Inside: Guest Editor’s Column, December 2015

talbot_matthew_11-2015_webWelcome to the December issue of Contra Costa County Lawyer magazine! I am extremely excited about this issue. I have been practicing probate and elder law for about 10 years now and found it to be one of the most exciting and interesting fields out there.

We are on the front lines of families’ lives, trying to help provide protections for the vulnerable among us. To me, elder law attorneys are problem solvers. Even when involved in nasty litigation, my focus is always on what can be done to resolve the issues in the best interest of the family (and, in specific, the elder, if one is alive).

Since there tends to be a smaller bar in the probate/elder law world, there is significant congeniality among practitioners. When you have multiple cases with an attorney (and another 30 years worth of cases in front of you), you are not going to throw that relationship away for a single case. It leads to people working together collaboratively to ensure the best interest of all involved.

For this issue, we have a 1930 Philadelphia Athletics lineup of writers here to provide you with all-encompassing elder law information. Elder law has a wide array of types of cases, which span a variety of practitioners. In regard to estate planning, we have a great article from David Oh of Dorband and Schneider, LLP. He takes a closer look at taxes in relationship to estate planning.

We also have Tracy Regli of Acuna, Regli, and Klein, LLP, who dares us to think that maybe, just maybe, the probate process isn’t quite as bad as you think it is! Despite her persuasive arguments, many will still opt for a trust, thinking that it will be a smoother disposition. However, even the best laid plans can self destruct, and when it does not go smoothly, it can end up in litigation. Nathan Pastor of the Morrill Law Firm gives us some direction on how best to handle trust litigation and goes over different options available to combat potential abuse in a trust context. Speaking of abuse, Erin Kolko of Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP, drafted a great piece on financial elder abuse litigation. May you never need help there.

Sometimes it is necessary to make decisions on behalf of another person; sometimes those people are elderly and sometimes they are not. Like bookends, we have articles looking at this process in terms of the elderly (conservatorships) and the young (guardianships). Jonathan Thompson of Thompson Law Offices focuses his article on conservatorships. Conservatorships can be confusing and frightening, and they are a part of the law that few attorneys handle, so it is helpful to have an attorney experienced in all types of conservatorships give us insight into how conservatorships can be used to the benefit of the conservatee. Douglas Housman, of the Law Offices of Carolyn D. Cain, takes up the analogous world of guardianships.

Fiduciaries: What exactly is a fiduciary and what role do they perform? In this month’s spotlight article, Janice Kittredge and Diana Lowe, private fiduciaries at California Senior Connection, shine a light on fiduciaries, the roles they perform and how they can help in trying times.

Last, but certainly not least, we have some hard-to-get MCLE credit! Liz Barsell and Cynthia Sayegh of Blackstock and Barsell, have co-written an article on estate planning ethics. If you answer the questions after reading the article, you can get MCLE credit … and not just ANY credit, either …ETHICS credit! Surely, this is the Contra Costa Lawyer issue that keeps on giving!


Matthew B. Talbot, Esq., is an elder law attorney in Walnut Creek. His practice specializes in estate planning, trust/probate administration, trust/probate litigation, conservatorships, guardianships, elder abuse and Medi-Cal matters. Matthew is on the Executive Board of the Inns of Court. You can reach him at or (925) 322-1763.

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