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Hoping To Avoid Probate and Federal Estate Taxes?

At Gilfix & La Poll Associates, we work with a variety of clients, including some individuals who wish to avoid or lessen their estate taxes. Some of our clients hope that that if they avoid the process of probate, they can also avoid federal estate taxes. And while both the process of probate and federal estate taxes are part of estate law, they are very different. Avoiding one does not negate the other.

Probate is a legal process which includes validating a decedent's will, and settling his or her estate. Probate assets are the assets owned by the decedent, such as a bank account -- assets that were not given a designated beneficiary, a joint owner or listed as part of a living trust.

Federal estate tax is a tax on assets the individual owned at death, such as a retirement account or an investment account. An individual may be required to pay federal estate taxes on assets, regardless of whether those assets went through probate.

If you have concerns about probate or federal estate taxes, and wish to avoid one or both, contact a qualified estate planning attorney at Gilfix & La Poll Associates.

Michael Gilfix is an estate planning attorney in Palo Alto California and is one of the pioneers of elder law. To learn more, visit Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP at

Ninth Annual Special Needs Trust Community Seminar

As part of our ongoing dedication to working with our clients and the local community, Gilfix and La Poll Associates, LLP, is hosting our ninth annual Special Needs Trust Community Seminar. The event is designed to provide you and your loved ones with up-to-date, reliable information about special needs trusts and public benefits eligibility for disabled individuals.

A Special Needs Trust, sometimes known as a supplemental trust, is a legal document that ensures there will be security in place in the future. One of the hardest things for any parent with a special needs child is planning for what happens when that parent is no longer able to care for the child. There are worries and concerns about what the future may hold. A Special Needs Trust can alleviate that concern by putting a trustee in place to oversee the management of the trust. The trust will hold assets that can be used for special interests, education, recreation – all without undercutting anyone's eligibility for much-needed government benefits.

We hope you'll join us at the Special Needs Trust seminar on April 2nd at the Crowne Plaza Cabana in Palo Alto, CA. There are two sessions: 2PM – 4PM and 6PM – 8PM, both free and open to the public. Also in attendance will be numerous local organizations.

For more information on the seminar or about special needs trusts, call (650) 493-8070 or (408) 971-7292.

Protect Your Assets if a Nursing Home is Needed

While few seniors expect to spend even a short span of time in a skilled nursing home or other care facility, the older you get, the more likely it is you will need a nursing home stay. An illness, an injury from a fall, or another event may require a stay, and the cost is exorbitant. The average cost of a stay for one year in a nursing home in California is more than $80,000, making it prohibitive for most seniors and retirees - and not all care is covered by insurance. It is of the utmost importance for your own safety and security, as well as to help ease the burden of your care for your loved ones, that you work with an elder care or estate planning attorney before you need that care.

Medicare and most private health insurance programs do not cover nursing home expenses, and private long-term care insurance can be extremely costly.

Luckily, you do have some options. If you are a military veteran or the spouse of a veteran, there may be benefits available from the Veterans Administration to help with cost. Also, you may be able to use Medi-Cal to pay for a nursing home stay while protecting your assets. Enrollment in Medi-Cal includes stringent requirements; work with an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney to see how planning for Medi-Cal will work with your future plans.

Michael Gilfix is an estate planning attorney in Palo Alto California and is one of the pioneers of elder law. To learn more, visit Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP at