Jeff Soderborg | Credit: Paul Wellman

An estate planning attorney with Barnes & Barnes, Jeff Soderborg specializes in estate planning as well as elder law. He offers some advice on how to plan for the later stages of life and death.

What does the typical estate plan include, and what does it accomplish for seniors?  The typical estate plan for a California resident consists of a revocable living trust, a “pour-over” will, a financial power of attorney, and a health-care power of attorney. A well-drafted estate plan provides incapacity planning during one’s life, and, at death, ensures that one’s assets pass to his or her intended beneficiaries with the least amount of administrative cost and taxation as possible.

What’s the risk of not having one?  Without such documents in place, a court-supervised conservatorship may be required in the event of the loss of mental capacity, which is both costly and invasive to one’s privacy. At death, the estate plan directs distribution of assets to one’s intended beneficiaries, avoids the necessity of a court-supervised probate, and allows for tax planning. Without such directives in place, a person’s estate will pass pursuant to the provisions of the California Probate Code, which may not yield the intended result, and may be subject to otherwise avoidable costs and taxation.

Do the documents need to be altered at any point?  After estate-planning documents are in place, it is important for them to be reviewed periodically in order to be sure that they remain consistent with one’s desires as to the disposition of his or her estate. Certainly, if there has been a major life change, such as a divorce, death, sale of a business, receipt of inheritance, etc., the estate plan should be revisited. Also, if there have been significant changes in tax law, the estate plan should be reviewed.

Jeff Soderborg can be reached at 687-6660 or by email at


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