Know What You Need and Start Early.
We help our clients in preparing their revocable living trusts, pour-over wills, durable powers of attorney, and advance health care directives. These instruments are part of a secure foundation for wealth planning, asset preservation, and wealth transfer.
CH Counsel will help you protect your legacy, ensure your wishes are carried out, and make certain your estate will be distributed after your death without going into probate.
The four documents you need for estate planning are:
- 1. Revocable Living Trust
- A Revocable Living Trust avoids probate when your home and other assets are vested in your Trust.
- You select who will be in charge and set the rules for distribution of your assets.
- 2. A Pour Over Will
- A Will is the preferred document to nominate guardians for your children.
- A Will by itself does not avoid probate, so a Trust is executed at the same time.
- The Will functions to “pour over” assets to your Trust.
- 3. Power of Attorney & Advance Health Care Directive
- a. The Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive go hand in hand as documents three and four. They are vehicles by which you nominate loved ones to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you are alive, but not well, and/or you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
- b. Examples where Advance Health Care Directives come into play are: If you’ve been in car accident, are suffering a temporary or permanent mental incapacity, or are not aging well.
Special Needs Trusts for Individuals with Disabilities
Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) allow for a disabled person to maintain access to public assistance benefits after receiving a settlement or judgment award, or when receiving money through an inheritance. If a special needs individual receives a sum of money, whether through a settlement or inheritance, this generally disqualifies them from eligibility for the public benefits they need to live. A Special Needs Trust prevents ineligibility by setting aside the money in trust.
The three types of special needs trusts are:
First-party SNT – This is funded with assets or income that belong to the special needs individual. It is typically established with money awarded from a settlement or judgment. (This is most commonly the area we work in).
Third-party SNT – This is funded with assets belonging to someone else and usually comes from an inheritance. The third-party SNT is often referred to as a Supplemental Needs Trust.
Pooled Trust – A pooled special needs trust is managed by a non-profit organization instead of a single trustee for the benefit of multiple beneficiaries. It is designed to protect a physically or mentally disabled person’s assets while still ensuring the individual can receive government aid.
Trust administration occurs when the creator of the trust has passed away and the assets of the trust need to be managed and distributed.
Closing out an estate can be a complicated process, especially when there are many assets involved.
Unlike probate, trust administration is a private administration of the assets in the trust. We work with the successor trustee to act as a fiduciary and ensure the trust assets are managed according to the wishes of the deceased person.
The trust administration process looks like this:
- – Review estate planning documents
- – Meet with the successor trustee
- – Notify the beneficiaries and heirs
- – Ensure all assets named are in the trust—If not, file a “Heggstad” petition.
- – Obtain appraisals of assets
- – Manage assets as a fiduciary—Invest or properly liquidate assets if needed
- – Pay debts
- – Prepare Trust Accounting
- – Final step— distribute assets and file trust tax return
Probate is a legal procedure overseen by the court that handles the transfer of assets from a deceased person to their heirs. It is what happens if a deceased person did not have a revocable trust in place.
If the deceased person has executed a will, the probate process will include authenticating the will. Probate activities involve paying off debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
Because probate is handled in court, it can take a long time (up to a year or more) to complete in some cases. Because of its complexity, probate tasks should not be handled without experienced counsel such as CH Counsel to ensure everything is handled in the appropriate manner and that your interests are protected.
So many of the items relating to estate planning, Special Needs Trusts, Trust Administration, and Probate are adhering to state laws that can change or be somewhat ambiguous. For that reason, it is useful to work with professionals experienced in this field. Your descendants and their families will appreciate your carefulness!
Estate Plan Package
Whether you need to create an estate plan or update an existing plan, we are here to help. The future is not certain; act now to control how your assets are taxed, managed and distributed when you’re gone.
Our estate planning package includes:
- Onboarding phone call
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advanced Health Care Directive
Meet The Team
Alessa J. Huber, Co-Founder and Partner
Alessa is the co-founder of Cooper & Huber, LLP. Her vision was to create a firm that practices “preventive law.” In essence, helping clients identify gaps in their existing business practices and providing practical solutions for the individual client with the goal of preventing legal issues down the road. Alessa’s clients include privately held companies across multiple industries including health and wellness, real estate and construction.
Alessa graduated from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles after attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received her undergraduate degree with honors. While in law school, Alessa served on various student organizations include the Consumer Law Society and Young Lawyers mentoring program. Additionally, she served as a Staff Writer and Editor to Loyola’s International and Comparative Law Review and participated in the Hobbs Trial Advocacy Practicum.
Alessa dedicated the first half of her legal career to litigation prior to transitioning to general counsel services. She draws on her litigation experience regularly when identifying and mitigating risk, negotiating contractual provisions and counseling her clients.
