The Importance of Specialty

If you drive a Lexus do you take it to the Ford dealer to get serviced?  Likewise, if you drive a Buick do you take it to Honda dealership for service? My guess is you don’t. My guess is you want someone who specializes in your type of car to fix your car.  What about food?  Do you go to a hamburger place and order fish?  Or maybe you go to a Mexican restaurant and order pancakes?  My guess you go to the type of restaurant you feel like that specializes in a certain type of food.  Doctors? 

Well, you get the point.  How can the same not be true for your lawyer? If you get in a car accident do NOT call me because I do not know the in’s and out’s of personal injury cases. Likewise, if you get charged with a crime please do not call me with your “one call” because I do not know the first thing about criminal defense.  I know all about wills and trusts though!

When you are thinking of hiring an attorney look at their web site, look at the state bar website, and then ask the attorney. I can tell you 100% of my practice is dedicated to wills, trusts, probate and estate planning. ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT. I do not dabble in any other area of law.  When you are deciding who to hire to organize your family’s estate do some research! Check the other attorney’s backgrounds and find out if the dabble in estate planning or have dedicated 100% of their professional life to one area of law.

If their website says they practice a large list of areas that means they are a generalist who is probably not as knowledgeable at estate planning as someone like me who is a Certified Specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law as determined by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. This means I took a second bar exam… yes, I am that crazy! A one day exam only in these areas of law. Once I passed that I then underwent a deep background check where lawyers and Judges confirmed to the state bar that I know about trusts, probate and estate planning.  For you to hire anybody but a certified specialist is a mistake in my opinion!

Go to my website, go to lawyers.com, go to the state bar website. Every place you look it will say that I do wills, trusts, probate and estate planning. If you find a website that says I do anything else let me know so I can fix it!

If an attorney tells you (or their website shows) that they practice in several areas of law how can they be GREAT at it?  I know attorneys who think estate planning is just filling out some forms. It is NOT that simple. I promise.  The mistakes that can be made can be devastating and can cost your family huge amounts of money, can cause family strife and can usually be avoided!  Use an attorney who focuses their law practice on estate planning if you need a new trust. Do not make a mistake and let a slick talking salesman tell you anything different. You do need to use a specialist!  No, it’s not brain surgery but I know you wouldn’t want an orthopedic surgeon doing your brain surgery so don’t select a family law attorney to do your estate plan.  Select an ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY to do your estate plan!

In closing, if you need to know about wills, trusts, probate, estate planning, family limited partnerships, life insurance trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, QPRT’s, QDOTS, heggstad petitions, 850 petitions, probate court petitions, living trusts, loving trusts, revocable trusts, powers of attorneys, health care directives, Qtips, living wills, family LLC’s, family FLP’s, estate taxes, gift taxes, annual exemptions, generation skipping taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, and the list goes on then YES please call me!

-John

Share/Bookmark

A little mis-direction

I have written before about asset protection. It’s the hot item right now as people are getting sued, finding out they co-signed something they should not have, and finding out that personal guarantees mean you can actually be personally LIABLE!  Today I am going to write about a simple thing you can do with your current (or about to be set up) revocable “living” trust to give you a small amount of asset protection.

A standard revocable trust provides NO asset protection for you. However, what is a very common method of determining a potential defendant in a lawsuit?  Lawyers look in the real property records.  Amazingly the public records show what real estate is titled in your name, what you paid, what your down payment was, what your first mortgage was for, what your second (or re-fi’s) were for, what banks those loans are with, and a whole host of other information.  Yes, it’s PUBLIC.  Also, a lot of older records include your phone number even if you have an un-listed number.  Call the county assessor and find out what public information there is out there about your house.  

What if you could put a little hurdle to make it more difficult for potential litigants, or just random crazy people, to find what property you own? It’s just a little mis-direction play but it can be a touchdown in your asset protection.  Though you may be unlisted in the white pages you likely ARE listed in the real estate records which are likely search-able on many websites!  Let’s say you live on Main Street and your name is John Smith.  Most people would call their trust the “Smith Family Trust.”  Now that’s good but it’s still in your name and thus shows up in name searches.  What if you changed your trust name to the “Main Street Trust?”  A person wanting to sue you would do a search for “Smith” and they would not find your house or other real estate as they are titled in the name of the Main Street Trust! 

NO this is not an impervious wall but this will reduce your chances of a lawsuit and will put up one additional wall to make it harder for lunatics (or criminals) to find out where you live. Check back in a few days for another simple tip like this….