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california estate planning

Are you looking for a California Estate Planning lawyer?

At Vaksman Khalfin, we specialize in Estate Planning services that shape the future you envision. Our team of experienced and dedicated attorneys ensures that our client’s assets and families are safeguarded. Whether you’re planning for your children’s future, securing the financial stability of your loved ones, or mitigating potential tax liabilities, we are your reliable guide through the complexities of California Estate Planning. 

Our attorneys understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and that’s why we offer detailed, personalized solutions to fulfill each of our client’s specific needs. With vast experience in drafting Wills, Living Trusts, Trust Administration, and other estate planning documents, our attorneys guarantee thoroughness and accuracy in your estate planning process.

At Vaksman Khalfin, we pride ourselves in forging strong relationships with our clients, incorporating empathy and understanding into our professional guidance. We assure you that when you entrust us with safeguarding your future, you can be confident that your Estate Plan will be handled with care, competence, and diligence. 

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What is involved in Estate Planning?

There are many issues to consider when creating an Estate Plan. Among other things, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my assets and what is their approximate value?
  • Whom do I want to receive those assets—and when?
  • Who should manage those assets if I cannot—either during my lifetime or after my death?
  • Who should be responsible for taking care of my minor children, if I become unable to care for them myself?
  • Who should make decisions on my behalf concerning my care and welfare, if I become unable to care for myself?
  • What do I want done with my remains after I die, and where would I want them buried, scattered, or otherwise laid to rest?

Continue reading to get answers to these and other questions related to Estate Planning in California. Or just give us a call and schedule your first free consultation today!

Robert B. Vaksman, Esq.

Founding Partner

“Some cases are easier than others, but this doesn’t matter at Vaksman Khalfin, because we have the resources to help our clients no matter what is at stake, especially if it’s hard."

Meet Robert
Robert Vaksman partners section

Alan D. Khalfin, Esq.

Partner & Managing Attorney

"People call me when they need to plan, but also when something terrible has happened and they need help. It is personal to my clients, so it is personal to me. We have to help — no matter what."

Meet Alan
Alan Khalfin partners section

What documents are included in an Estate Plan?

When preparing an Estate Plan, the first major decision is whether it will be a Will-based Plan or a Trust-based Plan. The documents differ slightly, and in most cases, we recommend that folks create Living Trust Estate Plans. In this video, I will take you through the documents that we typically include in a Living Trust Estate Plan.

  • The first and probably most important document is the Revocable Living Trust. This document helps you avoid probate for the transfer of assets upon your death as well as set up incapacity planning, appointing people to act for you if you lose the ability to do so.
  • In addition to the Revocable Living Trust, an Estate Plan includes a Pour-over Will. The Pour-over Will acts as a backup plan to your trust. In the event that you have forgotten to transfer assets to your trust during your life, the Pour-over Will makes sure that those assets get transferred after your death. However, that does happen through the probate court, so it is not an ideal mechanism. Also, the Pour-over Will is where you would appoint guardians for your minor children if you have minor children.
  • The next document that is included in the Estate Plan is a Durable Power of Attorney. This is a document that allows you to appoint financial decision-makers to act on your behalf should you lose the ability to do so.
  • The next major document is an Advance Healthcare Directive, this is a medical power of attorney where you appoint people to make decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself and you are also able to designate whether you’d like to end life, prolong life, donate organs, have cremation and various other matters.
  • Included with the Advance Healthcare Directive is the HIPAA Authorization Form which authorizes the agents that you name in your directive to receive and disclose your private healthcare information.

Those are the major documents and then there are a few others that you should be aware of:

  • The first is a Certificate of Trust. This is a short-form summary of your trust that you should provide to third parties if you’re ever asked to prove the existence of your trust. This is to be submitted instead of the actual trust, which you are not obligated to submit.
  • The next document is an Assignment of Personal Property, and this is how you transfer your personal effects to your trust, your art, your jewelry, your furniture, your electronics, and other things like that.
  • Next, we include Memorial Instructions in your Estate Plan as well as a Personal Property Memorandum that allows you to transfer and distribute tangible personal effects easily through a handwritten form.
  • The next document which is typically included in the Estate Plan is a Trust Transfer Deed, if you own real property, this is an exceptionally important document through which your property is retitled in the name of your trust in order to avoid probate.

All of these documents are conveniently assembled into a binder with tabs and great organization, which makes it very easy for you and more importantly, your successors to locate them when necessary.

How do our Estate Plans compare to other law firms and/or legal service providers?

