Attorneys for Wills, Trusts, Estates & Guardianships
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Attorneys for Wills, Trusts, Estates & Guardianships
Lawyer in Berkeley to do trusts wills
Hi, We live in Berkeley and are looking for a lawyer to assist us with
our will and trust. Does anyone have any good recommendations?
Kathleen Hunt, uniquelaw.com. She is smart as a whip, she comes to your house (which
probably keeps her rates lower than many lawyers'), she is unpretentious (she looks like
an earth mama in jeans - but wait til you see her brain in action - omg), she is friendly
and communicative, and she'll get the job done.
I recommend Rebecca Conradi who is in montclair. she is very nice, very knowledgeable and
sophisticated (I am an attorney and have a little knowledge of estate law, and was
impressed) and charges very fairly (she ended up billing me less than she quoted).
I recommend Kathleen Hunt. She was great for us! She came right to our home and
made the whole process easy. Not cheap, but easy. 8^)
My wife and I had our will and trust prepared by Michael Ferguson of Ferguson and Berland
in Berkeley. His office is located near the Fourth St shopping area and there is client
parking at the rear of the building. Michael's specialty is in this area and he did a
terrific job at a reasonable fee. He is friendly, knowledgeable and puts his client's
wishes and decisions first. His office number is: 510-548-9005.
Although she is not located in Berkeley, Kathleen Hunt of Unique Law in El
Cerrito is an excellent attorney for wills and trusts. She is very dedicated to
doing the best for her clients and willing to go the extra mile for them. She
did the estate planning for my husband and myself, and we are both extremely
happy with her work. trumpee
Attorney needed to look into father's estate
Hi, I have a situation that is sort of complex and I'm wondering if anyone here in BPN
have ever had the same experience and if anyone can recommend a very good lawyer. My
father just recently died and made a will before he died. My first concern is that my
sister who is the oldest, took my parents to her friend lawyer right after my dads chemo
without the rest of the children. Second, I didn't find out about it until my mother told
me that they have already done it and my sister didn't let me see the will until pretty
much my father was in his death bed. I have questions regarding the will and how it was
done and written. Third, I need a lawyer who knows how to deal with estates that is
located in another country. Also preferably a Tagalog speaking lawyer , so that my mother
can understand what is going on. Thanks..
I recommend Nicole Aruda as a highly competent, caring estates and trusts attorney.
Nicole is very patient, ensuring that her client's understand the myriad of issues
involved in a thorough and effective estate plan. Nicole helped me navigate tricky
issues involved with my brother's special needs trust. She was calm, direct and
creative when it came to ferreting out pertinent information and designing strategies
and solutions. I appreciated Nicole's perceptive questions and that she was
careful to never complicate conversations with incomprehensible legalese. Nicole
took the time to make sure that I understood the issues that needed addressing and
the options available to me and my family. If you are looking for a kind and caring
attorney Nicole Aruda is the attorney you want. Nicole can be reached at (510)
325-1945 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great, straightforward Berkeley estate lawyer is Duane Leonard:
He is a straight-arrow, knowledgeable about trusts and wills, and totally
1936 University Ave Berkeley CA, 94704 (510)843-2321
Tell him that Merry says hi
Re: Adding a name to a deed mortgage
We hired Kathleen Hunt at Unique Law to help us with some legal issues for setting up
durable power of attorney, getting a trust established and filing with the county , and
getting a will done. She is smart, great to work with, comes to meet you at your home
if you would like, and is quite experienced and knowledgeable. If she does not have the
ability to address your particular need, then she may know someone who does. We hired
her again when our papers needed updating. She has experience helping families with all
sorts of different structures to set up their legal papers in a way that ensures there
wishes will be met. I imagine she could help you with adding a name to you property
deed and tell you what your bank needs to add a name to your mortgage. You can find out
more about her at
Estate attorney in Berkeley
I'm looking for a local estate attorney (N. Berkeley area)- recommendations would
Tova Zeff at 510-593-8393 is an estate attorney and I believe she will meet you at
your location though she is based in Rockridge. She's terrific and easy to work
We have been working with Kathleen Hunt for the last couple of years and she has
been great. She is flexible and works around your needs (she recently did a
conference call with my brother and I on a Sunday because it was the only time
she could get us at the same time). She is reasonably priced. Not only did she
do my family's will and trust, she did my brother's family and my mother's as
well. My mother recently passed away, so now Kathleen is helping us with the
estate distribution. Kathleen can be reached at (510-289-2288) or
I would like to recommend Estate attorney Kathleen Hunt. After procrastinating for
many years, I contacted Kathleen after reading recommendations on BPN. Both my
husband and I were very happy working with Kathleen. She came to our home, was
prepared and very calm in explaining the procedures for setting up a trust as well
as our will and durable power of attorney. She was sensitive and helpful in
exploring the questions and answers we needed to discuss. Kathleen's rates were
reasonable also. Here is her contact info: email@example.com
Paul Epstein is a wonderful and experienced lawyer in disputes over
estate/inheritance. He is also very sensitive to the intense feelings that can go
along with Losing a loved one and dealing with the will, relatives, etc. An
excellent person to work with, and effective. His office is in down town Oakland
(Triay law, 510-832-8700).
Lawyer rec for creating a living trust
It's time that we make a living trust for our kids! We keep on putting it on
the back burner but I want to tackle this before the end of the year. Do you
have any recommendations for a lawyer who can help us make a living trust?
Approximately how much does it usually cost to make a living trust? Our
finances are fairly uncomplicated: a house mortgage, one working parent for a
family of 4, kids will go to public school and no outstanding debt. We live in
Walnut Creek but it seems like lawyer location isn't too much of an issue as we
would be able to work on it over the phone/email. Thanks!
Exploring options to make a living trust
I agree that it is really important to get this taken care of. I was very
relieved when we were done. We used Richard Lee in Oakland. He was very
attentive to our needs, has years of experience, and is sensitive to the
individual client. I do believe, as well, that after an initial visit, you
probably can accomplish it with email and phone calls. Give him a call at 510-
701-9333. Good luck with this.
I highly recommend Clark Allison 916/983-9410. Although they are in Folsom,
they will visit you when it is time to sign everything. He and his wife Paula
work as a team and were super great to work with. I think it was about $1500
for our simple trust but they had great advice, and are always there to answer
questions by phone. Karen in Oakland
Hi there! With a lot of compounding issues is my situation( blended family but
not really) Karen Meckstroth navigated the situation beautifully with empathy
compassion ion and honesty . She asks the hard questions in such a way that its
like confiding in an old friend. She really contemplates your situation and gives
it her personal time, effort and energy that sets her apart . I can not recommend
her more highly ! She has two offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto or Los
Gatos, but has not problem doing whatever she can via email or phone. 1 (408)
402-6444 and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
You will be very impressed And more importantly, have peace of mind! Stephanie
We used Sarah diamond in berkeley. Wills,trust,living will. Package deal. I think
b/t $2000 & 3000 I think. We used ARAG so paid very little.
good lick & good for you!
I highly recommend Kathleen Hunt, an excellent wills and trust attorney, at
510-289-2288. We have just finished working with Kathleen on a family trust.
Kathleen is a very knowledgeable estate attorney, is very ethical and is a
pleasure to work with. She did an excellent job of simplifying estate issues and
the complicated language often used in these documents. Although Kathleen is
based in El Cerrito, she has clients throughout the Bay Area and is more than
willing to meet with clients at their homes. She came to our home twice--both
times over a weekend--so we were able to complete everything easily within 7-10
days. She has several wills and estate package plans--all priced quite
reasonably--and did not try to sell us a plan that was more than we needed. We
are very pleased with the help she gave us and can sleep better at night knowing
that we have set things up properly for our children.
Emily Thompson is in Walnut Creek and I cannot highly recommend her enough. My
mother's trust was somewhat complicated and her price was beyond reasonable. The
bank specialist told me he has seen many many trusts and ours was the best, most
organized trust he had seen and for the price. He said there are so many
disorganized trusts that have crossed his desk and for double the price. Emily
is a very honest, professional attorney. Her number is 925-935-5566.
I wish I had a good rec in the East Bay, too. I can only say that we tried Sara
Diamond (recommended on BPN by others), and we did not find her to be helpful.
She was anxious, somewhat condescending, and did not seem very family friendly.
I would be a bit cautious before proceeding with her.
We just created our trust for the same reason. We worked with Kathleen Hunt. We
were very pleased with her service. We found her on Yelp and on the Berkeley
Parents Network. Kathleen had great reviews and now we know why. Kathleen was
just a pleasure to work with. She came to our home in the evenings and on the
weekend to meet with my family. She spent a great deal of time to answer all of
or questions and well as educating us about the process. We never felt rushed or
pressured and were very comfortable with her. We had consulted with a few other
Attorneys as well as buying the Quicken Software to do it ourselves. Feel that
we would have made a terrible mistake to attempt to do this on our own. She
covered areas that the other Attorneys never mentioned. Her fees were also very
reasonable compared to other Attorneys. She even helped us to do a little
legwork ourselves to save a little more. I would highly recommend Kathleen and
would not hesitate to refer our friends and family to her. Here is her contact
info: (510)-289-2288. Good luck.
In response to a recommendation for a lawyer to create a Living Trust:
We have been working with Kathleen Hunt at Unique Law for the past few years for
our Living Trust and Will needs, both for the creation and update (as needed) of
She has made the process easy and understandable. Not only have we been very
happy with the legal/documentation aspects of the process, but she has exceeded
our expectations with regards to scheduling meetings. She seems to really
understand the crazy schedules that parents deal with and thus has come to our
house or done phone calls for all meetings, and has been very accommodating with
I would highly recommend using her for your Living Trust and Will needs.
I can recommend Kathleen Hunt at Unique Law as an estate attorney who made the
entire living trust process easy for our family. She came to our house, asked
good questions, listened carefully, and was ready with all the paperwork when
she said she would be. It cost $2000 total for me and my husband, and it was
worth it for the peace of mind. You can reach her at email@example.com.
I can recommend Kyle Johnston (510) 527-1880, www.kylemjohnston.com). He is
really approachable and doesn't make you feel stupid for asking basic questions.
His rates are reasonable, too!
I can highly recommend Tova Zeff. I worked with her when my company became
incorporated. I could not have done it with out her. She was through and knew
her stuff, and trusts is more her speciality. I know you will be happy with her.
I also used Kathleen Hunt based on BPN recommendations. She was efficient and
definitely on the low end of pricing. However, she missed two substantial issues for
my not terribly complicated trust. She did not grasp that my younger son still had
college to pay for--so splitting my estate 50-50 was not appropriate as a way to
divide my estate between my two sons. Even worse, she did not catch that including
my father as a beneficiary would have had MAJOR tax implications for the inherited
IRA's--ie the proceeds would have had to be distributed using his life expectancy,
rather than my older son's life expectancy. I caught both of these issues--although
the latter too late to get it fixed in the trust. So maybe this is an example of
getting what you pay for. wiser now...
Attorney needed for sibling inheritance dispute
I am heading toward mediation with my brother to divide my mother's complex real
estate holdings. I need a recommendation for an attorney with experience in
alternative dispute resolution in the context of estate planning and trust
issues. I am looking for an attorney who has represented beneficiaries in a
disputed inheritance setting. Unfortunately, we both want the same property. It
is time for us to get individual attorneys to prepare for mediation.
Need knowledgeable help
We used Peter shelton to come up with our will, trust and advanced care
directive. He's so knowledgable in these disputes and he's been a pleasure to
work with. He takes his time and explains all our options to us and has so
much experience. I would recommend him hands down.
Will to specify guardian for our children
I'm looking for someone to create a will for us that
basically just says who our kids will go to if anything
happens to us. We have savings but don't own property, so I
don't know that a living trust is needed right now.
Basically, we need to make sure that if anything happens to
me or my husband, our kids would go to my brother and his
wife or to my parents if for some reason my brother can't
take them and that there would be no chance they would
somehow end up with my in-laws (my husband is in agreement
on this and my brother knows he's first in line for the
kids). Who can we go to who is affordable? We've done the
basic Nolo will and had it looked over by an attorney
friend, but I'm wondering if we need something more ''official.''
looking out for the kids
If you have completed the Nolo will according to instructions and
executed it properly in front of witnesses you should be fine. If you
are unsure whether the NOlo will is correct for California, check it
against the free California Statutory will on the State Bar of
Only in a will can parents nominate a guardian of minor children.
Each parent needs his/her own will, and they should be consistent as
to the guardian nomination.
Of course nothing about a nominated guardian can replace parental
rights, so of course a surviving parent would prevail over a nominee.
The court will give preference to the parents' nominee,but since CA
courts have jurisdiction over minors, there still needs to be a legal
Feel free to email me if you have further questions.
Even without real estate, it is often a good idea to create a living
trust when you have minor children. Otherwise, any money that is set
aside for them may be subject to continuing oversight by a court --
thus adding time, significant expense, and ongoing inconvenience for
your children and their guardian -- even if the amount of money is
below the standard probate minimum.
If this is not a concern for you, a Nolo will is probably sufficient.
Any attorney who is experienced in this area can add a couple of
sentences to ensure that the wrong people cannot become guardians of
your children; this kind of service should not cost you much. In my
own practice, for instance, I typically review Nolo wills very
inexpensively (sometimes free of charge), and even adding language
like that involves less than an hour of time. Kathleen
I highly recommend Gigi Orta with Osterloh & Orta, LLP.
- - Nadine
Tova Zeff ( http://www.zeff.com/ )is a terrific estate attorney and
I''m sure she can give you information about costs. Lisa
Even if you don't have assets you may want a living trust so that your life
insurance policies(which I hope you have) go through that and not probate.
