The Law Offices of Stephen E. Penner
Family Law and Estate Planning in Santa Barbara County

Estate Planning

Planning for the Future

estate planning

estate planning

At the Law Offices of Stephen E. Penner, PC, we provide comprehensive representation for wills, trusts, and probate. Stephen E. Penner has more than 40 years of experience handling complicated issues in these areas. We can discuss your short- and long-term goals, your family dynamics, and other circumstances to help establish an estate plan tailored to your unique needs. We work with a well-respected CPA firm in Santa Barbara to help minimize inheritance tax and capital gains tax.

Multiple marriages and stepchildren can complicate your estate planning. It is important that you consult with a qualified lawyer to ensure your plan is done correctly, thereby avoiding future litigation. Additionally, we advise our clients who are going through divorce to review and revise their wills, trusts, and named beneficiaries to better suit their new circumstances.

We provide result-oriented guidance to ensure your wills, trusts, and directives protect your wealth; promote ease of management and health care decisions; and help preserve a legacy for your family. Our practice includes situations involving:

  1. Creation of new and/or final wills
  2. Creation or restatement of trusts
  3. Assessment of the type of trust best suited to individual needs
  4. Document and estate plan review following a divorce
  5. Reassessment of real property values
  6. Undue influence from caregivers and family acquaintances
  7. Assessment of circumstances that may lead to guardianships or conservatorships
  8. Assessment and review of carryover losses


Trust Creation

Having a properly drafted trust can help ensure that your estate will avoid the probate process completely, enabling your heirs to receive their inheritances more quickly and with little or no court intervention. We specialize in helping our clients navigate and execute iron-clad documents, including:

  1. Testamentary trusts (including husband/wife trusts)
  2. Revocable living trusts
  3. Irrevocable trusts
  4. Pour over trusts (Including husband/wife trusts)
  5. Charitable trusts
  6. Protective trusts (pure support trusts and discretionary support trusts)
  7. Individual trusts


Will Creation (and litigation involving Will Contests)

Our legal team believes everyone should have a well-drafted will so they can distribute their assets and property according to their wishes. In many situations,  the absence of a will places a heavy burden on heirs. In California, estates worth more than $150,000 must go through probate court in order to designate an administrator of the estate, unless the estate is distributed through a trust, thereby avoiding probate.

Our office also regularly handles cases in which one family member finds it necessary to contest a questionable will in order to protect the intentions of a deceased family member.  If you are faced with a situation where you believe a will is being administered unfairly or where you are surprised by the discovery of a poorly worded will or new last-minute will, Stephen E. Penner will be happy to offer you prudent analysis and advice regarding whether there is a legitimate case for a will contest.


Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated by any means, such as through an accident, sudden illness, or unplanned or scheduled absence; it’s important to have already made the necessary arrangements for your affairs to be handled. Many often don't stop to consider the time, expense, and legal measures that are involved for loved ones to set up a guardianship. Such costs and headaches could have been saved by signing a power of attorney.


Health Care Directives

Although death is an inevitable part of life, many remain reluctant to face the fact that they're not going to live forever and therefore avoid planning for end-of-life care. Consequently, many families are left with the stress and heartache of trying to agree on the best way to care for a terminally ill loved one who is unable to make wishes known.  The Law Offices of Stephen E. Penner can help you proactively prepare a Health Care Directive so that you can manage your health on your own terms.

A Health Care Directive is a legal document that instructs others about your medical care should you be unable to make decisions on your own. It allows you to do either or both of the following:

  1. Appoint a health care agent: The Health Care Directive allows you to appoint a health care agent (also known as “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care”) who will have the legal authority to make healthcare decisions for you if you are no longer able to speak for yourself. This is typically a spouse, but can be another family member, close friend, or anyone else you believe will ensure your wishes and expectations will be met.
  2. Prepare instructions for health care: The Health Care Directive allows you to give specific written instructions for your future health care in the event of any situation in which you can no longer speak for yourself. Otherwise known as a “Living Will,” it outlines your wishes about life-sustaining medical treatment if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

If you believe you may be in need of a will, trust, power of attorney, or Health Care Directive, our office has over forty years of experience in successfully providing carefully crafted and individually tailored options for clients in the Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo areas.