Trust and Estate Lawyer Recommendations

Hello,

We're looking for a referral for a trust and estate lawyer. My wife and I are expecting our first baby in late April and we were hoping to get our affairs in order prior to baby's arrival.

Primarily, we're looking to create wills, durable power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, guardianship, and whatever else we'd need to do to get things sorted; gay-friendly is a must.

Many thanks for any referrals you can provide.

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Hi there, 

My husband and I just did our estate planning with Kelly at Summerall Law: https://summeralllaw.com/kelly-wessels/. He specifically talks about working with all types of families and ensuring they have the right plan in place for their families down the line. We thought he was very knowledgeable and helpful throughout a fairly emotional process.

Good luck -- hope this helps!

Kara

We used Carol Hoffman who is based in North Berkeley (near the gourmet ghetto) because we were also expecting and she was great - really helpful in thinking through how to create structure for future generations. 

Carol L. Hoffman, Esq. (510) 647-8044carollaw [at] sonic.net

We worked with Cassandra Massey who specializes in this work specifically.  She's located on Bay Farm Island in Alameda, and was sharp and professional, and easy to work with, as was her staff.  We received a paper binder of our documents, and a thumb drive with electronic copies.  She also helps with some extras like recording a 'priceless conversation' where you indicate how you want your child to be raised, your values, etc. for the benefit of any short/long-term caregivers in the event you pass unexpectedly.  A basic engagement is $3500, which seems to be the going rate, but also felt high to us.  Where we're from in the midwest, it costs half that, and the lawyer does a lot of the legwork for you.  With this engagement, we were given the binder of all of our materials, but it was up to us to transfer all of our assets into the trust at the end of the process.  With a newborn with serious health issues, we have only managed to move 2 or 3 out of 10 assets over.  Big banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. make it very hard to transition from a personal account to one belonging to a trust - it can involve closing and opening new accounts, and then updating all of your direct deposit, auto pay, etc.   I wish someone would have told us about this significant piece of legwork before we started the process.  We are glad to have the wills, trust, and power of attorney in place, but we are not sure when we'll be able to piece together all the time to finish moving our assets over.   I heard from someone else afterward that Cassandra Massey and some of the other big names in doing this work will offer a more full/concierge service where they help you with more of the asset moving work, but I shudder to think how much additional that may cost.   

Also FYI that establishing a trust in California means your trust is administered here.   I have watched most of our friends who had babies in the Bay Area, who were not natively from here, move elsewhere for lower cost of living, proximity to family, etc.   If you think there is any chance you will move, I would consider printing off some basic wills and powers of attorney from NOLO and seeing if you stay in California once baby is born.  If you move, it is likely far more economical to pursue your trust in your new state, and also more practical.  If we ever move, we will need to pay again to reestablish our trust in another state, or accept that when we pass someone will need to fly to California to administer our trust.   Good luck!

We used Stephanie West and she was awesome. Super personable and highly efficient. She works out of Walnut Creek but will travel to you too. My husband is trans and she was very respectful, even notarized our second parent adoption paperwork for us! 

I highly recommend Sarah Summerall. She and her brother have an office on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Both my partner and myself have used her services for estate planning documents, including Trust/Wills, POAs, and Health Care Directives. Sarah is also a family law attorney.