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Beware of Non-Lawyers

In California, lawyers are the only members of society who are approved to give legal advice.

Thus, questions regarding estate planning can only be answered legally by an attorney. This includes questions such as, “What is a will?” or “Why do I need a trust?”

Non-lawyers often give advice about wills, trusts, the titling of real property and other issues that are strictly and necessarily the purview of lawyers. When I say non-lawyers, I’m referring to paralegals, document preparers, CPAs, accountants, realtors, financial planners, and others. They may try to charge you for such work. That, however, is against California law.

If you are seeking advice or information regarding estate planning, including a plan that already exists, consider who is giving the advice. Is the person licensed to provide that advice? If he or she is, the California State Bar website at can verify it. If the person is not listed as a member of the California Bar, he or she is unable to give such advice legally.