Practice Area

Estate Planning

At its simplest level, estate planning refers to the process of creating a plan for the distribution of one’s assets after their death. But it can also assist in tax planning during your lifetime and, importantly, provide a method for making medical and end-of-life decisions if you are not able to do so.

Tax Planning, Medical Decisions, and Property Going to Those to Whom You Want

Too many people put off creating an estate plan, either because they do not want to spend the money, refuse to face their own mortality, have difficulty talking about the possibility that they may die, or they simply procrastinate. Unfortunately, I know of too many people who put it off too long, causing their property to go to people they did not want it to go to, and resulting in an expensive and time-consuming mess for their surviving family members, which often causes family disputes, alienations, and hurt feelings. Don’t put it off!

Proper Estate Planning Benefits Your Family and Carries Out Your Wishes

There are tremendous advantages to having a properly created estate plan in California, including the following:

  • Control over asset distribution: An estate plan designates where you want your assets to go after you die, giving you control. By creating a will and a trust, you can specify who should receive your property, and in what proportions. If you do not do this, you lose control over where your assets go, and they pass as designated by the applicable statutes.


  • Minimization of taxes: Estate planning can help minimize taxes on your assets, which can save your heirs a significant amount of money. In California, the state has its own estate tax, which can be quite high for larger estates. By working with an estate planning attorney, you can take appropriate steps to help reduce your tax liability.


  • Protection of assets: Estate planning can help protect your assets from creditors and other individuals who may attempt to make claims against your estate. By setting up trusts or other legal structures, you can ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes and are protected from potential legal challenges.


  • Avoiding probate: In California, the probate process can be extremely time-consuming and expensive. By creating a trust and other estate planning documents, the probate process can be avoided entirely, which can save a significant amount of time and money, while allowing your family affairs to remain private.


  • Ensuring your wishes are followed: Estate planning ensures that your wishes are followed after your death. By creating a clear plan for your assets and other end-of-life decisions, you ensure that your loved ones are taken care of, and that your legacy is preserved.


  • Making it easier on your family: Your death will be very stressful for your family. By making sure you have a clear estate plan, with appropriate documents, you make it easier for your family to distribute your property and carry out your wishes after your death. The last thing your family should worry about is untangling your estate assets, filing a probate proceeding, and having to deal with all the myriad problems that will arise as a result. A trust can make the transition and distribution relatively easy, removing a tremendous burden from your family at a stressful time.


  • Ensuring your end-of-life decisions are carried out: With an advance health directive, you can decide how you want to spend your last days and, if you are not able, direct your loved ones to make the medical and end-of-life decisions you would want, rather than leaving those decisions to doctors or courts.

Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Directives

A comprehensive estate plan will include a will, a trust, a power of attorney, and an advance health care directive. A more complicated plan for wealthy clients might include irrevocable life insurance trusts, irrevocable grantor trusts, or family limited partnerships to obtain tax benefits where necessary or appropriate. In addition to the basic documents, I will prepare all the ancillary documents necessary, including HIPAA directives, trust transfer deeds, assignments, and other appropriate documents to ensure that your assets are properly titled. And I make the process easy by providing a questionnaire that will provide all the information I need to properly prepare your estate plan in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Update Your Estate Plan When Things Change

It is also important that you update your estate plan periodically and ensure that the documents actually do what you want. Things can change, and your estate plan should change as life changes. Whenever you have a significant life event, such as a marriage, a divorce, a death, the birth of a child, or the acquisition of significant assets, you should review your estate plan with your attorney and update it if necessary.

Whether you need to have an old estate plan reviewed and updated, or whether you need an entirely new plan created, I will handle your estate planning needs efficiently and with compassion. To discuss your needs, please send me an e-mail or call me today at (805) 267-7147.