I used Kathleen Hunt for my will and living trust and her fees were
Need a Tough Probate Litigator
I am in need of a very smart and tough probate litigator. My mentally
ill/drug addict brother was granted the administration on my mother's probate
(long story) and his attorney is allowing him to mismanage this process (my
brother has been allowed to have his drug addict friends move into the house
before it gets prepped for sale). His attorney, I believe, is also going to
argue for special fees at the end. (He seems to be doing most of my brother's
work.) Because my brother is considered completely disabled due to mental
illness, he can only inherit so much money, so he does not care about getting
the best deal, but I have already spent several thousand dollars dealing with
the mess and would at least like to get my money back. The attorney took this
case on knowing my brother was mentally ill and a drug addict with a jail
record. I am in North Berkeley but anywhere in the Bay Area is fine--I just
need someone who is smart and fearless. The attorney I first hired on this was
not a probate litigator and just could not deal with my brother's attorney. I
need someone who can. No Messing Around
Monica Dell'Osso is our estate lawyer, not cheap, but direct, super firm,
crisply intelligent and thoughtful, got nails in her gut. She's at Burnham
Brown in Oakland and she's always cited in the top lawyer lists in local
Good luck- christina
I highly recommend Bob Foster. From his website, this is what he does:
''litigation and administration of probate estates, trusts and other
succession matters.'' He looked into a horrible probate situation for me.
He researched and explained everything to me, for a fee, including what had
gone wrong that could not be corrected. He did not actually work for me
because it didn't make financial sense to hire him. He was really good, far
and above all the other attorneys I spoke with to try to fix the mess.
Mr. Foster takes cases in Orange, LA, & Riverside counties. I encourage you
to contact him to see if he can help you with your situation, or if he can
recommend a colleague here in the Bay Area. I wish you the best.
Robert A. Foster, II
Attorney at Law
2361 Campus Drive, Suite 220
Irvine, CA 92612-1592
I googled his name to get to his website.
Call Tova Zeff. She's a great estate planning attorney who's
been practicing for a long time, knows good people, and can
direct you (free of charge) the person you need. 510-593-8393.
Will and other Estate Planning for same sex couple
Looking for a reasonably priced lawyer to do wills and powers of
attorney for myself and my spouse. I would be interested in also
knowing from people who did this what price range could be anticipated.
We recently worked w/ Hale Kronenberg for estate planning. My partner and
I are unmarried but have a house and kids together (opposite sex, but I
think it's basically the same as if we were same-sex, and he mentioned he
regularly does estate planning for domestic partners.) He did a will for
me, a trust for my partner, and set up powers of attorney and advance
health care directives for both of us. He was pleasant to work with and
very affordable. His office is in downtown Berkeley.
Happy estate planner
Contact Ora Prochovick. She is located in SF, right by BART
downtown. Very affordable, really nice, also is a lesbian
and does lots of work with GLBT people (but also with
straight people.) She did prenup work for me for $350.
Financial and Legal (Estate) Advisors Needed
We are in need of both a good, trustworthy, local Financial Advisor,
and also an Attorney for some legal advice regarding estates / wills
/ etc. Can you recommend one, or both, of these types of
professionals? We live in Berkeley. Thanks so much.
Needing legal/financial estate recommendations
Home grown accountant
I would like to strongly recommend George McNitt for your
legal estate advice that is needed. He is a very
knowledgeable estate attorney, plus he is full of integrity
and enjoyable to work with. He can explain the complicated
ins and outs of estate issues in plain language. His office
is in downtown Oakland and his phone is 444-0800.
Peter Shelton is an excellent wills & trusts attorney near Berkeley. You
can reach him at 510.394.5483. His website: petersheltonlaw.com
Try calling Rachel D. Ginsburg at (510) 835-5568
She is located at 1970 Broadway, in Oakland.
She is a very good and trustworthy lawyer.
If she cannot help you, she will refer you
to someone who can.
We like Justin Martello of Effective Assets. He's smart and easy going,
not sales-y. His office is by Peet's in North Berkeley.
firstname.lastname@example.org SP in Berkeley
Good Estate Planning attorney in Oakland?
Good Estate Planning attorney in Oakland?
Michael Perna (510-834-2822) in Oakland did our estate planning, and we
were very happy with the results. He was a good listener, never pushy or
impatient, had many terrific suggestions, and ultimately helped us craft
a plan that is a perfect fit for what I consider our family's unusual and
complicated circumstances. His fees were quite reasonable. He was also
generous with his time up front and over the phone. He also does general
law, although I gather not criminal or divorce cases.
~A Kensington Family
I recommend Doris Mitchell in Oakland. She is smart, well educated (a
master's degree in tax), and easy to work with. Her telephone is
An excellent estate planning attorney in Oakland is Richard Lee, (510)
272-0200 x304. Very smart, honest and easy to talk to. He's the best.
I highly recommend Howard D. Neal of Neal & Associates Attorneys in
Montclair Village. He is professional, knowledgeable and his fees are
reasonable. He can be reached at 510-339-0233.
We have used the services of attorney Jocelyn Wong-Rolle on numerous
occassions for our living trust and for my elderly mother's estate planning.
Jocelyn was very professional and knowledgeable about how to go about making
our living trust and helping me with many unknown questions for my elderly
mother and her estate planning. She is friendly and quick with her work. She
was diligent yet she expidited our requests as our time was limited. I would
recommend her to anyone in need of a competent estate planning attorney. I
can't say enough good things about her. Jocelyn Wong-Rolle Attorney at Law 510
482-1034 phone 510 590-9476 FAX ''Personalized Estate Planning Services for
People with small to moderate sized Estates'' Wills, Revocable Grantor Trusts,
Powers of Attorney http://wongrolle.com Good luck, Carmen Jimenez-Smith
We have had a great experience with Kathleen Hunt ( Unique
Law ). email@example.com. She was on time, pleasant
to work with , and efficient in preparing all our Estate
Planning. We recommend her highly.
Estate lawyer - ward of state issue
My elderly mother and her 89 y.o. domestic partner have a revocable trust but
are unsure if it will protect their assets in the event my mother survives her
Complicating this is my mother's partner's disabled child - a longtime ward of
the State of California.
I'm looking for an estate attorney w/experience dealing w/ward of the State
issues to review the trust and make necessary changes. Thank you in advance.
Contact attorney Julia Wald in San Rafael, who specializes in estate
law and conservatorship law ,and takes great pride in her
representation of conservatees and family members who wish to create a
conservatorship for a loved one
(say hello from me...
My husband and I just started working with an Estate Attorney, William
Bachrach, in Oakland, 510-465-1906. A friend recommended him and we are
very pleased with him. Professional, very experienced and easy to talk
to, none of the lawyer mumbo-jumbo. I'm not sure if he deals with ward
issues but you could give him a call and ask.
Seeking attorney for family trust/will
I'm looking for an attorney to handle our will, trust, and guardianship
matters for our children. Seems like a simple request, but the first
attorney's work was remarkably sloppy, and the second attorney wouldn't
even return my calls and never performed the work asked. Someone
trustworthy, who actually performs good work and communicates.
I highly recommend Herb Gee for your will and trust needs. A
few years back a friend was dying of lung cancer and needed
a will quick. Herb came to oncology at Alta Bates and did
bedside interview and created a will and trust for our
friend within days under some very difficult and trying
circumstances. When I asked Herb what we owed him for
helping our friend (and his wife and two young boys) he told
me there was NO CHARGE for his services. I have used Herb
for years since (and years before). He is currently working
on my will and trust which I sent to my father for review.
Herb's work was so thorough and excellent my parents are
re-doing their wills and trusts to get more in line with the
professional example Herb demonstrated (their attorney's
work paled in comparison). Herb is at 510-548-3000 and
specializes in wills and trusts. Tom
I worked with Reece Halpern in a smaller firm in Albany. His office
is near the little French bistro above San Pablo on Solano Ave. He
did an excellent job on my trust, will, living will, etc. He also
saved me money and time by sending copies of the documents via email
so I could read them over and suggest changes or clarifications at my
leisure. Friendly guy who is efficient and gets the job done right.
I highly recommend using Attorney Peter Shelton for estate
planning matters. He does great work, is extremely reliable
and is very easy to work with. You can reach him at: 510-394-5483 or
Any of the attorneys at Roisman Henel in Oakland are
outstanding and responsive. Their phone number is (510)
Metlaw attorney for estate planning
My partner and I are finally getting around to doing some
estate planning. He has legal insurance through work, so we
are looking at attorneys who provide services through the
MetLaw program. Has anyone ever worked with one of the
following attorneys for estate planning before?
Specifically, we need to revise my partner's
already-existing living trust and possibly set up one for me
as well. And we need to make arrangements for designating a
guardian for our kids should we both die before they're 18.
A Rockridge Mom
We worked with Hale Kronenberg for our estate planning (we
also had a legal plan through spouse's work). We found him
to be knowledgeable and he made the process easy. We even
brought our toddler to the appointment and it was no
problem. I don't have any complaints.
Got that off my to-do list!
We used Sara Diamond for our estate planning and she was great. Had a
consultation by phone and email where she laid out everything we
needed to bring to the in person meeting. First meeting we walked
through all of our assets and how to divide them, who would be
executor, who would serve as guardians to our kids, as well as power
of attorney, etc. She had the draft docs done in days and we had the
final docs executed about 2 weeks after we started.
She was clear, concise, gave thoughtful advice, and best of all it
was totally covered by our legal insurance. I happily recommend Sara
glad to have an estate plan now
Estate Lawyer recommendation
Need a recommendation for an Estate lawyer that handles
family trusts and revocable/irrevocable trusts.
Michael Ferguson, Ferguson and Berland, 1816 Fifth Street,
Berkeley. Mike Ferguson has been doing estate planning in Berkeley
/ Oakland for decades and is very knowledgeable. I am an attorney
myself, in a different field of law, but know that many attorneys
go to him for their estate planning and related issues. You can
also ask for referrals from the Alameda County Bar Association.
Richard Lee has been an estate attorney for a few decades. He is
really straight-forward and caring with his clients.
He makes very sure that you address all important issues,
like what happens to your children in the event that both
parents were unable to care for them. I felt like he really
listened to us and followed what we were needing in our
estate plan. I also have known of numerous others that have
been his client and been very satisfied. The first
consultation has no charge. He can be reached at:
Hi, I recently worked with Kathleen Hunt
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 510-289-2288. She is
professional, does a great job of explaining the law and has
reasonable rates. I highly recommend her. Salomeh
We recently asked Kathleen Hunt (510.289.2288,
email@example.com) to prepare a revocable family
trust, wills, and durable powers of attorney, which she
prepared at a flat rate. We liked her responsiveness to our
questions (we had many), her willingness to come to us,
i.e., house calls, and her general approach of helping us,
and her expressed willingness to help our children or
survivors, carry out our wishes with respect to our wills
and trust. She was especially helpful on the ''What do we do
We just had Peter Shelton complete our estate plan. He really
understands estate planning and how to advise parents with kids on
some of the issues you might not think of. He gave us great advice on
choosing trustees and guardians. His service is amazing -- he'll come
to your home or office if necessary, he gives you a CD with all your
documents, and he gives you a year of follow up service as part of the
price. On top of that, as parents, we are so relieved to have
completed our plan. You can reach Peter at 510.394.5483 or check out
To whoever was looking for a great estate planning lawyer, I'd like to
recommend Reece Halpern in Albany. He's been doing this forever and is a
genuinely nice guy. fan of reece halpern
Lawyer for living trust
I am looking for someone to do a living trust for myself. I
have two young children and I am a single parent, so it
might be more complicated (?). I would love recommendations
of lawyers who have a lot of experience with
single/separated parents. Preferably near Oakland, but
really anywhere in East Bay is fine if the person is good.
Also, if anyone can share about how much it cost them to do
a living trust, and how much it typically costs for an
update (ballpark). Thank you in advance.
I would like to recommend Tova Zeff, JD as your living trust attorney.
Tova prepared a will for my neighbors. As official witness, I saw the
thoroughness and seriousness Tova took in preparing, presenting and
delivering the documents. My neighbors were delighted with the process
and felt well taken care of. Her number is 510-593-8393 and
I'd like to recommend Cassandra Massey. Her office is in Alameda.
Here's her website:
Scott Pesetsky of Smart Wills www.smartwill.us did a will,
power of attorney, and advanced health directive for my
husband and I. We would highly recommend him. He was
professional, his rates were great, and the process was baby
friendly. We were able to bring our 3 month old son with us
and were in and out in about 2 hours. If you want to go with
someone you can trust, go with Scott. He is a parent himself
and caters to busy parents who want to be responsible.
e-mail me if you have questions. Katie
Philip Batchelder is a trust and estates lawyer and very
knowledgeable. He's also a very caring, highly principled
attorney that will make sure that you are selecting the best
option in your situation.
Contact him at:
Mitchell & Courts
1001 Marina Village Pkway #400
Alameda CA 94501
(510) 523-5272 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wills and Estate Planning
I am thinking of using attorney Scott Pesetsky on Telegraph
to draw up wills and trusts and help with estate planning.
Anybody have experience with him? I would like to read
positive or negative reviews. Thanks. anon
Great Estate Planning Attorney: Richard Lee of Lee and Lawless, in
Embarcadero area of Oakland 510.272.0200.or email@example.com
Mature, experienced, sensible, thorough, confidence-inspiring
I may have responded earlier, but just wanted to recommend
Scott Pesetsky. He helped my husband and I with our will,
power of attorney and health directive. He took an otherwise
daunting task and walked us through the steps in the most
easy and helpful way possible. He was flexible with planning
and meeting time, and held a baby friendly session which was
great because we brought our 3 month old. We were in and out
in a few hours and now we have the peace of mind that our
affairs are in order in the event of an unforeseen tragedy.
I am so happy we worked with Scott and will be recommending
him to all my friends, particularly new parents. Feel free
to e-mail me if you have more questions.
Kids now, need to set up a will
With two small children now, it becomes clear that my husband
and I need to set up guardianship for them in the sorry event
that something unfortunate happens to us.
Can someone recommend which is the best avenue to follow so
that our children would be cared for by the person we
designate and that our property, bank accounts, and stocks
would go to use for our children's care?
What happens if we do nothing? Is a will sufficient? Must we
set up a trust? My partner is from another country and is
aghast at the cost of lawyers fees to set up a trust.
