2024 Edition Coming Soon!

As of January 1, 2024, Medi-Cal will no longer factor in assets such as bank accounts, cash, second vehicles, and homes when determining eligibility. This monumental shift holds promising news for those in the Long-Term Care Medi-Cal program, especially those in skilled nursing facilities. We are updating the “Understanding Long-Term Care Medi-Cal’ eBook with these new guidelines. The Third Edition will be available soon. Provide your information and we will notify you as soon as it is available.

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    I Am Here Because...

    • I am interested in attending a free workshop to learn more.

      Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. offers free estate planning workshops and webinars for those who are interested. Our workshops are designed to teach attendees various methods to eliminate all costs of probate to their families. The seminar also provides valuable information on how to protect, preserve, and manage one's estate in the event they pass away or become too incapacitated to make decisions.

      Some crucial estate planning topics our workshops cover include:

      • How to avoid the cost and delays of probate
      • Specifying a guardian for minor children
      • How to defuse potential conflict that could arise over the estate
      • Methods to eliminate or minimize estate or transfer taxes
      • Asset protection and preservation from financial predators
      • And so much more

      Find out if our workshops are a right fit for you here. Use our events page here to find upcoming workshops and webinars.

    • I need a plan for the future.

      Despite popular misconceptions, estate planning is not only for the wealthy. Everyone should have an estate plan established in the event they die or become too disabled to make decisions. Our attorneys assist interested clients by crafting a comprehensive integrated estate plan customized to fit their needs. The attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd., Chris Botti and Paul Morison, are well-versed in all aspects of estate planning including Trusts, Probate, Powers of Attorney, Veterans Planning, Asset Protection, Probate/Trust Administration, among many others.

      Learn more about Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. estate planning services and packages here.

    • I recently lost a loved one.

      Managing a loved one's estate whilst in the midst of grief is by no means an easy process. That is why the attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. provide valuable advice and guidance on all probate and trust administration matters including petitioning for Guardianship or Conservatorship. With over 90 years of estate administration experience, Chris Botti and Paul Morison have a thorough understanding of what's entailed in the personal representative's duties as well as their liabilities. They can provide the effective counsel needed to ensure the loved one's estate is administered lawfully while fulfilling their last wishes.

      Learn more about our estate administration services here.

    • I need legal counsel to represent my interests in a dispute.

      Disputes are not uncommon when administering a trust or probating an estate, especially if the estate is held at a substantial value. In some cases, arbitration is just not appropriate, and litigation is simply unavoidable. The attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. represent both beneficiaries and fiduciaries in trust and probate disputes. They have successfully prosecuted and defended their clients interests both before the courts and through alternate dispute resolution.

      Learn more about our trust and probate litigation services here.

    • I need to modify my estate plan.

      Not only does Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. craft estate plans, but our legal team assists clients interested in modifying or updating their estate plan. An estate plan should be reviewed every five or so years and/or after a major life event occurs. Our attorneys provide in-depth estate plan reviews and from there can pinpoint any inconsistencies, errors, or vulnerable areas that could be improved upon. They can assist with the selection of a trusted executor or trustee, inventory all assets, ensure all heirs/beneficiaries are identified, and incorporate new estate planning instruments that could prove beneficial in the future.

      Look over our estate planning checklist here to ensure your affairs are all in order.

    Welcome To
    Botti & Morison

    Group Photo

    From left to right, Paul Morison, Julia Hunt, Shalyn Bibbens, Karen Dion, Jacqueline King, Pat Minero, Christopher Botti
    Better Business Bureau, founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.
    This program was intended to provide a method for attorneys to earn the designation of certified specialist in particular areas of law, increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competence.
    Members of NAELA are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of older Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities.

    Having over 90 years of estate planning experience, Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. have completed thousands of tailored estate plans and continue to do so as we educate people just like you who are interested in ensuring that their loved ones are cared for and their affairs handled properly. Our services include: Trusts, Wills, Power of Attorneys, Health Care Directives, Medi-Cal and Veterans Planning, Asset Protection, Probate Administration... and many more.

    It is important to seek qualified professional advice when considering any of these services so that they will withstand IRS scrutiny while accomplishing your objectives. If you are thinking about estate planning services, please contact us to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also attend our free workshop where we'll answer all of your estate planning questions.


