Estate Planning

Planning for your estate can take a huge burden off you and your family in the event of your death or incapacitation. At GRT we appreciate that this is a crucial step and we want to ensure that your goals are met for your family and community. We can offer expertise in several different areas of estate planning law and tailor solutions based on your specific needs

Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament express your wishes about the disposition of your property after your death. Having a valid will allows you to choose who receives your property when you die, to name legal guardians for minor children, to choose who manages your estate (“executor”), and to speed up the probate process for your heirs. If you die without having a will, a probate court will distribute your property according to state law rules. An estate planning law firm such as Goyette, Ruano & Thompson can help ensure that your Last Will and Testament protects your loved ones while easing the process of probate.


A Joint Trust is a type of revocable trust shared by two people, usually married couples. When the couple wants the surviving spouse to inherit all assets, setting up a joint trust is often a less complicated choice than creating separate trusts.

Trusts are flexible instruments that meet many goals of estate planners. For advice on choosing the right trust for your goals, consult with a Sacramento estate planning attorney at Goyette, Ruano & Thompson.

Revocable Trust

A Revocable Trust is a trust in which you, as the settlor, reserve the right to change or terminate the trust during your life. It also allows you to name yourself as trustee, thus maintaining control over the trust assets. In contrast, in an irrevocable trust, you cannot change or dissolve the trust after it is legally executed.

Testamentary Trust

The terms of a Testamentary Trust are described in your will and go into effect only when you die. One common reason for establishing a Testamentary Trust is to provide for minor children.

Joint Trust

The terms of a Testamentary Trust are described in your will and go into effect only when you die. One common reason for establishing a Testamentary Trust is to provide for minor children.

Areas Of Practice

Crafting Your Legacy: Wills and Trust Services

At Goyette, Ruano, Thompson, we understand the importance of thoughtful estate planning in securing your legacy and providing for your loved ones’ future. Our firm offers comprehensive wills and trust services tailored to your unique needs and objectives, providing peace of mind and ensuring that your wishes are carried out effectively.

Our Wills and Trust services include:

Estate Planning Consultation: We offer personalized estate planning consultations to assess clients’ individual circumstances, goals, and concerns. Our attorneys provide comprehensive estate planning advice, including strategies for asset protection, tax planning, incapacity planning, and charitable giving, to help clients achieve their long-term financial and personal objectives.

Trust Formation: We advise clients on the creation and implementation of various types of trusts, including revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, charitable trusts, and asset protection trusts. Our firm helps clients tailor trust structures to achieve specific estate planning goals, such as minimizing estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors, or providing for beneficiaries with special needs.

Probate Avoidance Strategies: We help clients explore probate avoidance strategies to streamline the transfer of assets to heirs and beneficiaries, minimize estate administration costs, and maintain privacy in estate matters. Our firm assists clients in structuring their estate plans to utilize non-probate transfer mechanisms, such as trusts, joint ownership, beneficiary designations, and transfer-on-death arrangements.

Will Drafting: We assist clients in drafting clear and legally enforceable last wills and testaments that reflect their wishes regarding the distribution of assets, appointment of guardians for minor children, and designation of executors or personal representatives. Our attorneys provide personalized guidance to ensure that your will accurately reflects your intentions and complies with applicable legal requirements.

Will and Trust Amendments and Updates: We advise clients on the importance of periodically reviewing and updating their wills and trusts to reflect changes in personal circumstances, family dynamics, and estate planning goals. Our attorneys assist clients in making amendments or modifications to existing estate planning documents to ensure that their plans remain current and effective over time.

Trust Administration: We assist trustees and fiduciaries in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities in administering trusts, including managing trust assets, making distributions to beneficiaries, preparing trust accountings, and complying with legal requirements. Our attorneys provide guidance on trust administration best practices and help ensure compliance with trust terms and applicable laws.

Estate Settlement Assistance: We provide guidance and support to executors, administrators, and personal representatives in navigating the estate settlement process following a loved one’s passing. Our firm assists clients in fulfilling their fiduciary duties, administering estates efficiently, and resolving any disputes or challenges that may arise during the probate process.

If you’re ready to take control of your legacy and plan for the future, contact Goyette, Ruano, Thompson today to schedule a consultation with our experienced wills and trust attorneys. We’re dedicated to providing personalized, compassionate, and effective estate planning services to help you achieve your goals and protect your loved ones’ financial security and well-being.

Please accept our sincerest condolences on the passing of your family member, friend, or loved one. The death of a loved one is a painful and difficult period.

Unfortunately, while you’re attempting to process the grief and come to terms with it, there are after death legal procedures to take care of like trust administration and probate.

Our team of experienced living trust administration attorneys in California can help you with all the matters and information related to trust administration.

Meanwhile here’s a helpful guide to trust administration in California along with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions like “what to do after someone dies with a living trust” or “what to do after someone dies with a will”.

What is Trust Administration?

Trust administration, as the name suggests, is the task of administering the estate, entrusted to the “successor trustee”. Administration of a trust includes a range of responsibilities including mobilization of assets, payment to creditors, and hand-over of remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

On paper the role of a successor trustee may seem like a straightforward process but the legal and fiduciary responsibilities they’re tasked with can be quite difficult to carry out. But of course it varies from situation to situation, with some simple cases requiring minimal intervention and challenging ones needing complex and lengthy procedures.

Generally speaking however, trust administration is a serious and major obligation to fulfill. Besides the tasks mentioned above, it also involves sending legal notices with the appropriate legal language given to family members and those included in the trust, preparation and filing of tax forms, and filing of other important legal documents.