Many thanks for any insight you can provide about your
experiences. Baffled about estate planning
My husband is also a foreign national with a green card
which creates a special set of circumstances regarding
estate planning (the govt treats non-US spouses like any
other relative and not like a spouse if you die which means
inheritance taxes for him above a certain, constantly
changing threshold). We just finished ours and it was a
huge hassle but I think well worth the time. If you do
nothing then everything goes to probate court to decide
which may or may not be a good thing for your kids (e.g.
they could be split up amongst family members, etc.) So
it's much better that you say what should happen. I'm sure
there are some NOLO books on this but I'd use a lawyer if I
were you. They've seen all scenarios and will ask you all
sorts of ''what if...'' questions that you'll never think of
on your own. Ours cost about $2500 to do the whole thing I
We highly recommend Kimberly Spears of
www.FamilyWiseEstatePlanning.com. She came over to our house
to do all of the paperwork and meetings and it took about a
month, maybe less, to get everything in order (you also have
to do some legwork, giving her your end of the paperwork).
You can contact her at:
She has helped many families whom I know.
Most Estate Planning attorneys will provide a free initial
consultation. A partner being from another country adds an element
of complexity such that I'd urge you not to use a We The People type
forms service. Depending upon your assets Wills may be sufficient.
Shop around a little and you will find an experienced EP attorney who
is reasonably priced - in this economy you can find a bargain on such
services. Just be sure to check for a State Bar license and
I am an estate planning lawyer (see www.FamilyWiseEstatePlanning.com)
in the Bay Area. This can be a confusing issue for people. The
general idea is that if you have the type of assets that would go
through probate (real estate, brokerage accounts, savings), then you
generally want to hold your assets in a revocable living trust. If
you have only non-probate assets (retirement accounts, life
insurance), then you can use a will only. If you work with a lawyer
to create a will (as opposed to doing it yourself), you can set up a
trust for your children that would be created only at the death of
both parents to manage these non-probate assets. If you are creating
a revocable living trust, then the future trust for children is part
of those documents. As part of your estate planning (either with a
trust and its associated ''pour-over'' will or with a freestanding
will), you would name guardians for your children. If you don't want
to work with a lawyer at all and want to create a will (although not
one that creates a children's trust) you might consider using
software from Nolo Press (www.nolo.com), which is very reputable.
If you do nothing, then your probate assets go through probate before
passing to your children, a process that can take 18 to 24 months for
an uncontested estate. In addition, your estate pays probate fees
which are based on the fair market value of your probate assets. If
you have a taxable estate (enough value to be subject to federal
estate taxes) and you do nothing and one spouse dies before the
other, you lose that spouse's right to pass money tax free at the
death of the second spouse. And, finally, if you do nothing, then
your family and a judge decide who should be guardians of your kids.
This is a very general answer to your question, and I would be happy
to discuss your situation with you by phone at no charge. K
Estate Planning for my mother
My husband and I are seeking advice on two things. First,
the best way to transfer my mothers money into our name, and
second, we are looking for a great estate planner for this
The first question : My mother owns a home out of state. She will be
moving to Calfornia, and she wants to transfer all of her
money into our names. We then will turn around and purchase
a house for her in our name, and we will be putting a bit
more into the house (since houses are more here). The title/
the house etc will be my husband and mine. Reason we want to
do it this way is for medicare/medicaid purposes. My mom
does not have any money but the money in her house. My
question is, what is the best way to do this, gifting, taxes
etc? We were advised about her giving us a loan at a small
interest rate, and then over the years we would pay it back,
however she can't have income like this or she will lose her
health care. She is disabled and on disability so its really
tricky. This will be a second home for us, we currently live
in our first home. My husband and I plan on taking care of
her, and keeping the house up to date so she has a safe place.
I am looking for people who have been through this before,
and any suggestions are really helpful. Who is the right
type of person to draw up all of this information, is it a
lawyer, an estate planner, my accountant?
Any advice soon would be really welcome.
Go to an estate attorney (you can have that person work with
your CPA). Here is a great one, highly competent, super-easy
to work with: ___ from her website:
''... she was recognized by Goldline Research in the
December 28, 2009 issue of Forbes magazine as a leading
provider of estate planning and probate legal services in
You probably should disregard any advice you get here - except for the recommendations for estate planning/elder lawyers. I just put my father on Medicaid. They have a 60-
month (5-year) look back, so if she is transferring/giving you assests, you all need to hope she stays healthy for 5 years. They will look to you to pay for her care (up to the value of the assests she gave you).
Between gifting and/or loan strategies to transfer her assets, and MediCal's 3-year look back rule, You'll definitely want an estate planning attorney.
Pam Ty of Protec-Law in Walnut Creek is excellent. I've known her for several years, used her for my own trust, and have got great feedback from the people I have referred to her.
Her number is 925-262-8238
A recent post mentioned an attorney as having been
''recognized by Goldline Reseach in the December 28, 2009
issue of Forbes magazine as a leading provider of estate
planning and probate legal services in California.'' Without
meaning any disrespect whatsoever to that attorney, I just
wanted to point out that Goldline Research is essentially a
marketing and promotion firm; businesses pay several
thousand dollars (usually $3000 - $10,000, depending on the
industry) to be listed as a ''leading provider'' of whatever
service they provide. Goldline then pays to publish a
''guide'' to these ''leading providers'' in various national
magazines. Other people might call the ''guide'' a full-page
advertisement, but Goldline is not that honest about its
Personally, I knew none of this when I was contacted by
Goldline myself, a year or two ago. I was excited that I'd
been identified as a ''leading provider'' in my industry . . .
until I was asked to sign a contract obliging me to spend
over $5000 to be identified as such. That was the end of my
brief contact with the company. You can Google ''Goldline
Research scam'' yourself, and see what you think.
This is just a heads-up to the BPN community about the true
value of a Goldline Research testimonial.
learned to be skeptical
Atty for house left with no will & a mortgage?
When my husband's mother died seven years ago, she left
behind a home, with a mortgage still on it, and no will. It
was a joint mortgage, and was also in her ex-husband's
name(my father-in-law.) My father-in-law was not living in
the house and signed over (quitclaim deeded) the deed to my
husband and five of his seven siblings. (Two did not want to
be involved.) My father-in-law died two years ago. Over the
past seven years, the home has been occupied by various
siblings, who have paid the mortgage, but the home has
fallen in to great disrepair. Of course, now the drama has
really set in. The current sibling living in the home wants
out, and there are a couple of siblings who feel that they
have the right to pass through living there whenever they
want, even though they contribute nothing toward the
mortgage, etc. Here's the kicker: the mortgage company does
not know that the owners of the mortgage are dead. This
issue needs to be resolved. We don't know where to begin. It
would be great to sell it (In this market?) and split any
profits. It was also be great if the home could be used as a
residence for their mentally ill family member who cannot
live alone. Ideally, we'd love for the home to stay in the
family, but there is one sibling who refuses to agree to
anything reasonable. We don't know where to begin. I figure
we need an attorney, but I don't know what kind, or who? All
siblings except for one (who happens to be the custodian of
the mentally-ill sibling, so I guess she has two votes) are
reasonable and can work together...We need to work around
the criminal. Please help!
One house + lots of kids = Too Much Drama
Approximately 2/3 of my law practice is devoted to estate planning,
probate matters, and trust administration. Based on the information in
your question it appears to me that a probate of your mother-in-law's
share of the house may be inevitable. Under California law, attorney fees
in a probate are based on the gross value of the assets and the attorney
handling the probate does not get paid until the end of the probate
proceeding. Therefore, it is important that your spouse select an
experienced attorney he trusts since the fee will be the same regardless
of whom he decides to work with.
Since the mother left a will, and there are assets you will need a probate
lawyer. As far as the mortgage is concerned, as long as the payments are
being made, the lender accepts the money without looking further. There
are considerations, of course, of homeowners insurance and taxes.
You are correct, you need an attorney to help you straighten
this out. The attorney should be familiar with probate
court procedures, as your husband and his siblings may need
to petition the probate court to solve this problem. Generally, estate
planning attorneys do the most work in
probate court. You *may* be able to have a local title
company assist you, but from what you've described, you'll
probably end up with an attorney anyway. I am an estate
planning attorney with knowledge about the local probate
You need to contact a will and trust or probate attorney. When a
decedent's estate has property worth more than
$100,000 the estate must go through probate. When there is
no will(s) the probate code determines how the estate is
divided. One family member would petition to be the
Administrator of the estate. The probate code determines
the fees that the Administrator and Attorney are entitled to
for handling the estate(s). If the house is the only asset
then it will most likely have to be sold.
Attorney specializing financial & estate planning
We are looking for a highly-rated and experienced attorney
who has the combined skills of wealth management and
We would like to set up a will/living trust for our one-
year old child, taking into account various aspects of tax-
implications of inter-generational transfer (e.g., capital
gains tax, trust funds, etc).
Ideally, this person should be well-versed in estate law,
tax law, and various financial investment vehicles. It
would be a plus, if he/she is a fee-based financial
We just finished our estate planning with Reece Halpern. I
was so impressed with how thorough and patient he is. He
answered any and all our questions and then some. He gives
a free 1.5hr consultation. You fill out his questionnaire,
meet, he goes though all logistics and answers any questions
you have. No money changes hands till you decide to have
him start writing up your document. He is conveniently
located in Albany on lower Solano Ave. You can reach him at
510-527-4337 and check him out at
My attorney for 20 years is Richard Lee, 510 272 0200. He
can help you with estate planning and document preparation.
Although he does not personally do wealth management he
does have colleagues who do. He has a tax attorney in his
office and works closely with wealth managers.
Kathleen Hunt (510-289-2288) is amazing. She was so
helpful in our estate planning/living will. She was able
to meet on weekends at our home and answered a million
questions with ease. Highly recommend.
Pam Ty, Protec-Law is exceptional. 925-262-8238
She does not manage assets, but I personally prefer to have my
legal, tax, and wealth management handled separately.
Having one person fill two of those roles leaves too much open
to conflict of interest, in my opinion. Also, having three
advisors both confirms strategies and recommendations, and
provides opportunities to discover new strategies that I can
bounce off the other advisors.
Attorney to update a living trust
Can someone please post a recommendation for an attorney
in the West Contra Costa area or Berkeley that is
reasonable and does a good job in updating a living trust.
I see a lot of older posts but would like some updated
info if you have had a will or living trust done recently
and how much I might expect to pay for a simple will or
Paula Leibovitz in Orinda does excellent first class
work. She is not the least expensive but she really knows
the field and will make a trust for you rather than make
you fit into a trust. The least expensive places usually
have a one size fits all trust - and these can be a
problem many years down the road. In some things it is
better to pay more and get and expert. She has worked on
several trusts for me, and she is very competent. I have
seen several very poorly writen trusts by other lawyers,
and they have been problems later. 925-253-1136
I recommend Kathryn Korn, based in Orinda:
Kathryn S. Korn, Esq.
93 Moraga Way
Orinda, CA 94563
(925)253-1136 x 14
The price you'll pay will depend on what you want your
will/trust to accomplish and your particular situation
(dependents, property, bank accounts, etc.) Make a list of
those things and what you want your trust/will to
accomplish. Then you can call around to get an estimate.
Wills,Trusts,Estates lawyer in Berkeley or Lamorinda
I would love the name of a Wills,Trusts,Estates lawyer in
Berkeley or Lamorinda area. I'm a new homeowner, have a 9-
month old daughter and will probably be getting married in
the next year or so. I'm really at a loss as to what I'm
supposed to be doing at this point to protect my daughter.
Any information would be useful.
Kathryn S. Korn, Esq.
93 Moraga Way
Orinda, CA 94563
(925)253-1136 x 14
Kathryn has handled some very complex legal matters relating
to trust/estate issues for our family. She can explain in
lay-person terms what you might want and what it will cost.
I've referred several people who've been happy with her.
Re fees: I believe hers are average, but you should call
around to find out what the current rate is. All I can tell
you (based on experience) is that the best value is not
necessarily the cheapest. Find someone you'd feel
comfortable working with under difficult circumstances, and
make sure he/she is competent, because bad legal advice
always winds up being very, very expensive.
Experience in trusts and capital gains taxes
I have reviewed a number of old postings, but still not
quite sure if I found what we need. We are faced with making
big decisions about my mother's SF home, who is now in a
nursing home. The more we learn, the more we are
overwhelmed. We have come to learn about the little thing
called 'capital gain tax', of which seems to vary depending
on the type of trust, cost of home, etc. Unfortunately, we
employed a tax accountant/attorney in SF for basic advise,
but don't feel much more educated or confident in his advise
(for a variety of reasons which I will spare you). We may
need to pay, once again, for someone REALLY experienced in
trusts, capital gains taxes, and advise about selling vs.
renting out the house. I probably need someone who can
really hold my hand and explain very simply this complicated
issue. East Bay ideal but not necessary, San Leandro to
Baffled and Confused
I highly recommend the firm Jewel and Stoneman in SF.
Woman owned and operated, smart, reliable attorneys who
know their stuff but are also extremely kind and down-to-
earth and will take the time to explain and be certain you
understand (both have extensive experience teaching
seminars on estate planning, trusts etc, which means they
really know how to translate this somewhat complicated
area of the law for the lay person).
For anything related to estate planning, wills, trusts,
probate law, I would call:
Very approachable, a great ''bedside'' manner, but most
importantly, excellent at what she does. She saved many
thousands of dollars for my father-in-law's estate. I've met
her, experienced her work, seen her talk to a group, answer
questions one-on-one. When I re-do my living trust, I'm
going straight to her.
At a Q&A session Heather held recently, I asked a question
about retaining the tax basis when inheriting a property
that will be split among beneficiaries: Heather immediately
responded with some very specific language that needs to be
in the trust. When I checked with my mum's trust, her
attorney had not put that language in.
Heather gives you all the docs electronically as well as on
paper, and shows you how to work with the materials, e.g.,
sometimes I've needed to remove and re-enter property from
and back into my trust; that's been problematic for me
because the attorney who set up my current living trust
didn't tell me how to do that - just told me to call him
whenever I needed it done (an expensive proposition for
something that I know is simple but must be done correctly).
**BTW, Heather is on a shortlist by Goldline Research as a
2009 Leading Attorney in California; you can see that in the
current issue of Forbes.
Hello. Would someone have a recommendation for a
dependable and reasonably priced attorney that specializes
in the preparation of wills? My wife and I would love to
find someone who is approachable, easy to work with and
has a strength in this area. Many thanks as always for
any advice or suggestions!
