Richard Sax has been a licensed California attorney for over 40 years. The Law Offices of Richard Sax has served Sonoma County for over 35 years.

In this increasingly complicated world, an estate plan is a must. If you don’t have an estate plan to provide for the orderly disposition of property to loved ones, you cannot avoid the cost, publicity, and delay of probate. With an estate plan, you can avoid chaos and the risk of infighting among family members.

Our law firm can assist you in preparing your first estate plan, and can review, update and amend an existing plan. We offer comprehensive estate planning services to assist you in building, protecting, and distributing your assets according to your wishes.

We can help you transfer your wealth while minimalizing the wealth transfer taxes applicable to individuals, families and businesses. We will support your efforts to maintain privacy and protect your assets. And if the time comes when you are no longer want or are able to manage your affairs, we can provide ongoing management.

We can educate you and your family about trusts, and carry out your estate plan as executor and trustee. You can provide for the succession of business interests or the educational needs of children or grandchildren. Perhaps you wish to become a guardian for minor children, or provide for the financial security of a spouse or other loved ones. You may wish to protect assets from possible creditor claims, or fulfill philanthropic goals.

Whatever your objectives, we can assist you in realizing your goals as you develop your own personal estate plan. As part of your estate planning package, we will be preparing the following documents for you.

Below is a brief explanation of each document and its intended purpose:

Pour Over Will

A “pour over” will acts as a safety net if you forget to transfer an asset to your trust. When you die, the will “catches” the forgotten asset(s) and it “pours over” into your trust.

The asset(s) may have to go through probate first, but it can then be distributed as part of your overall living trust plan. If you have minor children, you must use the “pour over” will to name their guardian after your death.

Revocable Living Trust

A living trust is a document that contains instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. Unlike a will, a living trust can avoid probate at death, while allowing you to give what you have, to whom you want, the way you want and when you want. More importantly, a living trust prevents the court from controlling your assets if you become incapacitated. Your living trust can be amended at any time prior to your death or incapacity.

Advance Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive allows you to choose an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf and select end-of-life treatment options.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to choose an agent to manage your financial affairs if you become unable (or unwilling) to manage them yourself. This document gives your agent the powers to manage, dispose of, sell, and convey your real and personal property on your behalf.

Certification of Trust

A certification of trust is used by an acting trustee or trustees of a trust to prove to financial institutions or other third parties that he/she/they have the authority to act on behalf of the trust. The certification of trust is used in lieu of the full trust document to keep nonessential information about the trust, such as the identities of trust beneficiaries, confidential.

Assignment of Personal Property

An assignment of personal property is included to ensure that personal property currently owned or to be owned in the future is part of the trust.

Real Property Deeds

If the grantor(s) of a living trust wishes to convey real estate to their beneficiaries, they must transfer the title into the trust. We will be preparing new real property deeds to ensure that title to the real estate is transferred into the trust.

Special Needs Trust

We can create a special needs trust for a loved one with a disability and avoid jeopardizing government benefits.

Irrevocable Trust

In appropriate circumstances we can prepare an irrevocable trust. An irrevocable trust is a type of trust where its terms cannot be modified, amended or terminated without the permission of the grantor’s named beneficiary or beneficiaries. The grantor, having effectively transferred all ownership of assets into the trust, legally removes all of their rights of ownership to the assets and the trust.

This is in contrast to a revocable trust, which allows the grantor to modify the trust, but thus loses certain benefits such as creditor protection.

Fees and Costs

For an estate planning package, I generally quote a fixed fee of $2,500 for a married couple or $2,000 for an individual, plus costs such as recording and notary fees. After a planning meeting, when we are informed of your specific situation and know the structure and terms of your plan, I will advise you in writing of the amount of the fixed fee to draft the documents and implement the plan.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. If you would like to schedule a complimentary introductory meeting or a planning meeting, please give me a call or email me at richard@rsaxlaw.com.

Favorable result in a case involving a two-million dollar estate.

Our client and a sister were equal beneficiaries of their late father’s estate, valued at more than two million dollars. The sister, a trustee, unilaterally paid herself an excessive fee; filed inaccurate estate tax returns, which caused the estate to incur tax penalties and interest; and refused to provide a full and complete accounting of the trust estate. Sax filed a successful petition to compel the sister to provide an accounting, and to have her removed as trustee for breaches of the trust.

Favorable resolution of a case involving eleven properties and two families.

We began representing a woman in a real estate partition action involving eleven properties but soon realized that her divorce had not been properly handled. We re-opened the dissolution action and began a proper division of property. However, our client and her former husband both passed away of natural, unrelated causes. The case then became a probate action, which we pursued on behalf of our late client’s family. The case settled in mediation, and the division of the late couple’s numerous real properties was successfully accomplished.

Successful probate in action involving five siblings, members of a Native American Tribe.

 We successfully resolved a probate action involving the estate of the mother of five siblings, members of a prosperous Native American Tribe.

Favorable resolution of a case involving four children and their stepfather.

We represented four siblings in a probate dispute with their stepfather regarding the partition of their late mother’s estate. The case successfully settled in mediation.

Everyone has a unique goal for their estate, from planning for their children and grandchildren to leaving a legacy in their community. The Law Offices of Richard Sax will listen closely so we can understand what’s important to you and work with you and your tax advisors to help you plan your estate accordingly. It is very important to plan for you and your family’s future, if you do not have a living trust, probate can be very expensive. Ask yourself, do you really want those decisions made by the State or the courts? Do you want a family member you don’t trust to raise your children? Of course, you don’t. That’s why it’s important to get these matters taken care of now. Similarly, you want to make sure there is someone in place should you become disabled and unable to manage your affairs. Nothing is more painful than having the court appoint a conservator.

If you are in need of an experienced probate and trust litigation attorney in Santa Rosa, California who is ready to fight for your rights at your upcoming trial, contact Richard Sax. Probate and trust disputes are often complex and difficult to resolve and Richard is a seasoned trial attorney.