Recommendations for an attorney to help organize our will.

Our family is in the process of drafting a will and we are trying to find an attorney who has knowledge of issues that could arise if the named guardian for our kids is not a US citizen and also non-resident.

In the event that our kids are orphaned, we have agreed they would go to live with my sister, who shares the same nationality as myself, and lives abroad. The kids also have relatives in the US, but there is no one who is as well positioned/ inclined to care for them.

Our concern is that my sister would need to sell our house and access our life insurance policies in order to be able to provide for the kids, and we need to know how to structure it so that there are no financial penalties for her accessing those funds as a non-US resident.

If anyone can recommend someone with this kind of situation, or similar, I would really love a recommendation. It’s something that weighs on my mind, that we have not taken care of these small but important details.

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We used Jeff Levi at Wendel Rosen in Oakland for our family's estate planning and found him knowledgeable.  

You could contact him and find out, if he can help you.

Marie and paul

Ryan Apperson is professional and efficient and I was very happy with the work he did for my family.    He can be reached at: ryan [at] 

I think your concerns are valid, especially in this political climate.

I don't have experience with this specific situation. I just want to note that the person who administers your will--or trust--need not be the same person as your children's guardian.

If you have someone you absolutely trust who lives in this country and (even better) is a U.S. citizen, perhaps you can appoint them to be the administrator/executor, with the specific directive that their responsibility is to make sure those funds are available ASAP to your sister for your children's care. Having that money at a bank with a branch office near them is even better. I have found that when handling other people's money and with rising concerns about identity theft, it is useful to have the option to show up in person.

An attorney can prepare an outline of the steps the executor would need to take to transfer the money. However, what they can't do is predict what laws will be passed in the future that make make that process easier or more difficult. I suggest you allocate some portion of those funds to cover the time and expenses of the administrator in assisting the transfer.

You also will want to verify that the country you want your children to move to will admit two under-age American citizens to reside in their country, and investigate any related citizenship or financial issues that could arise.

I recommend Attorney Arabelle Malinis (amalinis [at] She helped my wife and I create an estate plan that includes nomination of guardians in our respective wills. There’s two type of guardians: guardian of the estate and guardian of the person; you can nominate that same person for both roles or a different person for each role.  She was helpful in helping us think through who would be the best fit to be our child’s guardian, and what factors to consider including location, values, and financial stability, among others. Her fees are very reasonable, and she’s very prompt in responding to emails and phone calls. 

I recommend Kathleen Hunt (510) 289-2288.

She helped my wife and I set up our living will and put everything into a trust when we were starting our family. She also helped us with the "adoption" process that same-sex married couples have to go through in order for the non-bio mom to be legally named as the other parent.

She lives in El Cerrito, but she'll come to you. 

Tell her Mailisha sent you! 8^)