Frequently Asked Questions
Estate Planning FAQ
Q. What’s the difference between a Will & Trust?
A. A will and trust both create a plan of distribution of your estate. A will, alone, will likely be subject to administration through the Probate Court, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. A trust generally does not require administration through the Probate Court and allows for immediate management of your estate by your successor trustee.
Q. When do I need to Estate Plan?
A. Often clients come to our office before departing on a vacation or extended business travel (particularly if they are not traveling with their minor children), when they are concerned about their long-term health, after getting married or having a child, or when they are trying to organize their affairs for their families and friends.
Q. What should be done when my spouse passes?
A. You should seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether a probate is required or whether any administration under your living trust is required.
Q. Is a Trust a public document?
A. Generally, no. If there is a probate of a person’s will, the will becomes part of the court’s public record. However, a trust is a private document and generally is not filed with the Court.
Q. How long does it take to prepare my estate plan?
A. Depending on your needs, an estate plan can be prepared expeditiously. Our office strives to meet your time constraints, be it an upcoming trip or medical procedure.
Q. How long will it take to distribute my estate?
A. With a trust, the estate can generally be distributed after all tax and other liabilities have been paid. Depending on the complexity of the estate, this can often be concluded within six (6) months.
If the Probate court administers the will or there is no will, it generally takes a minimum of one year to distribute the estate. If the assets and liabilities of the estate are complex, it can take significantly longer.
Family Law FAQ
Q. How long does the legal process take before a judgment is entered?
A. There is a six month waiting period before the Court can enter Judgment. The six month waiting period begins when the other party is served with the Response and a proof of service is filed with the Court. Courts prefer to have a judgment entered within one year. The length of time before a judgment is entered depends on how litigious the parties are toward one another.
Q. How much will the process cost in legal fees?
A. Attorney fees and costs vary from case to case. The more litigious the case, the more it will cost in attorney fees. In order to reduce the expense of dissolution, we always attempt to settle all issues through a Stipulated Judgment. Most cases are settled in this manner.
Q. What are the requirements for filing a Petition?
A. In order to file a Petition in California, you must be a resident of the State of California for six months prior to filing the Petition and a resident of the county you file in for three months prior to filing the Petition.
Q. When should I consult with an attorney?
A. If you have been served with the Summons and Petition, contact an attorney AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! You have a time limit in which you must respond to the Petition. If you do not file your Response within that time limit, you are subject to a judgement by default. Further, you should consult with an attorney if you are having thoughts of leaving your spouse, feeling the marriage is over, or wanting more information on the dissolution process.
Q. How is child support calculated?
A. Child support is based on child support guidelines, which include factors such as the child’s needs, the party’s ability to pay, the standard of living the child had with both parents, the custodial time with each parent. There are many variable in calculating child support that vary on a case-by-case basis.
Q. How is spousal support calculated?
A. Spousal support is financial support, usually in regular monthly or bimonthly payments paid by one spouse to the other spouse. The factors for calculating spousal support include, but are not limited to, the following: length of the marriage, spouse’s respective income and earning potential, age and health of the parties, standard of living during the marriage, custodial parental status.
As with child support, there are many variables affecting the calculation of spousal support, which vary on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, the goal is for the supported spouse to become self-supporting.