Estate Planning

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process by which a person arranges for the distribution of their property and assets upon their death. Many people die without ever doing an estate plan because they think that they do not have sufficient assets to “need” an estate plan. A well-crafted estate plan provides much more than asset distribution. It can provide for your family, ensure that your wishes after death are carried out, and give you peace of mind knowing that minors and other loved ones are protected after your passing. 

Who needs an estate plan?

Estate planning is particularly important for those of us with minor children. But parents are not the only people who need estate plans! Many single individuals are unaware of the consequences of passing without an estate plan. Since there is no spouse with “automatic” legal authority to manage their affairs, should a single individual become incapacitated or die, the court must become involved in probate proceedings. Probating even small estates is a time-consuming process where costs can quickly escalate. A simple estate plan will allow a single person’s estate to be administered without probate, and in accordance with their wishes.   

What happens if I die without an estate plan?

Dying without an estate plan will probably force your family to become involved in a "probate" in order to administer your estate and distribute your assets to your heirs.  Incapacity without advance planning can also create the need for "living probate".  Probate can be a drawn-out, costly undertaking.  In California, a simple probate will often take from nine months to two years and will cost from 4-10% of the value of the decedent's estate.  In addition, probate proceedings are of public record and privacy goes by the wayside, which can expose family members to predatory individuals who know the family member has a recent inheritance.   

The Estate Planning Process

A comprehensive Living Trust Estate Plan prepared by the Law Offices of Julia M. Williams is an excellent way to achieve the many benefits of estate planning laws. Our attorneys and staff will work closely with you to understand your family, your financial situation, and your goals. Then our firm will create customized estate documents designed to protect your assets and achieve these goals. We also talk through personal considerations with respect to anticipated financial changes and sensitive family issues with a consideration and compassion. As your financial situation and family change, our firm can amend your will and other estate planning documents in a cost-effective manner.   


Our firm also has experience for people with large estates and those with complex issues. We create trusts designed to meet goals such as minimize estate taxes, protect minor children with special needs, and to minimize the impact of Medicare and Medicaid recapture.  

What do I get with a comprehensive estate plan?

Documents included in a comprehensive estate plan with the Law Offices of Julia M. Williams include:


  • Revocable Living Trust (if married, Joint with appropriate surviving spouse treatment) 
  • Certification of Living Trust · Pour Over Wills 
  • Durable Powers of Attorney for financial powers in the event of incapacity
  • Advanced Health Directives
  • General asset transfer documents and letters
  • Explanatory materials regarding your estate planning documents, including funding instructions, location lists, and personal property disposals  

Comprehensive estate plans for single individuals start at $1,500 and at $2,000 for married persons who wish to create a joint plan.


Ms. Williams also creates many other types of trusts and entities when developing comprehensive estate plans for individuals, including irrevocable and special needs trusts and family limited partnership trusts. Please contact us to learn more about pricing.