“A good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow”

“A good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow”

I am told that George Patton gets credit for this quote but it applies to estate planning as well.  Please get your estate plan done and then improve it later. No estate plan means no protection!

I often meet with people who can’t decide the third back-up guardian or trustee. Rather than sign the estate plan that is 99% what they want they do nothing and wait. What if something happened while they are debating? There could be a probate, there could be estate taxes, and there could be a guardianship fight.

SIGN YOUR ESTATE PLANS! Do not procrastinate.  One offer I make to clients is no charge for changes during the first year after you sign. So you have no excuse for not signing!

Call us to help get your estate plan DONE!  -John

The Pragmatic lawyer

I have always considered myself to be reasonable or a good sense of rough justice. A quick opinion of how things should end up. People have called me pragmatic many times during my 20 years as a lawyer. I will admit I didn’t know exactly what that meant the first couple of times I heard it.  I looked in the dictionary years ago and looking back I remember thinking that made sense. I have pasted a  current dictionary entry below.

As an attorney for more than 20 years now I can tell you there are a lot of attorneys I have dealt with who are very NOT pragmatic. Not to say they are bad attorneys but they are so difficult to deal with because they don’t deal in reality. I am sure they could write a mean brief and research the heck out of archaic laws.

I, myself, like to dig in and solve real world problems! I like nothing more than solving a dispute so that the people can get on with their lives. I thus proudly wear the pragmatic label and hope to continue to!  -John

adjective: pragmatic
dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.
“a pragmatic approach to politics”
synonyms: practical, matter-of-fact, sensible, down-to-earth, commonsensical,businesslike, having both/one’s feet on the ground, hardheaded, no-nonsense;
“she remains pragmatic in the most emotional circumstances”
antonyms: impractical
relating to philosophical or political pragmatism.

of or relating to pragmatics.


late 16th century (in the senses ‘busy, interfering, conceited’): via Latin from Greekpragmatikos ‘relating to fact,’ from pragma ‘deed’ (from the stem of prattein ‘do’). The current sense dates from the mid 19th century.

Pay for your trust or probate work with Bitcoins

As an attorney in Northern California, near Silicon Valley, I realize there are many people who may want to pay with Bitcoins as it’s a very tech savvy type of currency. Maybe that’s estate planning or probate work!?  Additionally, I have represented clients from around the world who have probate legal issues in California; Bitcoins are sort of the world’s currency!  I thus will gladly accept payment in Bitcoins!

Additionally, I was reading on espn.com that my local basketball team, the Sacramento Kings, now take Bitcoins. If I want to go to a game I can pay with this great new currency!

If you have Bitcoins burning a whole in your wallet let me know!


TSA Precheck Helps you avoid airport lines

For the last few years there have been different options to try and avoid the line at airport security checkpoints. The latest, run by the federal government, seems to have the best chance of success. It’s the TSA Precheck. You can sign up online at this link.

No it’s not directly related to estate planning but I have a lot of readers who travel frequently. Some for work and some for pleasure. Either way avoiding the long TSA lines is something all of my readers can appreciate.

The cost to sign up is $85. It appears that is a one time fee. You have to go get finger printed. Make sure you take your ID and your passport (or other second ID source).  You can make an appointment to avoid a long wait at the signup center.

Get your life in order! Get your Precheck and get your estate planning done as well!

Safe travels. -John Palley

The Holidays and Estate Planning

The holidays are upon us.  Many of us will sit down for a feast, with family, next week. We will talk about what we are thankful for.  Then may Hanukkah or Christmas are celebrated in your house. Again a time to be thankful.  Then the new year is here! 2014 is just around the corner.

Maybe it’s just me but the holidays remind me that people have got to do their estate planning! Spending time with the people that matter most, talking about being thankful, giving gifts, and then talking about new year’s resolutions. To me all of that adds up to the importance and value of proper estate planning.

If you have family you care about then get your estate plan in place!

It’s the time of year to think about others so get your planning done now. There is still time!

Also, get it done now and you won’t even have to put it on your list of things to do next year!

Happy holidays! -John

PRESS RELEASE – John Palley to speak at PCAR

Roseville, California.  John Palley will be the main speaker at the Placer County Association of Realtorsmeeting on July 16, 2013. He will be talking about real estate sales in probate cases. His entire outline is below


Placer County Association of Realtors – July 16, 2013

By: John B. Palley, Esq.

