Protecting Our Protectors – Free Estate Plans

Ray Padilla Law, APC and its attorneys believe in giving back to the community and providing protection to those who routinely risk everything to protect our nation and our communities.  As such, we strive to provide our comprehensive estate planning services to one eligible individual per month at not cost.

Who is eligible?

All veterans and active duty military personnel, police officers and fire fighters.

Is there a catch?

There is no catch.  Our time and services will be free.  We do not, however, have a notary in-house so the notary fees will be the responsibility of the client.  We do however constantly reach out to notaries in the community to see if they would be willing to donate their services as well, so this is subject to change periodically!

How do I get on the list, sign up or request information?

Simply call the number (619) 431-1187 to speak with one of our team members.

Thank you,

Ray Padilla Law, APC


In a Car Accident. Should I Deal With the Insurance Adjuster Alone?

You’ve been involved in a car collision and are now considering going up against the insurance company and their adjusters alone.  Hopefully, you’re reading this having not suffered severe injuries; however, regardless if you were seriously injured or suffered only minor injuries, you should reconsider going at it alone.

There is no secret that insurance companies like dealing with people who are not represented by attorneys.  Why is that?  Well, simply put, they have a better chance of taking advantage of those people by either denying their claims or offering them unreasonably low settlement offers.

There have been many former insurance employees and people with inside information who’ve come out and talked about the many unethical practices of the insurance companies that have the ultimate goal of paying you nothing or less than what you deserve.

There was a nationwide class-action case, for example, wherein former Allstate employees testified that they were “trained to build rapport with customers and discourage them from hiring layers.” (Bartelme, Tony.  STORM OF MONEY: Insider tells how some insurance companies rig the system.  In an article written by Patrick Gunning titled if you love them, let them go, he explains that “insurance whistle blower Robert Dietz, adjusters at Farmers Insurance were ‘taught how to dissuade people from hiring a lawyer in the first place,’ ‘were evaluated annually for this talent,’ and ‘whenever adjusters allowed claimants to retain an attorney, they had to fill out a form to explain to supervisors how they let it happen.'” (Heckman, Candace; Low-ball offers nothing new in insurance industry. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  May 14, 2003.)

Please understand that not all adjusters are like this and/or constantly working against you.  In fact, there are many adjusters who mean well.  Most adjusters, however, are simply overworked, underpaid, under appreciated and made to comply with standards like those mentioned above.

Insurance companies have a high interest in keeping you from hiring an attorney or resolving your claim before you do so keep that in mind before speaking with an insurance company before speaking with an attorney.


Estate Planning is for Everyone, Including Young Families

It is common for young families to hesitate or even fail entirely to set up and estate plan because they are healthy and young, or simply because any extra expense early on can seem impossible or a luxury that they can do without.  The sad reality is that these days, anyone can be taken suddenly by an unfortunate illness or accident.  It is human nature for all of us to think “that won’t happen to me,” but preparing for the possibility that something could happen is prudent and responsible.  Furthermore, estate planning can be inexpensive and tailored to each young family’s needs and financial means.  For example, a young family can set up the essential documents and perhaps term life insurance, then revise and upgrade as their financial position improves.  A young family can set up a suitable estate plan that includes the following:

Nominating a Trustworthy Administrator

The person selected will be in charge of managing final financial matters such as figuring what bills need to be paid and pay them, identifying and valuing all assets, distributing assets to the appropriate person(s), and hiring professionals such as attorneys and other advisors as is necessary.  By selecting such a person yourself, you can have the peace of mind knowing that you’ve selected a trustworthy person capable of such a big responsibility instead of having a court select one for you.

Selecting a Proper Guardian for Minor Children

Determining who should raise your children should something happen to both parents is perhaps the most important decision parents can make.  This of course, is something that parents of young children understand very well.  However, what some young parents might not realize is that if they don’t name a guardian in an appropriate legal document, a court that is not familiar with their values, wishes and family members will appoint one for them.

Specifying Instructions for Distribution of Property

A majority of married couples want and expect their assets to pass to the surviving spouse should one of them pass away.  It is also normal for parents to want their assets to be used for the caring of young children should both parents pass away.  Having a detailed estate plan that lists instructions on just how the assets should be used for the care of the children is imperative.  For example, instructing that monies should be held in trust for college or a home and having the remaining balance given to them at age 25 or 30, instead of giving an 18 year old a substantial amount of money that can be easily misused.

Putting a Newly Purchased Home in the Name of a Trust to Avoid Probate

A young family works hard and finally raises enough money to buy a home; unfortunately, if that home is not in the name of your trust (essential part of an estate plan) probate court will get involved and charge a fee of up to 5% of your estate to ensure the property is given to the correct person(s).  Something easily avoided by setting up a basic estate plan.

