Estate Planning Attorney in the Bay Area & Oakland, CA

Choose award-winning estate planning attorney Cynthia C. Sayegh

Bay Area Estate Planning Attorney Cynthia C. Sayegh​

One of the best things you can do for your loved ones is to plan your estate before you pass away. The Law Office of Cynthia C. Sayegh uses a blend of legal, tax and financial expertise to provide you with practical solutions to your estate planning in the Bay area. Using a contemporary approach, Cindy focuses not only on making sure your wishes are carried out, but also helps your family make the decisions they need to make regarding tax implications, navigating through the complicated probate process and guiding you through elder law issues that may impact your estate as well. 

Our office also has experience in transactional real estate and business matters that may affect your estate planning. Contact Cindy today to learn how she can help you with your estate planning needs. Call today (925) 945-8831 or get in touch by filling out the easy online form to arrange for a no obligation consultation.

To ensure the highest standard of health and safety, our office is set up to be completely virtual. We now serve estate planning and probate clients remotely throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Additional arrangements are tailored to your needs and in accordance with health related mandates. We look forward to being of service to you. Schedule an appointment today!

How To Ensure Your Family's Estate is Properly Protected

When a loved one passes away, families are grief-stricken as they try to deal with the loss. Their focus is on healing and learning to live without someone they loved. It may be weeks before they are ready to discuss the financial ramifications of their loss other than day-to-day expenses to keep a household running smoothly. You can take steps while you are alive to help your family with the financial aspects of your passing with estate planning Bay Area residents have relied on for decades. Understanding why you need estate planning can help guide you as you make the difficult decisions now in order to help your family after you have passed away.

The Need for a Will

One of the first steps of estate planning is to create a will. If you die without a will in California, the state will determine how your assets are distributed based on someone’s relationship to you. If you do not have a will, the order in which your heirs will inherit are as follows:

  • Your children inherit everything if you have no spouse but have children.
  • Your spouse inherits everything if you do not have parents or siblings or if your siblings have no children.
  • Your parents inherit everything if you have no siblings, children or spouse.
  • Your siblings inherit everything if you have no spouse, children or your living parents.
  • If you are married, your spouse will inherit all community property held in both names as well as half property held in only your name. Your children will inherit half of the property only in your name. The grandchild of a deceased child will also inherit their parent’s share of property held in your name.
  • Your spouse will inherit all of your jointly held property and one-third of property held in just your name if you are married and have two or more children.if you have a spouse and two or more children, you spouse inherits all of your community property and one-third of your separate property while your children inherit two-thirds of your separate property. If you also have a grandchild from a deceased child, the grandchild inherits their parents’ share.
  • Your spouse inherits all of your community property and half of the property that is solely in your name if your parents are still living. Your parents inherit the remaining half of the property just in your name.
  • Your spouse inherits all of your community property and half your separate property with your siblings inheriting the other half if your parents are no longer living and you have both a spouse and siblings.

This line of succession indicates how important it is to have a will in the state of California. Your will provides information on how you want your assets distributed. You can also use your will to arrange for the care of any minor children.

Probate Requirements

Even if you have a will, your beneficiaries or named executor may need to go through a court process known as probate in order to distribute any property you may have. There are some types of property that are not subject to probate, but in California, most properties are valued high enough to subject them to probate. Insurance policies, 401ks and other financial investments often ask you to name a beneficiary when you open the account. Those accounts will transfer to the person you named as a beneficiary regardless of what you state in your will. Joint bank accounts automatically transfer to the other person on the account. In addition, your home may automatically transfer to your spouse as California may deem it “community property,” according to the law.

Using a Living Trust

Another way to leave assets to your descendants is through a living trust. You can find many books, guides and online resources that claim to show you how to create your own living trust, but California law is very complicated. A living trust allows you to name a trustee who manages your assets for the benefit of an eventual beneficiary. They can be either revocable or irrevocable. The purpose of a living trust is to allow for the easy transfer of assets so that your beneficiaries can bypass complex and expensive probate requirements. It is important to know that planning an estate and choosing investments can be very complicated. If your living trust documents are not prepared properly, they could be declared invalid and your wishes may not be carried out.

One of the best things you can do for your loved ones is to properly plan your estate before passing. Contact Cindy today to learn how she can help you with your estate planning needs. You can reach her by phone or by filling out the easy online form to arrange for a no obligation consultation.


"My husband and I used Cindy to assist with estate planning. We found her very easy to work with. We were able to freely speak about our concerns. In addition, while prepping for the estate plan she brought up things we didn't even consider! She wasn't pushy, nor did she rush us. We are very grateful for her help!"
"We worked with Cindy to do our estate planning and trust. She was a dream to work with. She was incredibly patient and insightful, and really helped to guide us through the process. I'm now recommending her to my colleagues and personal network, including my parents. I have procrastinated in my family planning for years. I'm very happy I took the recommendations from local moms in Lamorinda. Cindy made the process very easy for my husband and I. She was accommodating with our timeline and provides flexibility in meeting schedules for working parents."
"Cindy is an amazing estate attorney. She completed our estate plan in a timely and cost-effective manner. She is flexible with scheduling and helped us talk through a lot of issues (we have a special needs child). As she is similar in age to us, we like that we can stick with her for decades to come and have her update our plan on a regular basis. She has a lot of experience and can really help you draft a great plan and for a very fair price. HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend her."