PRACTICE AREAS

Estate Planning

An Estate Plan can be many things from a simple Last Will & Testament to a full Family Trust, many factors including the value of your estate and the possibility of estate taxes determine which type of plan will best suit you and the needs of your family. Planning for the management and distribution of your estate can sometimes include tough decisions; especially if you have concerns regarding the care of a family member with special needs, a blended family with adult children or a Domestic Partnership.

Although primarily created to direct the distribution of your property at death, a Living Trust and Power of Attorney are crucial in allowing a third party to manage your financial affairs and medical decisions in the event you experience a period of incapacity during your lifetime. Working with you, we will consider all of these factors and design a plan tailored to address your family's specific concerns and estate planning needs.

Elder Law & Medi-Cal Qualifications

Elder Law covers a wide array of legal issues affecting seniors and their families including caregiver contracts, long term planning and Medi-Cal. Qualifying a parent or spouse for Medi-Cal can be a daunting and confusing process especially when attempting to protect their assets like the family home.

By taking steps to protect your property while you are alive, you can avoid a Medi-Cal estate claim at your passing. As a member of NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) we strive to remain current with the legal issues facing seniors and the complex regulations of Medi-cal eligibility for the elderly.

Trust Administration & Probate

The death of a loved one can be overwhelming. This is especially true when you are responsible for handling some or all of the deceased person's business and personal matters. Our office has been helping survivors deal with the sometimes overwhelming details of handling estates, both probate and trust, for over 25 years. A properly executed and funded Living Trust can help avoid the costly court and attorney's fees associated with a Probate.

A comprehensive estate plan can prevent the necessity of a Probate but there are still many responsibilities for the administrator or successor trustee of a Living Trust including legal notifications, asset location, trust accountings and beneficiary distributions. In some instances it may become necessary for a successor trustee to take over for an incapacitated trustee; in this case there are many legal guidelines that must be followed.

In the event your loved one or friend passed without a Living Trust, their estate may need to be administered through a court process called Probate. Probating an estate is rather involved and can take anywhere from nine months to over a year to complete.

Whether you need assistance with a decedent's trust, are responsible for the administration of a trust for an incapacitated friend or loved one or are the executor of an estate that must be probated, it is best to obtain the assistance of a lawyer before taking any actions to ensure you are in compliance with the legal rules and requirements of trust administration and Probate.

Comprehensive Representation in Probate, Estate Administration and Probate Litigation

Trust & Estate Administration

When someone passes away, their estate needs to be administered, whether the estate is held in trust, probate, or the decedent died intestate. Assets must be marshaled, debts need to settled, and taxes must concluded. Fiduciaries need legal counsel to understand their obligations. Gina MacDonald represents numerous executors and trustors and can help you through this process during this very difficult time.

Litigation

Dissension over an estate can arise in many ways. An estate plan may be poorly created causing the validity of the estate plan to come into doubt. A fiduciary may take unauthorized liberties and a beneficiary needs legal representation to make sure their rights are not violated. In other cases, the actions of a trustor may need to be defended. We have successfully represented both fiduciaries and beneficiaries in litigation.

Probate

Probate is the court process that supervises the distribution of assets when someone dies leaving a will or if someone dies leaving no estate plan at all..

This process is necessary to transfer ownership of assets to heirs.

Conservatorships

Sometimes a loved one no longer can care for themself. That is when someone in the family needs to step up to make medical and financial decisions for them. They need the legal authority take on this role. We are well-versed with the court procedures to help someone do this.

Estate Planning

Your estate is your own. You should determine your beneficiaries, when your beneficiaries should receive a distribution, and how they should receive distributions. Serious consideration should go into the design of the right estate plan for you and your family. An estate should be crafted to ensure asset protection and estate tax minimizations tools are in place.