Planning for Disability

Higher statistics show that either one or both parents will become disabled due to injury, sickness or accident at some point in their lives.  As such, parents need Advanced Health Care Directives that provide someone legal authority to make medical decisions if they can’t make them for themselves. HIPPA authorizations will allow all physicians authority to share and discuss your medical situation with others of your choosing. Also, because life insurance does not pay at disability, disability income insurance should also be discussed.
Attorney Ray Padilla is the founder and President of Ray Padilla Law, APC


What is an Estate Plan? Do I need one?

As an Estate Planning attorney, the question I hear most is, “what exactly is an Estate Plan?”  I am always happy to hear clients ask this question because it gives us an opportunity to really educate our clients and it tells me that the clients are eager to learn and be proactive in protecting their family and their assets.  An Estate Plan is a set of documents created for the benefit of an individual or a family, that allows them the ability and discretion to control their assets, healthcare and financial decisions while they are 1) alive and healthy, 2) upon incapacity, and 3) after they have passed away.  By setting aside a small amount of time, individuals and families can, through the proper estate plan, ensure that their money and possessions are passed down to whom they want, when they want, all while avoiding unnecessary attorneys fees, court costs, and taxes.

Generally, what is included in an Estate Plan?

For the average individual or family, an Estate Plan typically includes a Revocable Living Trust, Durable Powers of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives, Pour Over Will (with guardian provisions), Living Wills, and HIPPA Authorizations.  That being said, each individual or family should have an Estate Plan tailored to their own specific needs and wishes.

How will an Estate Plan benefit me and my family?

Each individual and family has unique issues and circumstances that makes it essential for them to speak with an experienced attorney to fully understand their options and take full advantage of the fully customizable Estate Plan documents. However, if you’re like me, you need an example to better visualize and understand how an Estate Plan can benefit you and your family.

Let us suppose that a hypothetical husband and wife (the Smiths) who live in California are considering talking to an Estate Planning attorney but are not sure why exactly they should or what benefits that would bring them.  Let us further assume that the Smiths have two children, ages 10 and 7, and own a home in San Diego worth $600,000.  Some common concerns that the Smiths might want to address are:

  1.  What will happen to the young children should the parents pass away unexpectedly or become incapacitated while the children are under 18 years of age?  Who will be their guardians?


  1.     Who would the Smiths like to receive their assets and property once they pass away?  (These are usually referred to as the beneficiaries).


  1.     Assuming they wish for their children to be the beneficiaries, at what age and what increments should they receive the funds of the estate?


  1.    Will their estate have to go through Probate? (A legal process where a court decides how your assets will be divided and who they will be given to. This is a costly, public, and time consuming process that reduces the total value of the estate. In California, a few of the ways an estate can avoid the full probate process are: by holding assets in a trust, or if the total value of the estate is under $150,000.00 (Cal. Prob. Code §§ 13050, 13100) or with real property valued under $50,000.00 Code (§§ 13200 to 13208).

These are just some of the biggest concerns; however, there exist many more important issues and concerns that individuals and families face each day as a result of not having a comprehensive estate plan at the time of incapacity or death of a loved one.

How will the above issues be resolved by attaining an Estate Plan?

  1. 1.    Perhaps the most important benefit of an Estate Plan is the ability to provide for and ensure that young children are taken care of should the parents become incapacitated or pass away.  An Estate Plan will allow parents to select whom they wish to become guardians of their young children.  That is not to say that a Court in California wouldn’t select the same individuals, but remember, that a Court might also select someone whom you would never select yourself.


  1.     People work hard their entire lives to save money, buy a home, and purchase property that make their everyday lives more enjoyable.  As such, they should have the ability to ensure that all of their possessions are passed down to the people they select.  Perhaps the Smiths want all their assets to go to their children but don’t wish for them to squander it all away due to grief or immaturity.  With a proper Estate Plan, they can select how, when and at what increments their children will receive funds.


  1.    According to the San Diego County Court Website, “probate” is defined as follows, “Probate is the court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the decedent’s assets; paying taxes, debts, and expenses; and distributing the balance to beneficiaries. Probate deals with transferring the property of someone who has died (decedent) to the heirs or beneficiaries, deciding if a will is valid, and taking care of the financial responsibilities of the person who has died.” This essentially means that, the Court will be deciding to whom your estate will be given and how it will be distributed. Having your estate go through the probate system can take years in addition to the Probate Court charging fees or a percentage (5%) of the “gross” value of the estate.  A proper Estate Plan can help avoid probate.

If you share some of these same concerns or have unique ones of your own, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a free consultation.