Estate Planning in a Blended Family

In this era of the blended family, there are many challenging legal issues. Separation and remarriage are currently so common in our nation that blended families have mostly turned into the new standard. At the point when two adults wed and it is possible that either of them has children from a past relationship, the entanglements of ignoring the consequences without a will can bring anguish that intensifies when a partner is deceased. It is advisable that both of the adult partners have legitimate plans established for this eventuality. If you have remarried and haven't met with a legal advisor, now is an ideal opportunity to begin.

Read more: Blended Families And Estate Planning →

Rebecca S. Koch Joins the Law Firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell

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Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP is pleased to announce that Rebecca Koch has joined the firm, effective Aug 1, 2017.

Ms. Koch is a skilled and compassionate attorney who enjoys helping her clients to achieve their personal and business goals. Her practice focuses primarily on estate planning, probate, trust administration, business and real estate transactions.

Prior to joining Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell in 2017, Ms. Koch spent several years in private practice, predominantly assisting clients with trust and estate matters. She simultaneously served as the Director of Operations for a local skincare company, fortifying her knowledge relating to small business operations and management.

Read more: Rebecca Koch Joins Rogers Sheffield & Campbell →

A couple’s revocable living trust can be freely amended during their joint lifetimes.  Amendments can be used to adapt to changes in law, family circumstances, or the couple’s wishes.  However, once the first spouse passes away, a revocable living trust usually becomes wholly or partly irrevocable and cannot be easily fixed or modified.  Therefore, it must be frequently reviewed and maintained to ensure it achieves its intended purpose.

Read more: Its A Good Time To Review Your Revocable Living Trust →

Santa Barbara was dealt a minor blow as officials for a third time try to get a lawsuit over the city's short-term vacation rental ban thrown out of Ventura County Superior Court.

"This is a victory for those people who could not otherwise enjoy the Santa Barbara coastline."
--Theo Kracke

Read more: Vacation-Rental Lawsuit Against City Of Santa Barbara Moves Forward →

Theo Kracke won a battle in his ongoing lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara over its decision to ban short-term vacation rentals (STVRs). Earlier this year, the City filed its second demurrer and tried to have the lawsuit dismissed for the third time. However, on June 26, 2017, the court overruled the demurrer and made certain findings that validate the core arguments of the lawsuit. Now that this major obstacle to the lawsuit has been removed, it will proceed in court.

Read more: Court Rules Against City Of Santa Barbara →

Many folks erroneously believe that the safest place to store valuable items is in a bank safe deposit box.  This is because they think that banks have the best 24 hour security and alarm systems and are least likely to be subject to destruction by fire or other catastrophes.  But what they fail to take into account is that the contents of a safe deposit box are rarely insured, while items in one’s home are more often covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies.

Read more: 12 Things To Keep In A Safe At Home →

Jason Wansor and Travis Logue, attorneys with the Santa Barbara law firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP, are representing Theo Kracke in his lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara over its ban of short-term vacation rentals. 

Read more: Lawsuit Against Santa Barbara's Ban On Short-Term Rentals Can Proceed →

On March 10, 2017, Ventura Judge Mark Borrell issued a ruling to deny the City of Santa Barbara’s anti-SLAPP motion in the lawsuit brought by Theo Kracke challenging the City’s ban of short-term vacation rentals as a violation of the Coastal Act.

Read more: Court Denies City of Santa Barbara's Anti-SLAPP Motion →

We have all been twisted up and down by the economy over the last 10 years. In 2008, most people told me that they had experienced a decline of 30 to 50 % of their investments. With news of bank failures, manipulation of the stock market, and the collapse of the mortgage lending industry, it appeared back then that there was no place of refuge. This is thankfully not 2008, but there will always be ups and downs that play with our investments and our minds.

Read more: Estate Planning Is More Critical Than Ever →

The March 3, 2017 front page of the Santa Barbara Newspress featured extensive quotes from Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell attorney, Jason Wansor.  Yesterday, the Ventura court heard argument on Motions for Demurrer, Anti-SLAPP, and Preliminary Injunction.  The Firm is representing Theo Kracke in his lawsuit against the City over its ban of short-term vacation rentals. 

Read more: Rogers Sheffield & Campbell, LLP Responds To City Of Santa Barbara's Free Speech Argument In Vacation Rental Ban Suit →

On February 16, 2017, Travis C. Logue and Jason W. Wansor, attorneys with the Santa Barbara law firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP, filed Theo Kracke’s Opposition to the City of Santa Barbara’s Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Pubic Participation) Motion.

