Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS AN LDA?
A Legal Document Assistant (LDA) is an experienced professional authorized under California law to assist with the preparation of legal documents. Unlike a paralegal, LDAs have their own bond and license, and therefore do not work under the supervision of an attorney. LDAs cannot offer legal advice, discuss legal strategies, answer questions of a legal nature, select forms for the consumer, nor appear in court on the consumer’s behalf. However, Dingler Document Assistance maintains a collection of self-help legal resources to assist you when making decisions.
WHAT IS CALDA?
The California Association of Legal Document Assistants (CALDA) promotes growth, development, and recognition of the Legal Document Assistants’ profession. CALDA promotes high standards of ethical and professional conduct by offering its members educational opportunities, professional alliances, forum exchange, and attorney approved printed materials.
WHY CHOOSE DINGLER DOCUMENT ASSISTANCE?
Rebecca Dingler has over 20 years of experience in the legal field, and has been a California notary for almost a decade. After working for several attorneys, she became an LDA and founded Dingler Document Assistance in 2019.
HOW CAN I BE SURE DINGLER DOCUMENT ASSISTANCE IS A LEGITIMATE BUSINESS?
Rebecca Dingler is a registered and bonded Legal Document Assistant in Sonoma County, California (registration number LDA-000076, expires September 8, 2023). To confirm this information, you may contact the Sonoma County clerk’s office at:
585 Fiscal Drive, Room 103, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
WHAT IS AN ESTATE PLAN?
Your “estate” is all of the assets you have accumulated during your lifetime. An Estate Plan coordinates what happens to your home, savings, investments, businesses, and retirement assets if you become incapable of making your own decisions (coma, Alzheimer’s, etc) and after you die.
WHY SHOULD I HAVE AN ESTATE PLAN?
Most people know that estate planning determines “who gets what”, as well as potentially minimizing income, gift, and estate taxes. However, an estate plan can also lay out who is in charge of your finances and make your medical decisions if you become incapacitated, who will become the guardian of your children and/or pets, and your final wishes (organ donor, burial vs. cremation, etc).
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE A WILL OR TRUST?
Estate Planning is not a one-time event. As your family, finances, and health change over time, so should your estate plan. In addition to being able to create new documents, Dingler Document Assistance can also amend or replace outdated estate plans.
AREN'T ESTATE PLANS ONLY FOR THE ELDERLY, TERMINALLY ILL, OR SUPER WEALTHY?
It’s never too early to plan for the unforeseeable future! What’s important is to have a plan, whether it’s a Trust, Will, or something as simple as adding POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) beneficiaries to your accounts. The more comprehensive the plan, the better, but no matter what you decide, Dingler Document Assistance is here to help.
HOW DO DINGLER DOCUMENT ASSISTANCE'S ESTATE PLANS COMPARE TO THOSE DRAWN UP BY LAWYERS?
Dingler Document Assistance is not a law firm and therefore cannot offer legal advice, discuss legal strategies, nor answer questions of a legal nature. That said, we use the same Trust and Will creation software as estate planning law firms, so you know you’re receiving a quality product at a dramatically reduced price. In California, attorneys often charge $4,000+ for a Living Trust and $600+ for a basic Will. If you have a very complicated estate (e.g., the top 1% who need complex Trusts to avoid taxes, Irrevocable Trusts for special needs children, etc), working with an estate planning attorney and CPA is probably your best option. But most Californians have a fairly straightforward estate, so they can lock in their estate plan without paying these high prices.
IF I’M JUST TRYING TO SAVE MONEY, WHY NOT USE AN ONLINE ESTATE PLANNING PACKAGE?
Not all estate plans are created equal, especially when it comes to the “box formula” plans offered online. These are pre-formatted documents that want you to fill in the blank, often turning your legal documents into something that resemble Mad Libs ®. “One size fits all” often doesn’t take into account personal needs, goals, life situations … and some are so broad, they don’t even adjust their language to conform with specific laws for the state in which you reside. This could be hugely problematic; on top of not being the “right fit” for your estate planning wishes, you run the risk of creating documents that may be invalid in California.
I HAVE A VACATION HOME OR RENTAL IN A STATE OUTSIDE CALIFORNIA. CAN THAT GO INTO MY TRUST TOO?
Your entire estate (both in and out of California) can be made a part of your Trust. However, Rebecca Dingler is only licensed to draw up California documents. Therefore, to have properties in other states added, you need to have someone in that outside state (attorney or licensed document preparer) create the transfer document and record it.