Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres Announces Free and Affordable Estate Planning Services
In partnership with Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), 100 households will receive free and affordable estate planning services for San Francisco’s low- and moderate-income households to protect family wealth, provide a strategic plan for their health and property, and safeguard families from probate fees and potential loss of property.
For Immediate Release
Date: February 22, 2022
Contact: Adam S. Mehis, (415) 554-5502
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Today, San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres announced a partnership with nonprofit organization Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) to provide estate plans to low-income and moderate-income households in San Francisco. HERA’s culturally competent and multilingual staff will provide direct services including educational workshops, legal support, and a complete estate plan, including a living trust, will, financial power of attorney, and health care directive. A total of 100 estate plans will be provided free of cost for low-income households and $400 for moderate-income households.
“Estate plans create certainty about the future of your assets. Whether it is your home, business, heirlooms or other valuables, these plans ensure that your hard-earned assets are taken care of by those you trust and love,” said Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres. “For many families, it’s your home that is your most valuable asset. For others, like small business owners, it can be a business you have built up over a lifetime. Both create pathways to build intergenerational wealth. For many communities, these plans are essential in preserving neighborhood and community integrity that define our city.”
“For far too long, San Francisco has become increasingly unaffordable for working families and residents in under-resourced communities,” said Mayor Breed. “This service is critical to building generational wealth and keeping the people who grew up here in the city they call home. I want to thank Assessor-Recorder Torres and his office for their work to push this critical initiative forward.”
Through this program, families will save thousands of dollars through free or low-cost estate plans which typically cost between $3,000-$3,500. Without an estate plan, a family’s assets will go through probate that requires intervention by the courts. This process is not only lengthy (minimum nine months), but it can cost tens of thousands of dollars. For example, a family would have to pay up to $46,000 in probate and legal fees for an estate valued at $1,000,000. According to an external data source, Bayview homes were selling for a median price of $1,060,000 in January 2022. For families that cannot afford these costs, inheriting families may have no choice but to sell the family home or other assets to pay probate costs. Preparing an estate plan ensures a family’s assets remain intact for the beneficiary or the next generation.
“Estate plans are essential for the residents of District 10 who often face barriers when it comes to estate planning,” said Board President Shamann Walton, Supervisor of District 10. “The Assessor-Recorder and HERA’s partnership addresses the community need for estate plans and removes major economic obstacles for low-income and moderate-income families to participate in economically planning for the future.”
This pilot program focuses these resources primarily in the southeast neighborhoods of San Francisco where there is a combination of high homeownership rates, lower-income communities, and communities of color. Neighborhoods include Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Portola, Bernal Heights, Excelsior, the Outer Mission, Ingleside, and Western Addition.
“Estate planning is critically important to the Black community, especially in San Francisco where the wealth gap is so drastic,” said Tinisch Hollins, co-founder of SF Black Wallstreet. “Protecting our assets can create opportunities for families to build generational wealth and allows us to continue being stakeholders in our city.”
“By expanding on our partnership with the Office of the Assessor-Recorder we are supporting San Francisco homeowners’ ability to protect themselves, their homes, and other valuable possessions,” said HERA Executive Director Maeve Brown. “Programs like these build a safe financial future and create positive solutions for its most vulnerable residents.”
“In the face of loss or uncertainty, families should be able to feel confident about keeping what they have to protect themselves from economic and social risks,” said Director Eric Shaw of the Office of Housing and Community Development. “The City's partnership with HERA reaffirms San Francisco's commitment to ensuring our communities in need that have been disproportionately underserved and under-resourced, are equipped, and empowered to thrive by providing essential estate planning services to safeguard residents and their futures.”
Together with community-based organizations, the Office of the Assessor-Recorder and HERA will conduct webinars, workshops, informational sessions and additional outreach to ensure eligible applicants in pilot neighborhoods are informed of the program.
To watch presentations on estate planning, please visit here.
City Hall Office:
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place Room 190
San Francisco, CA 94102-4698
Tel: (415) 554-5502