Estate planning, probate, wills, living trusts, POwer of attorney

Living Trusts

Whether you are a long-time resident or a recent transplant to sunny San Diego, setting up a living trust can provide peace of mind and protection for your assets.

Living Trusts Attorney Oeanside, CA

Do I Need A Living Trust?

We’ve all got to go sometime! We don’t like to talk or think about it too much, but it is true. The fact is that we can go at any time whether it is from natural causes, while traveling, or – quite frankly – while driving home from work. If something were to happen to you today, ask yourself “how would my kids handle the sudden windfall of money?” Would they be completely responsible, or would there be a sports car, a bad marriage, and a trip to Las Vegas in their future? Perhaps they’d land somewhere in the middle, but even the middle can be wasteful.

I remember how I was when I was younger, how about you? There are more reasons to create an estate plan than just preventing wasteful spending, but you have to admit it is a compelling reason! I’ll touch on more of the reasons to create an estate plan below. The bottom line is that we should care for our family and do a bit of planning before we wait too long and find ourselves at The End.

Have you ever had someone close to you die? Did they have any estate planning in place?

I can show you 5 ways to make your passing easier on those you love, but more on that in a moment.

So, what did you learn when the person close to you passed? If they didn’t have any estate planning in place, I’m sure you learned what a mess that a failure to plan created – with the additional loss of time and loss of money. If one plans with just a Will, or fails to plan at all, then Probate must be opened and completed.

The only exceptions to having to go through Probate are when the decedent owns less than $150,000 in assets, or when a spouse is the first to die, and all that spouse’s assets are held in the proper manner and pass directly to the surviving spouse. (There are various limitations, qualifications, and potential pitfalls to those two exceptions that won’t be discussed here, but you can see my blog for more on these subjects.)

So, do you remember those 5 ways you can make your passing easier on those you love that I mentioned earlier? Here is the first, and the rest will follow.

1. Use Estate Planning to Show Your Love

That statement “use estate planning to show your love” sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? Let me tell you a story. I lost all my grandparents when I was young. The first of my grandparents to pass left me some money. I nice gift, and a pretty sizable sum. Now I didn’t run out to Las Vegas, but I did spend the money (they could have or even should have left me the money in trust!) I didn’t just “blow” the money in my opinion because I purchased some recording gear – a serious hobby that I still participate in, but I spent it all, nonetheless. I really enjoyed the gift and what I purchased with that gift.

Now, when my other two grandparents passed, I received a gift that was quite different, and it brought me to tears. It was a medicine bottle with about 20 pennies in it. It has a label on it that is a piece of paper with my grandmother’s handwriting, Scotch taped to the bottle that reads – “Some game George and Danny used to play”. My mom found it more than twenty years after grandma passed away, handed it to me, and then that gift went directly into my safe.

Comparing the two by means of monetary value is no comparison. Likewise, comparing the two in terms of emotional connection, and there is – again – no comparison. The fact that my grandma cared enough to save something like that… that I can hold those very pennies in my hand brings my granddad front-and-center in my mind and I am playing with granddad at the kitchen table again.

The only problem was that grandma just left the bottle in a box and gave no instructions. As a matter of fact, it was years after her passing that my mom found the bottle and gave it to me. They could have been lost in time forever. As it turned out, they were only lost for 20 years. Still a risk I wish grandma hadn’t taken. Both sets of grandparents could have shown they cared by doing a little more planning.

In your Estate Plan, we can leave specific items to specific people (just like my grandma should have done!) but we can also leave money with either specific instructions on how it is to be used, or with general guidelines or suggestions such as “we hope you will use this money to take family trips to Disneyland like we used to do and think of us when you do so”. We can also do any number of combinations of the two methods.

Another way to show we care is to pick who will raise our minor children by naming a guardian in our estate planning documents. That is important, and most people would rather decide who raises their children instead of letting the courts decide for them.

Aside from making sure your beneficiaries receive their gifts, we can use estate planning to make sure we add a layer of protection for our beneficiaries against creditors, predators, bad marriages, and wasteful spending.

The second way we can use Estate Planning to make your passing easier on those you love is next.

2. Make the difficult medical decisions regarding your care instead of making your loved ones make them for you.

In the estate plans I create, I always include an Advance Healthcare Directive (sometimes called a Living Will, AHCD, or AHD) for each of my clients. When a family member of mine recently passed, he had no Advance Healthcare Directive in place. Soon after he passed, the hospital started calling his son to ask if his father would have wanted to donate his retinas. Apparently, the decision must be made quickly because the retinas must be removed within an hour or two for them to have viability. Thus, the hospital was persistent in their phone calls to his son. I watched all of this happen and thought to myself that all these decisions could have been made by the father ahead of time to prevent the burden that gets imposed on family members in times of grieving.

