Law Offices of Mark E. Lewis & Associates: Helping You Plan Ahead
By Kelli M. Larson
No one wants to think about dying or having to deal with legal issues associated with the loss of a loved one. Fortunately, the Law Offices of Mark E. Lewis & Associates is here to help. With more than 20 years of estate planning experience, they are able to bring competence, care, consistency, and commitment to the handling of client needs. “We engineer documents that make it as easy as possible to transfer wealth and avoid court in the event of something bad like death or incapacity,” Mr. Lewis explains. In that situation, “We also help those who are named to be in authority (executors, trustees, agents under power of attorney) go through the process, whether that involves court or not.”
Your Document Prep Experts
What kind of documents do people need? Lewis says that estate plans consist of a living trust, will, powers of attorney for finances and health care, and other documents. While his practice handles all legal matters related to a client’s estate, estate planning and document drafting are what he enjoys working on most. “There are rules that need to be followed to properly settle anyone’s estate: the documents have to be implemented and the responsibilities carried out properly,” he explains. “This gets the wealth transferred as the decedent wanted, and as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.”
Lewis says that it’s a mistake not to have attorney provide oversight because “the person doing the distribution could be violating rules they aren’t aware of and not closing the door on personal liability in a timely matter.” Consequently, they could wind up with a contested situation or a costly lawsuit down the road.
A big part of the practice is setting up living trusts, which Lewis suggests that Californians need. He says that there are three reasons to have one:
- If you own any real estate;
- If the total of your estate (not in retirement accounts or whole life insurance) adds up to more than the threshold of $166,000; and
- If you have a minor child, especially one named as a life insurance or retirement account beneficiary.
Having seen what happens when families don’t plan ahead, Lewis says that he would love to see couples with new babies and retirement life insurance set up trusts for them right away. “If you don’t, the court will poorly invest the money and give it to them at the age of 18 with no oversight or control.”
He Knows the Numbers
A University of Southern California alumnus, Lewis’ undergraduate degree in finance (with an emphasis on real estate finance) also plays into the practice because many trusts control real estate. “It’s vital to be aware of the debt, property taxes, and associated rules,” he explains. “Also, when we deal with brokers and salespeople after a death, we need to make sure that we thoroughly look over all factors of the sale: the listing agreement, sales agreement, escrow papers, etc.” The Law Office of Mark E. Lewis handles transferring the real estate into trusts on the front end upon being hired to do a client’s planning documents.
Having an estate plan also avoids or minimizes probate fees and administrative costs, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Because many people fail to create one, Lewis is also available to personally shepherd clients through the probate process from his offices in Huntington Beach, Corona, Irvine, San Diego, Torrance, and West Covina.
The Dream Team
The Surf City location serves as the corporate office for the practice, which also consists of associates Karen Kirshon and Alex Bogdan, David Pawloswki (of counsel, who handles contested matters), a paralegal, other legal assistants and staff, and office manager extraordinaire, Kristin O’Brien. The team prides themselves on being thorough — four sets of eyes review prepared documents prior to client delivery.
“From the moment people call and talk to the front office staff, they are treated with respect, kindness, and professionalism,” Lewis maintains. “They love how caring and concerned we are — most of our business comes from referrals.”
To make the Law Offices of Mark E. Lewis & Associates your family resource, call 714-847-8586 or www.marklewislaw.com. Located in Ocean Plaza at 17011 Beach Blvd., Ste. 101 (in Ocean Plaza).