Alessa lives in Huntington Beach with her husband, Ian, and their faithful German Shepherd, Greta. When she’s not working, you can find her skiing on the slopes or (attempting) to catch a wave. She also enjoys Lagree method Pilates and sampling her husband’s delicious cooking.
Daniel A. Cooper, Co-Founder and Partner
Daniel A. Cooper is a relationship driven outside general counsel and litigator who represents closely held businesses, healthcare organizations and real estate entities to oversee their day to day legal challenges and mitigate future risk. Daniel is well known for explaining difficult concepts in simple terms at a reasonable cost.
As a civil litigator, he has prevailed on matters involving breach of contract, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and medical malpractice. He also has handled claims for Fraud, Invasion of Privacy, Assault, Battery and Violation of Business and Professions Code 17200. When appropriate, Daniel advises those who need an attorney to quickly understand their concerns and guide them challenging times both personally and professionally.
A Sample of Outside General Counsel Services include:
- Contract Review and drafting including non-disclosure agreements, business service and associate agreements, asset management agreements and purchase-sale agreements
- Facilitating proper corporate structure and business formation such as LLC’s, S-Corps and Partnerships
- Preparing and responding to Demand Letters
- Facilitating and coordinating estate plans for individuals to develop proper business planning
- Insurance Coverage analysis and review
- Hiring and managing local counsel
- Risk Management Advice including HIPAA compliance
- Informed consent review and updates
- Social media policy drafting and updating
- Real Estate Due Diligence and lease negotiations
- Representing and preparing professional medical staff for depositions
- Advising and responding to deposition subpoenas for medical, billing, pharmacy and employment records
- Medical Reporting Requirements
Daniel’s background is rooted in litigating complex medical matters for over 12 years. He is currently assigned as lead trial counsel for matters related to medical malpractice, breach of contract, breach of privacy and general negligence claims. He is asked to represent physicians who have coverage issues, are underinsured, benefit from Cumis Counsel or require a second opinion.
Daniel has received multiple Super Lawyers Rising Stars awards and in 2019, was awarded a Pre-Eminent AV Rating, which is the highest possible rating for both legal ability and ethical standards.
- Trial Counsel in March 2020 in which he secured a $1,000,000 + verdict for physician client at which time it was confirmed defendant breached the contract and his fiduciary duties.
- Successfully Represented Estate in wrongful death shooting in Long Beach.
- Obtained complete dismissal for emergency room physician alleged of violating a patient’s advanced healthcare directive.
- Successfully represented gastroenterologist whose insurance company was liquidated leaving him without coverage on the verge of trial
- Obtained Judgment for spine surgeon based on the negligent installation of spinal hardware
- Obtained complete reimbursement for funds spent by commercial landlord whose roof was damaged by the conduct of the roofing company.
- Secured Settlement for homeowners against the City of Inglewood for tree root intrusion causing damage to the foundation based on theory of inverse condemnation.
- Secured 6-figure settlement on behalf of real estate investors who asserted claims of fraud and breach of contract against manager of a real estate investment trust
- Secured dismissal of Medical Spa Director who was alleged to have failed to properly manage on-site nursing staff.
- Obtained Preliminary Injunction to stop the non-judicial foreclosure of a long-standing Los Angeles family restaurant
- Negotiated the resolution of a contentious medical spa dissolution on behalf of a nurse.
- Negotiated the complete dismissal of a major apparel retailer in Los Angeles with no money paid to Plaintiff.
Daniel was born in New York City and raised in the South Bay Area of Los Angeles. Outside the office, he enjoys skiing, spending time with his wife Sarah and their children Jack and Angelina. He has climbed Mt. Whitney, Run with the Bulls in Pamplona and The New York Marathon.
Cara M. Crownover, Of Counsel
Cara M. Crownover’s practice includes corporate and business law, real estate law, and estate planning.
Cara graduated cum laude from Columbia University in New York in 2010 majoring in English and Comparative Literature. Cara went on to graduate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Her focus was in Corporate Law and International Law and she graduated in the International Law Concentration with Honors. Also while in law school, Cara interned and externed in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Los Angeles. While there, Cara was involved with multiple cases involving securities fraud including insider trading, pyramid and Ponzi schemes, broker embezzlement and hedge fund fraud.
Since becoming an attorney, Cara has been a part of corporate transactional and civil litigation departments and has acted as outside and interim general counsel for multiple companies in Los Angeles and Orange Counties placing her in a unique position to lend support to a variety of the clients’ needs.
Cara continues her legal involvement outside of the office as a board member of Women Lawyers Long Beach serving on the board from 2016-2019 and as President from 2018-2019. She lives with her husband, Bill, and their dogs in Huntington Beach and enjoys food, wine tasting and boating.
PROFESSIONAL & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Long Beach Bar Association
Women Lawyer Long Beach
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, Honors in International Law Concentration (Juris Doctor, 2014)
Columbia University, New York, English and Comparative Literature, cum laude (Bachelor of Arts, 2010)