Dealing with your own mortality is not generally a comforting thought. However, if you do not arrange your affairs, the courts will do so for you without any regard whatsoever for your goals and priorities, tax costs, and court costs. The Law Office of Jeffrey B. Pape, P.C. can help you construct an estate plan which promotes your goals and priorities, eliminates transfer problems, manage assets during your life and after your death, and is sufficiently flexible to respond to changes in your family, personal, and economic conditions.


With No Will

With A Will

With A Living Trust

At Incapacity

(unable to handle your financial affairs)

Court Control: Court appointee oversees your care, must keep detailed records, reports to court, and usually must post bond (even if appointee is your spouse). Court approves all expenses, oversees financial affairs.Court Control: Same as no will.No Court Control: Your successor trustee manages your financial affairs according to instructions in your trust for as long as necessary. (In some states, court intervention may be required for health care decisions.)

At Death

Probate: Court orders your debts paid and assets distributed according to state law.Probate: Same as no will, but assets distributed per your will (if valid and any contests are unsuccessful).No Probate: Debts paid and assets distributed by successor trustee according to instructions in your trust.

Court Costs, Legal & Executor Fees

Death: Often estimated at 3-8% of estate’s value.
Incapacity: Impossible to estimate.
Same as no will. Costs can increase if will is contested after your death.Minimal or no court costs. Reduced legal fees (minimal for small estates; larger/complex estates require more).


Death: Usually 9 months to 2 years or longer before heirs inherit.
Incapacity: Court involved until recovery or death.
Same as no will.Death: Often just weeks. Larger/complex estates take longer for tax returns, asset division. Incapacity: No delays.

Flexibility & Control

None: Court processes, not your family, have control at incapacity and death. When you die, assets are distributed according to state law.Limited: Same as no will except, when you die, assets are distributed according to your will (if valid and any contests are unsuccessful). You can change your will at any time.Maximum: You can change/discontinue your trust at any time. Assets stay under control of your trust, even at incapacity and after your death. More difficult than a will to contest.


None: Court proceedings are public record. Family can be exposed to disgruntled heirs, unscrupulous solicitorsNone: Same as no willMaximum: Living trusts are not public record. Your family can take care of financial affairs privately.

An effective estate plan establishes who will receive your assets after your death, when and how the transfer of those assets will occur, and the minimization of transfer costs. Creating an effective estate plan is dependent upon many factors, including your family’s needs, the size of your estate and the specific goals you wish to accomplish. It is in your best interests to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who has the breadth and depth of legal knowledge to undertake your situation and create a customized estate plan.

The Law Office of Jeffrey B. Pape, P.C. , has an established wills, trusts and estates practice where we cater to the needs of clients throughout California.  Mr. Pape offers clients more than 30 years of legal experience focused on handling wills, trusts, estate planning and litigation.


A comprehensive estate plan can consist of a number of elements including, but not limited to, the preparation of well-crafted trusts, wills, business transfer documents, power of attorneys and advance health care directives. After a thorough review of your situation, we will advise of all legal options, the benefits of pursuing particular options and how to deal with estate tax issues. In summary, effective estate planning is planning that protects and provides for you and your family.


Mr. Pape has worked with clients in creating thousands of estate planning documents, and acts on behalf of high net worth clients with significant trusts. He is a trusted legal advocate who is respected amongst his clients, colleagues and adversaries.


Please contact the Law Office of Jeffrey B. Pape, P.C. , to schedule an initial consultation to discuss you estate planning needs. Call 559-299-4341, or complete an online contact form to reach our firm. We represent clients in Clovis, Fresno and throughout the surrounding California areas.