The estate planning lawyers at O’Brien, Barton, Leppard & Essig, PLLP have over twenty-five years of practice helping families organize their affairs. We have worked for clients with a variety of needs, ranging from young families who require only simple planning to those with sophisticated asset structures who require tax and other more complicated planning.

The process is simple and starts with filling out the questionnaire available through the link below. The financial information from the questionnaire assists the attorney in the determination of the estate planning strategies best suited for the individual client. The questionnaires are reviewed prior to or during the attorney consultation to allow the attorney to present an initial set of questions and recommendations at the first meeting.

The terms below may assist in understanding the estate planning process.

Community Property Agreement:

A declaration that all property owned by a married couple is jointly owned by each other, alleviating the need of probating the estate of the first spouse to die.

Durable Power of Attorney:

The document that gives someone else full legal authority to make economic and/or medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity due to accident or illness, alleviating the need of a guardianship.

Directive to Physician/Living Will:

In the event of a terminal illness or injury, this document serves as your instructions to your doctor regarding artificial means of sustaining your life or discontinuing the artificial support systems.

Estate & Gift Tax:

A tax assessed against the net assets of an estate, which must be paid by the administrator or executor from the estate’s assets.

Living Trust:

Your property is placed in the living trust while you are still alive. Upon death, your property automatically goes to your heirs without going through probate court.


The legal process in which a court oversees the distribution of property left in a will.


Property given to a trustee to manage for the benefit of a third person. Generally the beneficiary gets interest and dividends on the trust assets for a set number of years; an agreement under which one person transfers title to specific property to another who agrees to hold or manage it for the benefit of a third person.


The legal document that dictates how your property will be divided upon your death. It may also designate trustees/guardians for your children.
Click here to fill out the Estate Planning Questionnaire.

Trust for Children or Other Dependents:

You can create within your Will a Testamentary Trust for the benefit of your young children or perhaps grandchildren, in order to preserve assets for their benefit, fund their college educations, and get them launched in life. If a mother and father or two parents have died, all of their assets would flow into a Testamentary Trust for the benefit of the children. That money is managed by the Trustee whom you have selected, and the money is held and disbursed according to the terms of the trust language, which we discuss in detail. Often parents decide to hold money until each child has reached the age of twenty-five (25); sometimes longer, depending on the circumstances. Trust assets can also be used for medical expenses; other educational expenses; perhaps a down-payment on a first house, etc.

Testamentary Special Needs Trust:

Creating a Testamentary Special Needs Trust within your Will is a method to leave assets to a child or other loved one who has a disability, and who once they reach the age of eighteen (18) will qualify for need-based government benefits, such as SSI or Medicaid. Holding these assets in a Special Needs Trust allows the disabled beneficiary to continue to receive these government benefits, without being disqualified for having assets above the minimum threshold. Money held in a Special Needs Trust can be used for extra expenses to help make the beneficiary’s life better, things like travel, education, and other experiences outside of everyday life expenses. A Special Needs Trust can be written into your Last Will and Testament to provide a useful bequest to a loved one you wish to remember in your legacy.