I was born in Tripoli, Libya to an Italian mother and then adopted by an American Air Force officer and his family. After traveling across the ocean on an ocean liner, I arrived in the United States where my father was stationed at an Air Force base in Michigan. Later, we moved to an Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I became a citizen at the age of four and a half. For years, we moved around to various Air Force bases in Bermuda and Virginia. In 1968, my father retired from the Air Force and moved the entire family to Silicon Valley, where I have lived ever since.
My original intention was to be a high school history teacher, and although I still have a love of history, that is not the kind of teaching I do now. During my senior year of college, I decided to pursue a law degree and eventually received my Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.
I did not set out to study estate planning in law school, and it wasn’t until I was working with a small firm in San Jose that I was even introduced to the topic. Through my firm, I began doing seminars on living trusts. After leaving that firm, I continued doing seminars and would estimate that throughout the course of my career, I’ve done 300 to 400.
I still do several seminars every year out of my office in San Jose, and there is a version of my living trust seminar on my YouTube channel The Law Offices of Robert P Bergman. A few years ago, that seminar went viral and has well in excess of 50,000 views.
A number of years ago, I became a board-certified specialist in estate planning, probate, and trust law through the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. This places me among a small number of attorneys in California that specialize in estate planning as opposed to just dabbling in estate planning.
Fixing Broken Trusts: Heggstad and Trust Modification Petitions In California
I decided to write this book because I have found that there are likely thousands of families each year in the state of California that need to go to court to fix a broken trust of some kind—whether it’s to change the terms of the trust to avoid having to take actions that are no longer necessary or appropriate, make modifications to the trust to provide more protection for heirs and beneficiaries, or gather loose assets into the trust that should’ve been there before the creator of the trust had died.
For those who live in one of several of the counties here in California (especially Southern California), the court process to fix broken trusts can be very expensive and take months to accomplish. I have a process that can often resolve issues in one to two weeks instead of months, and at a much lower cost than a family may suffer in other parts of the state.
I would like the readers of this book to come away with an appreciation that the situation that they may be facing is not unique, that there are solutions to their broken trusts, and that I can be the “doctor” with the remedy.