3390 Auto Mall Drive
Westlake Village CA 91362
I offer a free initial consultation. Consultations can generally last 30 minutes to an hour.
Complete Estate Plan (Revocable Living Trust, Will(s), Durable Power(s) of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive(s), Certification of Trust, Funding Instructions, Assignment of Personal Property, 1 California residential Deed and ancillary documents) $2,495. (Mention Nolo and receive the Complete Estate Plan at $1,995) This planning includes such items as special needs planning or beneficiary trusts; complex distribution schemes and specific gifts. Charitable Foundation: (Includes consultation, entity formation and IRS filings) $8,000
* Attorney $375 * Staff $125
Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
I came to the practice of law somewhat later in life than many attorneys. I was an operation officer before I became an attorney and had a bit of life and business experience behind me when I decided to practice law. Before going to law school I interviewed several attorneys who, for the most part, seemed fairly miserable in their jobs. Their stories were similar. They went to law school, graduated, passed the bar and with varying degrees of debt, marital and children status, went to work for the firm that offered them the best deal, doing whatever that was. Then five years later or so, they decided that they really didn't like doing what they were doing, but were trapped. They made very good money and had grown accustomed to their lifestyles. To change areas of legal practice would mean going backward in status, pay and maybe jobs as they learned another field - they felt trapped.
So after I passed the bar, I determined I would not make the same mistake. I tried every type of law I could: litigation and jury trials, bankruptcy, appellate work, governmental law, contract and administrative law, and estate planning. After about three years I found, for a variety of reasons, estate planning and business services offered some unique benefits.
If done correctly I can prevent problems rather than just cleaning up messes. It was one of the very few areas of law where I could be proactive in dealing with issues. Another bonus was that I get to know my clients, sometimes over many years. I can watch and help them grow and be successful. Generally, I get to deal with happy people and make their lives better. What a great job!
A knowledgeable client is a good client. One of the most difficult tasks that an attorney has is taking complex situations and trying to explain the options and potential results in sufficient detail so that a client can make informed decisions. A client who has educated themselves on a particular topic or issue not only makes that translation easier on me, but reduces the time (and often cost) it requires providing legal services.
In both the areas of Estate Planning and Business Law, difficulties often arise. Not because we are limited in our options, but because there is an overwhelming number of options available. A client who has researched the issues has already thought about what it is they want to accomplish. The time spent considering the desired outcome gives the client and myself more peace of mind in determining that the final outcome is one that is the best for the client.
I do review documents prepared by clients. However, in my areas of practice, the creation of the document is rarely the most important part of the process. I don't sell documents "by the pound." Much of my value to the client is in understanding their situation, their goals and the limits on what they can do to accomplish these goals. The documents are a memorialization of that process.
For example, if a client shows me a will she created and says, "I have three children and I want my assets to go to them equally," it is not particularly time consuming to look at the will to determine that indeed the will says exactly that - or not. However, that type of review will not reveal that one of her children is disabled or has an addiction to drugs. It will not let me know if she wants her children to attend college, to value work, to own a home or is on a third marriage.
Further, I don't know if she has considered or understands all the options available to her. Does she know that her will causes her estate to go through California's probate system? Did she realize that she didn't have to name one of the children as an executor, that she could name more than one?
Finally, and quite simply, if/when I review a document; I may take on liability if I fail to counsel my client properly. So I review documents, in writing, after consultation with my client and I do charge for the review.
I will counsel clients who have questions about legal issues and their options. For example, in the administration of a trust estate I have counseled several clients on different issues that occurred in the administration but did not take on the role of attorney for the estate. The client managed the identification, valuation and distribution of the estate's assets on their own.
I often consult with business owners without undertaking a specific legal task. Many times owners want to explore their options before deciding to provide a new service, purchase property, or enter into an agreement with a vendor.
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