Legal Topics: Family, Probate, Estate, Bankruptcy Law

Initial Consultation


Probate & Estate Planning

Family Law


Preguntas Frequentes

Initial Consultations

How do I choose a lawyer?

When you’re looking for an attorney, it’s hard to know how to choose one attorney over another. Here are 10 things you should consider when deciding on the right lawyer for you:

  1. Check the state bar website for any past disciplinary actions.
  2. Experience of the attorney: the saying is generally true for attorneys just like anything else: you get what you pay for.
  3. Whether the attorney is compatible with your goals.
  4. The primary practice area of the attorney: divorce, estate planning, bankruptcy, etc.
  5. Where the attorney primarily practices: which courthouses.
  6. How involved the attorney keeps the client.
  7. The payment arrangements of the attorney.
  8. Ease of access to your attorney or his paralegal/secretary.
  9. How often does the attorney send billing statements?
  10. Whether you feel comfortable with the attorney.

See the article for detailed explanations about these ten considerations. Or read the California court’s self-help guide for another perspective.

Whom should I bring with me into the consultation with the attorney?

Nobody but yourself. This is especially true for estate planning appointments. Your rights of confidentiality are reduced when you bring in a third party. For example, a potential client could allege undue influence and claim they felt coerced into signing a document because of the mother or the son they brought with them into the consultation. This may avoid a potential conflict and protect your rights from the start; although, we do not expect this to occur.

What are your rates?

Throughout the economic recession and recovery, the attorney offers a free initial consultation for most legal issues. If you decide to retain our services you will find that we have competitive prices. Usually, probate and bankruptcy cases are charged a flat rate fee, while family law services and contested probate cases are based on an hourly rate. The attorney generally charges $400.00 per hour.*


How can I avoid filing bankruptcy?

Sometimes bankruptcy is unavoidable because of an unexpected accident or sudden loss of income. But, here are 5 ways you can try to avoid facing bankruptcy.

  1. Start saving while you’re financially stable.
  2. When you start anticipating rough times, start planning ahead.
  3. Make it a point to keep your credit card balances low all the time.
  4. Save money to purchase items cash instead of taking out credit or buying on credit.
  5. When all else fails, you should try to negotiate with your creditors.

See  the article for detailed explanations about these five ways to avoid bankruptcy.

How long does it take to file for bankruptcy? Why does it take so long?

It is not “so long” if you think that it probably took years to get into debt sufficient to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The average time is between two (2) and six (6) months. For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the paperwork must be completed accurately and a lot of information needs to be provided. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to obtain accurate information. The attorney fees and costs need to be paid in advance of filing. Sometimes it takes a client time to raise the money to file bankruptcy. The time for a meeting of creditors is usually set by the court. The discharge is routinely 3-4 months after the meeting of creditors. Once you file for bankruptcy and have a case number then you cannot transfer any real property to anyone, during the pendency of the bankruptcy.

How much will a bankruptcy case cost?

The cost of your bankruptcy depends on several factors. The initial consultation is free and allows you to discuss with an attorney whether you qualify for bankruptcy, which chapter of bankruptcy you qualify for, and whether or not bankruptcy would be beneficial for your current situation. We charge a flat-rate for bankruptcy cases, not hourly; however, the cost of your bankruptcy depends on which chapter you will file, the amount of debt you have, the number of creditors you have, and other factors that affect the amount of work your case will require. Nearly everyone who seeks to file bankruptcy will file a Chapter 7. The average cost for a Chapter 7 with our office is approximately $2,400 (including fees).* This rate includes the court filing fee and having an attorney appear with you at the hearing. If you do not qualify for a bankruptcy, we may be able to help you negotiate your debts.

What is the Bankruptcy Over-the-Phone service?

