People come up with a lot of reasons to avoid estate planning. Thinking about not living forever is a hard truth to face. The process is unfamiliar to most of us. So putting it aside until later is a common response. Understanding the estate planning process in advance can make you more at ease with getting started.

DeCarli Law’s Estate Planning Process

Our job is to make you comfortable with the process. We remove the intimidation factor and get you started sooner rather than later. We create a plan that accomplishes your goals and reflects what you want.

The process of creating your customized estate plan is a joint effort between you and DeCarli Law. Our goal is to create the best possible estate plan for you. To achieve that, we spend as much time as we need to get to know you, your family’s circumstances, and to thoroughly understand what your goals are.

Introductory Call

We generally start with a brief introductory telephone call. I will ask for basic information such as whether you are married or single, whether you have children, and whether you own a business. I will ask if you currently have a trust or a will. Another piece of information I ask is whether you own real estate. This is important for California estate planning because if you die with no estate planning, or with only a will, the probate fees will be significant, no matter how much you still owe on the property.

We will then set an appointment. I offer evening appointments for folks who cannot get away for an appointment during regular business hours (these book fast!). I also offer home visits for people who are mobility impaired. And I do remote appointments by telephone or video conference.

Meeting With Attorney Debra DeCarli

You, along with your spouse or partner, will then meet with Debra DeCarli. This is a “get to know one another” meeting. We can meet in the office, at your home, or by conference call or virtual meeting. At this meeting, we will discuss your family, who you want to receive assets after you are gone, the assets that you want to protect, and we will clarify your goals. We will also figure out if we are a good fit to work together.

Review and Follow Up Questions

We will meet another time to look at a rough draft of your trust. We will look at basic things, like making sure the names of beneficiaries are spelled correctly. We will confirm that assets are going where you want them to go. We may talk about charitable giving at this meeting. We will also review how your trust works to accomplish your goals. Attorney Debra DeCarli will have follow-up questions at that time to make sure we have addressed as many “what if” questions as possible.

Depending upon the complexity of your family situation, we may have more than one review session.

Document Review and Signing

When the documents are final and ready for signatures, you, along with your spouse or partner, will meet with attorney Debra DeCarli for a final review and signing. We can also do this remotely.

At this meeting, we will transfer real estate and business interests to your new or existing trust. This is called funding your trust.

After everything is signed, we will scan, copy, and organize your documents. About a week later, we will meet once again to review the final documents. We will discuss how to transfer assets to your trust, now and in the future. We will also review your beneficiary designations on your life insurance, IRAs, and other retirement accounts to make sure everything works together smoothly.

Updating Your Estate Plan

Finally, an estate plan is an ongoing process. DeCarli Law will check in with you once a year, but you should always call if you have any changed circumstances. If you have more children or grandchildren, a death of a beneficiary, marry or divorce, or buy and sell real property, you will want to revise and update your plan.

Your Estate Plan Should Reflect Your Goals

We are here to help figure out how to get started, and how to keep up to date.

Give me a call at 707-937-2701, and let’s get started on a plan to provide peace of mind to you, and security for your family. Whether you’re a couple or a single, traditional, “non-traditional,” or blended family, we can work with you to translate your wishes into the right estate plan for you.

If you would like to learn more about creating an estate plan specific to you and your family call us for a initial consultation at

(707) 937-2701

email me at

or use our online calendar to schedule an appointment