Attorney offers hands-on, at-home approach for delicate estate situations


Dale Fields Rhett has built a solid reputation on going above and beyond for her clients. Like a general practitioner in a bygone time when doctors made house calls, Rhett, an estate planning and trust attorney, will work with her clients in the comfort of their own homes.

Her hands-on concierge approach sets her apart from others and stems from an understanding of the needs of clients who may be elderly, have small children, are homebound because of disability or simply prefer not to go to an office, she said.

“It’s something that I am able to offer to my clients, and they do find it very relaxing. They like being on their own turf with all their papers; it’s a lot more convenient for them,” Rhett said.

She developed this concierge approach about four years ago. Working closely with her clients, she is able to look at the unique challenges associated with their estates and find the piece of the puzzle that helps her to present at least two different options for them to use.

And by delving into the details of each case, she discovers innovative solutions. Estate planning affects the whole family, so it is important to maximize a strategy to protect the assets for the heirs, said Rhett.

For example, looking ahead, Medicare nursing home fees may be taken out of an estate after a Medicare recipient’s death.

“People 55 and older have the possibility of having the estate come back on them for these costs,” said Rhett. This possibility should be addressed during the estate planning and thus avoided at their passing.

In 2015, the exclusion for estate tax purposes is $5.43 million. Any unused portion of this exclusion may be transferred to a surviving spouse, but the time frame is short during which the IRS must be informed of this election.

“People are generally surprised to hear about this tax benefit,” said Rhett.

And they are often also surprised to learn that paying college tuition for their children or their grandchildren can also help reduce estate taxes.

Additionally, Rhett works with foreign nationals who wish to invest in property in the U.S. Ineligible for this maximum estate tax exclusion, their needs are unique.

Therefore, how they purchase real estate is extremely important, and planning to avoid some of these very high taxes is Rhett’s area of expertise.

“I aid foreign nationals (to) get investor visas, and I help them to take title to property in the appropriate way and ensure that they know who is going to receive that property when they pass away,” she said.

Rhett, a graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law, started practicing in 1996. In addition to estate planning, she also aids clients with adoptions and prenuptial agreements and focuses on non-litigation. She also assists those who have disabled adult children or minor children in need of spendthrift trusts.

For each client, Rhett’s focus is on a custom solution to meet their needs in passing on assets to family members. “I take the time to explore all the different options and possibilities and explain it in detail to my client to help them make their own choice,” she explained.

Dale Field Rhett’s office is at 12526 High Bluff Drive, Suite 300, San Diego (Carmel Valley). Call 858-381-5292 for information or to schedule an appointment.

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