    What Our Clients
    Have To Say

    We pursue justice on behalf of our clients. Throughout the years, we have helped thousands of people achieve their estate planning goals and secure favorable outcomes in their probate proceedings. Hear what some of them have to say about our services.

    Read More Client Testimonials

    *The content of client testimonials does not constitute a guarantee or prediction regarding the outcome of any legal matter.

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    Free Live Workshops
    & Webinars

    Our free, informative workshops will explain estate planning and demonstrate how we have made the process simple and affordable. At the workshop you will learn how to eliminate all costs of probate to your family.

    Our Office Locations

    Botti & Morison is a proud member of every community we serve as evidenced by our A+ record with the Better Business Bureau. We are proud of our success and look forward to continuing our relationships with each local community. Botti & Morison is here to help you and your family establish the peace of mind that comes with a customized estate plan.

    Contact Our Firm
    Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd.
    Our office headquarters located in Ventura, California.

    Request A Free
    Consultation

    Use the contact form to submit an email requesting a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys. Our team is standing by and ready to help. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

      Paul Morison working in office

      For your convenience, consultations may be held over the phone, video conference or in person at one of our six office locations.

      *All fields are required. Submission of this form does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please do not include highly sensitive information. If your situation is urgent, please call our office at 877.585.1885.

      California Estate
      & Probate Lawyers

      We specialize in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Trust Administration and Probate Litigation in the state of California.

      Planning

      Although it may feel strange to plan for the end, every person no matter their wealth should have a comprehensive and customized estate plan in the event they're deceased or incapacitated. Most estate plans are comprised of a will, but they can also include other important documentation including the establishment of a trust, Durable Financial Power of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive, among other important estate planning instruments. To learn more, visit the links listed below.

      Administration

      Once a person has passed, their loved ones must take up the mantle and administer their estate according to their wishes. The outcome of this process would depend on if the deceased had an estate plan already established. Without one, the estate must go through a court-supervised process known as probate. To learn more about probate and administration of one's estate, visit the articles linked below.

      Litigation

      In some cases, litigation may be necessary to take control of a person's estate-especially if the personal representative has exhibited issues while managing said estate. Litigation, whether it's during probate or in regard to a trust/will, is necessary if disputes arise over the administration or distribution of the decedent's estate. To learn more about probate and estate litigation, visit the article linked below.

      Dedicated Advocates Working to Preserve & Protect Your Interests

      Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. offers comprehensive estate planning services for individuals and families from all backgrounds and levels of wealth. Whether it’s establishing the foundation of a complex estate plan using advanced irrevocable trust strategies, managing a will through the probate process, setting up structured lifetime gifting, or litigating a probate or trust dispute; our attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. have seen it all and can assist you no matter how complicated the issue is. The attorneys at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. have over 90 years of collective experience in all estate planning matters including asset protection, wills, probate administration, trusts, and probate and estate litigation.

      The legal team at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. provides ample estate planning and trust solutions to clients who wish to preserve their wealth and legacy. These estate plans range from drafting a simple will to utilizing advanced estate planning strategies such as a Irrevocable Trusts or Intentionally Grantor Defective Trusts. What may work for you and your family could be drastically different than the next, which is why we highly encourage you to consult with the professionals at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. before making any major decisions regarding your estate plan.

      Both Chris Botti and Paul Morison possess extensive and in-depth estate planning knowledge from their many years of practice that could prove to be pivotal for your future. In addition, Christ Botti is currently a State Bar of California Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate Law. This certification puts him in an elite group of lawyers that take up less than one-half of one percent of all attorneys in California.

      The lawyers at Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. can provide the honest and thorough answers you need for all your legal questions today. That way you can get started on the right path towards a comprehensive integrated estate plan. Contact us at (877) 585-1885 to set up your first consultation or inquire about one of our webinars/seminars. Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. has offices in Ventura, Westlake Village, Bakersfield, Valencia, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara, California.

      Take Control of Your Estate Plan Today with Our Workshops

      Join estate planning experts, Christopher Botti and Paul Morison, as they take you through a workshop designed to provide you with the tools and knowledge to protect your family from probate expenses and devastating tax burdens. This free two-hour session reveals the secrets to estate planning. It covers real-life issues that affect you and your loved ones and instructs you how to protect your beneficiaries from the government and the court system.

