Susan Geffen

Susan B Geffen

- Elder Law Attorney
- Gerontologist, Master's USC
- Former Elder Law Professor


I would recommend Susan Geffen to anyone seeking guidance on elder care and law/financial issues. I told Susan when we first met that my father was....
read more…

If you have kids and assets, you probably need a Living Trust Estate Plan

Individuals who want to get their affairs together seek out an estate planning attorney who creates either a will or a trust.  If you don’t know if you need an estate plan, ask yourself this questionDo you want the State of California to seize your property and distribute according to its whim?


If you die without a will (known as “intestate”), the state, and not you, will decide how your property is to be distributed. Come on, are you really going to leave that decision to “The Terminator?”


If you have not done an estate plan and you love your children, they will have to endure a relatively burdensome and costly legal process upon your death in order to “inherit” from you, their mom or dad.


The upshot is that an estate plan can save your estate thousands of dollars and endless hours of time. Many people do not realize that the probate process takes an average of three years to complete. During this time assets depreciate in value while attorney fees escalate. Basically, for every $100,000 in assets, the probate process will take $4000.00 of your estate’s money.


Estate planning is important regardless of your age, income, assets or health. Many people procrastinate about planning for the distribution of assets in the event of their death.


Some people feel they don’t have enough money or personal belongings to justify executing an estate plan. Others think they are too young or in too good of health to start planning for their death. However, estate planning involves more than deciding who you want to inherit your belongings when you die.


If you have young children, do you want the State of California to decide with whom your children should reside should something happen to you and your spouse? When my husband and I traveled to Thailand without our children, we established a family trust. For us deciding who would care for our children was an agonizing process, but we could breathe easy. Well, not in Bangkok as you can see the air and cut it with a knife in that city.


If you are older, and you do not have an estate plan, then you are at risks of not only having your property disbursed amongst people thrice removed (yes, this is a real term), you risk having a conservatorship imposed upon you. Yes, that is right. Why? Because if you become demented or get Alzheimer’s disease and are making decisions that are harmful to you, Adult Protective Services or your children can petition the court for a third party conservator to take over your medical and financial affairs.


Within a trust document you have the ability to dictate who can make decisions about you should you lose your capacity to do so yourself and you can name, in advance who you choose to be a conservator over yourself or your estate.


When an estate plan is being contemplated, it is important to address the needs of an individual and family across time and settings. This process is enhanced by utilizing a professional who understands the familial conflicts that present themselves as a person ages and the adult children’s roles in their lives become more involved.


Geriatric care managementrepresents a specialization focus in aging issues. As a lawyer with a master’s degree in gerontology, I recognize the interest of individuals to be able to age in place using community and private based resources and services such as Veteran’s Benefits, Medicaid and Medicare. However, the delivery system is fragmented, and there are many limitations on eligibility requirements for entitlement programs.


The GCM’s role is to assure an optimal plan of care for elderly clients in the least restrictive environment. This requires a care plan to assure quality of care for the recipient of services consistent with personal values, wishes, and preferences.


A gerontologist understands the differences between all of the long term care options along the spectrum such as in home care, assisted living, continuing care retirement community, board and care, skilled nursing, hospice and the like.


When wine is paired with chocolate, it is best to visit an establishment that understands not only that chocolate pairs well with wine, but that also understands that wines have many different tannins, flavors and costs.


When you need to plan for your future, it is best to seek out an attorney who implicitly understands the different facet of the aging process, is able to forecast your needs into the future, and who can bring otherwise divided families to consensus.

Susan Outside


If you have not done an estate plan yet, call or email me and I will let you know if you are a good candidate for one. You can reach me at 310-897-7434 and my email is I have offices in Orange County and Los Angeles County.

© Copyright 2019, Susan B Geffen, All Rights Reserved.