The Coastal Commission’s letter of December 6, 2016 states the Coastal Commission’s current position that any regulation of short-term vacation rentals within the Coastal Zone amounts to “development” and requires either a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) or an amendment to the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP).  The relief requested in Mr. Kracke’s Petition is that the City either obtain a CDP or amend its LCP.  Even though Mr. Kracke’s Petition is consistent with the Coastal Commission’s policy on the issue, the City characterizes the Petition as “frankly outrageous.”  In addition, the City asserts Mr. Kracke’s legal challenge is intended to chill the City’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment and is a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” under Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16.  The City also requests an award of attorneys’ fees.

Read more: Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP Opposes City of Santa Barbara’s Anti-SLAPP Motion →

For most people, estate planning includes transferring assets to their children or grandchildren without paying any taxes.  The problem is that these transfers are typically subject to federal taxes.  The transfers are either treated as gifts for which gift taxes are owed, or sales for which capital gains taxes are owed.  But there is a solution to this dilemma.  Because of discrepancies in the Internal Revenue Code, it is possible to transfer the appreciation of assets to other generations without having to pay either tax.  This technique is through the use of what is known as Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts.

Read more: Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts →

You have worked long and hard to accumulate your investment properties. Now you are faced with the problem of how best to plan for transfers to family members without having your investments decimated by income and estate taxes. If you make an outright gift, gift taxes are due. Moreover, you no longer control what you have given away. Transfers at death incur estate taxes, and the taxes are usually paid with funds that have themselves been taxed.

Don’t despair. There is a solution that allows you to both transfer your properties and retain control after the transfer: the family limited partnership.

Read more: Family Limited Partnerships →

Remember way back in 2008? Over 20% of American real estate owners had property that was worth less than the outstanding debt on the property. In the meantime, the lending industry became increasingly stringent, and fewer people qualified for loans, especially in areas like Santa Barbara. For anyone that occupied real estate as a residence, a foreclosure or short sale resulted in the lender sending a 1099 form reporting the amount of the debt that was written off.  That debt forgiveness was included as income, and counted in the income tax calculation.  All in all, that was a tough climate for investors.

Read more: Shared Ownership of Real Property →

We are fortunate to live in an area where strong demands for real estate have pushed the prices to unimagined levels.  For many of us, home ownership has increased our net worth beyond the exemption amount from federal estate taxes.  Since one the goals of estate planning is to minimize the costs associated with transferring assets to your beneficiaries, it pays to make transfers in a way that minimize, if not eliminate, transfer taxes such as gift and estate taxes.  Personal residence trusts are a valuable tool in achieving that goal by leveraging the value of gifts.

Read more: Qualified Personal Residence Trusts →

If one of the primary goals of estate planning is to have your wishes carried out, even when you are incapacitated or deceased, that requires choosing people to act on your or your children’s behalf as you intend. When you can’t speak for yourself, who can you count on to speak for you? You have a choice: you can either leave it to chance, or you can create certainty.

Read more: Guardians and Conservators: What’s the Difference? →

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP Files Suit Against City of Santa Barbara

Theo KrackeTheo Kracke

On November 30, 2016, Travis C. Logue and Jason W. Wansor, attorneys for the Santa Barbara law firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP, filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Civil Penalties for Violation of the California Coastal Act against the City of Santa Barbara (the “City”).

The suit stems from the City’s decision to ban short-term vacation rentals (STVRs).  The prohibition will apply to all STVR properties beginning January 1, 2017.

The petition was filed on behalf of the firm’s client, Theo Kracke, a 35-year resident of Santa Barbara, and proprietor of Paradise Retreats World Class Vacation Rentals.  Mr. Kracke has been engaged in operating, managing and servicing vacation rentals in and around the City since 2006, many of which are located within the City’s Coastal Zone, as defined under the Coastal Act.

Read more: Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP Files Suit Against City of Santa Barbara Over Vacation Rental Ban →

One of the advantages of trusts is privacy. Unlike the probate of a will, there is no legal requirement that the trustee file the trust with the local court. However, privacy is also one of the disadvantages of trusts. Unless the Trustee provides information about the trust and trust assets to the trust beneficiaries, the beneficiaries will have no idea whether or not they have received all that they are entitled to, or whether the trustee has properly done his or her job.

Read more: Trust Beneficiaries' Bill of Rights →

A key goal of what we refer to as “estate planning” is to preserve a legacy for your family.  How can you get as much of your estate as possible into the hands of your beneficiaries?  That means minimizing, if not eliminating erosion from taxes and court related fees. While there is uncertainty surrounding the future rates of gift and estate taxes, you may be tempted to put your plans on hold. But strategies exist to pass significant assets to your beneficiaries at little or no tax cost to you.