      With Chris and Paul as your guides, you will walk away with the secure feeling that you possess the information to make the right decisions concerning your beneficiaries and loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, if you have assets, you should attend one of our workshops. Register today by using our online signup feature.

       

       

      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

      Below you will find answers to many of the most common questions people have about Estate Planning. Click on the questions below to read their answers.

      • What is a Last Will?

        This is a legal document that takes effect upon death and is used as an instrument to direct the disposition of your property upon death. A Will also serves the critical function of naming guardians for your minor children. In California, wills trigger probate unless the gross value of your "estate" is less than $166,250.00. When used in conjunction with a living trust, a will (then known as a "pour over will") serves to leave assets not otherwise titled in your trust to your trust to determine the disposition of your property upon death.

      • How long does a Will remain valid?

        A Will remains legally valid unless revoked by its creator.

      • When would I need to amend my Will?

        Your Will should be amended when your situation changes - a birth or death in the family, a need to change your executors, or to change the guardians for minor children are common examples of circumstances triggering the need to amend Wills.

      • What if I fail to amend my Will after I have another child, get married or divorced?

        A California Probate Court may decide guardianship of your new child. If you get married, the California Probate Code would likely modify your plan of distribution to account for the community property rights of your spouse. It is critical that your Will is updated to reflect the changes in your life. Otherwise, your wishes may not be followed.

      • Can my Will be contested?

        There is no key required to gain access to the courthouse. In today's litigious society, there is absolutely no guarantee that your Will or any other estate planning document that you prepare will not be challenged. Your estate is liable for the legal expenses necessary to defend your Will. If you think it is a possibility that your Will may be contested, please let your attorney know. There are several defense mechanisms that can be added to your Will and other estate planning documents to eliminate or minimize this risk.

      • What happens with my tax-deferred retirement accounts, annuities, life insurance and joint accounts when I die?

        Accounts that have beneficiary designations will pass outside of the Probate Court system. These assets will be transferred to the beneficiaries listed. It is critical that you check your beneficiary designations regularly to ensure that these assets will be transferred to the people that you intend. Assets held in Joint Tenancy with another individual will be transferred automatically to that person upon your death, without going through a probate court. However, this can be a very risky and ineffective estate planning device. Please see our discussion "Is joint tenancy an acceptable substitution for a Will or a good way to avoid probate?"

      • What happens if you die without a Will?

        The Probate Court will decide who will administer your estate and who will become guardian of your minor children. The California Probate Code dictates who gets your money and your belongings.

        An inappropriate person may be appointed by the court to administer your estate.
        An inappropriate guardian may be appointed by the court.
        Children will receive their share when they become "adults", at the age of 18!
        The beneficiaries may not be those you would have selected if you had been prepared and had completed your own estate plan.

      • Why is a "homemade" (handwritten) Will dangerous?

        Handwritten Wills are easily challenged because of unclear (non-legal) language and often lack witnesses to prove the person writing the Will was legally competent.

        Lawsuits challenging this type of Will are expensive and usually result in a compromise, with beneficiaries you wanted to disinherit receiving part of your estate.

      • Is joint tenancy an acceptable substitution for a Will or a good way to avoid probate?

        If a couple is married or part of a domestic partnership, holding assets in joint tenancy is acceptable, but far from ideal. Married couples living in a community property state (such as California) can obtain a "double step-up in basis" (HUGE Tax Benefit), but most people fail to take advantage of this tremendous tax benefit by keeping assets in joint tenancy.

        However, adding anyone else (besides your spouse or domestic partner) as a joint tenant can create other problems, such as:
        The new joint owner could misappropriate the asset. After all, you gave it to them.
        Did you file a gift tax return when you added his/her name to your asset? Adding a name to an asset is a gift that could subject you to gift tax liability and potentially cause adverse consequences with respect to the Federal Estate Tax.
        Do you really want to expose your assets to someone else's problems?
        If the joint tenant gets involved in a divorce, bankruptcy or lawsuit, your assets may be tied up in a long legal battle and ultimately your assets could be encumbered, compromised or lost.
        Joint tenancy means "automatic right of survivorship" so the surviving joint tenant will get the entire asset, regardless of what your Will or Trust says.

      • Can a Will hurt my loved ones?

        A Will does not avoid probate if the gross value of the assets in your estate exceeds $166.250.00 at your death. If your estate is less than $166,250.00, a living trust may not be required for you and your family. You should consider our "Will Package" as a planning option.

