Michael Curtis

Practice Groups

Northern California
Super Lawyer 2010-2013

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Michael Curtis - Shareholder


Biography

Mike is a shareholder and leads the firm’s Trusts & Estates practice. He also manages the firm’s Santa Cruz office. His practice is focused on providing transfer tax, dispute resolution, business and real estate advice and counsel to individuals, families and fiduciaries before and after death. Mike believes that his role is to skillfully assist his clients in making informed decisions which meet their goals and desires and to assure that those decisions are properly documented and implemented.

Mike has lectured for various organizations and professional groups on estate planning and estate administration matters and has been active in several non-profit organizations. He is a golfer, enjoys staying fit and healthy and is an avid home cook which he incorporates into life with his family.

Practice Description

Estate Planning
  • Mike has provided basic and advanced estate planning advice and counsel to single individuals and married couples in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley since 1972 and in Santa Cruz since 2005. He is experienced in representing individuals and couples with blended families and can provide counsel to couples with complex separate property and community property issues. In addition to assisting clients in the design of revocable trusts, wills, powers of attorney and health care directives and the selection of trustees, executors and agents, Mike assists clients in business succession planning, co-ownership arrangements, life insurance trust design, irrevocable trusts for children and other family members, beneficiary designations for retirement benefits, using business entities such as corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships for family businesses, investment real estate and other investment assets with the goal of minimizing gift, estate and generation skipping transfer taxes and avoiding property tax reassessment where possible. Mike is experienced in providing gift tax advice and in preparing gift tax returns in a manner that will minimize the transfer tax impact and the risk of examination by the IRS. Mike has handled the diverse needs of clients with dependent parents and minor and adult children with special needs while guiding clients through the many estate planning decisions that must be made. He also has significant experience in correcting estate planning errors made by others and in providing creative and practical solutions in complex situations. Mike’s goal for each client’s estate plan is make certain that it balances the tax and non-tax factors important to the client and to assure that it will permit the post-death administration of the plan to be as efficient as possible.
Estate Administration
  • Mike provides assistance to surviving spouses and other family members in connection with the post death administration of revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts and wills. He is able to help family members deal with the grief of losing a loved one and the necessity of taking the steps necessary to administer the trust or estate. While most estate plans are designed to avoid probate administration, there are many complex tasks that need to be completed for even the simplest estates and Mike guides the authorized persons through the process. He is experienced in providing clients with post-death estate and generation skipping tax planning through such techniques as disclaimers, asset division and allocation and utilizing appropriate valuation adjustments and discounts. He is also skilled in preparing any necessary estate tax return in a manner that will minimize estate taxes and the risk of an audit by the IRS. In situations where estate tax returns are audited, Mike has successfully negotiated fair settlements with the IRS. Mike is also is experienced in counseling clients in situations where there are disagreements among beneficiaries or between beneficiaries and fiduciaries. In such situations Mike’s goal is to appropriately represent his client while seeking to minimize costly litigation and to preserve family relationships. Mike also represents corporate and private fiduciaries who are not beneficiaries to make certain that they properly carry out their duties and responsibilities.

Articles & Publications

(click to expand)

  • Keeping Your Estate Plan Current:
    Ten Questions to Ask Yourself

    By Michael Curtis
    (PDF) (HTML)
  • Tips to Avoid Common Estate Planning Mistakes
    By Michael Curtis
    (PDF) (HTML)
  • Death, Taxes & Congressional Malpractice
    By Michael Curtis
    (PDF) (HTML)
  • Factors to Consider Before Making Gifts
    By Michael Curtis and Eiko Itoh
    (PDF) (HTML)

 

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Education

  • University of California, Hastings College of Law
    J.D. 1972
  • Menlo School of Business Administration
    B.S. 1969


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