Why push this burden onto family members? One more thing to consider is that among three of the leading cases that involved end-of-life care (remember Terri Schiavo?) all the patients were under 40, and Terri Schiavo was just 26 years old when she suffered her initial injury that started the 15 year-long battle over her care. Again, preventable.

3. Save them the lost time and money that probate will take from them

Simply put, probate costs money, and takes time. Even a modest estate can cost $10,000 to $20,000 and up and can take a year or even longer to complete. A proper estate plan is much more affordable, and certainly saves huge amounts of time compared to having to go through probate. Also, with a proper estate plan, funds and other resources won’t be tied up and inaccessible like they will be with an estate that must be probated.

Often access to money and the ability to liquidate assets is needed to take care of immediate expenses.

4. Care for yourself so you can live how you like and not create a financial burden on those you love

One more scenario to consider when contemplating your future is what will happen to you and your family should you become incapacitated due to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or some other incapacity? I have seen it happen, and I would think that you have too. Mom is the last surviving spouse and becomes incapacitated due to dementia. Now what? If mom has no estate planning in place, then the family may be stuck. If one loses mental capacity and has done no estate planning, then creating an estate plan, or transferring assets (like selling a home) is usually very difficult or impossible.

Moreover, we have all heard of the unscrupulous family member that loots the parent’s estate and puts the parent or parents that have lost capacity in a horrible living environment, or in a place that the parent never considered or desired.

Perhaps they wished to remain in their own home for as long as possible and wanted to use their own assets to pay for the increased cost of such care. There is nothing wrong with living the end of your life how you want. You have the power to dictate how your estate is consumed to provide the kind of long-term care you desire. Planning for incapacity is growing in importance every day with more and more people living longer lives, and the costs of long-term care skyrocketing. Wouldn’t you like to decide and control how and where you live out your remaining years?

5. With proper planning, we can help keep peace within the family and potentially eliminate fighting.

When decisions are made, and a plan is established, we can potentially eliminate fighting. I’m sure you don’t have to be an estate planning attorney like me to know that when someone passes, and money (even a little bit of money) is involved, the attitudes change, and people can come out of the woodwork. Let’s not let that happen. Also, when the decisions are made in advance, most of the time the beneficiaries will say “well, that’s how mom and dad wanted it”. This is a good thing no matter if we are talking about a lot of money, a grandfather clock, or a pocketknife!

Planning is important. Caring for yourself and your family is important. Give me a call today and let’s get started. I answer my own phone, and I even make house calls!

Call and Speak With Mr. Powell Now

The first step is fast and easy. Just tell us a few things. The next step will be a call from attorney Dan Powell and you will be well on your way to learning about your options, caring for your loved ones, and having a solid, attorney designed and drafted estate plan!

Our Practice Areas

Asset Protection

Asset protection is a crucial aspect of estate planning law in San Diego. It helps individuals and families safeguard their assets and property from potential threats. In this section, we will discuss the primary threats that asset protection aims to guard against.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of planning for the management and distribution of a person's assets (such as property, investments, and personal belongings) after their death.


When someone dies without a proper estate plan, Probate is the process that the court will use in distributing the property, and figuring out who the property is to be distributed to.

Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust is a trust created for minors or adults that have some special need due to such things as learning disabilities, physical disabilities, etc.


Estate planning is the process of creating a plan for how an individual's assets will be managed and distributed after their death.

Living Trusts

Whether you are a long-time resident or a recent transplant to sunny San Diego, setting up a living trust can provide peace of mind and protection for your assets.

Irrevocable Trusts

What is an Irrevocable Trust? Just that! Irrevocable. You can’t change it after it has been created. This sounds kind of scary, but it has some wonderful uses.

Power Of Attorney

A power of attorney is the means you use to have your affairs managed should you become unable to manage your own affairs.

Advance Healthcare Directive

You have both the right and the ability to make decisions about your own health care. Because of that, you may also allow another person to make these decisions for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Plan Built Especially For You

When it comes to wills, trusts, and other types of estate planning, no two situations are the same. This is why my most important job is to listen to what you want to achieve in order to advise you on the best plan possible. Each and every document of your estate plan will be prepared by a licensed attorney to ensure your wishes are properly achieved.

Once Again, Proof Positive! - A robust, superbly drafted Revocable Living Trust centered estate plan is a superior method to prevent loss of time and money, and achieve your desires.

