Janet L. Brewer Releases Guide to Choosing Bay Area Estate Planning Attorney: 6-Point Checklist, 4 Examples, 15 FAQs, Typical Fees, What to Avoid, and More

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An estate plan is not an off-the-shelf item. For wealthy families especially, it requires careful research and consultation. Most of all, it takes an attorney who has the expertise and experience to build a solid plan. After all, there will be no chance for a do-over if the plan turns out to be unworkable.

bay area estate planning attorney

Free 17 page guide provides expert tips, checklist, examples to help Bay Area families compare estate planning attorneys

See how the right attorney helps "Barry", who needs to protect assets in three countries; "Sanjay and Ling", who need to plan for their children; "Edna", who is dividing over $7M between 4 children; and "Bill", who wants to sell his business and retire.

Silicon Valley estate planning attorney Janet L. Brewer has released a "Guide to Choosing Your California Estate Planning Attorney”. Designed especially for San Francisco Bay Area families and individuals of high net worth, the guide includes a checklist that can help narrow down the choices when faced with dozens of attorneys.

Brewer has focused exclusively on California probate law, estate planning, and gift-planning law since 1991. She summarizes the process required for a custom-designed estate plan, and the qualities that distinguish the most capable attorneys.

Readers may be surprised to learn that any attorney can call himself an estate planner, even if he has no qualifications or experience in estate planning.

"No one wants to see his or her financial legacy come undone," says Brewer. "If you have an estate worth several million dollars -- and you likely do if you own property in the Bay Area -- then you need to think about how you will protect it from being ravaged by taxes, creditors, and predators. You need to protect your assets during your lifetime, and you need to make sure that they remain available to your heirs."

Brewer answers fifteen frequently asked questions related to estate planning, covering such topics as:

  • The difference between a living trust and a will
  • The impact of foreign citizenship, and
  • How often an estate plan should be updated


The guide also lays out a handful of scenarios, and the kinds of issues that should be dealt with in the various cases. For example:

  • Barry is an entrepreneur in his 50s. He holds a green card and owns real estate, stock, cars and antiques in the U.S. He also has assets in South America and Europe. The guide tells how a good estate planning attorney can help Barry minimize estate, capital gains, and property taxes.
  • Sanjay and Ling are foreign nationals whose children were born in the U.S. They want to make sure their two young children are cared for if anything bad happened. See how an experienced estate planning attorney can help them update their plan as their family -- and finances -- grow.
  • Edna wants all four of her children to share equally in her estate. But she wants her son to have the $7 million family home. An experienced estate planning attorney will recognize some of the pitfalls in that scenario, such as the financial burden of taking over the mortgage and property taxes.
  • Bill is a successful Palo Alto business owner ready to retire but lacking an exit strategy. He needs an attorney experienced in formulating personalized business exit plans and estate plans for Bay Area business owners.


Professional services can’t be judged in the same way someone might compare two models of TV sets or the various options available on a new car, Brewer says. Clients need to understand what an estate planning attorney must do, and the kind of expertise needed to do it well. When the client and attorney are a good match, the family members can feel confident that their wishes will be carried out even when they are no longer there to personally supervise.


Serving Palo Alto and the surrounding region, Brewer is certified as a Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the CA State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. She writes the California Probate, Trusts, and Estate Law Blog and has authored several guides on estate planning, including:

About the Law Offices of Janet L. Brewer

Janet Brewer is a certified specialist in estate planning by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, and has an advanced degree in tax law. She has practiced California estate, gift-planning, and probate law exclusively since 1991. Brewer offers comprehensive estate planning & probate services including:

  •      Providing professional advice on living trusts & wills, irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable planning, and international estate planning
  •      Probate & estate administration
  •      Establishing family limited partnerships and limited liability companies
  •      Minimizing estate taxes & preparing estate tax returns
  •      Minimizing gift taxes & preparing gift tax returns
  •      Preparing a full range of estate planning documents, including Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, Life Insurance Trusts, Children's Trusts, Generation-Skipping Trusts, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts, Charitable Trusts, Medical Powers of Attorney & Living Wills
  •      Preparing financial powers of attorney & other financial arrangement, and more

To retain Brewer, please visit http://www.calprobate.com/get-started.

To stay up to date on Brewer's posted tips and guides, subscribe to receive her emails or follow @calprobatenews.


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