Category Archives: Estate Planning

Will vs. Trust…Know the Difference?


Most people are not familiar with the differences between a will and a trust.  A will is only an invitation into a Probate proceeding and involves (1) 18-24+ months where all assets are frozen during the pendency of the probate proceeding; (2) exorbitant costs; (3) a sacrifice in personal time and energy; (4) stress.  In reference to costs, there is a statutory Probate fee schedule that always seems to shock people when they learn how this system works.  For example, if you and your wife own a home with a fair market value of $500,000-irrespective of the balance between how much you own and how much you owe, the Probate court assesses the gross valuation-the full $500,000, which equates to a minimum statutory assessed fee of $26, 000.  This does not factor in court filing fees, appraiser fees, creditor claims and attorney extraordinary fees, which invariably tack on multiple tens of thousands of dollars in most instances. An Estate Plan also ensures you avoid the expense and uncertainty of court proceedings otherwise required should either of you become incapacitated through illness, accident or a disability.  


Mark Swatik Esq. offers my clients a free consultation that is very helpful in educating them on the purpose of estate planning, as well as the privileges and protections associated with these concepts.

Contact me at  to request a “free consultation”

33 or 83 Same Legal Rules Apply…


“Most new clients acknowledge that this is somewhat of a “foreign” concept to them, since they don’t realize that the same legal rules  apply at age 33 as it does at age 83, which is people either take the necessary legal steps to protect themselves according to their own interests and wishes, or the courts will do all of their planning for them.”

Mark E. Swatik, Esq., MBA

Most people believe that an Estate Plan is only required upon someone’s death, which could not be further from the truth. A comprehensive Estate Plan protects you now and conversely, outlines in detail what will happen to you, your family, and your assets in the event of incapacity or death. The essential purpose behind the Estate Plan is to protect assets, avoid or eliminate taxes, and avoid Probate and or Conservatorship proceedings, which can be extremely expensive.

Example: Husband and Wife own a home valued at $500,000, have a loan of $400,000, no Estate Plan and 2 minor children, $100,000 in savings…both Husband and Wife pass tragically in a car accident, home and assets are left to Probate proceeding.

  1. All assets are now frozen for a period of 18-24+ months during pending Probate proceedings;
  2. Statutory Fees are assessed against the Gross valuation of the estate assets, so the Probate fees for assets totaling $500,000+$100,000; equates to approximately $30,000 in Probate fees, but does not include court filing fees, appraiser fees, creditor claims, and attorney extraordinary fees, all of which could tack on tens of thousands more in most instances. (Google “CA Probate fees” to get better acquainted with these numbers)
  3. Children may become temporary wards of the court during a Guardianship proceeding

When we talk about the ones we love the most, why would we even hesitate to seek a better understanding and knowledge about protecting them in the event we are no longer here or able to function.

My Estate Planning Attorney, Mark  E. Swatik, Esq., MBA, partner at Burkley Brandlin Swatik & Keesey LLP believes passionately that every family and their assets must be protected, so he offers a free 30-minute consultation to have him educate you on what estate planning entails, as well as reviewing existing estate planning documents for latent deficiencies or defects.  I invite you to contact me if you would like to schedule a no cost, informative, life planning consultation. My contact number is 310-540-1330 ext. 138










Estate Planning… Now not Later!


Estate Planning, it’s  NOT just for the wealthy or elite.  Yes the wealthy do need to plan, but so does every homeowner small estate or large, every parent 1 child or 10,  needs to have a directive in place to protect their children and their assets of any amount. The first step is knowing…getting educated on what is at stake and how planning or not planning now will directly effect the lives of the people you love and cherish most.