For a more thorough overview of estate planning, click here to view the information packet that we give out at our seminars.

However, due to the length of this packet (8 pages), below are answers to several of the most frequently asked questions we encounter.

Warning- The information provided at this site is not intended to be legal advice. This general information is only a guide to assist in your understanding of estate planning. Laws frequently change. Consult a qualified attorney before making legal decisions.

Why do I need to worry about estate planning?


Estate planning consists of planning for family, financial, and medical decisions in the event of your temporary or long-term incapacity or death. It allows you to specify your desires as to what takes place and who will be in charge to carry-out your wishes.

I don’t have many assets, so why should I care about creating a Will or Living Trust?


You want to make sure the assets you do have are used for your care and then for the benefit of those you choose with the least amount of time, trouble, or expense. In addition, you want to be able to designate who will care for you if you cannot and who will care for your minor children (be their guardian).

If I die without a Will, will the government get everything?


Only in rare situations will the government receive your assets (escheat). Without a Will (intestacy), the Probate Code sets forth who will inherit from you, but it may not be whom you would think or want.

What will a Living Trust do for me that my present Will cannot do?


With a Will, if your estate contains a home or other real or personal property valued at more than $150,000 and both spouses pass away, California law requires the estate to go through probate – a 1 to 1 ½ year (or more) court process. With a Living Trust, it is possible for the beneficiaries to receive the estate in a minimal amount of time and with no court involvement.

What will happen to my minor children at my death?


The Probate Code sets forth a priority for appointment of a guardian for minors for raising them (Guardian of Person) and handling their money (Guardian of Estate). A priority over all but a natural parent is given to the person designated in writing by a natural parent.

What is Congress doing about Estate Taxes and how can I plan accordingly?


2010 was a good year to die for the very wealthy. NO ESTATE TAX! January 1, 2011 the Estate Tax was set to revert to everything above $1M. On December 17, 2010, the President executed the new law which, instead, made the exemption $5M, retroactive for 2010 unless the estate elects the unlimited exemption for 2010 with only a limited step-up in basis. The tax rate on the excess over $5M is 35% instead of the former 45%. The $5M applies also for 2011 and 2012; but, unless congress acts, the exemption will revert to $1M again for 2013.

The same $5M exemption applies for gifts. The exemption for reporting gifts is $13,000 and no tax on aggregate amounts up to $5M. (2011/2012 only-could revert to $1M total lifetime gifts in 2013)

Portability of the exemption allows, for 2011 and 2012, for any portion of the $5M unused on a spouse’s death to apply and be added to the un-remarried spouse’s estate to increase his/her exemption.

CONCLUSION: Lots of uncertainty which requires care in planning with as many options reserved as possible.

Why do I want to avoid probate? Is there a reason I might WANT my estate to go through probate?


Probate is an expensive and time-consuming court action to supervise your estate and distribution. On the positive side, court supervision is sometimes a good way to make certain that taxes and bills get paid and distribution is properly made. But for most people, probate is a time-consuming and expense process that can be avoided if proper planning is done before a death occurs.

How can I avoid probate?


In some situations, joint tenancy or naming beneficiaries can avoid probate; however, there are other downsides to these options. More often than not, a Living Trust will maximize your control while you are living and minimize time and expense upon your death. In addition, a Living Trust provides a number of alternatives and contingencies no other method will adequately provide.

Can’t I do this myself? What’s wrong with creating estate planning documents using books, software, or an online service?


You can use a book from the bookstore, software, or an online service to plan your estate. However, we won’t discover your errors until after you die and we are in court trying to fix them. You are gone and your family pays for what you did wrong. Estate planning is not really susceptible to “do-it-yourself.” Only an expert will recognize issues which should be addressed in what you think is a simple situation.

Can’t my divorce or “other” attorney do this for me?


