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ESTATE PLANNING:

Steve Muehler is an experienced Estate Planning Paralegal and assists Attorneys and their Clients throughout the State of California. Steve Muehler can provide your Law Office(s) with the following Paralegal Services Support with respect to Estate Planning:

ADVICE TO THOSE SEEKING 'DO-IT-YOURSELF WILLS & TRUSTS'

We have all seen the advertisements for simple, fast and easy do-it-yourself will or living trust kits. There are also many paralegals who claim they can prepare your documents for a low fee. You may have even seen television commercials for Legalzoom.com, which is heavily marketed. All of these advertisements may leave you with one burning question: Do they work?

One of the main problems with do-it-yourself kits is that you get no personal advice tailored to your needs. It is easy to overlook important legal clauses that could end up costing your beneficiaries thousands in unnecessary taxes or corrective attorney fees. The added difficulties of improperly drafted estate planning documents can also be an emotional burden on your family.

Some of the software and kits walk you through the process, but leave you exposed in many ways. This is why the websites and packaging have legal disclaimers suggesting you consult an attorney.

The simple answer to that is you should always hire an attorney if you can, especially when the fees are comparable. The following is a list of some situations where it would be unwise to use a do-it-yourself kit:

  • You are married with children from a prior marriage.

  • You are a property owner.

  • You want to disinherit a child.

  • You have a disabled child or beneficiary with special needs.

  • You have minor children.

  • You have financially irresponsible beneficiaries.

  • You are a business owner.

  • Your estate is taxable (at its current value or possible future value).

  • You would like to include creditor protection for your beneficiaries.

  • You are in a domestic partnership.

The Execution Is What Matters: Even the simplest will or trust can be invalid if the rules are not followed. A will or trust is not valid if it is not properly executed and witnessed according to California Law. You also must be careful who serves as a witness. A will or trust can be invalid if an interested party is used as a witness. 

You must also use caution when storing your will. A testator’s will is may be revoked if the original cannot be produced. We or your Attorney can store your original will in a fire-proof safe at our location. This protects the will from being lost, stolen, tampered with or destroyed by fire. This service is optional, but highly recommended to safeguard your testamentary document.

Will Contests: Do-it-yourself wills and trusts can be more susceptible to will and trust contests than professionally drafted documents. When you use a do-it-yourself kit, no one has reviewed it for accuracy and validity. You also do not get the benefit of a licensed professional verifying your capacity to sign the documents. One of the most popular ways to contest a will or trust is to allege that the person signing it had no capacity or was subjected to undue influence. When you use the services of a licensed attorney, you will have documents that are valid and accurate. Your capacity to execute the documents will also be verified. While this is no guarantee that a will or trust contest will not be initiated, the service certainly adds an extra layer of protection to the process.

Taxes: Tax planning can be complex. Attorneys who specialize in tax planning must go through an extra year of legal schooling to receive a Master of Laws in Taxation designation. The average person does not know how much money he or she will eventually pass at death and they need sound advice. There are many nuances that do-it-yourself kits are simply not designed to handle. Other transfer methods such as 401(k), IRA and life insurance beneficiary designations can equal trouble for your beneficiaries without proper planning. Mistakes in a do-it-yourself kit could cost your heirs far more in the future.

STEVE MUEHLER'S PARALEGAL SERVICES FOR LICENSED ATTORNEYS PRACTICING IN THE ESTATE PLANNING FIELD INCLUDE (BUT MAY NOT BE LIMITED TO) ASSISTANCE WITH:

  • Assisting with all aspects of Trust Administration

  • Meeting with Clients, Trustees and Family Members (as directed by Attorney)

  • Communicating with Beneficiaries

  • Drafting Correspondence & Legal Documents

  • Drafting & Editing Trust Documents

  • Drafting & Editing Powers of Attorney

  • Preparing Deeds

  • Asset Spreadsheets and Probate Pleadings

  • Preparing Drafts of Federal Estate Tax Returns & Gift Tax Returns

  • Reviewing Bank Statements

  • Organizing & Maintaining Client Files

  • Note: All skills compliant with California Business & Professionals Code Section 6450

Steve Muehler has received Education and/or has experience with the following (but may not be limited to):

  • California Living Trust:

    • Single Living Trust 

    • Joint Living Trust 

  • Nevada Trust:

  • California Wills

    • Last Will & Testament 

  • California Property Transfers

    • Trust Transfer or Quitclaim Deed

  • Offshore Trusts

    • Cook Islands Trust 

    • Nevis Trust 

    • Belize Trust 

NOTE:

Steve Muehler cannot provide legal services to individuals. Steve Muehler can only provide Paralegal services to Attorneys in good standing with the American Bar Association, State Bar Association and Local Bar Association. If you are in need of Legal Assistance and you are not an attorney, you must seek the advice of an attorney. Please do refrain from emailing Steve Muehler with requests that are not made by a bona fide attorney in good standing as mentioned previously. 

RATES:

Rates will be based on an Hourly Rate of $45.00 per hour plus expenses incurred including, but not limited to, postage and purchase of any special software necessary to complete task. Time to complete the job will be estimated and any projects estimated over $200.00 will require a TBD down payment. Steve Muehler Bills for Services Rendered each week. Steve Muehler requires a signed contract, which outlines the project details, prior to beginning any work. 

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Steve Muehler:

1055 West 7th Street

Los Angeles, California 90017

Phone: (310) 463-5122

Email: Steve@SteveMuehler.com

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