Read more: The Grantor Retained Annuity Trust →

The purpose of this article is to explain the goals of estate planning so as to make you an expert on the subject. After reading this article, you will not only understand this for yourself, but also be able to explain it to your friends and family.

Read more: Estate Planning 101 →

Life is full of risks. We may get sued because of the activities we engage in, what we own or even who we know. Virtually every aspect of life can be the source of creditor’s claims, litigation and judgments. Being alive is risky business! You have worked hard to accumulate your assets, now how can you protect them for yourselves and your heirs? Is it really possible to have total asset protection? This article is intended to describe the tools that can offer near, if not complete, protection from life’s legal risks.

Read more: Total Asset Protection →

One of the most common types of real estate cases we litigate are easement disputes. Since easements usually involve one's personal residence or investment property, such disputes may be deeply emotional and expensive.

What is an easement?  Quite simply, an easement is the right to use another's land for a limited purpose. Commonly, neighbors are granted easements for uses, such as, driveways, fences, hedges, scenic views, and utilities. Most easements are recorded and appear on your property's title report, which is generated during a purchase and escrow.  Since it is a contractual obligation, one risk of having an easement on title is you could become a party in a future lawsuit if a dispute arises.

Read more: Easy On Easements →

If you’re like most people, you have the best of intentions to execute plans for how you want your estate distributed when you die or your affairs handled should you become incapacitated. Unfortunately, unless you take action, those best intentions will not be enough. Here are six of the most common estate planning mistakes people make:

Read more: Six Estate Planning Mistakes Most Commonly Made →

The primary goal of estate planning is to have our wishes carried out, especially when we are not here. Those wishes include care for ourselves if we become disabled, and care for those that matter the most to us, for example, the pet companions that have made such a difference for us. You naturally want to make sure that your dear pet companions are cared for when you are no longer able to be their caregiver. They have served you and added to the quality of your life. How can you guarantee that others will provide for them as you would wish?

Read more: Pet Trusts: Protection For Our Furry Friends →

People often think of life insurance as “tax-free,” but that’s not entirely true.  Life insurance proceeds generally are income-tax-free to your beneficiaries, but if you own the policy at your death, the proceeds may be subject to estate taxes. One of the best ways to keep life insurance out of your taxable estate is to place the policy in an irrevocable life insurance trust (an “ILIT”).

If you’re thinking about setting up an ILIT for an existing policy, consider doing so before the end of the year, particularly if it’s a high cash value policy.

Read more: Considering an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust? →

Jason W. Wansor Joins the Law Firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell

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Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP is pleased to announce that Jason Wansor has joined the firm, effective July 1, 2016.

Mr. Wansor is an accomplished civil litigator.  His practice is focused on personal injury, real estate, land use, hospitality, products liability, business torts, construction, and will and trust contests.

Mr. Wansor's analytical strengths allow for the accurate assessment of potential exposure and liability and the creation and implementation of sophisticated litigation strategies. Mr. Wansor's strategic sense and writing abilities lead to successful results, whether by keen negotiation or motions leading to the disposition of cases.

Read more: Jason Wansor Joins Rogers Sheffield & Campbell →

Recent changes in federal tax law suggest that we might benefit from rethinking how we set up many estate plans. We now have a generous $5,340,000 per person estate tax exclusion, which is adjusted by the cost of living. That means in 2015, it will increase to at least $5,450,000 per person.  At that rate, it won’t be long before it reaches $6,000,000 per person, so that the first $12,000,000 per couple will pass to the next generation free of estate tax.

Read more: Should You Amend Your Family Trust to Eliminate the “Bypass” Trust? →

Travis C. Logue was recently selected to serve as Trustee of the Santa Barbara Club Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit public benefit corporation engaged in charitable and educational activities.

Read more: Travis Logue Selected As Trustee For The Santa Barbara Club Preservation Foundation →

Our community has a long tradition of charitable giving. We are so well known for our charitable tradition that we have been the subject of numerous regional and national articles on that topic. One of our many resources are charitable foundations. These organizations both support the many charities in our community and provide a resource for you in making charitable gifts in your estate planning.

Read more: Foundations—The Smart Way to Give →

What does care custodian mean to you? A friend or acquaintance that visits, runs errands, pays bills, cooks, cleans, administers medications, and takes care of other pressing needs?