I don't know exactly what you mean by solid & reasonable, but I find Conswella
Byrd charming experienced and dedicated to her work. She's also easy to get to
as she validates parking in downtown Oakland.
I relocated here from Boston and needed to have my will/estate planning
documents redrafted. After reading reviews on the BPN I contacted Kathleen
Hunt, an attorney from Unique Law (510-289-2288). Kathleen came to my
house for our first meeting. She was very personable, direct, and knowledgable.
She reviewed my documents, pointed out the required changes, and made
insightful recommendations. Her fee was very reasonable and the final
document completed within a week. She included a checklist of items for me to
complete. I cant recommend her highly enough.
We recommend Jocelyn Wong-Rolle for trusts, wills, and
estate planning. Jocelyn was down to earth and easy to talk
with. She was patient in explaining to us things about the
trust that we didn't understand. During our decision making
process, she gave us guidance and issues to consider
depending on how we wanted to handle guardianship,
appointment of trustees, etc. so that we would be able to
make the best decision for our family. She gave us great
advice throughout the whole process. She is also flexible
with her schedule, and even offered to meet at our home
because we have young children to take care of (although we
didn't need her to come to our home, it was nice of her to
offer). Jocelyn made the process very easy for us. She
accepts ARAG legal insurance as well. You can contact her
Now that we have a daughter, husband and I want to establish a
living trust. Can you recommend a lawyer who can help us do
this? In Alameda would be great.
Richard Lee at Lee and Lawless is superb at helping people with trusts. I hope
he can help you with yours. He worked with my family and we were extremely happy
with his services. He was very clear and level-headed. I have also known many
other people that have used his services and give him glowing reviews. His phone
number is: 510-272-0200.
He's in Walnut Creek, but I recommend Elliot Abrams to put together a living
trust. I took a class from him at Piedmont Adult School and would use him if I
wanted to use a lawyer(I did my own living trust using the Nolo books. His phone
is 925 947 1333.
I used Pam Ty of Protec-Law for my own living trust and have recommended her to a
number of people, all of whom have given me excellent feedback. She's in Walnut
Creek. Her phone is 925-262-8238.
I highly recommend Kathleen Hunt who operates independently in the East Bay.
She's very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful and even comes to your home to
meet with you. She wrote a living trust as well as wills for us and made the
whole process easy and surprisingly affordable. Her phone is 510-289-2288 and
email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi - I had my living trust, will, and health directives prepared by Kathleen
Hunt at Unique Law in El Cerrito. She was extremely helpful, sensitive, and
understanding. Kathleen walked me through the steps and tailored her advice to
my particular situation. She never asked me to come to her office, and she even
dropped by to pick up copies I had made of the signed documents. I highly
recommend her. She can be reached by at 510-289-2288 or
I strongly recommend Reece Halpern on Solano Ave., Albany. He
did a great job for me and it was very reasonably priced. His
number is 510-527-4337. We also did a Living Will and Power of
Attorney while we were at it.
I recommend my attorney Joel H. Tranter at 510.292.0907.
I apologize in advance if this is duplicating a question answered in a
previous newsletter, but I could not find it! I'm trying to find an attorney
who can help us set up a will and a living trust. My husband is a citizen, I
am a permanent resident. I need to find somebody with plenty of experience
with this tricky subject, since it involves special trusts to make up for not
receiving a martital deduction as a non-citizen. Many thanks!
trying to be tax-savvy
I absolutely recommend Pam Ty, Protec Law in Walnut Creek. My
wife is a permanent resident also. Pam was very thorough,
covered the details, and helped us understand it.
We need an attorney to do some estate planning for us. We are
located in West Contra Costa County but would be okay driving
to the right person. Thanks
We are using Conswella Byrd, who is very knowledgable as well as
warm and thoughtful. She gave me some excellent advice on a
tricky legal question, and is handling our will and trust. She
has a nursing background, so knows a lot about some of the things
we (or our parents) might be facing. In case you aren't sure,
she offers a free half hour consultation. Her office is near
BART in Oakland, and worth the short trip (we are in West Contra
Costa too) You can call her at 510 645-1501.
I can highly recommend any of the fabulous attorneys at
Roismann & Henel, located at 1999 Harrison St., in Oakland. I
practice family law, a field which often triggers the need for
estate planning services, and every client I have sent to
Caroline Henel, Anne Nash, or the RH firm in general has been
very well-served. Good luck!
We used Rick Collari in Danville a few years ago. He did a good
job and follows up with us each year. His contact information is:
Richard L. Collari Jr.
4115 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Suite 100
Danville, California 94506
Telephone: (925) 648-2043
Facsimile: (925) 648-2045
93 Moraga Way
Orinda, CA 94563
Work: (925)253-1136 x 14
Kathryn is an excellent estate and family law attorney who has
helped my family through some very very difficult legal
situations. Personable and conscientious. We were referred to
her by a friend, and I've referred several friends who've also
reported good experiences.
I would suggest Conswella Byrd, Esq. She is extremely
professional, detailed oriented, AND has a very warm and
welcoming smile. Not usual for this type of work, I think. She
did my Health Care Directive.
I recently did estate planning and created a living trust, will,
and powers of attorney for both financial and health care with a
great lawyer, Sara Diamond, Ph.D. She was very helpful, answered
all my many questions patiently and made the whole daunting
process quite simple and understandable. I used the UC Berkeley
Legal Plan which covered the fees, but I believe she is quite
reasonable if you don't have a plan. She can be reached at:
www.saradiamondattorney.com or 510-548-4844
Her office is convenient in downtown Berkeley. Se Habla Espanol.
I highly recommend her.
I really like Elliot Abrams in WC. I took a class from him on
setting up a living trust and would go to him for any estate
questions. 2033 N. Main #750, 925 947 1333.
I'm looking for a referral to basic will / living trust service
for family with child, especially in Berkeley or Oakland.
We used Kathleen Hunt and she was great. She'll come out to your
house, which is quite nice.
I'm looking for a lawyer to help with a will and estate planning. I've
never done either of these before, so I'm looking for someone who's honest
and patient and who won't cost an arm and a leg. I live in the Walnut
Creek area but am willing to go a little further out (meaning Berkeley or
Oakland) if you've got a GREAT one you'd recommend. Thanks
My husband and I recently went to Sara Diamond in the Wells Fargo
Building on Shattuck. She was a pleasure to deal with. She said she
has done hundreds of estates. She was easy to understand, explained
everything, and presented us with a very nice binder with all of our
paperwork and instructions at the end. After the initial visit, I dealt
with questions by email and then we had one more visit for
signing/notarizing. She made the process as painless as it could
possibly be. 510-548-4844.
I swear by Michael Ferguson on 5th Street in Berkeley (510.548.9005),
who did our living trust/wills, but closer to you is Mark Frisbie in
Walnut Creek (925.947.1714), who handled my aunt's estate, and, as her
trustee, I was very pleased with his work. Either will schedule an
initial no-charge appointment and let you know up front what the fees
For a variety of reasons, I think it's best to have an estate planning
attorney who is familiar with your particular county (Contra Costa).
Kathryn Korn did outstanding estate planning (under very difficult
circumstances) for my family. I've referred several people to her, all
of whom have been very pleased. I think you will be, too. She works
Kathryn Korn, Esq.
93 Moraga Way
Orinda, CA 94563
Work (925)253-1136 x 14
I can highly recommend Gigi Orta (email@example.com) many of my friends
have used her and she is extremely good at estate and will planning with
eleven years experience. Very bright, capable and easy to work with.
To the person looking for estate planning services in Walnut Creek: I
just finished working with Nicole Davidson, a solo practitioner in
Alamo, in order to prepare a revocable trust. She was absolutely
terrific -- turning a process that I thought would be painful and drawn
out into an easy one. She carefully answered my many questions, and came
up with some good solutions to some knotty estate problems. You can find
her contact info on her website: www.nicoledavidsonlaw.com.
We did our wills/living trust with Walnut Creek attorney Kirsten Howe
(www.kirstenesq.com) last year on the recommendation of a friend and she
was great to work with -- good about explaining things and answering our
questions, easy-going, sense of humor. Her costs, while not low, seemed
to be comparable to what others charged. And she gave us the option of
saving quite a bit by doing some of the legwork of funding the trust
ourselves, and gave us good instructions for how to do it.
I would like to recommend Chastity Schults who is an estate planning
attorney in Walnut Creek. She works in the law offices of Youngman,
Ericsson and Low. She can be reached at 925.930-6000, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org and her website is www.youngman.com. She is
knowledgable, professional and approachable.
Pam Ty of Protec-Law in Walnut Creek is superb. She prepared my trust
and I have sent several people to her - all have told me that they were
extremely pleased. Her number is 925-262-8238.
We are looking for a recommendation for a straightforward, honest
attorney (or legal advice web site?) for some estate / will
questions. Also, does anyone know where to download a truly free
legal form re: will codicil?
Close to Berkeley is preferred. Any lawyer(s) you would *not*
Yes, Heather Tremain here in Oakland. I know her work is the best and many friends also can give a great testimonial for her services of trusts, wills, healthcare documents: Heather Tremain, Esq., @ Tremain & Hoffman, LLP, 1814 Franklin St. Suite 800, Oakland, CA 94612. Phone (510) 835-3090 Fax (510) 835-1050 and her email: Heather@thlaw.us
Heather offers such an outstanding combination of a smart professional, easy to work with legal expert in this area of the law and the clear sincerity one seeks in personal and legal matters.
When I had my Trust and Will prepared, I went with Kathleen A. Hunt and was very pleased. Kathleen is thorough, intelligent, and has no trouble explaining things more than once. I appreciated her services, attention to detail and promptness She even came to my home for our business appointment.Her fee seemed to be the standard which was more than fair.
She can be reached by telephone at 510-289-2288 or email@example.com
Pam Ty, Protec-Law, is excellent. She prepared my trust and I have sent several people to her - all have told me that they were extremely pleased. Her number is 925-262-8238.
We did our wills and trust with Kathleen Hunt of Unique Law a few months ago. Her phone is 510.289.2288 and her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org She was attentive to our needs, seemed knowledgable, was patient and thorough with explanations, and followed through in a timely fashion. We would definitely recommend her.
We recommend Sara Diamond on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. She specifically deals with wills, estates and trusts and is friendly and experienced. She did an excellent job helping us set up our wills and trust. Her website is http://www.saradiamondattorney.com/
Lynn H Phan is a wonderful Estate Will Attorney. Lynn is extremely knowledgeable, personable, professional and extremely honest. Bottom line, Lynn is a really good person! It was a pleasure working with her. I recommended her to really good friends of my family and they loved her so much they had her over for dinner! Please contact her, you will be so happy you did!
Lynn H Phan
1316 67th Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
Can anyone recommend a thorough attorney that can help us set up
appointment of a legal guardian for our young son, should we both die?
Reece Halpern did all of my estate planning, designating
guardians, etc. Was very impressed with his work and it was
a reasonable price.
1320 Solano Avenue, Suite 203
Albany, CA 94706
I want to recommend Marianne Malveaux, an attorney who
specializes in Estate Planning and administration. She knows
her stuff ? and she has real expertise in the financial side
of things as well. Give Marianne a call at 524.7655 or email
her at email@example.com
Can anyone recommend an attorney who takes UC legal insurance to do
our will/set up a trust? This is one of those straightforward,
necessary things in life that we haven't done because we don't have
good future guardianship for our children. Has anyone ever set up
their will with this same issue at hand? It seems irresponsible to
not set our legal documents in order, but the issue of who would
care for our kids is really worrisome for me. Any advice or
We (and many people we know) have had our wills and trusts and
guardianship papers drawn up by a terrific, sensitive, reasonable
attorney by the name of Gloria Park. She can be reached at 510-769-8300
See probate expert and very kind attorney Duane Leonard, 1936 University
Ave # 380
Berkeley, CA 94704, (510) 843-2321. (Tell him hi from Merry.)
Reece Halpern at 1320 Solano Ave. did a great job setting up a Living
Trust and Will for me. Reasonable rates. 510 527-4337
Has anybody worked with attorney Greg Brockbank from Marin County
to draw up a Living Trust?
I haven't used Greg Brockbank, but I can recommend Kathleen Hunt (510-289-2288)
I first hired Kathleen to help my siblings and myself out in a messy Estate/Probate
case. She delivered such positive results with the Estate case that my husband and
I moved forward with hiring her services again, but for putting our Trust together.
Kathleen was very thorough in this process. You can tell when you first meet
Kathleen that she is exceptionally ''results driven''. I am a very busy Technical
Consultant working globally with demanding clients; Kathleen made it very easy for
us to get together by meeting with me at my home in the evenings and on the
weekends. Kathleen is a very delightful person and a pleasure to do business with
and her rates are very reasonable.
My husband's mother is suffering from early-stage Alzheimers and she
lives in MD and we are trying to bring her out to CA and obtain legal
guardianship. We are looking for an attorney who can answer our
questions and help us to get her into a good care facility.
My husband, a local attorney, says you need to find an attorney where
your mother-in-law mother resides. Perhaps the bar association in her
area can give you a recommendation.
Attorney Julia Wald is a specialist in working with clients who make the
difficult decision to institute a guardianship or Conservatorship if a
loved one has lost the ability to manage his or her own care.
She is certified in probate, estate planning and trust law, and best of
all, she is really nice, talks English (rather than legalese), and helps
clients discover how to work in the best interest of those who need care.
It's worth the short trip to San Rafael to confer with her.
You can reach attorney Julia Wald at 415-482-7555.
My husband and I recently moved to Berkeley and are expecting our first
child. We would like to start a living trust and need reliable and reasonable
lawyer in the Berkeley area. Thank you for suggestions in advance.
getting our assests in order.
I can very highly recommend Susan Jewel at the firm Jewel and Stoneman in
San Francisco (www.legacylaw.com). She did our trust right after our
daughter was born, and she was very thorough and helpful. She is a really
nice, funny person, was patient about answering my endless questions (I
know nothing about the law but like to have everything explained to me),
and obviously knows her stuff (covered not just the trust but medical
powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, all that stuff).
