Estate Planning

San Mateo Estate Planning Attorneys

“Most people have an idea of what they want to do with their property after they’re gone, but getting it down on paper is what matters most. An estate plan is like a gift you leave for your loved ones—it helps things go smoothly after you’re gone. If you don’t create one, the government has a default one for you, and, trust me, that’s not something you want to leave for your family to deal with. It could take years in probate court and your estate and legacy might end up torn apart by bickering family members and lawyers airing all your dirty laundry in public.”

Lucas Pastuszka

What is it?
Trust and estate law is essentially a two part process of drafting your estate plan then administering that plan upon your death. That process provides a way to help people reflect on their legacy, on what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve acquired, who’s important to them, and how that all fits into their big picture. It allows individuals to control how their assets are passed down, and increase restrictions for beneficiaries to provide for their health and education and keep them safe from themselves, i.e. prevent them from buying a Lamborghini at the age of 18. True story. 

It safeguards assets while a client is alive, and manages the allocation of those assets according to their wishes following their passing. What sort of assets? Everything you own including real property, business interests, investments, insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, personal property, etc.

It can be unsettling to imagine a time in the future when you’re unable to care for yourself or a member of your family. However, if you don’t plan for this, the outcome can be far more unsettling because the decisions of how to manage your assets will no longer be up to you or the people you love most. Without an estate plan, your asset distribution will likely be subject to the default government plan, which consists of long, time consuming, public, costly, and bureaucratic judicial processes.

An experienced trust and estate lawyer can make navigating this difficult topic less stressful. The attorneys of Laughlin Legal can help protect you, your family, your estate and your legacy by creating a plan that will allow your estate to be distributed in the way that you choose to the people you choose, efficiently and cost-effectively.

What estate planning services do you offer?
Our experienced estate planning attorneys will work directly with you to create a custom, comprehensive, unambiguous estate plan package that’s strong against challenges. It will consider every asset you own, allow you to manage your estate easily throughout your life, allow you to appoint individuals whom you trust to step in to manage your estate in times of need, provide for your needs, provide for the needs of your loved ones, honor your wishes, minimize taxes, and avoid living probate (conservatorship) and death probate.

Here’s what we’ll provide beginning with the centerpiece of an estate plan – your living trust or will.

  • Drafting of revocable living trust and irrevocable trust intended to avoid costly and time-consuming probate, preserve wealth, minimize taxes, ensure proper distribution of your estate, and provide for minor children.
  • Preparation of last will and testament to accompany your trusts.
  • Preparation of critical supplemental documents such as a general transfer and assignment, nomination of guardians for minor children, certification of trust, and status of property agreement.
  • Special Needs Trust (SNT) intended to ensure that any disabled loved one who inherits from you is not disqualified from public benefits.
  • Incapacity Planning: If you become incapacitated through an accident or health condition, a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) allows you to name someone to handle your financial affairs and an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) allows you to name someone to handle your health care and make medical decisions on your behalf consistent with your personal beliefs and wishes.
  • Trust funding: Adding your valuable assets to your trust, including the preparation and recording of real property deeds to transfer your real estate to your trust.
  • Disinheritance: Preventing specific individuals from inheriting your assets by intentionally disinheriting and excluding them from your estate.
  • Substance abuse planning: Structuring of trusts to promote recovery and to support a beneficiary struggling with substance abuse and dependence, while simultaneously protecting trust assets by restricting a substance-dependent beneficiary from gaining immediate and complete access to trust assets.
  • Review of your estate plan in the event of a change in circumstances.
  • Revisions and changes to your estate plan through amendments and restatements.
  • Gifting strategies.

There’s a lot to think about and a lot to talk about, too. We make it easy by offering a zero-cost estate planning consultation. We hope you’ll take advantage and make an appointment with us right away so we can get to know you a bit and answer all your questions.
Our estate planning consultations are remote so you can enjoy a virtual consultation from the comfort of your own home without having to come into our office. You have the option of being welcomed into our office to execute your estate planning documents, but if you prefer, we would be happy to send documents directly to you for an out-of-office execution.

We charge a flat fee for our estate planning clients because these documents are too consequential to be rushing through. We prefer that you take your time and get it right for the people you love most.


A legal paper that lists a person’s wishes about what will happen to his or her property after death.

A person who is designated to inherit when there is a Will.

The person – usually the spouse, domestic partner, or close relative – that the court appoints to manage the estate of a person who dies without a Will. The administrator is also called the personal representative of the estate.

An arrangement where property is given to someone to be held for the benefit of another person.

A trust set up during the life of a person to distribute money or property to another person or organization.

The court process for distributing a dead person’s assets, paying debts owed by the dead person, and settling the financial affairs of people when they die.

A person named in a Will and appointed by the court to carry out the dead person’s wishes.

A legally binding document providing for someone to handle finances and make medical decisions if you cannot do it for yourself.

A legally binding document expressing your healthcare wishes if you are unable to, and naming someone else to make health care decisions for you; a power of attorney for healthcare.

When an incapacitated person does not have a Durable Power of Attorney or an Advance Health Care Directive authorizing someone to make decisions for them, a court may appoint another person to act or make decisions for them.

Case Story

A Estate Planning Client In Their Own Words

“Lucas, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to meet with my mom & I. You are phenomenal. So educational. You LITERALLY prevented my family from making a HUGE mistake. Costing us hundreds and thousands of dollars. SERIOUSLY, THANK YOU!! You are insightful, encouraging, and wise. We can tell you love your job and it’s so beautiful working with someone who loves what they do. It exudes off you! Lucas was humble, clear, concise, passionate, encouraging, attuned, funny, direct, responsive, prompt & educational! Excited to continue working with you.”


Next Step

Book a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Tell us how we can help.

If you need an estate planning attorney in Silicon Valley or the San Francisco Bay Area, let’s talk. Call us at 650.343.3486 or email us here.

Let’s get started.

The FOREFRONT A divorce & family law blog

Think About It: Is It Really So Strange To Have A Transactional Real Estate Lawyer At A Family Law Firm? We find it

You’re in luck because you’re in California, a community property state. And that makes the division of assets simple in that everything acquired

Amy Laughlin, a divorce and child custody lawyer in San Mateo, knows better than most what’s at stake for the children of divorcing parents.