I was admitted to the California Bar in 2008.
Prior to founding Bingham Law in 2012, I had a 23 year career with the County of Sacramento.
While with Sacramento County, I was an Animal Control Officer, a Communications Dispatcher, Senior Information Technology Technician and completed my County career with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department as a Forensic Identification Specialist.
In 2002 after surviving cancer, I changed my direction and decided to pursue a legal degree. I completed law school at night while having a full time job, five children, a mortgage and a wonderful wife.
My wife and I have five energetic boys ranging in age from ten to twenty-four.
In 2012 I took the drastic step of leaving a secure career with the County to begin my own law practice.
With the support of his family and friends, I began another chapter in his life as a small business owner and attorney.
As an Estate Planning Attorney I work with families in all types of situations. Some families are large some are small; many are blended families of the “yours, mine and ours” variety. Some families have members with disabilities or dependency issues. Some are well off and some have modest assets.
I work with each family to design and create an estate plan that is custom made for them.
Every family is unique but the goals are generally the same.
Those goals are to create legal documents that will
- Handle your affairs when you are incapacitated.
- Transfer your assets to your loved ones when you pass away.
- Keep transferred assets from causing harm to the beneficiary
It is my goal to make sure that as far as possible the documents I draft will function as needed when they are needed. I can’t stop tragedy from entering people’s lives and I don’t pretend to say that a well-crafted Living Will or Power of Attorney is a comfort during trying times. I do say that having an effective set of estate planning documents in place when misfortune occurs reduces the stress and worry level, at least a little.
I don’t make that statement lightly or casually.
I share the following event because I want everyone I work with to understand why I take my work so seriously.
My oldest son, Kristopher, at the age of 22, in 2014, was involved in a vehicle accident. A large tree had fallen down across both lanes of the road on a curve.
Kristopher’s visible injury was deceptively small. The small cut on his forehead was the only visible sign of any trauma however that was the least of his problems. Kristopher suffered a fractured C2, crushed C6 and C7 vertebrae, and his spinal cord was completely severed.
He is a permanent quadriplegic. This means all four of his limbs are affected. He cannot feel or control anything below the midline of his chest. This means his feet, legs, bladder, bowels, stomach and lower back muscles. He needs help to cough effectively. He has partial use of his left thumb and index finger, he can lift and use his smartphone and feed himself. It is possible but extremely unlikely that he will someday be able to live on his own. He will probably always require someone to help him with many daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, opening non-automatic doors, bladder and bowel care, laundry, cooking and the list goes on and on.
After nearly a year and a half he was awarded Social Security benefits. This happened only after I was able to show Social Security that he had no assets no income and was permanently disabled.
There must be people that work in the Social Security offices that are compassionate, use common sense, are able to read and understand their own procedure and policy rules, come to work consistently and answer a phone, but I never dealt with one.
I had dealt with Social Security prior to my son’s case, but after his case I very much understand how a family member feels when trying to get a loved one benefits.
In addition to training and professional experience with the creation of Special Needs Trusts, I have very personal and intimate experience with why such a Trust would be needed. During the time immediately following my son’s accident the fact that he had a Power of Attorney and an Advanced Health Care Directive naming his mother and me as his agents helped a great deal.
We were able to deal with insurance companies, the hospital, his doctors, his bank, his employer and countless other things.
My wife and I are not doctors or medical professionals, we could only stand by and be supportive as he went to physical therapy. If we had been unable to handle the small routine things like his tax return as well, it would have been worse.
At least we could DO something. I created a Special Needs Trust for his benefit, his mom dealt with the CPA for his tax return, we did what we could do and that was a help in dealing with the situation.
Everyone and anyone can be struck by tragedy, sickness or injury at any time. I firmly believe that everyone needs at the very least an Advanced Health Care Directive, which allows someone to make medical decisions for them, and a Durable Power of Attorney, which allows someone to make financial decisions for them. These documents don’t have to go into effect until the person is incapacitated, unconscious or unable to handle their own affairs.
I sincerely hope that no family ever needs the documents I create for them, but life happens to everyone and it is better to have an Estate Plan in place even if it is just those two basic documents.
I understand that many families can’t afford expensive lawyer drafted Estate Planning documents and I’ve created affordable plans and resources for this purpose.
Along with full-service done-for-you options, I am now glad to say that Bingham Law will be providing low cost options for the do it yourselfer. These documents are created to satisfy California law and are non-customized, but will provide basic estate planning services for modest families.