One of the most common questions we get is, “When do I need a living trust?” To answer that question, I brought in Adam Shiells, an estate planning attorney at Shiells and Hammer.

Most people think that estate planning is only important when you get older in life. While estate planning does become more important as you grow older, your age does not matter as much as the gross value of your assets.

To calculate the gross value, Adam adds up all of the assets that you have accumulated but none of the debts or liabilities. So, the value of your house would be included, but not your mortgage. Your car would be included, but not the car loan.

If your gross value is more than $150,000, then you should look into some estate planning. Why? If you are over that number in California, then you are at risk for probate. Probate is a court-supervised process that is very expensive and time-consuming, so you don’t want to have to worry about that.

Now, when you purchase real estate in California, then the gross value of your assets is probably more than $150,000. If you own property, then you should probably get in touch with an attorney.

If you would like to contact Adam with any questions or to start estate planning, you can reach him at or 916-917-5914.

As always, if you have any real estate questions for me, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!