The State Bar of California
San Diego County Bar Association
American Bar Association
Hastings College of the Law
Dion G. Dyer became of counsel to the firm in 2012.
While still in college, Dion earned licenses in real estate, insurance and as a stock broker. He worked in those fields, as well as commercial banking and mortgage banking, for nearly a decade before becoming a lawyer.
Dion’s core discipline is planning — for estates, real estate, and businesses. Good planning requires careful coordination — both in the disposition to various asset classes, and via a collegial relationship between attorney and client that focuses on the client’s circumstances and personal objectives.
Today living trusts are the cornerstone of most estate plans, but fall short of achieving optimal results if only used to avoid probate and to save taxes. Trusts are more powerful than that and offer many other advantages including asset protection. Yet they are often overused and sometimes abused for moderate sized estates (less than $1 million) with simple family situations. Other devices, such as remainder deeds and community property with right of survivorship, often provide many of the benefits with less expense and bother than a living trust. The new, “permanent” $5.25 million estate tax exemption beginning in 2013 also now provides broader planning options.
Pension assets, including IRA and 401K investments, often constitute a major portion of many estates. To a large degree this is the result of the pension vesting requirements enacted by ERISA in the mid-1980’s. A well thought out plan gives careful consideration to ERISA’s rules for minimum distributions and designation of beneficiaries, which changed substantially in 2001 and 2002.
The proper titles and structures for holding investment and business assets must also be considered. Will an ordinary corporation, Sub-S corporation, limited liability company (LLC), family limited partnership (FLP), or some other type or combination of legal entities, best achieve the client’s goals?.
Different asset classes need different strategies to properly implement your intended disposition of your property. Your will and trust ordinarily control the inheritance of your investments, real property and business assets. But independently and regardless of your will and trust, joint tenancy assets and other survivorship assets will pass directly to the survivor, and your life insurance and pension funds will pass directly to the named beneficiaries. The failure to coordinate these bequests is a major error in many estate plans, and can seriously undermine the plan and leave heirs with substantially disproportionate inheritances. It can also create liquidity problems, by leaving insufficient cash assets in the hands of the executor or trustee to pay debts, last expenses and any taxes that may be due.
To address these issues, Dion prepares all appropriate estate planning documents, including wills, living trusts, durable powers of attorney, powers of appointment, and marital property agreements, and related business documents, often working as outside general counsel to the client’s businesses. More sophisticated estate plans will include family limited partnerships and irrevocable trusts such as retained annuity, charitable, and life insurance trusts.
Dion also assists clients with the administration of their trusts and in any probate proceedings that might be required. As needed, he provides tax advice about gift and estate taxes, as well as income tax matters involving estates and trusts, and is available to prepare estate, gift and income tax returns.