Frequently Asked Questions

Law Office of Cynthia C. Sayegh

East Bay area's top trust & estate attorney

  • Court-supervised administration of your estate upon your death
  • Your estate qualifies for probate if you have assets in excess of $150,000
  • Your estate may be distributed under the terms of the law instead of your own wishes
  • CA law dictates who can handle your estate after death
  • Often an extremely expensive and lengthy process
  • One of the biggest reasons to have an estate plan is to AVOID probate
  • The fees to probate an estate are set by law and are a percentage of the probate estate
  • For example: a $900,000 estate will cost $21,000 in legal fees

  • Whether large or small, everyone needs an estate plan. Things to consider when looking at your estate:
    • Who will manage your assets if you are unable to?
    • Who will get your assets upon death?
    • Who can make your health care decisions?
    • If you have minor children, who will care for them?
  • Everyone has a unique situation and there may be multiple issues motivating one to do an estate plan. Do you have:
    • Property in excess of $150,000?
    • Own a house, regardless of mortgage balance?
    • Defer distribution for children?
    • You need an estate plan!
  • Revocable Trust
  • Pour-over Will
  • For married couples, Community Property Agreement
  • Power of Attorney for Property – while alive
  • Advance Health Care Directive – while alive
  • Trust-transfer Deed for Real Property
  • Assignment of Business Interest and other property as applicable
  • For Personal property distribution
  • Pour-over to trust
  • To assign guardianship for minor children
  • Also, if you have an estate worth less than $150,000, a will is still necessary for distribution and appointing who handles your assets

A trustee is appointed by you to act according to the terms of the trust once you are unable to make decisions for yourself or upon death. They can handle:

  • Distribution and wrap-up of the trust estate
    • Real Property
    • Taxes
  • Working with lawyer, accountant, and Vista to manage assets

It also often makes sense to appoint a professional to act as your trustee.

  • He or she will go through the contents of your home
  • Distribute your personal belongings to your family/friends
  • Donate items to charity
  • And if you don’t have a trust, wrap-up your estate
  • He or she will be appointed by the Court to handle your estate
  • This person has the same role as an Executor when there is no will in place
  • Under the Power of Attorney, your agent will be appointed to handle your finances for you while you are alive but are unable to handle them yourself
    • Pay bills
    • Pay mortgage
    • Manages assets as needed for your care
  • While the exemption amount has regularly increased each year, with a dramatic increase these past several years, there is always talk of it being lowered
  • The platform of today’s politics highlights the interest in this issue but the reality is that it won’t affect most clients
  • If it is lowered, then it may significantly affect your existing estate plan
  • If you have an older estate plan, you may have a trust that requires unnecessary tax returns due to a mandatory AB trust under old tax exemptions

Here’s why an estate planning attorney is worth the investment:

  • An attorney creates a properly drafted estate plan, customized for you
  • They help you with investing in your family’s future
  • They ensure your goals are actually addressed

An incomplete or improper plan will run the risk of:

  • unnecessary attorneys fees
  • unnecessary probate fees/costs
  • higher taxes
  • re-assessment of property
  • will contests
  • family disagreements and hurt feelings

We understand that probate and estate matters can be confusing. This page was created to give you insight into the most common questions. If you have questions that are not addressed below, feel free to contact our office at (925) 945-8831.