An estate plan is much more than a set of documents. Your estate plan will affect every aspect of your life—you, your assets, your loved ones—so it should be able to move and grow along with you throughout life’s changes. While other firms may offer boilerplate documents prepared by an attorney that you never hear from again, we tailor our plans to each client. We protect what is most precious to you, make your passing as easy as possible for your loved ones, and allow you to make decisions with confidence.
Estate Planning, Asset Protection & Elder Law
...when it comes to your family, the stakes are high
Our California Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney Provides the Guidance You Need to Gain Peace of Mind
At The Estate Planning Law Center, we empower California families by giving them the information and guidance they need to plan for disability, incapacity, or death; long-term care; and protection from future creditors, and we have the expertise to address those issues using the tools in our legal toolbox.
Richard Seff, Estate Planning & Elder Law AttorneyFormer Social Worker & Hospital Administrator. Now Your Lawyer For Life.
Richard Seff’s personal history helps explain his unwavering commitment to meeting his clients’ estate planning needs....View More
What Makes Our California Estate Planning Firm Different
Attorney Richard M. Seff is a former social worker and hospital administrator, and he brings a unique set of skills to the table. He really listens to his clients, has a keen understanding of the family dynamics at play during the estate planning process, and communicates clearly in language that his clients understand—not legalese. In addition, his past experience working with families helps him to identify issues that other attorneys may miss, and that can have a profound effect on the success of an estate plan!
In addition to having a background that complements his estate planning and elder law practice, Richard takes a different approach to working with clients—all to provide the best possible protection and service. Following are a few things that set his firm apart from traditional estate planning and elder law firms in California:
- Superior legal documents. You may have been led to believe that all living trusts and other estate plan documents are the same—with the exception price. The truth is that all estate plan documents are not created equal! In order to provide you (and your spouse) with the best possible protection in the event either of you become ill, disabled, or pass away, we start with forms that are considered the gold standard for estate planning and elder law, and we update them continually to ensure that we are always using cutting-edge planning techniques. In contrast, many of our competitors start with bare-bones, boilerplate forms that won’t fully protect you and your family. Worse yet, you or your family won’t find out that your plan is a lemon until you need it to work—and by then it will be too late to fix it.
- Focus on lifelong relationships. Estate planning documents are just the beginning of your relationship with our firm. As your trusted advisor, we will be there to answer questions, offer advice, and update your plan so it continues to meet your needs throughout your life. To that end, we’ve thrown out the time clocks—you never have to be afraid to call with a quick (or even a not-so-quick) question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises. And because relationships change, finances change, and the law definitely changes over time, we offer a free consultation every two years to make sure your estate plan is up to date.
- Continuing education. Keeping you informed is critical to us. Not only do we constantly educate ourselves about the newest and best ways to protect you and your family, we communicate that information to you. In addition to our blog and newsletters, we offer ebooks such as The Sandwich Generation Planning Guide and The Kids Protection Plan, as free, downloadable resources.
- Prompt communication. We know that your questions are important. If you are unable to reach us directly on the first try, we will return your phone call quickly—we guarantee it in our retainer agreement!
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Protect Your Children and Your Parents With the “Sandwich Generation” Planning Guide
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Exactly what is “estate planning?"
Estate planning is not just about what happens to your assets after you pass away. Effective estate planning looks at all of the issues, from death and disability to planning how to pay for long-term care. The objectives of an estate plan are:
- I want to control my property while I’m alive and well.
- I want to plan for my loved ones and myself if I become disabled.
- When I die, I want to give what I want to whom I want, when I want, the way that I want.
- I’d like to do all of that knowing what it’s going to cost me.
That is what we can do for you. This is what we do for every family we serve.
What is included in a typical estate plan?
Actually, there is no typical estate plan. Every family presents unique issues to deal with. That said, we offer what we call the Foundational Estate Plan. This includes:
- Revocable Living Trust
- Pourover Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA Release
- Property Agreement
- Trust Certification
See here for further information about each document.
Are there any other documents I might need in addition to what is provided in the Foundational Estate Plan?
Yes. What if your beneficiary does not manage money well or can be taken advantage of easily? Or if your beneficiary is a physician or other line of work that is vulnerable to lawsuits? We offer the Personal Asset Trust as a solution. It provides permanent asset protection for your loved one’s inheritance making those assets safe from the reach of creditors, judgements, and divorcing spouses. Someone you trust can be the trustee (manager) of your loved one’s trust if they don’t manage money well. See here for further information.
What if a large part of your wealth is held in retirement accounts, such as an IRA?
Upon your death it will “roll-over” to your designated beneficiaries. Your beneficiary can also enjoy tax-deferred, interest compounding throughout their lifetime unless they cash it out. That will result in the loss of perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars and taxes will be due. We offer the IRA Inheritance Trust as a solution. That is, to prevent a cash-out by a beneficiary. This trust was approved by the IRS to hold retirement accounts. No other trust can own retirement accounts without giving up the tax deferred benefit. It also offers asset protection and the ability to name a trustee to manage it for a spendthrift beneficiary. See here for further information.
What if a beneficiary has a disability and is dependent on government benefits such as SSI and Medi-Cal?
If they were to receive an inheritance, it would render them ineligible. The solution is our Special Needs Trust. See here for further information.