      • What is the cost of Probate in California?

        The cost of probate will take a large bite out of your estate. California Probate Code Section 10810 sets the maximum statutory fees that attorneys can charge for a probate. Higher fees can be ordered by a court for more complex cases. The fees are 4% of the first $100,000 of the estate, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, 1% of the next $9,000,000, and 0.5% of the next $15,000,000. For estates larger than $25,000,000, the court will use its discretion to determine the fee for the amount that is greater than $25,000,000. The fees listed below are the statutory fees used to compensate attorneys and executors in probate cases for various sized estates. If both the attorney and the executor receive a fee (the most common occurrence), the amount paid will be double that shown below.

        SIZE OF ESTATE

        STATUTORY FEE

        $150,000

        $6,000

        $200,000

        $7,000

        $300,000

        $9,000

        $400,000

        $11,000

        $500,000

        $13,000

        $600,000

        $15,000

        $700,000

        $17,000

        $800,000

        $19,000

        $900,000

        $21,000

        $1,000,000

        $23,000

        $2,000,000

        $33,000

        Estates are appraised by probate referees who determine the fair market value of the assets. The fair market value does not deduct for mortgages or other debt, which can result in an appraisal of the property that is higher than the equity that the deceased person owned in the property. Probate referees are appointed by the state controller's office and they receive a fee based on 0.1 % of the assets appraised.

        In probates that are complicated by lawsuits or tax problems, the attorney and executor can ask the judge to approve fees that are higher than those set by state law. In addition to the "statutory" fees, there are costs for court filing fees, appraisal fees, publication costs, and miscellaneous fees charged by the county. A typical estate might incur $1,000 to 2,000 in court costs and other mandated fees.

      • Is a Living Trust right for my family and I?

        Following are the benefits of a Living Trust.

        A Living Trust:
        Avoids probate, thereby avoiding delay, expense and the public nature of this formal proceeding of the Superior Court.
        Avoids the need for a conservatorship if you become incompetent or incapacitated.
        Offers potential tax savings.
        Can continue for the benefit of:
        Your loved ones;
        Minor children and elderly dependent parents; and,
        Adult children with drug or alcohol problems, mental, physical, or educational special needs, or developmentally disadvantaged adult children on SSI.

      • What are the disadvantages of living trusts?

        Following are the disadvantages of a Living Trust.

        Living Trusts usually:
        Cost more to prepare and fund than an estate plan involving just a Will.
        Transferring assets to the Trust involves costs and paperwork (recording deeds and the like) not required for less elaborate estate plans, such as a Will.
        Administration of an Exemption Trust or Credit Shelter Trust (defined below) can involve additional effort for the surviving spouse.
        Refinancing real property that is owned by a Trust may require removing the property from the Trust before the refinancing, and then titling it in the name of the Trust after the refinancing. (Not all lenders require that property be removed from the Trust in order to refinance.)

      • If I have a Trust, do I also need a Will?

        Yes, for two very important reasons:
        As a safety net to "pour" assets into your Trust in case you have forgotten to put an asset into it.
        To provide for the care of your minor children or other dependents.

      • If I have a Trust, do I also need a Power of Attorney for finances?

        See Durable Power of Attorney Section.

      • If I have a Trust, what if I can't make a decision regarding my Healthcare?

        See Advance Health Care Directive Section.

      • What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes?

        This document allows you to designate someone as your agent or attorney - in-fact to make financial decisions regarding your property and assets. It gives them the power to sign your name without the need of incurring the cost and frustration of petitioning the probate court to have them appointed your financial conservator.

        There are two types of Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes. An "immediate" power of attorney takes effect as soon as you sign it and continues in existence until you revoke it. A "springing" power attorney takes effect only after you become incapable of managing your own affairs as certified by your treating physicians.

        All Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes are revoked by operation of law when you die. Therefore, they cannot assist with any post-death issues. Your attorney will discuss with you which type of power of attorney is best suited for you.

      • Whom can I name as my power of attorney?

        Anyone over the age of 18 years old can be designated as your attorney-in-fact. However, this is a very powerful document and we highly recommend that you choose a loved one you trust completely.

      See More FAQs

      We will be communicating with clients exclusively through email about critical law changes and other important topics that are estate planning related. To remain informed, please provide us with your email. We will not share this information. Thank you!