I commend you for doing a trust. We haven't needed it (knock wood) but it
has really given us piece of mind in the five years since our daughter was
I recommend Robert Glickstein (510) 339-7700 on Clay Street in Oakland.
He set up trusts for us as well as relatives and friends, and everyone has
had the same good opinion of him. He's very knowledgeable, listens
carefully, and his rates are reasonable.
I'd like to highly recommend George McNitt. His office is in Oakland and
his phone number is 510-444-5521. He's affordable, frank about what you
need to think through in order to complete a living trust and pleasant to
When I told one of my friends I was setting up a living trust, she advised
me not to spend the money -- unless I was using Reece Halpern. That was
whom I already had the appointment with. He did an excellent job for a
very reasonable price. He is on lower Solano Ave. I also had him do a
health directive, power of attorney, etc. to get it all done at once. He
was able to send me questions by email so I have them all filled in by the
time I arrived, saving time and money.
I went to Herb Gee in Berkeley. He was very helpful and prepared all the
documents for my estate - living trust, will, durable power of attorney,
advance directive. I do not know if he is competitive in terms of fee - I
have legal insurance - but he was very efficient, sent me the docs by
email and was responsive.
I recommend our lawyer: Kathleen Hunt. We found her here, from another
member's recommendation! She's done a great job for us with our living
trust. She was very accommodating schedule-wise too, which was a huge
help. She came right to our house and made the entire process a breeze.
Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I highly recommend Robert Glickstein, our estate attorney. He is very
knowledgeable, smart, honest, and communicative. 1300 Clay St., Ste 600,
I wanted to let everyone know of my great experience with Reece Halpern
regarding our Estate planning. An estate plan is not something anyone
to think about but everyone should have. He seemlessly put together our
family trust estate plan, powers of attorney, wills and health care
directives. Reece made the whole experience easy to understand, quick and
dare I say it ...fun, at a very competitive price.
For a lawyer, Reece is a great guy ;) . He also does probate and small
business work. He has an office on Solano, responds quickly to
questions/concerns and even offers a free 1/2 hour consultation. Who said
can't get anything for free!!
You can find out more from his website http://www.halpernlawoffice.com or
give him a call at 510.527.4337.
Don't wait, the future will be here tomorrow!
Diane and Rob
For your living trust/will, I highly recommend Melissa Brandman. Her
rates are very competitive with other attorneys in the Bay Area. She also
understands how hectic schedules can be and is very flexible with meeting
times/locations. Her email address is: email@example.com and her
phone is: 510-527-0265. Good Luck!
We hired Jocelyn Wong Rolle for estate planning. Jocelyn was easy to work
with, conscientious, thorough, clear, and intelligent. She worked with
the highest integrity and standards. She anticipated issues that will
avoid a lot of trouble for us down the road. We feel secure knowing
Jocelyn has handled these legal matters for us. I would highly recommend
Jocelyn for your estate planning matters. She can be reached at
For all trusts/wills/family law, I strongly recommend Kathleen Hunt
firstname.lastname@example.org. I interviewed several lawyers before finding
Kathleen. She helped me think through issues that I hadn't considered,
issues that the other lawyers must not have known about or cared to mention
(with putting assets into the trust, the need for another attorney's
involvement in drafting a post-nup, and accepting and supporting the
differences between my living will's instructions and those of my
She works quickly, efficiently and often by email/IM. Her rates are very
competitive and she proposed ways that I could save money by doing some
She even took care of managing my husband's legal representative for
completing our post-nuptial (needed to get mortgage help from my family)
since my husband and his lawyer couldn't get around to completing the
We worked with Melissa Brandman to do our estate plan and living trust. She
was great. She came to our house in the evening for a free consultation
that walked us through all the information we needed to pull together and
the decisions we needed to make. She explained everything clearly and her
rates were reasonable. We were very happy with the whole process with her,
and feel good knowing that we (FINALLY!) have a thorough will and trust in
place should anything happen. Check out her website:
Does anyone know a lawyer who could help us update our will and living trust. We
would like someone who is kind, thorough, knowledgable, and does not rush you and
make you feel unimportant. In alameda or close by is best.
You just perfectly described Richard Lee, who is the best estate planning attorney
I've ever dealt with. His integrity, knowledge, compassion and honesty is only
surpassed by his humbleness. His phone number is (510) 272-0200. He's located very
close to Alameda too.
The attorney we used to update our will and living trust is not in Alameda (she's in
El Cerrito) -- but she's very reasonably priced, easy to work with, totally helpful
and a good communicator -- hasn't charged us a cent for numerous follow-up questions
-- responds write away to any inquiry we've sent her (either by e-mail or phone).
Her name is Kathleen Hunt and her e-mail address is kathleenhunt[at]uniquelaw.com.
Diane Cash in Oakland is excellent. My husband and I are both attorneys, and we
have been very pleased with her service.
We highly recommend our estate planning attorney & while he's not going to be super
cheap, he'll be WAY less than a realtor's commission.
Richard F. Hill
1816 Fifth Street
Berkeley, California 94710
I wanted to echo the recommendation of Kathleen Hunt as a great estate law attorney -- she
helped us with our estate planning and was kind, timely, and reasonably priced -- she has
also helped us with numerous follow-up questions (at no charge) in the last few months --
she is very pleasant and will accomodate to your schedule (evenings or whenever) -- you can
reach her at www.uniquelaw.com or 510-289-2288 (she's in el cerrito).
I'm looking for someone to do fairly straightforward estate
planning: simple wills, power of attorneys, etc. I also have an
ILIT and may need to set up a trust as my wife is not a citizen.
Most of this work (not the trust) was already done in another
state, so this is primarily a matter of reviewing and updating as
needed. I would like to find someone who 1) will take the time to
explain things to me and 2) doesn't cost a fortune. If you've had
any good experiences let me know.
Yes, I can highly recommend Cindy Elwell who is very calm and
clear in explaining things. She knows the laws completely or will
say so if not, and is smart and helpful. She owns a Legal
Document Assistance company that is licensed to do all the forms.
She consults with or recommends lawyers if needed but I know she
has experience with other states and even international. She
offers personalized, savvy advice. Cindy Elwell, for all estate
and divorce issues, DIVORCE WITH DIGNITY, 1138 A Ballena Blvd,
Suite 2, ALameda, CA 94501 510- 523-7290 Email is
cindy[at]dwdignity.com and her web site is www.dwdignity.com I can
personally attest to her character, her professional approach and
the ease I found in working with her. AND I have about 8 friends
who use her for everything from estate planning to trademark
registration. a satisfied customer
I recommend attorney Charles Lee based in Orinda. Charles helped my husband and I
prepare living trusts, will, advanced health care directives, etc. He was very
pleasant and explained everything in simple terms. He even provided some examples of
how other people structure their estate planning to give us an idea. By our second
visit, we signed all the paperwork and his office took care of transferring our
title. I felt that his fees were very reasonable. Glad to have planned our estate
I've had excellent experience working with Larry Moll, whose office is on College
Avenue. He exhibits all the qualities I look for in an attorney...experienced,
thoughtful, good listener, concise, accessible and prompt, and reasonably priced.
Although he assisted me with a complex real estate contract, his expertise is estate
I'd like to recommend Barry W. Finkelstein. He is an attorney specializing in estate
planning who is really sharp at what he does. You can call him at (510) 521-7636, or
I have worked with Gloria K. Park on two different estate-related
matters and she has been excellent. Not only is she thorough from
the legal perspective, but she is an uncommonly warm person,
which is useful given the nature of her work.
Her contacts are:
gloriapark[at]post.harvard.edu, (510) 769-8300 (w)
Eve Contente is a great estate planning attorney. Incredibly
smart and very easy to get along with.
Her office is on Solano Avenue across from Safeway.
Her phone number is 528-1411.
We hired Jocelyn Wong-Rolle for estate planning. Jocelyn was easy to work with,
conscientious, thorough, clear, and intelligent. She worked with the highest
integrity and standards. She anticipated issues that will avoid a lot of trouble for
us down the road. We feel secure knowing Jocelyn has handled these legal matters for
us. I would highly recommend Jocelyn for your estate planning matters. She can be
reached at wongrolle[at]hotmail.com, and her website is http://wongrolle.com.
Kathleen Hunt, in El Cerrito, does estate planning for all kinds
of families. She's experienced, friendly, and easy to talk to -
she makes the entire process seem easy. Her rates are reasonable,
and she's available evenings and weekends. She'll even come to
your house at no additional charge! You can read her monthly
column in a Contra Costa magazine, or just call her yourself:
I am looking for a recommendation for an inexpensive, yet quality
attorney who does wills/trusts. We are especially concerned with
setting up custody and financial arrangements for our children if
both parents should pass away. I live in Alameda but am willing
to see someone anywhere in the East Bay. Thanks!
We used a great will/trust attorney to set up all our documents last year when we had our
first child. His name is Lawrence Moll, 5315 College Avenue, Oakland. I think the phone
number is 510-655-7141. He is a really experienced lawyer who really knows his stuff, but
his fees are very reasonable. Give him a call. Best of luck! Victoria
I recommend Janet Dobrovolny. She just did our trust and will including child custody and
was very good. I doubt she would be considered inexpensive however she works on a project
basis, not hourly like most lawyers. So you know the complete expense going in. So there is
no harm in calling them and getting the price for your will and trust. I believe the fees
are determined by the complexity and size of the estate. http://www.completetrusts.com/
- Happy Client
In response to your question about a wills and estate attorney, we
used an attorney in Albany, Reece Halpern, and were extremely
pleased with the work he did for us. Not only was he competent, he
was reasonably priced. He set up wills for both my husband and me,
which included custodial arrangements for our children; and he set up
a trust to ensure that our minor would be financially secure if both
parents should pass away. You can contact him at 510-527-4337 or at
I can heartily recommend Richard Lee as an attorney for wills/trusts. He is very
conscientious, and his fees are reasonable. You can contact him at rjl[at]rjleelaw.com,
(510) 272-0200 ext. 304, or www.rjleelaw.com
We're ready to set-up a living trust and are looking for
recommendations for a lawyer.
we'd like someone who is extremely knowledgable about the
ins-and-outs of living trusts, friendly, responsive with fair
fees, and located in the East Bay or San Francisco. My sister
would like to use the same person as well.
An excellent attorney who is superior and very fair priced, would be Richard Lee.
He's easy to talk to and knows everything about living trusts. He's located in
Oakland and his phone number is: (510) 272-0200, e-mail: rjl[at]rjleelaw.com
He's the best.
We used Richard Hill in Berkeley. 510 540-0356. He was very
knowledgeable, took time to answer our questions, and is also
very nice and very funny
Had the same question earlier this year and similarly found the posts a bit dated.
We ended up talking to two people: Richard Hill, and Mike Ferguson. They practice
in the same building in Berkeley, but are not part of the same firm. Hill actually
recommended we shop around and suggested Ferguson as another person to meet with.
We ended up going with Mike, just felt more of a personal connection, but they both
obviously know what they're doing. We were very happy with Mike's services (quick
work, responses to phone calls and e-mail questions), and I'd recommend him without
any reservations. For what it's worth, he's a certified specialist in Estate Law
and also teaches at Boalt Hall (the UC Berkeley law school).
Richard Hill, 1816 Fifth Street, Berkeley (510) 540-0356
Mike Ferguson, Ferguson & Berland, 1816 Fifth Stret, Berkeley (510) 548-9005
We used James Kaller in San Francisco and thought he was
excellent and very reasonably priced. He also did our health
directives and wills. You can reach him at 415-362-9134.
Re: Living trust lawyer: We heartily recommend Kathleen Hunt, whom we found through
BPN. She did our living trusts and pour-
over wills last year. Friendly, knowledgeable, reasonable rates, and very honest
about what parts we could do ourselves to save $$. She's based in El Cerrito; we
did a lot of the draft revision by email, which was very convenient for us. You can
reach Kathleen at kathleenhunt[at]uniquelaw.com or (510) 289-2288
We used Gigi Orta at Osterloh & Orta in Piedmont. I definitely recommend her.
Their prices are reasonable and they are easy to work with. You can reach Gigi at
510.594.8483. good luck!
I would highly recommend Daryl Weinroth, an attorney in downtown Novato that
specializes in living trusts and wills, etc... We recently worked with him and he
explained things very clearly and made the process of setting up a living trust
quick and painless. He was also very resonably priced
I highly recommend Debra Watanuki for living trusts/wills. This is her area of
specialty as an attorney. Her rates are reasonable. She has gift for making you
feel comfortable while setting up this very emotional document. Her contact info is
510 894-1250. Also she will travel to your home to make it convenient! Best of luck
When it was time for us to do a living trust, George McNitt was
highly recommended to us and indeed, we thought he was great. He
is knowledgeable, experienced and easy to talk to. His office is
in downtown Oakland and his number is 444-0800. It's great to
get that living trust out of the way too. anon
I'd like to highly recommend Melinda Osterloh and Gigi Orta of
Osterloh and Orta, LLP. They did our wills and trusts and were
great. They're both easy going, knowledgeable and reasonably
priced. Gigi explained things in a way we could understand and
provided us with everything we needed all in one binder that she
updated for us when we had our second child. I've referred them
to many folks and they've all been happy.
You can reach them at 510-594-8483
We had a great experience with Gigi Orta (out of Oakland). Don't have her number
on me but I'm sure you can find her. Extremely knowledgeable, flexible, has kids so
she gets it, made an unpleasant but necessary process pain-free. Rates were
reasonable. Highly highly recommend her. Good luck
Has anyone used the ''We the People'' office in Oakland to
prepare their living trust? I understand it is not a lawyer,
but a document service that prepares the document for you that
is legal and proper. Did you get good service, any problems?
It is quoted for $400. I am a bit hesitant about forking out
$2K for a trust with a lawyer
Shopping for Trust
I can personally recommend this nonattorney service, Divorce with Dignity, with an
exceptionally competent and trustworthy owner, Cindy Elwell.
''Divorce with Dignity'' prepares trusts. I know they use the same service to
produce the trust that many attorneys use.
Divorce with Dignity started doing trusts, as it should be a follow up to many
divorces, and their package includes having the client review the trust with an
attorney. They are a very reliable service and the cost of their trust is $1,200
which includes the attorney, notarizations, trust, will, powers of attorney, health
care directive, funding letters and deeds.