I.          Introduction

  1.   Johnson, Fort, Meissner, Joseph & Palley
    1. Estate planning, probate, business, real estate, and related litigation
    2. Offices in Sacramento and Roseville – Practice throughout California
    3. John Palley is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate

B.             Real Estate sales in probate cases

II.         How Does a Real Estate sale become a Probate real estate sale?

  1. Most commonly there is no LIVING TRUST involved
  2. In some cases it’s avoided by a deed (joint tenancy or CP with ROS)
  3. Wills – Simple but some type of probate required when there is real estate
  4. Other Estate Planning (LLC’s, FLPs and QPRTs)
  5. Don’t forget title companies make the law but are not perfect

III.       What is Probate

  1. Generally speaking – Probate Court involvement
  2. Different options if assets worth less than $150,000
  3. Formal Probate is a 7 month (or more) process
  4. The probate code (pc) and the Judge create a formal process
  5. The PC lays out strict guidelines for collecting assets & dealing with creditors

IV.       Real Estate sales in Probate Administration

  1.   Million Dollar Question: When can you sell property in probate?
  2.   Listing Agreements – Probate form recommended but not required – 90 day
  3.   Probate Sales Form and Probate Advisory Form
  4.   Short Sales in Probate?  (Protecting other estate assets)
  5.   Key Point in Probate: IAEA v. Non-IAEA (PC 10452 v. PC 10309)
  6.   Selling Upside Down Houses in Probate – PC 10360 et seq.
  7.   Notice of Proposed Action and/or Court Confirmation (waiver is possible)
  8.   Document all marketing and pricing work very carefully
  9.   Commissions – same as any other real estate deal
  10.   Disclosures that are not provided in probate: The Transfer Disclosure Statement, The Seller’s Questionnaire, Earthquake Booklet, Earthquake Questionnaire, signature on the Natural Hazard Disclosure but the report needs to be provided, and Smoke Detector form.
  11.   Disclosure that are required in probate: Lead Based Disclosure, Data Base Disclosure (Megan’s Law), Water Heater Disclosure and strapping, and anything actually known.

VI.   Conclusion

  1. Working with a qualified probate attorney will make you look good
  2. Title companies are the actual makers of law!
  3. Contact me with any questions!

John B. Palley, Esq.



1)        Market Analysis Report in writing

2)        Probate Listing Agreement

3)        Marketing Plan

4)        Keep detailed log of all marketing and offers

5)        Use of Probate Sales forms

6)        Fax/email agreement once fully signed

7)        Title company information to attorney

8)        At least 20 (or 45 – trust) days for escrow unless discussed beforehand

9)        Final closing statement

10)  Plus, everything you would do for a “regular” client!

ABA Blawg Nominations 2013

I work hard on this blawg (law blog) every week. Sometimes more than once a week. I know of many lawyers who follow it. Some of you I know and some I do not. I would really appreciate your consideration in nominating my blog on this page for the ABA Blawg awards of 2013. Thank you. -John Palley

Sacramento Estate Planning Council

I just renewed my membership to the Sacramento Estate Planning Council. I have been a member since 1995. Is your attorney?  If not, why not?  It’s a group of professionals dedicated to serving their clients in the area of estate planning law. There are attorneys, CPAs, bank officers, and financial planners. The meetings are monthly and the meetings are aimed at improving the member’s knowledge of the latest estate planning techniques. If your attorney, or other professional, is not a member you should ask them why!  -John Palley

Press Release – Ulises Pizano-Diaz

PRESS RELEASE                                           

Sacramento, CA.  The Law Offices of Meissner, Joseph & Palley, Inc. is pleased to announce the hiring of Ulises Pizano-Diaz as a tax, business and estate planning attorney.  Mr. Pizano is fluent in Spanish and previously worked at a boutique tax law firm where he represented clients in all aspects of tax controversy and litigation, and administrative appeals. His practice focused on both federal and state tax issues including multi-state issues such as “nexus,” non-residency, and apportionment. He also advised non-resident businesses on potential California tax liabilities. Additionally, he also assisted clients with criminal tax matters at both the federal and state level.

Mr. Pizano graduated, with distinction, from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and received a Masters in Accountancy/Tax from California State University Sacramento. Mr. Pizano has been admitted to practice law by the State Bar of California, the Eastern District of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Tax Court.

Mr. Pizano serves as Education Chair to the Taxation Committee of the State Bar of California, is the Vice Chair of the California State Car Corporate and Pass through Entities Committee, is the Speaker Chair for the Business Section of the Sacramento County Bar Association, and is the Treasurer of the Taxation Section of the Sacramento County Bar Association.

Meissner, Joseph & Palley has been serving the Sacramento community since 1979 when it was known as The Law Offices of Johnson & Fort.  The firm’s focus is business, estate planning, probate and tax law. The firm also has an office in Roseville.

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