Grand Avenue – West of 580 Blog – April 2014

On Grand Ave., West of 580

Hello, Neighbors!  Watch this space for monthly news and notes about tasty gems, handy services, art, and changes on Grand Ave., west of 580.  –  LZ.

News Flash: After a few private parties, Barlago Italian Kitchen quietly opened on April 24 at 550 Grand Ave. (former site of Zza’s).  Full story will follow next month.

California Document Preparers

Lynne, Corey, Ian, Valerie
Lynne, Corey, Ian, Valerie and Imzadi in Ian’s hand

In 2002, Ian Duncan met Corey Priest at a Whole Foods store. For their first date, they saw the movie Star Trek Nemesis.  In one scene, Colonel Worf miserably sat alone at the wedding reception of Commander William T. Riker and Counselor Deanna Troi.  Although a Klingon, Worf was obviously suffering ill effects from consuming a large quantity of the highly intoxicating beverage Romulan ale.  When Worf moaned, “Romulan ale should be illegal,” Ian and Corey simultaneously shouted at the screen (along with Lt. Commander Gordi La Forge in the movie), “It is!” At that moment, Ian and Corey thought they might have a special bond. In 2008, they married.

In 2009, Ian and Corey became co-owners of California Document Preparers in Oakland, one of three independently operated offices (the other two are in Dublin and Walnut Creek), formed in the wake of the closing of We the People Legal Document Preparation Services. Dare I suggest that they are The Next Generation of document preparers?

Did you make a New Year resolution to create a will or trust, or to transfer a real estate title, but are uncertain about where to get reliable help, or whether you can afford to get advice? Do you want to file for bankruptcy, participate in a class-action lawsuit or seek custody of your children?   Do you want to form a new business?  Do you hate the idea of taking time off work to stand in line at Alameda County Court offices? California Document Preparers can act as your own personal assistant preparing and filing documents, saving you time, frustration and money. As an example, California Document Preparers can help you create a trust for $700 instead of $3000. You make the decisions (“I want 1, 2, and 3.”), tell them, “Make it so,” and they facilitate all the steps to get the process done, creating the document and filing on your behalf.

CALDOCSIGNThe business provides licensed and bonded legal document assistants; it does not provide legal advice or practice law. Instead, the team guides people through complicated, sometimes confusing, legal documents and filing. They take pride in providing attorney-approved information to customers and excellent customer service. If they are not qualified to help, they will refer you to other resources.

Ian explains that this is a rewarding business because the team is helping people find solutions and solve problems, helping people find justice using an option between and full legal representation, between the two extremes of acting completely on their own or hiring a lawyer to execute an agreement when they just need help with the process. Many customers at California Document Preparers are self-help center refugees. He notes that intelligence and successfully completing divorce proceedings have nothing to do with each other; and whether people have a lot of education or just a little, few have experience doing estate planning or creating a trust.

“We love what we do and enjoy helping people save money, time and stress,” says Ian.  “We are always ‘Working for People.’ We love this city, this community, and our neighbors.” The team frequently takes its notary service to the residents of St. Paul’s Tower nearby, and the business works to prevent fiscal elder abuse.

Most people in civil court are completely on their own in a complicated process designed by lawyers. Ian is president of California Legal Document Associates, a nonprofit that promotes the cause of access to justice and court systems via an easy, more cost-effective alternative to solving many legal problems. The CALDA website ( quotes Ian saying, “In California 80 percent of the people who need legal help are self-represented.

Recently auctioned bottle of Romulan ale (photo by: It’s A Wrap! LLC)

That means the need for affordable legal access no longer applies [just] to low income individuals, but now reaches into the middle class, particularly as the baby boomer generation ages and requires help with wills, probate and other legal issues. The impact on people’s lives is huge and it is going to put unprecedented stress on the fund-strapped court system.”
When Ian was a child, he wanted to be a journalist or a financial advisor. He has combined those aspirations by developing a deep understanding of the legal documents field with its own language and products, then creating easy-to-understand instructional letters and explanations to help people who are not familiar with this specialized area.

When Corey was young, he thought he might become a cetacean biologist.  Instead, he worked for 14 years in the health food industry and now he does a whale of a job helping people. Corey and Lynné specialize in living trusts; Valerie and Ian specialize in divorce documents. All four are notaries. Imzadi (pronounced em-ZAH-dee), pictured in Ian’s arms, is the 4-legged greeter who often comes to work with Ian and Corey.  Imzadi is a Betazed word meaning “beloved.”  It is the term of endearment that Troi called Riker.

California Document Preparers
244 Grand Ave. (at Park View Ter., across from Fairyland Park)
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 452-2320
LDA # 71, Alameda County

Wheelchair accessible

Hours:    Mon. – Fri. 10:00 am – 6 pm
Sat. by appointment