In addition, Divorce with Dignity makes sure that the funding letters and deeds are
recorded so the trust is funded; a step many attorneys do not even do.
So even though they cost more than We the People, it's very reliable and the very
same package used in many law firms for a lot less money.
Call Cindy now, she's very solid.
Divorce with Dignity
1138A Ballena Blvd., Ste. 2
Alameda, CA 94501
Can anybody recommend a good estate planning attorney who would
be licenced in both, California and Nevada? We have properties
in both locations and would like to only work with one person.
We have a house in Ca and a house in NV. It was not difficult to do our estate planning
with one CA lawyer. He just made sure the property was titled correctly to be part of
our estate arrangements. His name is David Levin, david[at]levinlawgroup.com, and he
is located in Alameda. Our situation was very simple, but I am sure he could tell you
quickly if it is something he can handle or not
If you live in California, you need an estate planning attorney
licensed here. A Nevada license isn't necessary; your lawyer
here can easily help you transfer your out-of-state property
into your trust (or other estate planning device). In my
practice, I have worked with quite a few people in this
situation (owning out-of-state property in Florida, Oregon,
Idaho and many other locations) without difficulty. If you have
any other questions, please feel free to contact me by phone
(510-289-2288) or via email anytime. I'd be happy to help, and
a consultation is free.
Kathleen A. Hunt, Esq.
I do not know if he is licensed in NV, but we used Reece
Halpern in El Cerrito and highly recommend him for any estate
planning. We own several properties, and he was able to tailor
our trust, wills, etc., to our specific needs. His number is
510-527-4337 or email him at
I want to recommend an excellent estate planner to you. Kathleen
Hunt is very good at working with you to come up with the best
plan/will/trust, etc. Additionally, she is available at times
when most other attorneys are not (hours much more compatible
with people who aren't available 9-5) and has very, very
reasonable rates. She is located in El Cerrito, although it is
my understanding that she will travel to your location. Her
number is 510-289-2288. I hope that helps
I'd like to recommend Mark Jones for estate planning. (Full
disclosure: he's a former colleague and a friend). He did our
estate planning (trusts, pour-over wills, child-related stuff)
last year, taking a burden off our minds. He's smart,
personable, scrupulous, meticulous. He's in Walnut Creek:
We're finally getting ready to do our living trust. The price
range from $800 to $8000 plus. How much should we pay? Do
they get pay by hourly or by projects? Is there a difference
in the outcome of the living trust(paying $800 vs $8000)?
I know there are computer software out there that does living
trust. If we pay someone to do it, I hope they don't just plug
in our information.
We appreciate any commend and recommendation ?
I am writing to highly recommend the attorney who is in the midst of doing our
living trust. He's extremely thorough, goes through the entire process in a
well-thought out way, provides step-by-step guidance and is even a little funny to
boot. (But not annoyingly so.) His cost is about $2000 flat (unless you're worth
over $2.2 million,) and that includes updates, changes, etc for the life of the
with no additional fees.
Richard Hill, 540-0357 (His office is located near 4th Street in Berkeley.)
Call Atty. Richard J. Lee, in Oakland. 510.272.0200. He helps
people set up trusts all of the time. You can totally trust
him to give you thoughtful and caring advice, and tell you what
you'll be getting for your $800 or $8000.
You should first get the Nolo Press book on Living Trusts and
look through it yourself. In many instances, you can do it
yourself, unless you have very complicated finances . Most
libraries carry it. I would try this route even if you want to
evenutually hire a lawyer. You'll at least be educated when you
go in and speak to him/her so it won't cost you as much as they
will bill by the hour and you'll be paying to ask all sorts of
questions that the book can answer for you.
The most important thing is to make sure you're seeing an
actual attorney. There are ''trust mills'' and other such
businesses out there that will charge you some minimal amount
($399 per person, or even less in some cases) - and you pretty
well get what you pay for. In fact, one such large business, We
the People, is currently being sued for the unauthorized
practice of law: they claim to provide legal help, but they're
What you want is an attorney who will ask you enough questions,
and spend enough time, to ensure that you have an estate plan
that's right for you and your particular situation. Beyond
that, it's really just a matter of your comfort level. Do you
want a big firm? That will usually cost more. Do you want a
solo practitioner, or small firm? Often, that means a less
formal environment. It all depends on what makes you feel
You might consider checking out the lawyer directory on
Nolo.com. The listings include a lot of information about the
lawyers, as well as their fee structure, so you have a pretty
good idea of your choices before you even call anyone. Most
estate planning lawyers charge flat rates for estate planning
packages; it helps ensure plenty of time for asking questions
Saw Richard Hill's name for a trust and estate attorney - he is
located on 5th street in Berkeley - and we wanted to second the
praise about him. He is very smart, efficient, more than
reasonably priced, and so reliable and conscientious. And, yes,
like the poster said, he is funny, too
Trusts and wills over and done with
Anyone have a recommendation for an estate attorney? The previous
postings are a few years old, and the two most recent names don't
seem to be at the same location.
We need to set up our wills, and determine whether/which type of
trust to establish. Want to do this asap, baby #2 around the
corner, and then we'll never get around to it.
Gloria Park has been practicing estate law in the East Bay for 10+ years. She's
honest, compassionate, savvy, well-informed, and won't nickel and dime you. She
rec'd her AB from Harvard in Philosophy and her JD from Boalt. I've been friends
w/ Gloria for 20 years and trust her w/ my and my parents' estate planning needs.
Her office contact is: p/ 510.769.8300; 1001 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 400,
Alameda CA 94501.
Stewart Lenz prepared all the key docs for my mother in law recently and did an
excellent job at a very reasonable price. My husband and I are both attorneys so
for us, his firm does this as a little fringe benefit, which was great. Since
that wasn't available also to my MIL we went to ! Stewart who was terrific, very
thorough and thoughtful and even came to our house for signing everything. His
office is through the tunnel but he lives in Rockridge so he tends to just visit
with folks on this side of the tunnel in their own homes at their convenience.
He's really a breath of fresh air. He is also a certified estate planning legal
specialist by the California Bar. Whoever you use should have this
His number is (925) 283-4255.
I want to HIGHLY recommend Gigi Orta (510-594-8433), estate planning attorney.
We just completed a living trust with her. Gigi came to our home in Berkeley and
was great to work with. She's smart, efficient, really listens and made a
arduous process pain-free. If I were to do it all again, I'd hire Gigi in a
second. Good luck.
You'll find estate attorney Duane Leonard to be clear, straightforward, and
reasonable. (He works on other matters beyond estate planning, too.) He's located
in Berkeley at University and Shattuck. Phone is 842-2321.
I can highly recommend Margaret Hand in Oakland. She is very thorough, explains
things very clearly, and is fun to be with. (And I happen to know she teaches a
lot of other Estate Attorneys how to do their job.) Her office is at 1939
Harrison Street, Suite 200, and her phone number is 444-6044. a satisfied
I've recommended several friends and colleagues to Carol Greenberg. She is a
trust, wills and estates attorney in Berkeley. Her email address is
carollaw[at]sonic.net. Her phone number is 510-981-1115.
After years of avoiding the whole Will issue, I found someone who is good,
prompt, & affordable, & feel much relieved to have my affairs in order. Her name
is Kathleen Hunt, & she can be reached at kathleenhunt[at]uniquelaw.com, or at
We recently used Sara R. Diamond to draw up our will, living trust, and set up
guardianship for our daughter in case something happens to us. Ms Diamond was
very professional, knowledgeable, and very helpful in explaining our options and
the resulting consequences. I especially appreciated her down to earth style,
which made it easy to ask many questions and be clear on what we were getting. If
you haven't yet set up a will or trust for your little ones, I recommend giving
her a call. She's in downtown Berkeley, and her phone is 510-548-4844.
Also, she's a member of ARAG, so if you work for UC Berkeley or another company
where you have ARAG membership, you may have some coverage for the work done or
at the very least, she offers a discount to ARAG members.
We are a lesbian couple that needs to update our current
wills and create a living trust due to the upcoming birth of
our son and some real estate changes. We are looking for
a local legal advisor with reasonable rates.
I highly recommend David Levin for estate planning. His office
is in Alameda, right through the Webster Sreet tunnel. He is
extremely friendly, down to earth, professional and thorough.
I'm pretty sure that he has experience working with same-sex
couples. His number is 510-523-5040 and his email is
-a happy customer
I know a wonderful attorney to do a Will revisions and a Trust
for you, or whatever else you need. Her name is Kathleen Hunt
and Wills/Trusts are her specialty. And in order to make sure
that people are not stopped from doing this because of price,
she keeps her rates very, very reasonable. Her number is: 510-
289-2288 and she is in El Cerrito.
We are just finishing the process. The attorney we used is
Kathleen Hunt 510-289-2288. She made it so easy. Kathleen came
to our house; that might be the best part! She laid it all out
for us...exactly what we had to do and then gently kept us on
track so that we didn't drag the process out forever. I highly
recommend Kathleen as very professional and easy to work with.
Am looking for a
laywer to put together a will/trust for our family - it should
be simple we have 1 child, 1 house & our belongs. How much
should this cost? There is a ''we the people'' office in Walnut
Creek - has anyone used them & How did they compare for cost?
Need a Will
If yours is a fairly simple situation, you can write your will
yourself. Berkeley's own Nolo Press has several great products
that can help you -- but the best of the bunch is WillMaker
Plus. It's really easy -- and it works. I'm not just saying
that because I work at Nolo. I used WillMaker to write my own
will. To look at Nolo's estate planning products -- and to see a
lot of free information about writing wills -- go to Nolo's
website at www.nolo.com. Good luck.
I highly recommend Gigi Orta of Osterloh and Orta, LLP. We
just went through the estate planning process with her and her
associate Melinda Osterloh and found them both to be extremely
helpful -- they have a knack for explaining just the right
amount of detail without having your eyes glaze over with all
the legal jargon!
Their office is in Piedmont, but Gigi did the estate plans for
me and 4 of my colleagues here in Lafayette. (She comes to you)
She also teaches law school JFKU in Pleasant Hill, so she's
familiar with Contra Costa. I did some price comparisons and
she's still reasonably priced -- she's been at this for years,
but they just started their firm, so they are still
competitive. I'd grab them now before they get too busy!
You can reach Osterloh and Orta at www.oolawlaw.com or
Feel free to contact me with questions.
My wife and I used Gary Berger, an attorney based out of San
Francisco and Marin to set up our trust and estate. I know he
is not in the Lamorinda area but he's worth the trip. Gary was
very nice, honest and informative. He kindly answered all of
our questions (and we had a lot of them). The price for
everything including a Revocable Living Trust, Financial
Durable, Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive &
Durable Power of Attorney, Pour Over Will(s), Owner's Manual for
Trust, Asset Transfer, Instructions, Quitclaim Deed to Residence
and Notarization & Witnessing was $950. The price may have gone
up slightly since 2004 but I'm guessing not by much. His number
I just did my wills and trusts with Gigi Orta. She was efficient and well priced. I
highly recommend her. It feels great to have it done!
Genevieve Orta, Esq.
231 Palm Drive
Piedmont, CA 94610
I can recommend Kathleen Hunt as a very good estate planning
attorney (wills, trusts, etc). She's in El Cerrito and is
wonderful and has good rates.
We used Robert A. Martin, Esq. in Walnut Creek. He came highly recommended by
two of my oldest friends from high school, who all worked with Bob at the same law
firm before Bob went out on his own. The mother of one of those friends also used
Bob for the same thing and has been very pleased. Bob is very, very thorough and a
very nice person. His contact information is:
Robert A. Martin, Esq.
Suite 500 1500 Newell Ave.
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Rick Collari based in Danville. We recently had him prepare our final
will, advanced health care directives, trust, powers of attorney, etc. His
price may seem high, compared to some of the group/paralegal
services, but you get alot for the money.
My husband, Reece Halpern, specializes in estate planning and
providing legal services to entrepreneurs. He offers a free
consultation to new clients.
He is located in Berkeley/El Cerrito, but does estate planning
for folks long distance and locally. He is very ethical, smart,
and has great people skills (but I'm biased of course!).
More information about him is available online at:
You can reach him at 510-527-4337 or on his cell at 510-499-1436
or via email at rh[at]halpernlawoffice.com.
Hope this helps.
Can anyone provide feedback about working with lawyer Andrew
Tanenbaum for estate planning (will, guardianship, etc.)? I
keep seeing his ad in the Parents Press. I've already checked
the archives and the last entries on estate planning attorneys
were Jan 2003, so if anyone has any recommendations for other
affordable estate planning lawyers (or ones to avoid) that
aren't already listed there it would be greatly appreciated.
We recently used Andrew Tannenbaum's services to do our will
and living trust. He was wonderful to work with. He was
excellent at explaining all the legalese as well as all the
implications of choosing one method over the other, etc. He
included things we hadn't thought of, like advanced health
directives and power of attorney should we become unable to
make decisions. He had very sound advice on selecting key
people named as executor, guardian, and trustees, and made sure
we named backups for same. This may be standard, but was again
not something we had even considered. He was sure to include
everything in the trust that needed to be included. We had
originally forgotten to add our timeshare and, being out of
state, it entailed extra work on his part to ensure it was
handled correctly. When there were complications there, he
located us a lawyer in that state and reduced his fee by the
other lawyer's fee, so that we didn't have to pay an overall
higher rate. I thought this was extremely decent of him and
certainly beyond expectations. Another very helpful aspect was
that he came to our house on weekends to do all this! We felt
Andrew was really looking out for our interests, that he was
extremely knowledgable, did a very thorough job, offered
reasonable rates, and went above and beyond in many ways. We
are very pleased with the final results and are certainly
resting easier knowing this is in now in place. We plan to use
Andrew for all future dealings. He's great!
I'm looking for a recommendation for an estate planning
attorney in the Lamorinda area or Walnut Creek to draw up a
trust for my family. It would be great if the rates were
reasonable too! Thanks.
The Lamorinda Moms Club just had a speaker at their general mtg
talk about estate planning. Her name was Gigi Orta, 510-419-
4979, gigi AT harrisharrislaw.com, but the offices were in downtown
Are you in need of a will, trust, advanced directive, and all
the related ''stuff'' but too overwhelmed to start the process?