In order to make your life a little simpler we can help you file for bankruptcy with a phone call to our office. You schedule a time to discuss your financial situation with the attorney. Before the phone appointment ,you may fill out the online ‘Bankruptcy Client Info Sheet’ and send it to us. Call us at the pre-scheduled appointment time and the attorney, with your Client Info Sheet, will be able to advise you on whether a bankruptcy is right for you. With 100% success rate for Ch. 7 Bankruptcy cases, the lawyer will give you experienced and valuable advice. And the initial consultation is free! Then, if you retain, we will get started on your case and let you know what other documents we need in order to complete it quickly and accurately.

Probate & Estate Planning

What is probate? Why isn’t a will enough?

Probate is the court process of transferring property from someone who died (the “decedent”) to the people or person(s) who are entitled to the property at the decedent’s death. A will tells the court (and the world) who the decedent wants to give their property to after their death. However, a will is only instructions–to legally transfer title and take care of the decedent’s property, a will still requires probate through the courts.

How much will my probate case cost?

Your probate case usually consists of costs and attorney fees. Costs are paid in advance, such as publication and filing fees, and attorney fees are usually paid at the end of the case when the assets are distributed. The starting rates apply: 4% for 1st $100,000, 3% for next $100,000 and 2% for the next $800,000.*

Can you contest a trust fund?

Yes. Generally, if you feel a trustee is acting improperly or the trust fund is not being administered correctly, we may be able to help you. Specifically, we would need to consider the facts of your case during a consultation.

How do I transfer property?

In order to transfer real property you must know who owns it. Real property may be transferred by a deed. To find out who owns real property you may contact the county recorder’s office.

Each county has one. Search: San Bernardino County Recorder
Los Angeles County Recorder
Riverside County Recorder

Read our  101 Probate To-Do/Know List to find more helpful tips when considering a probate.

Why is it termed a ‘probate’?

From the Wikipedia page, “The English noun ‘probate’ derives directly from the Latin verb probare, to try, test, prove, examine, more specifically from the verb’s past participle nominative neuter probatum, ‘having been proved’…The earliest usage of the English word was in 1463, defined as ‘the official proving of a will’.”

Family Law

How much will a divorce cost me?

Divorce is charged at approximately $400/hour and $450/hour for trial time; the average attorney fees range anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000.* Other family law services are also charged attorney’s fees by the hour, generally, $400.00 per hour.*

How much do family law services cost, such as custody or alimony?

Family law services are charged attorney’s fees by the hour. Generally, the rate is $400.00 per hour.* The amount of hours required to complete the case vary and depend upon each case individually.

What are the differences between divorce, annulment, and legal separation?

Divorce differs from legal separation in that divorce completely dissolves the marriage. Divorce and legal separation have similar consequences for the division of property, but a legal separation does not end the marriage. After divorce, the parties can remarry; after legal separation, the parties cannot remarry because they are still married to each other. An annulment is the court finding that the marriage was not valid in the first place–the court more or less “erases” the marriage, and the parties go back to the way they were prior to the marriage. In California, annulments are fairly uncommon.


What is conservatorship?

A conservatorship court case occurs when a person (‘conservatee’) cannot take care of themselves, so a judge appoints a ‘conservator’ to help take care of the person and their finances.

What situations may necessitate a conservatorship?

Various types of disabilities such as mental or physical may make it difficult for an individual to care for themselves possibly necessitating a conservatorship. As the years wear on an individual, an elderly person may be in a situation where a conservatorship would be appropriate.

See the Judicial Council’s Handbook for Conservators for duties and responsibilities of conservators.

Preguntas Frequentes

¿Cuáles son las tasas de abogado?

A lo largo de la recesión económica y la recuperación, el abogado ofrece una consulta inicial gratuita para la mayoría de los asuntos legales. Si usted decide contratar nuestros servicios usted encontrará que tenemos precios competitivos. Por lo general, los casos de testamento y bancarrota se les cobra una tarifa fija, mientras que los servicios de derecho de familia y los casos de sucesión donde hay impugnación de un testamento se basan en una traifa por hora. El abogado por lo general corba $400.00 por hora.*

*Note: approximate rates, subject to change


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