Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning

We can help protect your family's financial future.

Family Protection and Peace of Mind

Plan now so your family avoids painful surprises

There are few things that lawyers can guarantee with any degree of certainty.  However, one of those things is that it is FAR better to prepare an estate plan while still living.  There are two types of estates: 1) testate; 2) intestate.  If someone prepares an estate plan while alive, they can direct where, when, how, and by whom all assets will be directed and administered. That is incredibly efficient and in keeping with someone’s wishes.  If someone passes away without preparing in any way, their estate will be subject to intestate administration, and the courts will apply the laws of California to distribute an estate. This can result in conflict, resentment, court  fees and costs, expense of estate funds, a great deal of time consumption.  Most of this can be avoided with even a basic estate plan.

The great news is that Advocas Law Group attorneys make will and trust preparation a very easy process. We also offer powers of attorney, advanced health care directives and other means to protect and preserve your assets from expenses related to probate and taxes.

Wealth Transfer Strategies


A last will and testament is a legal document which dictates the disposition of your assets, indicates whom you wish to administer your estate (a personal representative or executor) and indicates beneficiaries of your estate. A will can be for one person or for more than one person, such as a married couple. A will may also indicate whom parents wish to have guardianship of their minor children in the event of the death of both parents.

Sometimes people make the mistake of constructing their own will, only to have loved ones discover during probate that crucial items were overlooked or that important information is absent. The construction of a will is a fairly easy process with the help of a skilled attorney.

Many people hesitate to address a will for a variety of reasons, but one thing is certain – not having a will creates problems and uncertainty for loved ones, family and friends. When a person dies without a will (or trust), that person is considered to have died “intestate.” In California, intestate succession virtually guarantees that your estate will go through probate, resulting in an undue consumption of time and money, and final distribution will be determined by the Court rather than you. Distribution may not reflect at all what your wishes for distribution would be.

Living Trusts

Different types of Trusts have different purposes, such as charitable trusts, real estate trusts, generation-skipping trusts and special needs trusts. Our attorneys have experience preparing all types of Trusts.

For example, a Living Trust is often used in lieu of a will. If you think of a Will as something that directs where and to whom certain assets will go after death, it is helpful to think of a Living Trust as a bucket which a Trustor creates. The Trust holds things within it, such as bank accounts, titles to cars and real property, stocks and bonds, and can even be named as a beneficiary of life insurance proceeds or a 401(k) upon the Trustor’s death. Upon the Trustor’s death or incapacity, the Trust is then managed by a successor trustee (someone designated by the original trustor) for the benefit of whomever the Trustor indicated when he or she created the Trust.

Trusts have many benefits, such as avoiding probate, reducing tax exposure, preventing public disclosure of ownership, providing for a disabled family member during their lifetime, and anticipating the Trustor’s wishes in the event of his or her disability or incapacity.

Trust management can be very involved and requires diligence. Because Trusts often involve real property, bank accounts and other assets, Successor Trustees can run into trouble when they fail to manage the trust assets properly and someone files an action in Probate Court. An experienced attorney is invaluable when it comes to administering a Trust.

Advance Healthcare Directive

Advance Healthcare Directives are used by a principal to indicate what actions should be taken on a person’s behalf if he or she can no longer make medical or legal decisions on his/her own behalf. Advance healthcare directives are usually a part of a will or a trust as part of a comprehensive estate plan, but they can be standalone documents, as well.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a document that gives someone (an agent) certain powers to act in the stead of someone else (the principal). Powers of attorney may be narrow or broad, and can be sought for many reasons, such a principal who is anticipating a lengthy hospital stay, or leaving the country for a period of time who wants his or her agent to be able to collect rent, pay property taxes, etc. Powers of attorney can have a fixed expiration, or be in place for many years.

Care must be taken with creating and executing powers of attorney, as they allow agents to essentially “stand in the shoes” of the principal, and gives them powers to legally act as the principal might in certain circumstances.

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