• Qualified Personal Residence Trusts

    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.

  • Real Estate Co-Ownership Agreements

    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.

  • Shared Ownership of Real Property

    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.

  • Should You Amend Your Family Trust to Eliminate the “Bypass” Trust?

    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.

  • Six Estate Planning Mistakes Most Commonly Made

    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:

  • The Big Roth IRA Mistake

    Raiding a retirement account is a last resort: you’re losing tax-free compounding interest on the amount you withdraw, and you can’t replace the money withdrawn. In this day and age, though, the last resort is being tapped more than any of us would like. 

    The big mistake occurs because people don't know the answer to the big question, "Do you know how much you can pull out of your Roth IRA tax-free and penalty-free before retirement?"

  • The Golden Rule of Estate Planning: Your Spouse Comes First

    "Until Death Do Us Part…Then Everything Can Change" is a new report from RBC Wealth Management that simplifies some of the challenges of estate planning faced by families when they transfer assets. The report gets pretty deep into the role of the surviving spouse in managing family wealth for future generations. 

  • The Grantor Retained Annuity Trust

    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.

  • The Most Expensive Way To Transfer Your Wealth Is To Die With It

    Anyone who has thought about what to do with the wealth they've accumulated when they die has also thought about the cost of transferring that wealth. We all know we can't take it with us when we go, and we all go. Death is one of those "law of nature" things. Right now, Baby Boomers are in the middle of the greatest transfer of wealth in our nation's history ($59 trillion, according to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College), yet the savings/investing statistics for this generation are not good. Baby Boomers didn't start investing soon enough, didn't invest enough, and now it costs more per dollar to preserve what there is. OK, so I guess this generation just blew it.

    Instead of wringing their hands and moaning, "woe is me", though, the Baby Boomers are already over it, and looking to the future. Now it's about the grandchildren.

  • Total Asset Protection

    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.

  • Trust Beneficiaries' Bill of Rights

    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.

  • Understanding Federal Estate Taxes

    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.

  • US Treasury Targets More Estate Taxes in 2015

    IRSThe United States Department of the Treasury will not do much in 2014, what with it being an election year and all. The year 2015, however, is a different story.  It is not too early to make some reasonable guesses as to what estates and estate planners can look forward to.  In fact, the 2014 General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2014 (the Green Book) proposals that pertain to estate planning offer a view of what could potentially happen in 2015. Here are some bullets on a few of the key provisions of the Green Book proposals.

  • Using Mediation in Estate Planning, Estate Management, and Elder Care

    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?

  • Well-Designed Trusts Support Your Family's Well Being

    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?

  • What are Death Taxes And What Does The POTUS Want Changed?

    "Death Taxes" generally refer to estate taxes. Estate taxes are any taxes applied to the transfer of a person’s assets at death. Taxable assets include personal property such as a house, cars, furniture or musical instruments, business assets like land, equipment and inventory, and investments like stocks, bonds and real estate.

    President Obama proposed a change to estate tax policy in his January State of the Union address that was aimed at removing the step up basis at death provision. The proposed change would affect a lot of families and family-owned businesses, including many in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.

    So what is the step up basis and what is its purpose? The step up at death basis works like this:

  • You Just Inherited An IRA, Want More From It?

    You just inherited a $300,000 Roth IRA from a recently deceased relative. If you handle it correctly, you can parlay this into a very pleasant addition to your retirement income. Since the Roth IRA income is tax-free, you can cash it in right now, and you'll get all $300,000. Very nice. You could also leave it alone for 21 years, and your $300,000 would grow to $756,072. Also nice. There is, however, an even better way to make the IRA inheritance work for you.

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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