If so, I have the perfect Estate Planning Lawyer for you! My
husband and I began working with Linda J. Miller when I was
pregnant with our first child. Linda was recommended to us
through a colleague and we couldn't have been happier. She is a
very down-to-earth, informative, and professional woman to work
with on such touchy and delicate matters (I cried every time we
talked about the various ''what if'' scenarios with death). She
walked us through the various documents that we needed, the
California laws and interpretations of probate, trusts, and the
like. She was always graciously willing to repeat information
until we fully understood.
Her prices are very reasonable and in line with the going rates
(we did contact several other lawyers at the time). Heck, she
even makes beautiful baby blankets!
Contact her by phone or email at
lawoffice[AT]lindajmiller.com. She's in downtown Oakland.
My husband and I need to establish a living trust, primarily for privacy reasons, because I am being stalked. The goal is to keep private certain records that are ordinarily matters of public record (i.e. house purchase). Can anyone recommend a wills & trusts lawyer? Thank you.
My husband and I hired Nicolette Mandl in El Cerrito to set up
our trust. She was excellent: very knowledgeable, thorough, and
trustworthy. A few years back her practice was in family law as
well as estate planning, but now she focuses on estate planning;
however, the family law expertise she has is very helpful in the
area of estate planning. Her business phone is 510-525-2500.
I HIGHLY recommend Richard F. Hill for any Wills and Estates
issues. He is on his own and has an excellent pedigree with
some fancy firm, but more importantly he is thorough and takes
the time and has the answers to any and all questions. He is
reasonably priced as well. You can reach him at 540-0356.
My husband and I used someone whom we were very happy with.
His name is Jim Kaller. His office is in downtown SF (Bush and
Montgomery, I think), but he lives near Montclair, so for our
initial meeting we met at Royal Ground. He created a living
trust, wills, living wills, and advanced directives for both of
us for about $800. He was excellent at customizing things to
suit our needs, and excellent at explaining different
options..under what circumstances each option would be best,
My husband and I just completed setting up a Living Trust (for
probate avoidance, regardless of the vagaries of tax rates, and
to formalize aspects of our marital agreement). We also executed
Wills, Advance Directives for Health Care Decisions, and Durable
Powers of Economic Decision. It feels great to have this done!
Despite whatever modifications might be made in the years to
come, having the basic structures in place is wonderful for peace
With great enthusiasm, I recommend the attorney we used: James L.
Kaller, a certified estate planning specialist with more than 20
years experience. Jim gave close attention to our somewhat
unusual situation and wishes, and counseled us thoroughly as to
implications, consequences, and choices. He made sure that all
our documents were consistent and coordinated. He is friendly in
a genuinely caring manner, kept to the timetable we jointly set,
and was a pleasure to work with all around. After our initial
consultation (at our home in Oakland, since we live near him), we
hammered out details quite efficiently via email, and needed to
go to his office in San Francisco's Financial District only for
the final signing/notarization -- well worth the BART ride!
Afterward, he hand-delivered to us at home our original
documents, each labeled in individual envelopes, with a full set
of copies and follow-up materials organized in a three-ring binder.
Amazingly, Jim's fee was less than $1,000 in total. I know that
it's quite common for attorneys to charge two to three times that
much! Bonus: if you'd rather converse in French, Spanish,
Mandarin, Russian, or German, Jim can do that -- no kidding!
Really, this was the best experience I've ever had with an
attorney -- and that's saying a mouthful. His info:
415-362-9134, jameskaller AT batnet.com
I got a recommendation for a lawyer specializing in wills,
trusts, guardianship, and so forth, whose very thorough and
informative packet of info included a generic estimate of a
fee of more than $2000 for complete estate planning for two
people. We have a baby, a house, life insurance, some
small-potatoes investments, and some pension fund, but
am I wrong to think that this is an exorbitant fee, or at least
that our own arrangements will not require this much
chargeable time on her part? What have other people paid
lawyers for these services? The website had almost no
mention of customary attorney fees.
Did you ask your lawyer what his or her hourly fee is? It's not
unreasonable for a lawyer in the Bay Area to charge
plus/minus $200 per hour. At that rate, your $2000 fee is
based on ten hours of work. Since everything in your trusts
and wills must be legally perfect, I don't think that's an
unreasonable fee. In fact, it's about what we paid for ours.
After shopping around, it seemed about mid-range for this
kind of work. If it helps, consider it another investment--this
time for your child. In the long run a well-drafted will and
trust will save lots in taxes and legal fees down the line.
We did estate planning during 2002, which for us involved a
living trust, wills, and health care powers of attorney. We met
with the attorney twice- first to discuss a plan and the second
time primarily to sign documents. We went back and forth with
the attorney's office several times reviewing the documents. The
attorney finalized the documents and filed the appropriate
paperwork to put our house and other assets into the trust. She
charged a flat rate of $1,500.
Resting easier now that my son is provided for
In 1999 we paid a probate attorney $700 to set up an estate plan that
included a will, a revocable family trust, and health care guidance (not
the right term--this was a signed agreement about what you want done
in the event your health fails and you cannot make decisions for
yourself). I am sure the price has gone up in 4 years, but probably not to
I think $2000.00 seems a little excessive. I guess it depends on
how complicated your financial situation is,etc. My husband and
I did a will about 4 years ago. It included a living will,
gaurdianship, etc., and it ran us about $550.00. We did it with
a lawyer in San Francisco that was recommended to us. He was
very thorough and did it in a timely manner. We changed
gaurdianship last year, and he did it by phone and then sent
copies to be signed with a witness present. It saved us a trip
into the city, and he only charged $150.00. His name is Brent
Kato if you are interested.
We paid $1300 for a lawyer to prepare our estate plan,
which included wills, a trust, guardianships, and durable
powers of attorney. We paid a little extra because of the
complicating factor that we're not married. (We used Jane
Penhaligan in Pleasant Hill and were very happy with her.)
I recently had a estate planning for me alone and it cost $1500
which I thought was high, especially since it only took a one
hour visit and was ready the next day. I certainly wished I
had asked up front what it would cost.
We used James Kaller, 415 362-9134. He is in SF, but his office is close
to Montgomery BART, plus he was very flexible about scheduling
meetings around our hectic lives (we have two young kids). He even
came to our house for the initial consultation, which was free. He has a
package that includes a family trust, wills, powers of attorney, and
health care directives for about $1000. He is an affable, thorough
person who answered questions we didn't know we had.
My typical fee for estate planning for someone in your situation
would be $1000 plus costs. Costs are things like County
Recorder's fees and typically run from $10 to $50.
I recommend that you make sure that the attorney is experienced
You should ask what their primary area of practice is (it should
be either tax, estate planning or probate) and how long they
have been practicing (at least 5 years, preferably more). As a
bonus, the state bar certifies specialist in estate planning,
trust and probate. To be certified as a specialist, you need to
have enough experience and have passed a test (most attorneys
I hope that I have been helpful. If you have any questions, you
can call me at my office. No obligation. I practice in
Lafayette, but will make house calls in Oakland or Berkeley.
Stewart W. Lenz
LenzLaw AT aol DOT com
Does anyone have a more recent experience (than those posted in the
for an attorney specializing in wills, trusts and estate planning? I am
looking for someonne
to draw up a living trust that would include special instructions on the
care of a child. So
I want to avoid lawyers who rely on a standard format for a
trust. Reasonable rates would be
I just had a Will and Living Trust drawn up. Like you, I had special
issues I wanted addressed. I used
Norleen Drossel of Anderson & Drossel on Bancroft in Berkeley. She was
thoughtful, reassuring and
efficient. With Signature Legal Insurance the cost was about $100.
We used James Kaller in San Francisco to set up our Family Trust, wills,
etc. He was knowledgeable, thorough, and reasonably priced.
I just used Michael Ferguson to draft my living trust. He is
great!!! His office is next to 4th street.
His number 510.548.9005
Before hiring a lawyer, you might want to start with a CD-ROM that would
enable you to write as much as possible yourself. Then, your lawyer can
just check it over. NOLO Press sells a variety of do-it-yourself CD-ROMS
and also has some very helpful info on its site: http://www.nolo.com.
Click the Wills & Estate Planning link.
The only friend from high school that my husband still keeps in touch with
is a lawyer specializing in
estate planning -- and she just opened her own practice. (Contrary to
what you might think, this means lower rates, not higher ones). I can
vouch for her as a kind, intelligent, honest person; she will be putting
together our will, etc. just as soon as we get our act together. The only
downside is that her office is in San Jose - but you could probably do a
lot of preliminary work by phone/email and just make one trip down there,
or she might even come up here, who knows. At any rate, I can recommend
her personally and think it is worth at least calling her:
Zolla Law Firm
1631 Willow Street, Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95125
carol at zollalawfirm.com
I wholeheartedly recommend Debbie Malkin, Attorney at Law, in Santa Cruz.
She is understanding, compassionate, smart, and specializes in estate
planning - wills and living trusts. You can reach her at 831-462-9100
or dmalkin at malkintrust.com. She is currently finishing my husband's and
my living trust and it's been painless!
We had one meeting in Santa Cruz and have been able to do the rest by fax,
mail and email.
A terrific and very reasonably-priced trust and estates attorney is our
Richard Hill, in Berkeley. He used to work for Morrison and Forrestor and
on his own. He also isn't rabid about charging for every moment that he
with you. He drew up a trust(s) for our estate and very specific
our children. He is tremendously competent and nice. He is listed in the
directory on 5th Street, I believe. I am not sure, at this point, if he
new clients. It is well worth the try for a consultation.
Mary Gerber is an excellent lawyer specializing in wills. She really
out with my will in a very kind, professional way. She is also quite
Only trouble is she tends to get very busy, but she's worth waiting for.
Her address is: 4319 Piedmont Ave. Oakland. Phone is: 510-658-8532.
My brother does wills, estates and trusts. He's a very knowledgeable
guy, owns his own firm, and very high integrity. He'll help advise you
as to what kind of situation you should set up. Call Ruben Sundeen at
Sundeen & Salinas (510-663-9240).
Re: trust attorney: Give attorney Nicolette Mandl a call at least for a telephone
interview. She is really smart, very attentive to detail, does not use
a "boiler plate" trust document (as I have found some trust
attorneys do), and her price is reasonable. She works out of El
Cerrito and her number is 510-525-2500. --Kim
We need a person who can help us three daughters sort out issues related to
mother's estate, which includes some property, some cash/bonds/stocks, and a
life insurance policy. I keep thinking there must be someone out there who can
look at all this from our point of view, help us brainstorm possibilities that
would satisfy us all, and know enough about the tax and legal consequences to
include these in any discussion and/or analysis. We have a estate/trust lawyer
(at $225 an hour!) and mom's tax person at substantially less, but still a
There must be some way of doing this with help that isn't so piecemeal and
expensive. Has anyone been through this with someone they would recommend?
I recommend buying the book "Estate Planning" from Nolo Press and reading
it before your talk to your mother's lawyer or accountant. The book will
give you good information on the issues and options you need to consider in
handling a parent's estate or planning your own
I would like a recommendation of a lawyer to prepare a will (or
for my husband and me. I have the UC legal insurance. Has anyone
there used this to have a will prepared? Any advice and/or
recommendations would be appreciated. I'd prefer to use someone in
Berkeley or close by.
Attorney Zachary Epstein prepared a trust and a will for me a year or
ago, and I used the UC legal insurance. He did a good job, followed
everything, and took the trouble to remind me to follow up on
was responsible for too. Working with Zachary was pleasant, and I
him. His office is near the campus at 1915 Addison St. in Berkeley,
his telephone number is 510/841-4500.
I recently updated my trust and will, and changed the guardians for my
child in the event of my death. I was recommended by two different people
to see Robin Pulich, an attorney in Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue. I was
*very* pleased with her services. This kind of work is her specialty and
she has a clear and helpful guideline on how to choose a guardian. After
discussing this issue with her and applying her criterion for selecting a
guardian, I felt no more ambivalence about it. I knew which guardian to
choose. She is a participant in the UC Legal Service insurance program, so
if you have that coverage consulting her for a will or trust would be
considerably less costly. However, whether or not you have the legal
service, I would highly recommend Robin. She is professional yet low-key,
down to earth and enjoyable to work with.
I worked with Bonnie Bishop, an estate planning attorney on Shattuck Avenue
in downtown Berkeley, to do my father's estate planning.She was pleasant
On a good lawyer for making a will -
We had a good experience w/ Atty. Monica Dell'Osso in Oakland (444-6800).
She is extremely experienced (& affable, reliable, etc.), so even though
her rates are high, she's probably a good deal (takes less time, etc.)
=>...we really need to put together a decent will. Any
=>suggestions on where to start for good, reliable, clear
There's an excellent WWW site that lets you build & modify all
sorts of legal documents, including wills:
If you don't know anyone, you can call the State Bar at (415) 241-2100
to get a list of certified specialists in estate planning law. For a
"simple will," the State Bar also offers a statutory will form that
you can complete. It costs $2.00 and can be ordered by calling (415)
561-8867. The Alameda County Bar Association has a referral service
that can connect you with an attorney if your will is more
complicated. Their number is 893-8683. If you live in San Francisco,
I believe the Bar Association of San Francisco also has a referral
service but I do not know their number. Good luck!
For a progressive trusts and estates lawyer, I recommend Mary Gerber,
658-8532 (located in Oakland). Wendy
My mother is a legal secretary with an estate planning firm in downtown
Berkeley. The basic form is pretty standard, but, as you perhaps already
know, it's important that you don't leave these things up to the state.
As an example, if one member of a married couple dies, the default
inheritance scheme awards children half (for 1) or two-thirds (for 2 or
more) of the deceased's belongings and places the money into trust funds
with court-appointed guardians.
Their office is on Shattuck near the intersection with Center (across from
the main BART station terminal, one block west of campus), which I imagine
is reasonably convenient for most people on the list.
The phone book lists the firm as David J. A. Martin Professional Corporation,
but Mr. Martin is semi-retired and probably won't take new accounts.