Affordable Plans, Competitive Rates, and Peace of Mind

You do not have to trade sound professional legal advice for a reasonably priced will, trust, or complete estate plan. My law office offers packages that are affordable and competitively priced.

With so much riding on your decisions, you and your family cannot afford mistakes. An attorney, like myself, who practices estate planning is the only person who can properly guide you to ensure your wishes are carried out and give you the peace of mind that comes with a properly executed and implemented estate plan.

What Do I Get With an Estate Plan Prepared by William Daniel Powell?

You will get an affordable plan, at a competitive rate, and the peace of mind that comes with a plan built especially for you.

Your exact situation and desired distribution will dictate the means to be used, as well as the ultimate cost of the plan. However, every estate plan I create contains the Revocable Living Trust, Certificate of Trust, Trust Summary, Pour-Over Will, Durable Power of Attorney, California Advanced Healthcare Directive, funding instructions for various assets, and the funding of your residence with a new deed and Preliminary Change of Ownership Report prepared by my office to put the residence into your trust. All documents are attorney prepared, and all advice is given by an attorney.

Legal Zoom won’t help you with funding or provide legal advice on such a personal level! Further, I will review the estate plan I create for you every three years, upon your request, with you for no additional charge*. Moreover, I am more than happy to discuss future changes to your situation, or family situation, as they arise and how it may impact the plan I drafted for you, at no additional charge*.

*Modifications will be at an additional charge.

But If I Create A Revocable Living Trust, Will I Lose Control of my Property?

Absolutely not. Think of a Revocable Living Trust as a bucket. It is a bucket that you constructed, and one which you hold. You are free to put things into the bucket, and take them out whenever you like. In the event you become incapacitated, you can determine whom you would like to hold the bucket on your behalf. In the event of your passing, you determine how the bucket is to be poured out to your family and friends. Moreover, the bucket and its content are not public record.

What Does Probate Cost?

California Probate Code sets the rate currently as:

  • 4% of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the probate estate
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of the next $9 million
  • .5% of the next $15 million

Keep in mind that the value of the estate is based on the value of the asset, and not its equity. Therefore, if you own a home valued by the appraiser at $500,000 and you have a mortgage balance of $400,000 – the value is not $100,000 but the full $500,000. Also, for example, let’s say you also have other property such as accounts and a car or two (worth an additional $150,000) that raise the total value of the estate to $650,000.

So the attorney probate fees for the estate break down like this:

  • 4% of the first $100,000 = $4,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000 = $3,000
  • 2% of the remaining $450,000 = $9,000

For a total fee of $16,000

So given everything we know now, let’s see what the potential costs will be for a simple $650,000 estate. This can be any combination of probate property, but let’s say the home is $500,000 (not difficult in California) and an additional $150,000 in probate property. Please keep in mind that fees given are approximate and may vary by location, changes in laws, or other factors.

  • $400 Court filing fee
  • $650 appraisal fee
  • $150 publication fee
  • $16,000 attorney fees
  • $16,000 executor fees (potential)
  • $400 fee to file Petition for Final Distribution Total of $17,600 to $33,600

So you see that an average cost of $1,000 to $2,500 for a Revocable Living Trust Centered Estate Plan is far more affordable than the cost of a $10,000 to $30,000 probate.

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Estate planning to meet your goals

With information contained within this website about wills, trusts, and other estate planning instruments, clients will have a better understanding of the process and different methods of estate planning and will be better prepared to describe the goals they wish to carry out with their particular estate plan. This will help refine and streamline the process so that the client gets outstanding legal service without unnecessary costs. This will help Mr. Powell in his goal of forwarding the legal profession by providing excellent legal service and creating happy clients.

Customer Testimonials

I contacted William in order to draw up some organizational agreements for our band. You know just the right questions to ask, and quickly and efficiently translated that into exactly the contract I was looking for. Very responsive, very friendly. I would definitely recommend.


As someone who helps the senior community for a living, I am always running across clients that need an estate plan or need their current trust updated. I always feel 100% comfortable referring Mr. Powell. He has always been a very thorough and kind professional to all of my clients that I have referred to him. They always are very complementary about him, his services and his rates. Just a good guy who is an estate attorney and can help with very important things. Give him a call.

Steve Korts

I have had the good fortune of knowing Dan Powell for about five years, both personally and professionally. He has always demonstrated professionalism in his knowledge of estate planning, while also conveying attributes I consider to be equally-valuable: honesty, integrity, and ethics, all while maintaining a healthy sense of humor (which I appreciate!) I would highly recommend Dan to anyone in need of professional estate planning services!

Jim Lackey

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