Author & Course Instructor

Author, "Every Californian's Guide to Estate Planning"

Liza Hanks

I’m a graduate of Stanford Law School. I have has been an estate planner since 2001. I’m a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust Administration & Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. So, yeah, I have the credentials. But honestly, too many lawyers think it’s about their expertise. What I’m interested in is your expertise. My favorite part of the job is teaching people to understand and use legal documents effectively — so I wrote this book.

Introduction: What’s So Special About Estate Planning in California?

  • What Will I Get Out of This Course?

1. What’s in an Estate Plan and Why Do You Need One?

  • Getting Started
  • Understanding Probate
  • The Workhorses: Wills and Trusts
  • Preparing a Personal Inventory and a List of Beneficiaries
  • Special Estate Planning Issues When You Own Real Estate

2. Wills

  • Making It Legal
  • A Will Is Just One Part of Your Estate Plan
  • Right of Survivorship: Property You Own With Others
  • Choosing an Executor
  • Choosing Guardians and Managing Money for Children
  • Planning for Pets
  • Preparing a Will Worksheet
  • Making a Will: A DIY Project or Not?
  • Once You’ve Done Your Will
  • What Happens If You Don’t Make a Will?

3. Living Trusts

  • What Is a Living Trust?
  • Creating a Living Trust: The Settlor’s Job
  • Casting the Play: Selecting Trustees and Beneficiaries
  • Preparing a Trust Worksheet
  • Creating a Living Trust: DIY Project or Not?
  • Transferring Assets Into the Trust
  • Pour-Over Wills

4. Estate Planning and Your Minor Children: Choosing a Guardian

  • Get It Done
  • What Guardians Are (and Are Not) Responsible For
  • Court Approval and Oversight of Guardians
  • Picking the Right Guardian
  • Common Problems and Some Solutions
  • After You’ve Chosen a Guardian: Talking It Over
  • Giving Guardians Some Written Guidance
  • Congratulate Yourself on Choosing a Guardian!

5. Leaving Money to Children

  • Money and Kids: The Basics
  • Custodial Accounts
  • Children’s Trusts
  • Your Backup Plan: Appoint a Property Guardian
  • Pull Your Plan Together
  • Life Insurance Primer

6. Estate Planning Across Borders

  • Estate and Gift Taxation of Non-U.S. Citizens (Resident and Nonresident Aliens)
  • Taxes on Assets in Other Countries Held by U.S Taxpayers
  • Naming International Trustees and Executors
  • Naming Guardians for Minor Children Who Don’t Live in the U.S.
  • Estate Planning for a Noncitizen Spouse

7. Yours, Mine, and Ours: Estate Planning for Blended Families

  • Community Versus Separate Property
  • Community Property and Taxes
  • Planning Strategies for Blended Families
  • Planning for Children of Different Ages
  • Putting It All Together

8. Estate Planning and Property Tax: What You Need to Know About Prop 13

  • Property Taxes in California
  • What Really Matters: Change in Ownership of Your Home
  • Exclusions From Reassessment That You Have to Request
  • Automatic Exclusions from Reassessment
  • Reporting a Change of Ownership

9. Death and Taxes: Income, Gift, and Estate Taxes

  • Some Background on Death and Taxes
  • Income Taxes
  • Gift Tax
  • The Estate Tax
  • Estate Tax Planning Strategy If You Are Single: Philanthropy

10. Naming the Right Beneficiaries: Retirement and Life Insurance

  • Alphabet Soup: Retirement Plans Explained
  • What Beneficiaries Have You Already Named?
  • Retirement 101: The Basic Rules of Choosing Beneficiaries and Withdrawing Money
  • Naming Beneficiaries for Retirement Plans
  • A Little Housekeeping: Cleaning Up Your Retirement Plans
  • Filling Out the Forms Naming Beneficiaries
  • Naming Beneficiaries for Life Insurance

11. Advance Health Care Directives & Powers of Attorney for Finances

  • Health Care Directives
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

12. Managing Your Plan and Keeping it Current

  • What’s in Your Plan
  • Storing Your Estate Plan
  • Digital Estate Planning Issues
  • Who Should Have Copies of Your Estate Planning Documents
  • Keeping Your Plan Current
  • How to Make Changes to Your Estate Plan

13. Finding a Lawyer and Help Beyond the Book

  • Start With Referrals
  • Do Some Research
  • Make Contact
  • Ask Questions
  • Trust Yourself

Here are the documents we will create together:

  • Personal Inventory - you can use this to gather all of your important financial information in one place.

  • Fiduciary Worksheet - to record your choices for trustee, executor, agents and guardians.

  • Current Beneficiaries List - to keep track of your beneficiaries for life insurance, retirement assets and other beneficiary designated accounts.

  • Guardianship Letter & List - outlining your priorities and concerns for any future guardians and a list of those you're considering choosing.

  • Wills and Trusts worksheet - an outline of the structure of your estate plan.

Have questions?

If you want to talk to a real human being about this course, call 800-685-7331 or submit your email below and we will reach out to you.

Frequently asked questions

  • How does this course work?

    Liza Hanks will be your mentor, teacher, and guide. Videos, readings, and exercises are pre-recorded - you can work through them on your own time, at your own pace. Liza will answer questions on the discussion board.

  • Does this course replace the need for an estate planning attorney?

    No, but it will take you 90% of the way there. The course will empower you to work with an estate planning attorney more confidently.

  • Does the course happen on specific dates?

    No. The course launches in September 2022 and our first cohort will work at the same pace, but you can sign up at any time. You can begin when you are ready and finish when you complete all of the assignments.

  • Will Liza do my estate planning for me?

    No - the whole point of the class is to empower you to do this work for yourself and your clients. Liza isn't taking you on as a client - you are her student and collaborator.

  • Can I get a certificate of completion?

    Yes, we'll offer a learning check at the end of the presentation so you can get a certificate of completion.

Other estate planning courses from Liza Hanks:

  • Free

    FreeEstate Planning for Aging Parents

    for individuals and families
    Learn More
  • $595.00

    $595.00The Trustee's Legal Companion

    Learn More