, his point total in the nomination, research and blue ribbon review process put him in the top 100 attorneys. Only 5% of all attorneys are selected by their peers as Super Lawyers. This is the 6th year in a row he has been awarded this honor.

Furthermore, Doron M. Tisser celebrated 20 years as a Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law.

ESTATE PLANNING FOR BLENDED FAMILIES

A client came into our office for advice about her recently deceased father, with whom she had a great relationship. He was wealthy and had remarried after the death of his first wife, the client’s mother. The second marriage lasted over 30 years, during which time the wife and the adult child had a good relationship.

It had now been three months since her father’s death and she had not received any information from the surviving spouse about her father’s estate plan. Upon asking the spouse, the client was told there was no will or trust, and everything was held jointly between the spouses. A review of the real property records confirmed the story.

After six months passed, the child stopped hearing from the spouse, had learned that the family home was for sale, the phone number was disconnected, and the spouse was moving in with a man from a new relationship. Whether or not her father had intended it, the child would likely never see any of the family assets.

About half of Americans will become part of a blended family at some time during their lives, according to recent studies. A blended family, for purposes of this article, is one where either or both of the married persons have children from a previous relationship.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for blended families, because every stepparent-stepchild relationship is different. The stepparent may have raised the stepchildren from a very early age, or he or she may have come along after their adulthood (and may be the same age as the children – or younger!).

Each party will need to ask themselves tough questions during the estate planning process, such as:

  • Will my spouse take care of my children after I am gone? Will they favor their own children?
  • Should my spouse control how much money they need during their life from my share of the estate, or should my adult children or someone else be the trustee?
  • How much, if any, should go immediately to the children at my death so that they do not have to wait until my spouse dies to inherit money?

Had the client’s father in the example above asked himself these questions, an estate plan could have been drawn up to fulfill his (likely) intent to provide for his spouse and his child.

Traditionally, clients have been motivated to do estate planning because of concerns about estate taxes. Now, with estate tax exemptions rising and fewer people needing to do tax planning, we are seeing two important consequences. The first is that more practitioners – many of whom do not have significant experience in estate planning – believe they can add wills and trusts as a service to their current firms without worrying about understanding tax laws. They do this, however, without understanding the relevant family issues.

The second consequence is that many of the estate tax planning techniques, such as QTIP trusts or A-B trust planning, had the secondary function of protecting a deceased spouse’s estate plan from changes by the surviving spouse. Specifically, these trusts would allow the surviving spouse to use the deceased’s portion of any community property and separate property during the survivor’s life, but the remaining assets would come back only to the deceased spouse’s children at the survivor’s death. This remains an important issue in estate planning.

As trusts are simplified in response to the new estate tax laws, it is essential that practitioners do not forget about family dynamics. A trust that provides that all assets go to the surviving spouse may be beneficial for tax purposes as well as simplify administration during the survivor’s life, but it can inadvertently cause the first spouse’s children to receive nothing, as in the example above.

The focus in estate planning is now on protection. This means protection from second spouses, and protection for children from creditors, their own spouses, and even from themselves. These issues are in addition to the traditional concerns about probate and taxes.

Sometimes these conversations can be uncomfortable, but the benefits of putting these blended family issues on the table and discussing them in an honest environment can mean the difference between a legacy and a disaster.

 

Tisser Law Group, LLP | 5425 Farralone Ave, Suite 100 | Woodland Hills | CA | 91367

doron@tisserlaw.com – Doron M. Tisser, Esq.
brian@tisserlaw.com – Brian H. Standing, Esq.
crystal@tisserlaw.com – Crystal Yu, Law Clerk

judy@tisserlaw.com – Judy Schwarz, Senior Paralegal
erica@tisserlaw.com – Erica Opperman, Senior Paralegal | Director of Operations

 

amber@tisserlaw.com – Amber McBride, Paralegal
laura@tisserlaw.com – Laura Stein, Business Development Director | Executive Assistant
allison@tisserlaw.com – Allison Shorr, Client Service Coordinator
heather@tisserlaw.com – Heather Lanet, Admin. Assistant
zion@tisserlaw.com – Zion Dungo, Admin. Assistant
jesus@tisserlaw.com – Jesus Esteves, Admin. Assistant  
This Newsletter is intended to provide legal information only; legal information is not legal advice and you should consult with qualified legal counsel prior to implementing any estate planning. The transmission or receipt of information to or from this Newsletter is not intended to create, and does not create or constitute, an attorney-client relationship. No portion of this Newsletter may be reproduced or used in any manner other than for the private information of the reader without the express written consent of Tisser Law Group, LLP. The testimonials throughout this Newsletter were provided by actual clients. To maintain their privacy their names may have been abbreviated. Please note that testimonials do not warrant, guarantee or predict your particular results. Copyright Tisser Law Group, LLP 2013. All Rights Reserved.