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Are you Prepared if the Unthinkable Happend to you Today?

Do you have long-term guardians named for your kids? What about short-term guardians? Is there someone you don’t want to raise your kids that could? Do you know who would make medical and/or financial decisions on your behalf? Or who would outline the kinds of medical treatment you would want (or don’t want) if you become incapacitated? Do you know who would recieve your money or property? These are common questions that should be addressed to ensure you and your loved ones are protected.

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What will happen if I don’t do any estate planning?

If you do not complete any estate planning, most, if not all of your assets will become part of your probate estate.  The court will then distribute the assets outright according to state law.  There will be no creditor protection for your beneficiaries and you will not get to choose how much each person is to receive, or even who will receive the assets.

Should you become incapacitated for any reason without estate planning, your family will have to petition the court to have someone appointed on your behalf to handle your financial affairs and make medical decisions for you.  This can be a costly, time-consuming, distracting, and public process that could lead to infighting with your family.

What is the difference between a will or trust?

will is a written instrument that outlines how your assets are to be distributed at your death. On the other hand, a trust is a written instrument that describes how your assets are to be managed once they have been funded into the trust. This covers what will happen while you are alive, if you become incapacitated, and ultimately upon your death.

Is estate planning just for wealthy people?

No. Anyone who has survived to age eighteen and beyond has likely accumulated a few possessions that are of some monetary or sentimental value. While things like your home, car, and financial accounts are self-evident assets, that collection of superhero figurines or your iTunes library also deserve proper attention. There is no minimum asset value required to justify having a Will, especially since there are many low-cost options, including estate planning attorneys who will not charge an arm and a leg for a basic Will.

How do I name guardians for my children?

Guardians for minor children must usually be named in a will or in a separate guardian nomination document. If you fail to appoint guardians, the court will decide who raises your children. For parents of minor children, this is the most important estate planning decision you’ll ever make.

Even though it’s hard and no one can raise your children as well as you can, move forward and select the guardians you think will muddle through the best. Some people delay estate planning because they can’t make this decision. Don’t do that; your inaction puts your children at risk. And, be sure to name back-up guardians as well in case your first choice is unable to serve if the time comes.

I have a Will, doesn’t that mean my estate planning is complete?

No, but having a Will is part of the estate plan. Having a Will is smart because it puts you in charge of the disposition of your assets. A Will allows you to pick your executor, designate the guardians for your minor children, and name any individuals and charitable organizations as beneficiaries of your estate. If you were to die without a Will (i.e., intestate), the law of the state where you reside at your death would govern who receives what part of your estate, who administers your estate, and who takes care of your children. There are some situations where state law may override the provisions in your Will (e.g., a spouse’s elective share), but for the most part, you are in the driver’s seat.

However, a Will is only one tool in the estate planning toolbox. There are other vehicles that allow you to remain in control of your possessions and family’s future during life and upon death such as a trust, power of attorney, and advance health care directive. Depending on your situation, a Will alone may not be the most efficient or the most cost-effective means to achieve your goals.

When should I make changes to my estate planning?

Because our lives are constantly changing, you should review your estate planning every year or so.  It is important that you reach out to your estate planning attorney should any of the following happen to make sure that your plan continues to work as designed:

  • Death of an individual who has been named as one of your fiduciaries;
  • Death of a beneficiary;
  • Birth of a family member;
  • Change in job;
  • Relocation to a new state; or
  • The disposal or acquisition of any major asset (house, investment account, etc.).


Dad kissing baby

Design and signing of legal documents to put your wishes in writing legally. Generally includes Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Advanced Healthcare Directive, HIPAA Authorization and other important planning documents.

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A will allows you to identify who gets your assets upon your passing and allows you to nominate guardians for you minor children. A valid will is filed with the probate court upon passing and become public record.

Dad hugging children looking at a laptop

A revocable living trust allows you to put in writing, how you would want your assets managed upon your incapacity or passing and how your assets would be distributed to your beneficiaries. A trust is generally not filed with the probate court keeping it private.

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Our Kids Safeguard System goes above and beyond the basic estate plan for families with minor children to make sure that the kids are always protected, and that the parent’s legacy and wishes are documented for their minor children.

Three generations of men

Probate is a legal court proceeding where, after someone passes away, their assets are distributed according to their will or if there is no will, according to California law. The is a public proceeding that is very costly and can take a very long time to complete.

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When someone passes away and they had a trust that was funded with their assets, trust administration is the process of collecting, managing, and distributing their assets in their trust according to the instructions in the trust.


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Disclaimer: The attorneys at Hermance Law - Estate Planning Mom®, are licensed to practice law solely in California and meets with clients by appointment only. Nothing in this website should be taken as engaging, or offering to engage, in any activities in any jurisdiction where those activities would constitute the unauthorized practice of law or would otherwise be unlawful or improper. The materials appearing on this Website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. You should not take action based upon this information without consulting legal counsel. This site is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon any single source of information, including advertising on this Website.

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