Forty or fifty years ago many lawyers handled every type of matter that came through their door. Every aspect of the law is too specialized for that now. Your divorce lawyer or the attorney who handled your lawsuit will rarely have the experience and training to recognize anything in your estate or family dynamics that requires special attention to properly deal with. This might not be better (and could be worse) than doing it yourself (See Previous Question).

A death has occurred. What do I do now?


We’re sorry for your loss. Let us help you make the administration or probate of your loved-one’s estate as easy and stress free as possible. Here are the initial steps that you should take:
  1. Arrange for the funeral or other disposition the decedent desired.
  2. Order death certificates. (The number will vary based on the type of assets but 10 is usually a safe number.)
  3. Secure and insure the home and assets of the decedent.
  4. Make an inventory of assets and liabilities.
  5. Locate estate planning documents (Will and/or Trust).
  6. Make an appointment with an attorney with experience in the administration of estates to get guidance for what should be done and by whom.

Should I bring my kids or other family members to my appointment?


NO. The Law Office of John T. Anderson is a family business and we love children-- just not in our office during your appointment. Minor children are a major distraction and their presence makes it very difficult to discuss and make decisions on important issues and to sign documents. Adult children and other family members create a conflict of interest. If adult children accompany you to your appointment, in most situations they will be asked to wait in our waiting room.

How often should I review my estate plan?


You should get your estate planning documents out and review them on an annual basis. That way you know where the documents are and you can look them over and refresh your memory as to what you did. If things have changed, you can call us for an appointment to review and make necessary changes. If it all reads the way you still want, put it away until next year!

Should I show my estate plan to my family?


Whether or not you share your estate plan with family members depends on how you feel about sharing it and your family dynamics. Certainly let key individuals whom you have named to handle things know you have done estate planning; where you keep the documents; and, who we are. Anything beyond that is not necessary but is okay if you feel comfortable sharing it.

I want to leave some of my assets to my caregiver; are there guidelines I need to know about?


Yes. Because of a great number of reported problems with caregivers receiving gifts from the elderly or incapacitated as a result of overreaching and undue influence, special sets of laws have been passed setting out specific requirements involving certification by an independent attorney or the gift or the inheritance is void.

How much does it cost for an initial appointment?


An initial estate planning consultation at our office is FREE if you do not currently have a Trust. If you currently have a Trust that was prepared by another attorney, a minimum charge of $500 applies for an attorney to thoroughly review your existing documents and prepare for your appointment. This amount in non-refundable once an attorney reviews your documents. Half of the amount paid (i.e., $250) will be credited toward additional estate planning services provided. Click here for our Fee Schedule.

How much do you charge for your legal services?


We have set fees for estate planning. Click here for our Fee Schedule. We use the fee schedule set forth in the Probate Code for probates. For most other services, we generally charge at the individual attorney’s or staff member’s usual hourly rate, which are as follows:

John T. Anderson $550/hr. | Lisa R. Norman $350/hr.

John T. Anderson, Jr. $250/hr. | Paralegals and Legal Assistants $150/hr.
[ Minimum Time Billed is 0.01 Hours (6 minutes) ]

Fees are subject to change at any time and without notice.

Will I be charged if I call with a question?


Regarding your estate plan, generally “NO.” Our goal is to provide you with quality, comprehensive estate planning services. It is important that you leave our office with peace of mind. Therefore, if you have questions, please call so that we can ease your worries and ensure that things have been done correctly in accordance with your wishes. There are circumstances where you may need to schedule an appointment or, because of the complexity of the issue and the time involved, you may be billed for telephone conversations. However, this is generally not the case, and our staff can often answer questions, without charge, over the phone.

When do I have to pay for the legal services provided by your office?


To review an existing estate plan that was not prepared by The Law Office of John T. Anderson, the $500 (minimum) fee is due when you send us a copy of your documents, which is due at least two weeks before your appointment. For a new estate plan, the fee is due when the plan to be prepared is agreed on.

Do you accept credit cards?


We accept checks or cash but not credit cards.

Why should I choose the Law Office of John T. Anderson?