In short, we believe we’re better than both.

VERSUS LAW FIRMS

We used to charge $4,000-$6,000 per Estate Plan! Our firm did this when we were part of an “elite” group of national attorneys who convinced all of their attorney members to charge high fees, in order to distinguish their service as “better” than the competition.

We’ll be the first to admit that paying more is not always equate to “better”. Since charging lower fees, we’ve been fortunate to work with a MUCH larger pool of clients. Doing so has helped us gain tremendous experience. In fact, we have prepared more estate plans in just a few short years, than we did in our previous 10+ years of practice.

VERSUS LEGAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

It is wholly irresponsible for any legal service provider to compare their services to a law firm and, as such, we don’t to theirs. As lawyers, it is our ethical obligation to serve our clients as best as possible, which means we will take the time to analyze your personal situation and create a customized plan for you. As such, it’s not even fair to compare our services to non-attorneys.

The only reason that some folks compare our services is due to the perception that non-attorneys are cheaper. However, go ahead, and compare our fees. You’ll find that we are comparable, and sometimes even lower cost.

Call us today for more information.

What you can expect

from Vaksman Khalfin Estate Planning Attorneys

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Free Consultation

Our goal is for each client to have an opportunity to secure their estate. That is why your Vaksman Khalfin journey begins with a no-obligation free confidential consultation. This free session provides an opportunity to understand your unique needs, discuss your concerns, and establish how we can assist you towards achieving your estate planning goals.

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Flexible Pricing

We understand that everyone's financial situation is different. Moreover, everyone may have different estate planning needs. With this in mind, we offer flexible pricing structures to ensure our quality legal services are accessible to all. Our goal is to provide exceptional value, at a cost that makes sense for your personal circumstances.

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Safe Access to Your Documents

Your estate planning documents are important and should be readily accessible when you need them. To ensure the security of these documents, we provide safe and easy access to your files at any time.

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Personal Support

A dedicated attorney and case manager will be assigned to your case to ensures a personal and concerted approach to your legal matter. This focused support provides a direct point of contact, personalized attention to your case, and ensures the swift resolution of any concerns or issues that may arise.

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Our Difference

“Simply stated, we have a process.”

Vaksman Khalfin Out difference

Using our combined expertise, we will analyze your matter to design a strategy by using the broadest array of legal resources available, while continuously being mindful of costs.

We will provide original, innovative solutions, drawing upon our deep knowledge of advanced strategies in order to present a comprehensive plan for your needs, in a systematic, practical and client-friendly manner.

While designing a strategy calls on creative skills, plan implementation relies entirely on strong management. Each client is represented by a team of at least 2 attorneys and 2 staff members. Although it may seem like cost-savings for a client to work with an attorney 1-1; not only does it not cut costs, but it often results in critical errors or omissions in the representation. Through proper management and team-work, we aim to delivery exceptional and efficient legal services, while exceeding our clients’ expectations.

We are interested in creating lasting relationships with our clients, and our forward-thinking approach allows our team to fully understand your unique needs on an ongoing basis. Inquire about our Membership Plan for more information.

How it works

We will fight for your rights.

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Complimentary consultation

Complimentary phone or Zoom meeting with our law firm to answer any questions and discuss our process.

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Working with a Legal team

Work with us through an easy and secure process to design your custom plan.

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Confirm and sign your documents

We draft your plan for your review. Once confirmed, we’ll provide you a binder with final documents for you to sign.

Rely On a Diligent Estate Planning Attorney in California

Selecting a suitable estate attorney to advocate for you or your family members might seem daunting. At Vaksman Khalfin, we strive to offer the most comprehensive, personalized, and reliable legal services to our clients. Entrust us with your estate planning needs and attain the peace of mind you deserve. Connect with us today and embark on your journey toward a secure tomorrow.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

"I was referred to Vaksman Khalfin for Estate Planning. After working together for a year (the delays were all mine), I can vouch that their team is fantastic to work with. They’re cost-effective, efficient, knowledgeable and always willing to answer questions, explore options and explain legal concepts."

Rue R. Las Vegas, NV

Rue R., Las Vegas, NV

"My wife and I had a very good experience working remotely with Vaksman Khalfin on our Living Trust, Will, Healthcare Directives, etc. done with a fixed fee package. The process was streamlined end-to-end. All of our questions were answered promptly by phone or email. I highly recommend this law firm!"

Paul K., San Mateo, CA

Paul K., San Mateo, CA

"Vaksman Khalfin deserves great reviews. They helped my family during a very difficult time and they did so with compassion and dedication. No matter how many questions I posed (sometimes the same one several times), I received quick and clear responses. Our documents were delivered on time and thoroughly explained."