Instead, your account would be handled by Mr. Holmes, who has 15 years
experience and worked with a couple of large firms in San Francisco
before joining this firm, which is fairly small. (Sorry if that sounds like
an advertisement, but I thought people might want to know.)
Their number is 843-5800, if you want to give them a call.
I am responding to the person who wanted to know how to go about doing
a will. I've worked with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning,
probate, and tax law and who is also a parent of 2 young children (so
she understands the issues personally as well as professionaly). I
highly recommend her: Bonnie Bishop at 527-9708.
She's located in Berkeley, has advanced
certification in Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Law, and is the
mom of two young boys.
In response to the question about wills-- we recently drafted ours with an
excellent attorney in San Francisco. Her name is Ora Prochovnik and her
number is (415) 982-8399 ext. 305. She draws up the legal papers, but
equally importantly, she guided us through the whole process and helped us
make our decisions about wills and trusts, guardianship considerations etc.
I recommend her very highly. If you aren't interested in working with an
attorney, I'd suggest calling NOLO Press. They have do-it-yourself guides
on many legal matters. Colette
Estate and Trust Attorney in Berkeley:
Norlen E. Drossel, Attny and Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and
Probate Law, very competent, does trusts for children with special needs
too, very easy to work with
Zachary Epstein is an attorney on the Prudential list who I recommend based
on my experience working with him on my will, trust, etc. He can help with
guardanship arrangements too. Zachary's office is near the campus at 1915
Addison Street in Berkeley; his phone number is 841-4500.
The best (and cheapest) way to prepare your will is to get the Nolo Press
book (available at Barnes and Noble and Cody's) called something like,
"writing your own will". You may want to skim the intro to "writing your
own living trust" because if you have assests like a home, you may want to
prepare a living trust instead. There is a section about how to decide if
you need a will or a living trust.
Both these books are written like workbooks to help you figure out
everything you need to know and then you type it up yourself and get the
Hope this helps,
On the matter of wills, NOLO Press also has software called, I think,
WillMaker. Very easy, with a pretty good manual (describing things
like differences between states on various matters, etc.). If you
don't need to see an attorney, this is a simple alternative.
I have first person experience dealing with the effects of different
types of wills. What the effects are on survivors differs depending
on whether you have a regular will or a living trust. Part of your
decision should be based on whether you want to pay your money up
front or after the fact. Wills need to go through probate on the
death of a spouse or both parents. State law allows a lawyer to
charge fees based on a percentage of the estate's assets. Depending
on what the estate is worth, this can work out to thousands of dollars.
For a living trust, you pay up front to have the papers drawn up,
but the estate doesn't need to go through probate.
I have the legal service plan which covers wills. It paid about $400
of the $1000 cost of creating a living trust. There is some leg work
involved in changing the name on your assets to the name of the trust,
but a good lawyer should give you the proper forms to make this an
easy process. Also there are tax effects that can determine whether
you want to use a will or a living trust.
Having been burned by lawyers quite a few times, even if you decide to
use one, I suggest getting yourself a book and reading it before you
make your appointment. The first time I didn't know what questions to
ask and that cost me a lot. Even if you don't understand the
ramifications of everything in the book at least you'll know what
questions to ask. Ask up front about the charges to draw up the papers
(both hourly and what the final cost will be) so there won't be any
surprises when you get the bill. I'd also ask about the costs of
probate, because finding this out after your spouse has died will add
to the stress of dealing with your loss.
I know that this is a difficult issue to deal with. People don't like
to think about their own or close family member's death, but the
consequences for the survivors can be devastating. Thinking and
dealing with the issues when you first have children (or ideally once
you have any assets that will need to be disbursed, get married, etc)
is much better than dealing with it in crisis or not dealing with it
at all. I have also seen the difficulties when there is no will and
that's even more stressful. You want to be the ones to decide who will
take care of your children if the worst happens, and your children
need to know this also.
Finally the lawyer on the legal service plan that I used and who was
direct, up front and compassionate is Frank Lowe. His office is on
Shattuck at Center street. I don't have his phone number at hand, but
he's with the law firm of Pulich and Lowe.
Nolo Press has some good, straightforward books about estate planning,
wills and trusts. I have found them at Barnes & Noble and would bet
they are also available directly from Nolo press, which is a local
Also, if you are an employee and belong to the legal plan, one of the
benefits is making a will. You can also call their 800# and ask to
speak to a lawyer about things you need to take into consideration and
also get a local list of providers.
When our son (now one year) was born, we wrote our own wills using
"The Quick $ Legal Will Book" by Denis Clifford, published in
1995 by Nolo Press.
We are a young couple that just started our family and we need
to get some sort of will/power of attorney in place to assure
our kids are taken care of in the event something were to happen
to us. We just bought our first home and are broke.. and will
be for awhile.
My questions are:
1. which legal documents are crucial for us to do at this time?
2. Do I need to go to an attorney or do you think the
Quickbooks or Nolo Press on-line will writing programs are
3. Any ideas on how much it typically costs to get these
documents written up by an attorney?
Thank you for any help you can provide!
broke but still want to be responsible!
I can't speak highly enough about the Nolo Press products. So long as your needs are
not complex (and they are quite up-front about what circumstances require a lawyer)
they should meet your needs. They are user-friendly and accurate. I know lots of
lawyers who keep Nolo Press materials alongside their more traditional law resources.
Fan of Nolo
The main thing I would want to
think about is -- who will you want to care for your children
if something happens to you? The closest relatives may not have
the closest values and lifestyles to you, whereas a close
friend might. Would you want your kids to be able to stay in
their school, keep their friends, etc.
To establish guardianship in the event that you die, you only need to create a simple document. The Nolo
press book is what we used and I recommend you do the same.
Congratulations for thinking of this so-important step in
protecting your family! Most young families in your situation
need just four major documents in their estate plans:
- a revocable living trust (because you now own a home);
- a pour-over will (which is a will that goes with a trust);
- a durable power of attorney for finances (to allow each
other, or someone else if necessary, to take care of your
financial affairs if you're incapacitated); and
- an advance health care directive
You *can* do this with Nolo Press, but I urge you not to. Nolo
does fabulous wills, as well as a lot of other great stuff, but I
can't say the same for the living trust software. That's
something that you really should go to an attorney for.
Otherwise, you're very likely to wind up with something that
*looks* good, but that doesn't actually do what you want in terms
of effectuating your wishes properly.
Most estate planning attorneys that I know offer the above four
documents as a package deal for a flat rate. Of course, the
amount of that rate varies tremendously, depending on location
(San Francisco usually costs more), whether you want a big firm
(solo practitioners tend to charge less), and so on. I've seen it
as high as $5000 for a couple in San Francisco at a boutique
firm; since that's more than twice my own rates, I'm just amazed
by the range.
On the other hand, price isn't everything. More than anything
else, you'll want to find someone that you really feel
comfortable talking to. Ideally, you'll work with this person for
years to come; your comfort level over time is a lot more
important than the immediate price tag. And of course, there are
other amenities. I travel to my clients' locations, rather than
asking them to come to me, anywhere from Guerneville to Santa
Cruz. Another great local attorney has her office right at a BART
station and makes sure to be available during the lunch hour for
her clients' convenience. And so on.
Consider shopping around. There are a lot of ways to find
attorneys in the Bay Area. Personally, I recommend the archives
here at BPN, or the lawyer directory at Nolo.com, as good places
to start. Then call around. Talk to a few attorneys until you
find someone you like. Good luck!
Nolo press has a book about doing your own will. They take you through the
whole process and it comes with a disc containing forms that you just fill in
as needed. It is easy to use and not very expensive.
I used Nolo
Using the Nolo book will be sufficient unless you have some really complicated
situation. I did my living trust and will using their books, and I felt
completely confident using them. But if you want to use a lawyer, they often
don't charge very much, in the hope that they will become the lawyer for the
estate when the time comes, which is very lucrative for them usually.
I am a regular listener of Len Tillem on KGO radio. This falls under his
practice. He has loads of free information on his website www.lentillem.com.
You could probably find exactly what you are looking for there. He also answers
Kathleen Hunt did ours and she's great. She'll not as expensive as some, but she does cost a bit. Perhaps
you can ask if she has a sliding scale? 510-289-2288 email@example.com
My husband and I would like to designate my parents as guardians of our son in the
(unlikely) event that we both die. Do we have to go to a lawyer and fill out formal
documents? We don't have any assets, and do not care who our stuff goes to-- we
just want to make sure that guardianship for our son is set. What is the cheapest
way we can do this? Is it true that we can just write a letter to this effect and sign it
with witnessess signing as well, or do we need a lawyer to help us? What have
others done about this?
Try the *Suze Orman's Will And Trust Kit: The Ultimate Protection
Portfolio* by Suze Orman. $13.57 from amazon.com.
You may need to pay a little more to notarize documents, but this should
contain everything you need. We bought it, but haven't gotten around to
using it yet.
Do you need a lawyer? Not necessarily, but you probably don't want to
just write a letter designating your parents, either.
Since you say it's unlikely that you and your husband will die, I'm
assuming that neither of you have some fatal disease or expectation of
imminent demise. That said, your parents are far more likely to die
while your son is a minor than you are, just based on your relative ages
(no pun intended). If you've just written a simple letter designating
your parents, your son could easily be left with nobody but the state -
not a pleasant prospect.
Also, you say you have no assets. While that probably means you don't
own a house (or maybe a car, either), I imagine that you do have some
''stuff.'' Even if it's just clothes, books, and miscellaneous
furniture, it's stuff. Why make somebody you care about, like a family
member or friend, try to go through all your stuff without any guidance
I'm a lawyer, so I'm probably biased in my suggestion that you should
see a lawyer. There are often possibilities that people don't think of
on their own - that's probably the most useful part of talking to
someone experienced in this area. For instance, a lawyer could remind
you to complete Advance Health Care Directives and possibly financial
Durable Power of Attorney forms if needed. A lot of lawyers (including
me) also offer free consultations if you like. It's worth considering.
Given your circumstances, though, you might be perfectly well served
with Nolo's WillMaker Plus software. It's even on sale right now, I
think, if you go to their website (www.nolo.com).
It's a well-known and reliable resource for a simple basic will, which
would include a guardianship provision.
I'm a single low income mom seeking an attorney who can
review a simple will to let me know if I have left out anything
and if I am using the correct form. I am looking at the
California Statutory Will Form as a simple way to do a will
that will give legal guardianship of my daughter (to dear
friends) and will also let her/ them collect on my life
insurance. I have no assets. Can anyone recommend an
attorney who can review this form with me for a reasonable /
low fee-- I imagine it would take no more than one hour and
I really need piece of mind on this. Also would like to know
if other parents have used this form.
Try the East Bay Community Law Center.
It's a community legal services clinic over on Shattuck near
Alcatraz. A number of Boalt students intern there.
I am not an estate planning attorney, and can't really comment
on the will form, but your post alerted me to 2 issues: first,
you can state in your will that you want your friends to be the
guardian of your daughter. This will not be binding on the
court, but the court will nonetheless usually follow the
parent's wishes unless it is demonstrated that the guardian
selected is unsuitable for some reason. It is my understanding
that courts will award guardianship to the selected friend (if a
responsible person) even if some family member objects. The one
exception to this would be the child's father, so it would be
wise to include a letter with your will, explaining why you've
selected your friends, and not, say, your sister, and to explain
why the child's father isn't an option, to give further
information to the court.
Second, your life insurance will be paid to whomever the
beneficiary on the policy is. You need to contact your insurer
and get a change of beneficiary form. Attempting to change the
beneficiary of the insurance policy via your will is NOT
effective. Also, you may want to leave the life insurance
proceeds to your friends, in trust for your daughter. You may
also wish to change your bank accounts, in a similar way, to
payable-on-death accounts, for your friends in trust for your
Finally, I recommend that you check out Nolo Press, which has a
number of self-help legal books on this very topic. They're
listed on Nolo's website, and might be $25 well invested -- much
cheaper than any lawyer. (Good estate planners are expensive.)
The library might have them, too.
Try going to one of the free legal clinics at local libraries. I
know that Rockridge Library in Oakland has ''Lawyers at the
Library'' once a month or so, where lawyers answer basic
questions for free. Also, an attorney friend of mine told me
that even if you don't do a formal setup of a will, even a
handwritten version--in fact, he said it was better if it was
handwritten--will work to convey your basic wishes (like
inheritance of your assets and guardianship of your dependents).
Have it witnessed by a couple of people who are not named in it
and store the original where it will be found, and send copies
to the important folks in your life, sealed and to be opened as
needed. And congratulations for taking the time to do this!
A single mom (with a simple will, and about to make an estate plan!)
A very fair minded,excellent lawyer that I have used is Lynn
Keslar in Oakland. Her tel. # is 987-8112. She will work on
a ''sliding scale.''
I'm looking for any recommendations for an attorney who is familiar with
estate planning (living trusts/wills, etc) and the special considerations for
a lesbian couple with children. Especially considering that a new
domestic partners law goes into effect in January. Thanks!
Richard Hill in Berkeley on 5th street did a great job for us. He is so
knowlegeable and personable. Probably most importantly, for trusts
and estate matters, he is very ! conscientious. He did a great job for us,
and I have sent him clients with more sophisticated and complicated
estate/inheritance issues, and he has done right by them.
Type A Client
We (a lesbian couple with two kids) used Linda Scaparotti for
our estate planning. She did our wills and trusts and durable
powers of attorneys for health care, as well as the domestic-
partner adoption for our second child. I don't know how she
compares with other attorneys in terms of price, but she
certainly knows the legal issues that face gay couples with
kids. She's in SF, close to BART.
Linda Scaparotti, (415) 434-9600, linda at scaplaw.com
I would like to recommend Mario Kashou. He is a former
colleague of mine. He's a great person and an excellent
attorney. One of his specialties is estate planning for
domestic partners. He is a partner in The Farallon Law Group
LLP , 459 Fulton Street, Suite 102, San Francisco, CA 94102,
Tel.: 415-255-2450, Fax: 415-255-2451. His email is
mkashou at wangkashou.com. If you'd like to check out his
background, you can find it at www.wangkashou.com. (The firm
was formerly Wang & Kashou, but they recently changed names
because they associated with another partner).
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