We recommend you use our office for estate planning, guardianships, conservatorships, trust administration, and probates because of our experience and because we are easy to work with. Mr. Anderson has over 45 years of experience. He is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Mr. Anderson was named “Lawyer of the Year” by the Long Beach Bar Association in 2007. Mr. Anderson served as Chairman of the Long Beach Bar Association’s Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust section for over 30 years.

The Law Office of John T. Anderson is truly a family practice. Mr. Anderson’s associates, Attorney Lisa R. Norman and Attorney John T. Anderson, Jr., are his children. They have practically grown-up working in the office around and with all of the files.

How do I contact your office?


The Law Office of John T. Anderson
1741 E. Wardlow Road
Long Beach, California 90807
Tel: (562) 424-8619
Fax: (562) 595-9662
Email: John@trustlaw.ws

Where is your office located?


Our office is located a few blocks off the 405 freeway, West of the Long Beach Airport, in Long Beach, California.
  1. From Orange County
    Take the I-405 San Diego Freeway North to the Cherry Ave. “North” exit. Travel 1/4 mile to E. Wardlow Rd. Turn left (West) onto E. Wardlow Rd. Travel two blocks to Rose Ave. Our office is located on the right, on the corner of E. Wardlow Rd. and Rose Ave.
  2. From Los Angeles
    Take the I-405 San Diego Freeway South to the Orange Ave. exit. Turn left (North) onto Orange Ave. Travel 1/4 miles to E. Wardlow Rd. Turn Right (East) onto E. Wardlow Rd. Travel 1/3 mile to Rose Ave. (Two Blocks before Cherry Ave.) Our office is located on the left, on the corner of E. Wardlow Rd. and Rose Ave.
  3. From East Long Beach
    Travel West on Willow St. or Spring St. to Cherry Ave. Turn right (North) onto Cherry Ave. Travel North to E. Wardlow Rd. Turn left (West) onto E. Wardlow Rd. Then go two blocks West to Rose Ave. Our office is located on the right, on the corner of E. Wardlow Rd. and Rose Ave. Note: Wardlow Rd. does not go through from East Long Beach due to the Long Beach Airport.

    Alternative Route: Travel West on Carson St. to Cherry Ave. Turn left (South) onto Cherry Ave. Travel South to E. Wardlow Rd. Turn right (West) onto E. Wardlow Rd. Go two blocks to Rose Ave. Our office is located on the right, on the corner of E. Wardlow Rd. and Rose Ave.
  4. From North Long Beach
    Travel south on Cherry Ave. past Carson St. to E. Wardlow Rd. Turn right (west) on E. Wardlow Rd. Go two blocks to Rose Ave. Our office is located on the right, on the corner of E. Wardlow Rd. and Rose Ave.
Click here for a map!

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this website is intended to inform the reader, generally, of issues in estate planning, and not to be the final resource, and should not be considered legal advice. The information is not intended to be all-inclusive. To obtain detailed information or advice regarding a specific legal problem, you should contact a qualified attorney in your geographic area and state. Although Attorneys John T. Anderson, Lisa R. Norman, and Erin M. Protzmann ("Attorneys") intend that this website be correct, complete and up-to-date, we do not guarantee it to be. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice, thus the reader must seek out specific advice, from competent counsel. Attorneys do not intend links on this website to be referrals or endorsements of the linked entities. Sending e-mails to John@trustlaw.ws or other e-mail addresses associated with attorneys or staff at The Law Office of John T. Anderson does not create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services provided by Attorneys exceeds that provided by other lawyers. To the extent that this website is deemed an "advertisement," Attorneys advertise only in California and do not seek to represent a person based solely on that person's visit to this website. Attorneys are licensed to practice law only in California and are willing to appear in courts only in California. Attorneys maintain one office located in Long Beach, California.

The Law Office of John T. Anderson
1741 E. Wardlow Rd., Long Beach, California 90807

Copyright 2021 John T. Anderson