San Diego Estate Planning Attorney

Talk to a San Diego estate planning attorney today

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of appointing someone to manage or transfer:

What you have, to who you want, when you want, the way you want, all while avoiding unnecessary taxes, legal fees and family turmoil.

Ever consider talking to an estate planning attorney?

If you’re like most people, your family is the most important thing in your life. Their needs and their comfort will always be of paramount importance. You recognize your role in ensuring their safety and welfare, and that is why you are interested in talking to an estate planning attorney.

Unfortunately, you may have put off making the proper provisions for their future in the event that you are no longer in the picture. This is possibly the worst mistake you could make.

If you fail to plan today for the interests of your loved ones, the courts will certainly do it for you, and the way in which they dispose of your hard-earned assets might well be the opposite of your wishes.

Take action, schedule a free phone consult

How can we help you?

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Documents in our complete estate plan

Estate planning - Price list - San Diego

Will based estate plan

$1000-$1500 Flat rate
  • Will;
  • Living Will;
  • Health Care Power of Attorney;
  • Financial Power of Attorney;
  • HIPAA Authorization;
  • Memorial Instructions;
  • Asset Organizer and USB with all Documents;
  • Notary Fees Included;

Probate avoidence trust based estate plan

$2500-$3000 Flat rate
  • Revocable Living Trust;
  • Will;
  • Living Will;
  • Health Care Power of Attorney;
  • Financial Power of Attorney;
  • HIPAA Authorization;
  • Transfer Deed (filing fee included);
  • Funding Memorandum;
  • Certificate of Trust;
  • Assignment of Personal Property;
  • Personal Property Memorandum;
  • Memorial Instructions;
  • Asset Organizer and USB with all Documents;
  • Notary Fees Included;

Advanced trust based estate plan
Tax planning or asset protection

$4000+ Flat rate
  • Domestic Asset Protection Trust;
  • Foreign Asset Protection Trust;
  • Real Estate LLC;
  • Family Limited Partnerships;
  • Charitable Remainder Trust;
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust;
  • IRA Trust;
  • Bridge Trust;

How do you take payment for Estate Planning?

Generally, we require that half of the payment be made when you decide to hire us and sign our fee agreement. The other half is due on signing. We believe in the importance of estate planning. With that said, we will gladly work with anyone on setting up a payment plan for the cost of your estate plan if you currently are under financial hardship. Please contact us if you have any questions.

San Diego Flat Fee Estate Planning- We Don’t Believe in Billing by the Hour for Estate Planning

Legal fees are often a source of anxiety for families. This anxiety can lead to a delay in putting an estate plan in place.

In addition, we have found that when the clock is always running, clients can make rash decisions or avoid asking their estate planning lawyer questions.

When we set out to create our estate planning price list we wanted to ensure that our clients knew how much they would be charged, and were able to ask as many questions as needed until they fully understand the plan they are putting into place.

Simple, flat rate estate planning

We feel that by charging by following our flat rate estate planning price list leads to much better relationships between the attorney and client. When there is a better relationship, there is a better outcome. Pretty simple right?

Voted Best Estate Planning Lawyer San Diego

Estate Planning FAQ’s

Definition: A Revocable Living Trust (RLT) is one created by the grantor during lifetime, in which, during his lifetime, the grantor retains the absolute right to totally revoke the trust, change its terms to any degree, and/or regain total possession of the property in the trust.

Put simply, it is a agreement where you (the grantor) gets to appoint an agent (the trustee) to control how your property is managed and distributed throughout all phases of your life.



  1. Control over your assets (that you put into the revocable trust) while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, and after you pass away.
  2. Privacy in the handling and administration of your assets during your lifetime and upon your death.
  3. Reduce estate taxes and legal expenses by planning ahead and being able to avoid the probate process through a private trust administration.

Definition: A Will is a written document which states an individual’s wishes as to how he or she wants his/her property to be disposed of at death. A Will therefore specifies “who gets what”- and is some cases-“who does not”.

A Pour Over Will is the same as a Will, however in a Pour Over Will you make your Trust the beneficiary of all of your assets. When you set up a Trust, you will transfer title of your assets to the name of the Trust, but if there are any assets that  were not properly transferred, the Pour Over Will will make sure they are transferred.



  1. A will is completely revocable (changeable) during someones lifetime, but becomes irrevocable (not able to be changed) at the moment of death.
  2. You get to control who gets your property upon your death and you get to name who is responsible for carrying out your wishes (Your Executor).


  1. In California, even if you have a will, your executor will still be subject to having to go through some form of probate. The cost of going through probate will be paid for by your estate.
  2. Upon your death, your executor (or his/her attorney) will file your will with the probate court, and it then becomes public record.  Thus, you lose the benefit of privacy that a Trust provides. This may open up the floodgates for disgruntled family members or creditors to dispute the will. Your estate will have to defend the will and the legal costs will likely be paid from your estate, lowering the amount that you can leave for your beneficiaries.
  3. Your will only takes effect after you pass away and does not control any property if you become incapacitated.

