California Certification in Estate Planning Law

California Bar Board of Legal Specialization

At Lawyer Legion, we recognize the importance of board certification programs in estate planning, trust, and probate law. Certification programs provide a powerful tool when the public begins their search for a qualified attorney.

In California, the board certification for Estate Planning, Trust and Probate law is awarded by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Only California attorneys board certified in estate planning, trust, and probate law can advertise or identify themselves as "certified specialists" or "board certified" in California for that specialty field of law.

The Standards for certification in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate law must be read in conjunction with the Rules Governing the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal Specialists.

Definition of Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law in California

The definition of "estate planning, trust, and probate law" for purposes of California's board certification program is the practice of law dealing with the following practice areas:

  • the administration of estates and trusts (such as necessary court or non-court procedures;
  • the management and transfer of assets;
  • the protection of the property and provision for the personal needs of individuals unable to handle their own affairs by reason of age, illness or other incapacity;
  • tax reporting, payment of tax and tax audits;
  • the creation, protection, and disposition of a client’s assets, during life and upon and after death, in accordance with the client’s expressed desires;
  • the preparation of wills, trusts and other documents to carry out the client’s desires; and
  • the tax and family relationship consequences of the client’s acts and desires.

Task Requirements for Certification in Estate Planning in California

A trust and estate attorney who applies for board certification in California must demonstrate that within the specified period he or she has been substantially involved in the practice of estate planning, trust, and probate law.

The attorney can make a prima facie showing of substantial involvement in the area of estate planning, trust and probate law by showing the attorney participated in a specified type and number of cases.

Requirements for Recertification in California Estate Planning

The requirements for recertification include demonstrating continued direct and substantial participation in the practice of estate planning, trust, and probate law.

Additionally, the attorney must complete a certain number and type of continuing legal education activities specifically approved for estate planning, trust, and probate law.

For more information on specialty certification contact:

California Board of Legal Specialization - Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone 415-538-2120

Finding a Board Certified Estate Planning in California

Attorneys focused on certified Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law can:

  • help you with guardianship proceedings, Medi-Cal planning, and conservatorships;
  • implementing Asset Protection plans; 
  • organizing the succession of a family or closely-held business;
  • minimize taxes paid in connection with an estate plan; and 
  • prepare a will or trust.

Although any licensed attorney can practice in estate planning, only about 1% of lawyers are certified as specialists in estate planning, trust, and probate law by the State Bar of California.

The State Bar certifies legal specialists in order to:

  • encourage the maintenance and improvement of attorney competence in specialized fields of law; and
  • to help the public identify attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in specialized fields of law.

The search to find a good estate planning attorney in California can be a daunting task. At Lawyer Legion, we make that task easier by properly recognizing board certified attorneys in our online directory.

This article was last updated on Friday, November 22, 2019.