Meet Attorney David Cross
Q: When did you decide to be an Attorney and why Estate Planning?
DC: I decided to pursue a career in law while I was in college. I’ve always had an interest in solving problems and helping people deal with and solve their own problems, which is basically what an attorney does. A person hires an attorney because they have a complex legal problem that they want to be solved, but don’t have the time or knowledge to solve it themselves.
I decided to become an estate planning attorney because it is family oriented in a positive way. Often, people hire an attorney because they are involved in some type of conflict. While I still do some adversarial work, I enjoy estate planning because I’m helping families plan for the future and take care of their loved ones.
Q: How long have you been practicing law?
DC: I’ve been practicing law for 12 years. I started out practicing in Connecticut in 2005 then moved to the Bay Area in 2007.
Q: What are the benefits of a Living Trust?
DC: There are many benefits to having a living trust drafted, but to put it simply, it will make you and your loved ones life easier. All assets in a living trust will avoid probate which can be very expensive and time-consuming. If an estate goes through probate, it will likely lose 3% to 5% of its value in fees, to attorney and court fees, even though probate is completely unnecessary. Further, probate is time-consuming. It will take your loved ones over a year or more to settle your estate. Your loved ones will have to dedicate a lot of effort to deal with an unnecessary court procedure. Another overlooked benefit of a trust is incapacity planning. Losing your faculties is not a subject most people like to think about, but it happens very regularly. If you have drafted a living trust, then you know you will have a loved one in place to take care of your assets and use your assets for your wellbeing.
Q: If someone has a Trust … do, they need a Will? Can you explain the difference?
DC: It is still a good idea to have a will drafted even if you have a trust. If I draft a trust for a client, I usually also draft what is known as a “pour-over will”. This directs the executor of your estate to place all assets that were left out of the trust into the trust, which will cause the assets to be distributed as the trust directs. A trust is like a little company that you set up to manage your assets. It only has control over assets that you placed in it. A trust comes into existence when it is signed, whereas a will only has power after death. Because a trust is like a little company, it allows you to make up rules regarding who will take care of your assets, how your assets will be used during your life should you become incapacitated, and how they will be distributed at your death.
Q: Is it important to have a Trust even if you don’t have a large estate?
DC: Yes, it is important to have a trust even if you don’t have a large estate. If you own a home, then you should starting thinking about getting a revocable living trust drafted. Probate in California is expensive and time-consuming. Getting a revocable living trust drafted will avoid the probate process altogether and save your loved ones time and money. Also, a revocable living trust will allow you to name a person to look after your assets when you become incapacitated.
Q: Does a Living Trust Avoid Estate and Probate Taxes?
DC: Yes and no. A revocable living trust does avoid the expense of probate, there’s no such thing as probate tax, but it does not avoid estate taxes. If you wanted an asset to avoid being subjected to the estate tax, then you would need to not own that asset at the time of your death. People do this by setting up irrevocable trusts. They don’t technically own the asset, but still maintain a level of control over the asset.
Q: Can you share with our audience what makes your law firm different than other Estate Attorneys?
DC: Effort and value. I will go the extra mile for my clients to make their lives easier. I’m always willing to meet with clients at their homes on the weekend or in the evenings. I’m very accessible. If a current or former client ever has an estate planning question, they can always talk with me free of charge.
I grew up in Connecticut.
I like surfing when I can find the time.
I play softball once a week.
My wife and I are expecting our first child in January.
My Father was a television producer and director.
Five Things About David Cross
1. If you could have lunch with someone famous who would it be and why? Abraham Lincoln, he was a very powerful person yet stayed humble. He was honest and reasonable, but not a push over.
2.What book are you currently reading? The Lessons of History
3.What inspires you? The personal satisfaction of doing a good job.
4.What is one thing you would change in Silicon Valley? Less traffic.
5.Do you have a favorite sports team? The University of Arizona basketball team is my favorite sports team.
Estate Planning & Elder Law
1250 Oakmead Parkway, Suite 210
Sunnyvale, CA 94085