Frequently Asked Questions

Quite frankly, we don’t like discussing fees before you’ve come in to meet with the attorney, because people tend to get scared off by a number, and once you’ve discussed the value of the planning with the attorney, you’ll realize that you will actually save money in the long run, and save your loved ones both headaches and heartaches, by doing planning now rather than leaving everything for your loved ones and the courts to figure out.

Also important to note is that all of our fees are flat-rate, agreed to in advance, with no hidden charges, and will be discussed with you in detail at the complementary, no-obligation Planning Session. Payment is generally split into two halves; the first half of the fee is paid when you sign up for our services, and the second half is paid when you sign your estate planning documents. However, we can work with you if you need to be on a payment plan and stretch your payments out for longer. We also take credit cards for your convenience.

All that said – you still want a number! To get down to actual numbers, then, the answer, of course, is – it depends. Primarily, it depends on whether you are single or married, whether you have minor children (or severely disabled adult children), and whether your situation makes it important for you to have one or more trusts. Generally, as a ballpark, for a basic estate plan package, you will be looking at somewhere between $2,500 to $5,000, but it may be more (or less!) depending on your situation.

If you shop around (which you are more than welcome to do!), you will find that a) our rates are fairly comparable to other attorneys who do this work, and b) it is really hard to get a straight answer as to how much you will pay for an estate plan when you talk to most lawyers! Many lawyers charge by the hour, which means that they really charge by the minute, and in this situation, you will never know in advance how much you will end up paying. What’s more, you’ll be afraid to call your lawyer’s office with a question because you know you will get a bill in the mail, even if all you did was leave a voicemail! With our office, you pay only a flat fee and you are never charged for phone calls, emails, or follow-up meetings. We want you to understand your plan and be comfortable with it!

Additionally, we will throw out a cliché that is often true – “you get what you pay for.” If you go with a cut-rate, lowest-cost option for your estate planning, maybe a high-volume document prep service, or a lawyer who handles two dozen practice areas and doesn’t focus on estate planning – well, you’ll get what you pay for, only it won’t be you who faces the consequences – it will be your loved ones who are left holding the bag, trying to clean up the financial and emotional mess left behind by poor estate planning. The choice is yours!

We apologize! We are a small law office, made up of only two people – one attorney (Julie) and one support person (Lucia). While we are dedicated to giving the highest quality of client service, we also have outside obligations like families, and we don’t want to neglect those obligations! So, sometimes we take days off and close the office, sometimes Julie works from home so she can be with her son, sometimes family emergencies come up, and so on. Also, we do house calls for clients who cannot get out and about, and we give seminars and attend community events quite often, so we may be out for that reason as well.

If you need to drop something off in person, it’s always best to call ahead to see if someone will be in the office. If not, you can always drop documents through the drop-slot in the door, or you can fax to 209-529-1076, or email documents to jrichardson@legalpathways.net. If you need to reach us and we’re not in the office, sending an email to Julie at jrichardson@legalpathways.net and/or to Lucia at lcampos@legalpathways.net is often the fastest way to get a response since we both get emails remotely and can respond even when we are not in the office. We sometimes can’t answer right away, but we make every effort to respond to inquiries within one business day.

As we mentioned above, we are a very small office and we focus on excellent client service. For instance, your initial (and completely free) Planning Session is booked for a full two hours, so that the attorney can fully focus on you and your situation, and make sure that all of your questions and concerns are addressed. We also have to have time to actually draft the plans, answer follow-up questions from clients, and so on. This means that we have to limit the number of appointments we can take in a given week. If you have a legitimate emergency, like an upcoming surgery, and need to have documents in place before then, let us know when you call and we will make every effort to accommodate you with an earlier appointment, but generally, we book appointments about 4-6 weeks out, and we apologize for any inconvenience that may cause. We hope that you will appreciate our level of personal service when you are a client, and will understand that we can’t provide that level of service if we are seeing dozens of potential clients a week!
The only area of law that we practice is estate planning, which includes Special Needs Planning and Medi-Cal (and other government benefit) planning. We do not handle any other area of law, and we do not do any in-court representation after a person has passed away (probate, estate litigation, etc.). This lets us stay on top of the developments in estate planning law and provide the best possible service to our clients. However, we have relationships with attorneys in a variety of practice areas, as well as with wonderful financial planners, insurance people, and so forth, and we are happy to give you a referral if we can!
Please, do not hesitate to call or email us! We are both outgoing, friendly people, we don’t bite (though we might try to hug you), and we are always happy to answer questions. We look forward to hearing from you!