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- U.S. Tax Court, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and all California Courts
- Juris Doctor
Golden Gate University
Golden Gate University
University of California, Berkeley
Bruce Roberts' practice focuses on sophisticated income, gift and estate tax planning, estate planning, trust law, probate and trust administration, asset preservation and tax-effective wealth planning within the family unit. High net worth individuals, closely-held business owners, trustees, entrepreneurs and other professionals all over California have sought Bruce’s counsel for more than 35 years.
- Senior family members needed help transitioning their business to the younger-generation heirs who were active in the business in a way that minimized any tax impact on the family unit. The family-owned distributorship had significant inventory but not a lot of other assets. The business was appraised at $50 million, of which, $10 million was inventory and the rest of the value was good will. The family was facing a $25 million transfer tax to pass the business at death or during life. Bruce helped the younger-generation business heirs create a new company. The new company purchased the inventory from the old company at book value in exchange for a two-year note. The old business was then liquidated and the parents paid about $4 million in income taxes on the liquidation. This procedure, which Bruce calls “shifting opportunities,” allowed the younger-generation heirs to become the owners of the business and saved about $21 million in net transfer taxes. Bruce then helped the senior family members to amend their living trust to give a bigger portion of the estate to the younger-generation heirs who opted not to be part of the new family business.
- Bruce often works with clients who have acquired or who plan to acquire substantial amounts of life insurance. “In these cases, I often recommend the transfer of existing life insurance policies to an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or “ILIT.” If the ILIT purchases a new life insurance policy or if the insured lives for three years after transferring existing policies to the ILIT, the life insurance proceeds will not be subject to estate tax at the insured’s death. Without an ILIT, the insurance proceeds are likely to be subject to estate tax at the death of a single insured or at the death of the surviving spouse of the insured. “I usually recommend that the ILIT embody a so-called dynasty trust plan. This plan avoids estate tax as each member of the family dies. Additionally, I often recommend that competent children or grandchildren be allowed to name their own trustee (sometimes including that child or grandchild as sole or as a co-trustee). So long as the ILIT continues, its assets are exempt from creditors’ claims and, in most states, spousal claims in the event of a divorce.”
- Several of Bruce’s clients have used a grantor retained annuity trust (“GRAT”) to make large gifts of future appreciation to family members without paying any gift or estate taxes on such appreciation.
- Bruce also recommends a qualified personal residence trust (“QPRT”) in certain cases. As Bruce explains it, “With a QPRT, parents can transfer a principal residence or vacation home to a trust that lasts for several years (usually 10 or 15 years) and then when the QPRT terminates, the residence passes to the children (or to a trust for the children). Because the IRS allows a subtraction from the taxable value of the residence for the right of the parents to live in the residence (or a replacement residence) for the QPRT term without the parents having to pay any rent, the taxable value of the residence is often less than half of its current value. After the QPRT terminates, the parents may rent the property from the children (or a trust for the benefit of the children) at fair rental value. Such rent is not a gift, so parents can transfer wealth (in the form of rent) to their lineal descendants without incurring any gift or estate tax on the payment of rent. Plus, the payment of rent reduces the taxable value of the parents’ estates.”
“My mother’s side of the family were all lawyers. My father’s side were all engineers. Even though my first career was as an aerospace engineer, I guess the genes from my maternal side eventually dominated. I always liked working with people to solve their problems more than working with the tools or things that engineers usually work with. However, the scientific method and attention to detail that I learned in my engineering classes and on the job have always helped me gather and analyze all of the facts before I make my recommendations. I also like the fact that most of my clients built their wealth the old fashioned way. I love learning about all the diverse things my clients do and have done to create their wealth. My job is to help my clients, their families and the charitable organizations they support retain as much of that wealth and opportunity as is legally possible.”
Why Hopkins & Carley?
Bruce had his own firm for 30-plus years, building a large and diverse list of clients in Southern California, currently served by our Burbank office, as well as in the Bay Area.
“Hopkins & Carley offered a large, stable group of family wealth planning lawyers who gave me what I was looking for: qualified back-up, diversification (especially trust and estate litigation) and collegiality.”
Bruce is an avid golfer and world traveler with a penchant for collecting art glass. “My wife is a glass artist, so our travel is often related to art collecting.”