Definition: A Durable Power of Attorney or Financial Power of Attorney is a written agreement (or document) that enables an individual (referred to as the principal) to designate an other person or persons as his “attorney-in-fact,” that is, to act on the principals behalf for financial matters. In other words, this document grants authority to an agent to act in the place of the principal with relation to finances.


  1. The scope of the Durable Power of Attorney can be limited (such as “Only to pay my mortgage”) or very broad (“Any and all of the legal powers I have including but not limited to…”)
  2. A “Durable” power of attorney remains in effect during incapacity but terminates upon death.
  3. You can choose to have your power of attorney take effect immediately or take effect only upon your incapacity or a certain date (referred to as a Springing Power of Attorney).

Definition: A Health Care Power of Attorney is a written document that enables an individual (referred to as the principal) to designate an other person or persons as his “attorney-in-fact,” that is, to act on the principals behalf for health care decisions.


  1. You can choose who you would like to make your health care decisions on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated.
  2. You can make decisions for your end of life care, such as the choice to prolong life or not to prolong life.
  3. You can elect to donate organs or tissues for transplantation or research purposes(or elect not to donate any organs or tissues).
  4. You can choose to have your power of attorney take effect immediately or take effect only upon your incapacity.

Definition of Probate: In its most narrow sense, probate means to prove that the will was the decedent’s , and that the will being offered to the court is the “Last Will” of the decedent. In its broader sense, probate refers to the entire process of administering the decedent’s will, including gathering the decedent’s assets, paying the decedent’s taxes and debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the proper beneficiaries.

Read More: Handling the Probate Process

San Diego Probate Court


  • You are able to save money while you are alive by not having a trust drafted.


  • Time: In San Diego there are currently 2 judges that review all of the probate cases and it is not uncommon for a probate case to last from 1-2 years.
  • Expense: While you do save money while you are alive, the cost of going through probate generally far outweighs the cost of setting up a living trust.
  • Public Records: Probate is a public process and your estate will lose the privilege of privacy.

Funding a Trust: Funding of a revocable living trust should occur at the establishment and then again at a later date as assets change over time. It is incredibly important to have a fully funded living trust, because an partially funded (or unfunded) trusts is not able to avoid probate.

In the funding process, you will make ownership changes to the title of most of your assets. You will change the title from your name to the name of your living trust.

It is important to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine exactly what assets should be titled under the trust, and which should be left out of the trust. Here are a list of some assets to consider:

  1. Cash Accounts
  2. Investment Accounts
  3. Stocks and Bonds not held in investment accounts
  4. Stock Options
  5. Personal Effects
  6. Retirement Plan Assets
  7. 529 Plans ( Qualified Tuition Plans)
  8. Life Insurance Policies and Annuities
  9. Notes, Mortgages, and Other Receivables
  10. Partnership Interests
  11. Corporate Business or Professional Interests
  12. Sole Proprietorship Business Interests
  13. Oil, Gas, and Mineral Interests
  14. Real Property

As part of the funding process, it is also important to update any applicable beneficiary designations to coordinate with provisions of the revocable trust.

California Death Tax: While tax laws change relatively frequently, there is currently no death tax imposed by the state of California. “For decedents that die on or after January 1, 2005, there is no longer a requirement to file a California Estate Tax Return.”

Federal Death Tax: In 2016, as an individual, if your gross estate is valued under $5,450,000, then you will not owe any estate taxes. If you are married then the $5,450,000 can be multiplied by 2 (for each spouse). This means that a married couple’s estate will not be taxed if it is under $10,900,000. IRS Website.

What is an Executor: When a person dies, the law in California requires that his/her property must be accounted for and collected. Once the debt’s, taxes, and expenses are paid, then the remaining assets are distributed to whomever is legally entitled to that property. That distribution is determined by the person’s will, or if there is no valid will (or to the extent a will is partially invalid), the intestate laws of California.

It is the Executor (or sometimes referred to as the administrator) responsibility to collect and safeguard the decedents assets, pay the death taxes, debts, and expenses of the decedent, and to make the appropriate distribution of any remaining assets.


The entire process by which these tasks are accomplished (wit the supervision and guidance of the court system) is called Probate.

Definition of a Trustee: A trustee is the person who has been appointed to manage a trust. In California, a trustee has a legal obligation to care for the trusts assets in the best interest of the beneficiary or the beneficiaries. Some common trustee duties are:

  • Managing rental properties
  • Investing funds
  • Paying income to beneficiaries
  • Closing down accounts
  • Accounting to beneficiaries.

A trustee should posses business judgment (even if their is no business), honesty, and integrity. The trustee must be able and willing to exercise a high degree of care over trust property and avoid (however tempting) investments or acts that are likely to result in losses.

A trustee must have legal capacity to contract. This precludes the appointment of someone under the age of 18 or an incompetent adult. It is also a good idea to try and find a trustee who is local so that they can handle the day to day business of administering the trust.

Investment skill is usually necessary. Under the “Prudent Person” rule, a trustee will be liable to the beneficiary for losses unless he/she exercises the same care and skill that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in dealing with his/her own property.

