Estate Planning Basics

Estate Planning can be seen as the process of designing an overall framework for transferring your property to the next generation. Comprehensive Estate Planning utilizes a wide variety of important legal documents, including the Last Will and Testament, Advance Health Care Directives, or even a Living Trust.

Far More Than Document Drafting

However, Comprehensive Estate Planning entails far more than simple drafting of documents. As the name implies, it involves the careful planning of one’s estate, taking into account each client’s own personal wishes, desires, values and beliefs.

Careful thought must be given when selecting the person you wish to serve as your Personal Representative after your death; or in selecting the appropriate legal guardian for your minor children.

Strategic planning may be necessary to reduce your exposure to the Federal Estate Tax; or for the orderly distribution and continuation of a family business or farm.

A Word About “Trust Mills”

At Ainer & Fraker, LLP, we resist the unfortunate current trend of turning an estate plan into a commodity which can be shopped around for like a used car or television. Fueling this unfortunate trend is the rise of legal documents provided through “paralegal services” or “financial advisors”, who are not licensed attorneys and whose documents receive minimal attention from a qualified licensed attorney.

These “trust mills” keep their costs low by cranking out high volumes of cookie-cutter-type documents, all the while ignoring the individual circumstances and realities of each client family. In our experience, no two families are the same – so no two Estate Plans should be identical.

The truly unfortunate part arises when a family’s situation “spills outside” of the cookie-cutter, or where mere lip service is paid to the “technicalities” of Estate Planning. In these unfortunate circumstances, families can be left in the lurch by documents that fail to properly address their needs, or that fail to comply with basic elements of trust law.

In such instances, it can be truly heartbreaking for a family to discover – usually after the death of one of the parents – that their documents will not bring about the intended results. The beneficiaries discover that they are left stranded by documents that often do more harm than good – all in the name of saving a few dollars.

The Individual Approach is our Hallmark

At Ainer & Fraker, LLP, we take the time to sit down with you and truly listen to your family’s needs, values, beliefs, and concerns. Then we work together with you and your other professional advisers to craft a comprehensive Estate Plan that meets your family’s unique needs.

We understand that many clients have been preconditioned to believe that they need to “buy a trust” or “get a will done.” However, after we sit down and discuss the entire Estate Planning process, they often are relieved to hear that their entire Estate is being cared for – and not simply the “sale” of a document or two.

We believe strongly in the individualized approach to Estate Planning. We honestly feel that it is the only true way of planning for life’s future uncertainties. We are confident that, after sitting down with us and discussing these issues at length, you will come to share this belief.


Planning one’s estate is one of the most important tasks that a person will face in their lifetime.

The peace of mind that comes from knowing that the assets they have spent a lifetime acquiring are safely transferred into the hands of their family members and loved ones can not be over-stated.

We invite you to Contact Our Firm to discuss your Estate Planning needs in greater detail.

The Foundation of all Estate Plans is the Living Trust.  Find out how to Avoid Probate, Minimize Taxes, Protect your Children and Maximize Family Harmony.

Opt out of California’s default Estate Plan with a Will.  Learn How to Nominate Guardians for your Minor Children and appoint Your own Personal Representative to handle your affairs.

Make sure that only your wishes, goals and values will govern your health care decisions now, and in the future.


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