Estate planner / family attorney / financial planner / other?


I am looking to consult with someone who is knowledgeable in estate planning, CA divorce/common property law, and overall financial strategies for navigating the inheritance of a house and other assets (preferably in the East Bay). I have no idea who this would be among the following: "estate planner," "family law attorney", "financial advisor,", other?...

I have an accountant and a portfolio manager for my 529 and 829 plans, but they are in another state, and I'd really like someone who knows the ins and outs of a spouse's inheritance as a "sole recipient". i.e., parents are trying to ensure that the asset cannot be split in the case of a divorce (because that would be financially ruinous for myself and my 2 kids).  My parents' financial advisor has suggested placing the house in a trust instead of naming it to me outright, for the purpose of erecting an airtight seal that would prevent its provision as "common property" if a divorce came to pass. But I am not thrilled with this arrangement, for various reasons. Bottom line: I would like to learn more about best strategies, what to expect, etc...! Thanks for any counsel you can offer.

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You need to consult with a California estate planning attorney. In California inheritances are separate property. You do not need to put the property into a trust. As long as you keep the property in your name alone and if you sell the property put the funds into a separate account and don't comingle the funds with community property you should be fine. If the property you will be inheriting is in California, the law regarding property tax re-assessment on inherited property just changed under prop 19 in this election. A good estate planning lawyer will be able to advise you on all of that as well.

Hi there, it looks like you might actually be looking for several different professionals but I will say I recently had help from an estate planner attorney and I found him very thoughtful for figuring out how to transfer my parent's share in a home to me. He also was thinking ahead towards exactly some of the issues you are mentioning and was to trying to advise me in a way that would best protect me. His name is Ken Begun. His phone is 925-406-4554 and his email is begun [at] My parent had an existing trust that was also out of state and he helped us with a new deed and an amendment to the trust and actually drove to my home in Oakland and we filled out paperwork outside. As a personal note, my experience has been that is almost always better for you for assets to be in trust in order to protect you and avoid probate, so I would ask any professional to directly address your concerns and explain those pro's and con's. I have also been working with a financial planner for 5+ years who I've found really helpful and straightforward who is physically located in wine country, but even before SIP all of our communication was by phone and email. I'm sure you will get many great recommendations for East Bay based planners but for financial planners, I would go with personal references above all else, regardless of the the planner's location.


I would recommend that you contact Attorney Jean Shrem of Shrem Law.  She does Estate Planning law as well as Real Estate Law and could help you out.  We hired her to do our pretty complicated blended family real estate / estate plan and Jean was great.  Very responsive, clear and helpful with all of our questions.  She really went above and beyond for us.  She's located in the East Bay, in El Cerrito - although I think everything is virtual right now.  She has some details on her website.  Here is her info:

Attorney Jean Shrem


Jean [at]

This is a legal question. A financial planner, who may not have any training or expertise, isn't qualified to answer this question. An estate planning attorney should be able to address this. It's generally recommended to place the ownership of real estate in a trust anyway, to avoid the costs of probate. ln any case, inherited property is separate property and will remain separate property unless you take some action that converts it into community property.

My family and I used Joel Harris and couldn't have been happier with the experience.  He has been in practice as an estate planning attorney for over 30 years so really knows his stuff - plus he's seen it all.  He has three offices, check their site for more info:  You shouldn't wait on taking care of inheritance property transfer preparations.  Californians approved Proposition 19 (by 51%) and that can have pretty devastating tax consequences if not taken care of by February when the new law comes into effect. 

I worked with Attorney Betsy Thompson at the Thompson Law Offices in Walnut Creek for a similar issue for my parents owning property in Washington and CA. It happened recently during COVID though -she did the finals on our back porch! Weird times. PH office: 925-935-5566