Probate Code Section 21350 provides that gifts to “care custodians” are invalid. This provision of the code was drafted and adopted in the early 1980′s as part of EDAPCA (Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act) when it became clear to lawmakers and lawyers alike that nurses, housekeepers and care givers were taking advantage of the impaired and the elderly. These laws were codified as Probate Code Section 21350 in 1997.

Read more: Gifts to Care Custodians: Traps for the Unwary →

With the high price of real estate, we increasingly see arrangements between parents and children, unmarried couples, or friends who pool money to buy residential property. Owners often do not understand their rights and responsibilities. This article is intended to educate potential co-owners by asking questions that affect their relationship.

A written co-ownership agreement maximizes the odds of a successful relationship. It does so in two ways. First, it documents the parties’ understanding. The best time to decide what each person gives and receives, and when, is before any disagreements arise. Secondly, creating the agreement means that the parties must think about and resolve issues they otherwise might not consider. Resolution is much easier before we have a stake in the outcome.

Read more: Real Estate Co-Ownership Agreements →

Paper, paper and still more paper!

When can these documents be destroyed? We get questions about tax backup documentation from clients often.  To assist you, we provide some ideas to carefully consider when deciding about destruction of any documents.

Read more: Can it be Trashed Now? Tax Record Retention Guidelines →

Federal and state taxes are important factors to consider when administrating a trust, going through probate court, or in any stage of the estate planning process. Taxes are so important that even the idea of an estate exists largely for taxation purposes. After all, as the name implies, only the “taxable estate” is subject to taxation after death. For your estate to survive the probate process intact, you must understand your taxable estate and how to protect it.

Read more: Understanding Federal Estate Taxes →

One of the primary goals of estate planning is to minimize the costs associated with wealth transfer, including court costs and taxes. While most people associate estate taxes with estate planning, we must also consider how to minimize or avoid both property and income taxes. Proper planning makes more of your assets available for your care during your lifetime, and for your beneficiaries at your death.

Read more: Avoiding Capital Gains Taxes →

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP is pleased to announce that Travis C. Logue has been selected by Super Lawyers to the 2016 Southern California Rising Stars list. Mr. Logue was also named to the list in 2015.
Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Read more: Travis Logue Selected to the 2016 California Super Lawyers List →

Rogers, Sheffield and Campbell, LLP is pleased to announce that Travis Logue, a partner of the firm, has been elected to the Santa Barbara County Bar Association’s Board of Directors. Travis is a member of the State Bar of California and the District of Columbia Bar, and is a licensed California real estate broker.

Read more: Travis Logue Elected to Santa Barbara County Bar Association Board of Directors →

California  is a "no-fault" divorce state. No-fault means that neither spouse is the reason for the divorce. One or both parties can instead simply state that they have "irreconcilable differences" when filing for dissolution of their marriage (divorce).

So, what are the legal requirements for a divorce in California?

Read more: What Are The Legal Requirements For Divorce In California? →

In commercial real estate transactions, letters of intent are ubiquitous. They appear absolutely harmless because they are intended to be non-binding and a “tool” for future negotiation. In fact, most letters of intent go out of the way to explicitly state that “it shall not be construed in any way to be legally binding” or that “your signature below merely means you are agreeing to this invitation to negotiate”.

You need to seriously think twice before accepting this ostensibly harmless “invitation“.

Read more: Letters of Intent in Commercial Real Estate are Tricky →

It takes two people to decide to marry, but it only takes one person to decide to divorce.  Even if you are the person who wants a divorce, divorce is Hard.  Divorce takes a toll on every affected person---emotionally, physically, and financially.  When faced with an inevitable divorce, how can you minimize the negative effects on yourself, your children, and your relationship with your soon-to-be former spouse? One way to minimize the negative aspects of divorce is to use an experienced and trained family law mediator.

Read more: What is Divorce Mediation: Who Should Use it and When? →

Maureen A. Grattan Joins the Law Firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell

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Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP is pleased to announce that Maureen Grattan has joined the firm, effective December 1, 2015.

Ms. Grattan has been a lawyer for over 30 years. She is both a trained mediator and an experienced trial lawyer. She also has experience and training in Collaborative Law. Her practice areas include family law and civil litigation.

In Family Law, Ms. Grattan believes that intelligent and creative solutions should be employed to minimize the financial and emotional toll of divorce and divorce-related issues on her clients and on their children. When collaborative or mediated settlements cannot be accomplished, she is prepared to litigate the issues in court assertively, professionally and effectively.

Read more: Maureen Grattan Joins Rogers Sheffield & Campbell →

In 2000, the California legislature passed the Health Care Decisions Law which allows an individual to create an Advance Health Care Directive. This document is a type of power of attorney in which a person grants authority to another individual to act on their behalf in making health care decisions.