Successor Trustees

Trust administration process requires the Successor Trustee to abide by several laws and deadlines.  Successor Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the trust beneficiaries and have several requirements by law (CA Probate Code Sections 16000-16105). As Successor Trustee, you are required to give notice to the trust beneficiaries, file taxes, communicate with beneficiaries, manage the trust assets and investments, provide notice to Department of Health Care Services, and in some cases, provide an accounting of trust assets to the trust beneficiaries.

A Successor Trustee must abide by the terms of the trust and the law.  At Goyette, Ruano & Thompson, our team of living trust administration attorneys in California can help you abide by your duties and manage your responsibilities. We will help you distribute the trust assets according to the terms of the trust in a manner to protect yourself from contentious beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may contest your trust administration or petition a court to remove you a Successor Trustee for breach of fiduciary duties.

In most cases, attorney fees are paid directly from the trust at no cost to you as Successor Trustee. This provides an opportunity for you to obtain a living trust attorney and protect yourself from unintentional mistakes and contentious beneficiaries.

Beneficiary Representation

What can a trust administration attorney help you do? If you are the beneficiary of an estate and you have concerns about how the trust is being administered, we can assist you in getting the answers you are entitled to by law. As a beneficiary of a trust, you are entitled to a copy of the trust and an accounting. Our living trust administration attorneys in California can help you obtain an accounting or petition the court to remove a successor trustee for breach of fiduciary duty.

If someone passed away without a will or trust, or with just a will, please visit our probate page for more information on how our office can help you with the estate administration.

Please accept our sincerest condolences on the passing of your family member, friend or loved one. The loss of someone dear is one of the most heartbreaking and challenging times we face. One of the most difficult parts of all of this is that as the ones left behind try to cope with the passing, they also have to manage the legal formalities of the will and probate, which may not always be easy to follow.

Our team, which comprises some of the best probate lawyers in California, can help you navigate the complex process of probate during your time of grief. Here we deep-dive into the process, what it entails, and relevant information pertaining to the probate laws in California and important questions like, “What to do after someone dies with a will?”, “Is probate required in California?”, and “How to probate an estate in California?”

What is Probate?

A probate is a judicial process to administer a decedent’s estate, which includes all the property they’ve left behind. In California, if a decedent owned a home or had assets whose total value is greater than $150,000, you will likely be subject to a probate process to gain access to the decedent’s estate and to distribute the assets.

In essence, a probate is a court case to determine several crucial aspects of the decedent’s property including who the heirs or beneficiaries are and what is the value of the total estate. But that’s not all. The process also involves determining the validity of the will if it exists. In addition, in the final stage, a probate handles the transfer of the estate to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries after all debts, expenses, and financial obligations of the decedent have been paid and fulfilled.

Even if the decedent had a will but no trust…

Often times people confuse a will with a trust. If the decedent had a trust, we can help the successor trustee administer the trust (click here for more information). However, if the decedent died with a will, but without a trust, it is possible that a probate proceeding will be required to administer the decedent’s estate.

One of the common questions we encounter is, “Do I need probate court?” or “Do I need probate if I have a will?” It would be best to consult our team of experienced probate attorneys who will review your complete situation and then advise accordingly.

In the event that you do require a probate court case, note that the average process takes one year to complete, but our probate lawyers in California will help you get through it and ensure you and your family understand what to expect along the way.

Executor vs. Administrator vs. Personal Representative

The terms executor, administrator, and personal representative can be confusing to understand and hence used interchangeably. Here’s what they mean:

  • An Executor is a technical term to identify a person who will handle the estate administration as appointed by the decedent’s Will.
  • An Administrator is a technical term for the person who will handle the estate administration as appointed by the Court when a decedent dies without a will.
  • A Personal Representative is the person handling the estate administration, which may be either the Executor or the Administrator.

How to get started?

Contact our office for a free consultation with one of our highly qualified and experienced probate lawyers in California. We will send you an initial probate client questionnaire to fill out and return to us to discuss over the telephone or in person. We will also send you a letter with a checklist of documents we will need to get started. If you decide to move forward with our office, we will send you a fee agreement.

After your consultation, we will draft the initial probate documents for your review and signature. Once we have your original signatures on the initial probate documents, we will file them with the Court.  The Court will then set an initial hearing date, which may be three to four months out.

Bond Requirement

Under the California Probate Code, an estate’s representative (either Executor or Administrator) is required to post bond for the value of the estate.  This is a security measure that the representative will fulfill his or her duties as required by law. The bond would establish a fund to satisfy a claim by the beneficiaries if the representative breaches his or her fiduciary duty. In some cases, the bond requirement may be waived by all the beneficiaries. We will help guide you on providing waivers to the beneficiaries or how to get bond.

Debt and Creditors

If the decedent died with debt, then creditors may file a claim against the estate for the outstanding debt.  We will help you give notice to the necessary creditors and send the claim form that may be filed with the court.

Beneficiary Representation

If you are the beneficiary of an estate and you have concerns about how the estate is being administered, our accomplished probate lawyers in California can assist you in getting the answers you are entitled to by law.

Goyette, Ruano & Thompson, Inc. are prepared to help you with your probate needs in any county in CA state.

Estate Planning Attorneys

If you need a Estate Planning attorney ontact our office to schedule your case evaluation. Call us today at 916.851.1900 or fill out the form below.

Rafael Ruano
Rafael Ruano

CAO & Partner

Ian Woo Goyette Attorney
Ian Woo

Attorney at Law