Mike T. San Diego, CA

Mike T. San Diego, CA

Estate Planning Lawyer California

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s start with what it isn’t. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It is not just about avoiding probate and minimizing taxes. It is not just transferring wealth at your death. It is not about which documents to use. It is not a one-time event. It is about your family, their needs, and your goals. It is about taking care of you and your loved ones at all stages of your life. It is about results and meeting your expectations.

A proper estate plan most importantly ensures and provides detailed, clear, comprehensive, customized instructions for handling your affairs in times of mental disability or death. If it is relevant, your plan should also ensure that your estate avoids the cost and delay of probate and that estate taxes are minimized. A proper plan coordinates beneficiary designations for your life insurance and retirement accounts to maximize plan benefits in accordance with your goals. If you are a business owner, your plan should also provide a mechanism for business succession. Most importantly, a proper plan keeps you in control of your estate.

The cost for estate planning in California can significantly vary depending on the complexity of your estate and the specific services required. You should always work with a reputable law firm whose fees will generally start at a few thousand dollars and go up from there, depending on the complexity of your situation. . Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can provide a more precise estimate based on your personal situation.

Yes, estate planning is essential in California, especially because Probate is very expensive, lengthy, and costly; yet it is avoidable. Estate Planning ensures that you can avoid Probate so that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon death, helps to minimize estate taxes, and can greatly simplify the administration process for your loved ones. What’s more, without proper planning, your estate might be distributed according to state law rather than your personal wishes.

In California, some estates may avoid a full probate if they are valued at less than $166,250 . However, this threshold can vary and even if less than this amount, a small estate affidavit may be required. It is advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to understand your specific case.

An estate inventory should be extremely detailed by listing all of the deceased individual's assets, their values at the date of death, any outstanding debts, and to whom each asset is to be distributed. Proper documentation is essential for a smooth probate process.

An executor is a personal representative named in your will, whereas an administrator is a personal representative appointed by the probate court to oversee the estate of someone who died without a will.

California does not have a specific deadline, but executors are expected to settle the estate as efficiently and diligently as possible, typically within a year, although more complex estates may require more time.

Yes, an executor or administrator of an estate can also be a beneficiary. In fact, it's common for a relative or close friend who stands to inherit from the estate to be appointed the administrator. However, someone who will inherit from an estate should not act as a witness to a will.

Estate planning includes the creation of a will, power of attorney, establishment of trusts, healthcare directives, probate avoidance strategies, guardianship assignments for minor children, and tax planning.

Estate planning should be done by anyone who wants to ensure their assets are properly distributed, and that their loved ones are adequately provided for after their death. It doesn’t matter whether you have $10,000 or $5,000,000, estate planning is an important and integral part of planning for the inevitable. The process is often facilitated by experienced attorneys who specialize in estate planning.

Choosing a good estate attorney involves considering factors like their experience, specialization, reputation, the level of personalized attention they provide, and their fee structure. It is important to choose an attorney you trust and feel comfortable discussing personal matters with.

An Estate Planning attorney helps navigate complex legal and financial issues so that your assets are protected, and complexity is minimized. Furthermore, proper planning will ensure that your loved ones don’t have to go through the long and costly process of Probate when it is time to distribute your estate according to your wishes.

If your estate lacks sufficient funds when you die, any remaining debt is typically expunged and not inheritable by family members unless they co-signed the debt. However, creditors may be able to make a claim against any existing assets, including life insurance payouts or retirement account balances you leave behind. It's always best to consult with an estate planning attorney to understand the legal nuances particular to your situation.

The most important question you’ll need to answer during Estate Planning is who will serve as the Guardian for your children, should something happen to you. For couples, it’s generally clear that the surviving spouse will have custody of the child. However, if you’re a single parent, this is obviously not as clear. Depending on your custody situation, do you want your children to go to your ex-spouse (or partner), or would you rather choose someone else – a friend or family member? After you’ve decided on your Guardian during the Estate Planning process, it’s also important to create a Revocable Living Trust, an IRA Trust, or other vehicles to seamlessly pass your assets on to your children.

Once your Estate Planning documents are signed, we recommend that you retain the originals in a safe place (ideally, a fireproof safe or safe deposit box) and provide copies to your successor trustees, agents and beneficiaries. We would also strongly recommend that you email or fax us a copy of the signature and notary pages so that we can keep them on file for you, just in case.

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