Read more: Advance Health Care Directives: The Quality of Life Saver →

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell has represented scores of clients in unlawful detainer (eviction) proceedings. While we represent Landlords 95% of the time, we do occasionally represent qualified tenants. In doing so, we have been amazed how frequently plaintiff’s attorneys, property managers, and owners fail to understand how to properly compute the three day notice period in the context of a three day notice to pay or quit.

Not only is it embarrassing to face the judge and explain how you did not properly count to three, it is also time consuming and expensive. If you fail to correctly count to three, a defendant will simply file a Demurrer to the Complaint which the Court will sustain without leave to amend. This means you will have to dismiss the defendant, re-serve the three day notice, re-file and re-serve the complaint, and pay the filing and process server fees again. Ouch.

Read more: Eviction Notice – 3 Day Notice – How to Count to Three →

Who will care for your minor children in case something happens to you and your partner? Who will help them through their day, make sure they are safe and fed, and teach them to be good people and good citizens? Who will care for their financial needs and education? While many people assume that one person will fill all of these roles for their kids, the truth is that you may wish to choose multiple people to hold different responsibilities..

Read more: Guardians and Trustees- What’s the Difference? →

There are many misconceptions about the court proceeding known as probate. This article is intended to provide basic facts about this procedure and to correct the most common misconceptions.

Read more: A Primer On Probate: Clearing Up Common Misconceptions →

Most California construction attorneys know, or should know, that you need to “prove” you’re a licensed contractor in a construction case.

And, by “prove,” that means more than simply alleging in a pleading that you are a licensed contractor (that’s an allegation not proof) and it also means more than simply signing a declaration or testifying in court that you are a licensed contractor (while that is proof, it’s insufficient proof under the law).

What you need is a verified certificate of licensure issued by the California Contractor State License Board (“CSLB”). And if you don’t have one during trial, you’re out of luck, . . . until now.

Read more: Yes, Contractors Do Need Licenses... But Be Careful What You Allege In Pleadings →

Planning for the well-being of your family requires that you take into account the special circumstances or needs of each member. While one person has the training and ability to manage money well, others may not be so fortunate. Since every person is unique, the question is how you can best support each family member so that they are a success and are provided with comforts that you want them to have. How can you support them so that they continue to develop and achieve their goals?

Read more: Using Mediation in Estate Planning, Estate Management, and Elder Care →

Christopher C. Jones Joins the Law Firm of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell

ChrisJones 250x250Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP is pleased to announce that Chris Jones has joined the firm, effective July 1, 2015.

Chris Jones, a longtime resident of Santa Barbara, has practiced law since 1972. His philosophy of making law easy, understandable, clear and comfortable has helped him become one of the most well respected and knowledgeable Trusts and Estate Planning attorneys in Santa Barbara and on the Central Coast.

His areas of expertise include wills, estates, trusts and probate (including living trusts), tax planning, business succession planning, irrevocable trusts, advanced direction of health care, generation-skipping planning and avoidance of probate. Chris is a California State Bar certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law. He works with a variety of estate planning, investment, accounting and tax professionals, successfully and creatively assisting clients in developing and managing estates of unique, diverse size and content.

Read more: Chris Jones Joins Rogers Sheffield & Campbell →

A probate court in New York recently addressed an unusual will contest. An 82-year-old Roman Catholic nun died in 2012, leaving a surprisingly large estate worth over $2 million, the product of a 1982 personal injury settlement. The sister signed a will in 1994 dividing her estate among her siblings, her congregation and various other Catholic charities.

The congregation actually contested the will...

Read more: Is A Promise To Leave Your Estate To Someone Legally Enforceable? →

Planning for the well-being of your family requires that you take into account the special circumstances or needs of each member. While one person has the training and ability to manage money well, others may not be so fortunate. Since every person is unique, the question is how you can best support each family member so that they are a success and are provided with comforts that you want them to have. How can you support them so that they continue to develop and achieve their goals?

Read more: Well-Designed Trusts Support Your Family's Well Being →

Practice Areas And Regions Served

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP primarily serves individuals, families and businesses up and down California's Central Coast and North Los Angeles County, including many Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura County communities.

Our experienced legal team includes business lawyers, real estate lawyers, tax lawyers, estate planning lawyers and civil litigation lawyers. Our areas of legal practice expertise include Business Law, Entity Formation, Real Estate Law, Tax Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Wine Law, Vineyard Law, Civil Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

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