Estate Planning

Estate planning clients of the Law Office of Erin R. Parks can expect superior assistance in creating comprehensive estate plan packages on a flat fee basis, or amendments to existing estate planning documents, and advice on estate planning strategies.

Individuals,  Families & Non-United States Citizens

Most of Erin’s estate planning clients are:

  • Homeowners in Santa Barbara County
  • Employed or Retired
  • Assets ranging from $1,000,000 to $10,000,000
  • Varied family structures: newly married couples; married couples with or without children; blended families; domestic partners; unmarried couples; and single individuals with or without children.
  • Non-United States Citizen spouses

Wills, Trusts & More

Erin drafts and amends trusts, wills, and other estate coordination documents.  All of Erin’s revocable living trust packages include the following documents:

Revocable Living Trust
Pourover Will
Advance Health Care Directive
Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney
Certification of Trustee

To facilitate her clients’ transfer of real property into trusts, Erin creates Trust Transfer Deeds, Preliminary Change Of Ownership Reports, and Tax Transfer Affidavits required by counties in the State of California.

Erin also prepares Transfer on Death Deeds (TOD Deeds) for transfer of California real property on death.  Because TOD Deeds include significant restrictions, Erin consults with her clients to ensure that they can take advantage of this “nonprobate transfer”.

Other estate planning tools prepared by the Law Office of Erin R. Parks include:

  • Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT)
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT)


Erin’s knowledge of both immigration law and estate planning makes her the perfect choice for individuals living in the United States but who have not attained United States Citizenship and wish to create an estate plan with a special trust called a “qualified domestic trust” (QDOT) and/or to obtain citizenship.

Whether or not you, or your spouse, are United States citizens affects the manner in which an estate plan deals with assets held in the United States.  Non-United States citizens can inherit property just like United States citizens.  Assets left to a surviving spouse are not subject to federal estate tax, no matter how much they are worth—IF the surviving spouse is a United States citizen. This rule is called the unlimited marital deduction. The marital deduction DOES NOT apply when the surviving spouse is not a United States citizen (even if the spouse is a legal permanent resident).  If your spouse is NOT a United States citizen, any gifts you give during lifetime are only tax-free up to a certain amount.

If your spouse becomes a United States citizen by the time a federal estate tax return is due, he or she will qualify for the unlimited marital deduction.  If citizenship is not an option, a noncitizen spouse can inherit free of estate tax if a QDOT is used. Usually, a QDOT is set up while both spouses are alive, and comes into existence when the United States citizen spouse dies.


Erin represents trustees and estate representatives (usually acting on behalf of friends or family) with trust administration.

If a person dies and has a Trust, the Trust must be administered by a surviving co-trustee or a successor trustee.   All of the instructions in the Trust must be followed by the trustee, along with all of the state and federal laws that affect the decedent’s trust estate. This private process is called “Trust Administration”.  Erin guides her trustee clients on how to effectively administer a trust, and counsels beneficiaries on what they can expect a trustee to do for them. In rare cases, Erin accepts Trustee nominations, and performs trust administration duties for clients.


Probate Court Proceedings

In most cases, if a person dies with assets over a certain value, and they have a Will (testate), or they die without a Will (intestate), then their estate must be administered through “Probate”.

Probate is a court process where:

  • A judge oversees the transfer of a dead person’s assets to their beneficiaries
  • The validity of a Will is proven or disproven
  • A decedent’s property is inventoried and appraised
  • Debts or taxes (including federal estate taxes) are paid
  • Property is distributed to beneficiaries

A decedent’s estate representative is responsible for Probate administration and communication with beneficiaries of the estate.  The Law Office of Erin R. Parks assists estate representatives negotiate and progress through the Probate process as quickly as possible in full compliance with the law.

Estate Litigation

The Law Office of Erin R. Parks is unique because it not only offers transactional estate planning  but also seasoned litigation services with in-depth knowledge of the substantive law and procedures applicable to probate and trust disputes.

Erin represents individual fiduciaries and beneficiaries in disputes involving trusts and estates.


Erin R. Parks also guides clients through the Probate Court for guardianship of minors, and conservatorship of adults who are unable to provide for their personal needs or manage their financial resources.

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