Because a trustee must examine and review the trust periodically, administrative and legal skills and knowledge are important. Accounting’s must be made to the client and eventually to the other beneficiaries. All parties must be advised accurately on the tax and other legal effects. Provisions in the trust  must, from time to time be interpreted.

Definition of Beneficiary: A beneficiary is the person who is legally entitled to receive the assets from a trust or a will. A beneficiary can be a person or an organization (such as a charity).

  1. Parents who have minor children;
  2. Blended Families 
  3. Individuals and families who own real estate
  4. Individuals and families who have digital assets
  5. Young Adults and Young Families
  6. If you feel your estate is disorganized
  7. Business Owners
  8. If you are interested in protecting your wealth
  9. Professional Service Providers
Matthew Odgers exemplifies integrity. Estate planning is something both powerful and delicate, requiring a balance of directness and grace. Matthew has both of these qualities. He is able to ask the necessary questions, while holding his clients up with dignity and respect. His thoughtfulness, thoroughness and approach are phenomenal. I will be working with Matthew for the foreseeable future and will recommend him to anyone I care about for their estate planning needs
Kirk Hinkleman
Past Client

The Odgers Law Group “Trust Team”

Matthew Odgers

Estate Planning Attorney

Ray Padilla

Estate Planning Attorney

Creating a Comprehensive Trust Based Estate Plan

Benefits of Estate Planning

Planning for your family’s future is serious business, and it’s something you need to do right. With proper planning you will be able to control and protects assets:


  1. while you are alive and well;
  2.  if you become incapacitated and can no longer make financial or health care decisions; and
  3. upon your death.


Fortunately, Odgers Law Group has a comprehensive estate planning package that addresses all three of these life events. Our standard estate planning package includes:

  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Will or Pour-Over Will
  • Living Will
  • Appoint a legal guardian for minor children.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for your Finances.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney for your health care decisions.
  • Initial Funding of your trust and Funding Memorandum
  • Personal Property Memorandum
  • Memorial Instructions
  • Certificate of Trust

Regardless of the specific type of instrument you devise, the expert Los Angeles and San Diego estate-planning attorneys at Odgers Law Group will help you do it right.

If you are unable to come into the office to meet with an estate planning attorney please take a look at our Virtual Estate Planning Services.


If you think that estate planning is a tool for the rich or the elderly alone, it’s time to think again. People of any age can benefit from having a game plan. If you should die suddenly without first setting up a trust or writing a will, then the state will distribute your assets for you in accordance with local laws, and they will do this with no regard for what you might have wanted. Worse, the process could be held up in probate for months or even years, thus forcing those you love to wait much longer to receive their inheritances.

San Diego Advanced Estate Planning for Gifts, Taxes, Charitable Giving and Asset Protection

Odgers Law Group also offers more advanced estate planning strategies for individuals and families looking for asset protection or to save money on estate taxes. Here is a list of the some of the more advanced Estate Planning services Odgers Law Group can provide:

Don’t Try This on Your Own, Hire an Estate Planning Attorney

Some people make the mistake of thinking that a one-size-fits-all solution will satisfy their needs. In truth, everyone has a unique financial situation, and simplistic solutions will never suit the needs of all. In addition, without the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, you might very well make errors that could slow the distribution of your assets or invalidate your document entirely.

Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney will help you Understand California Estate Planning Laws

From one state to another, estate-planning regulations are both unique and precise. An expert in the subject can ensure that:

  • Your estate planning documents will allow your family to avoid probate.
  • Shorten the amount of time in which assets are distributed to your family.
  • Avoid unhappy family members or friends from contesting your
  • Keep family harmony during a time of grief.

Only by careful consideration of all the potential traps and roadblocks can you be certain of avoiding complications that can be as frustrating as they are costly and time-consuming.

Let the Estate Planning Lawyer Experts at Odgers Law Group Work for You

Given their thorough familiarity with California’s estate-planning laws, the attorneys at Odgers Law Group are in the perfect position to work with all who live in and around the San Diego area. With our assistance, you can develop an estate plan that ensures your family’s future comfort and safety while keeping the courts well out of the picture.

Call our office today and learn how an estate planning attorney can help. Your family will be glad you did. We are happy to provide our in home Estate Planning services to Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Ramona, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff,  4s Ranch, Mira Mesa, Clairemont, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Escondido, Mission Valley, Vista, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Santee, Lakeside, El Cajon, and North County San Diego, Los Angeles, Century City, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills.

Join us for One of Our FREE Seminars Hosted by one of our Estate Planning Lawyers


Latest San Diego estate planning blog posts

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Making health care power of attorney means designating someone as your spokesperson for your health care decisions; if you are not in a position to make communicative decisions about aspects of your health care

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is an ordinance that protects and provides rights to individuals over their health information. This rule restricts physicians and the business associates to disclose the health information of patients unless they have a valid HIPAA authorization signed by the patients or their representatives. A valid HIPAA authorization contains…

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