Estates, Trusts, and Wills
PLANNING FOR YOUR FUTURE
A comprehensive estate plan takes your current circumstances into consideration, in addition to long term goals. An estate plan is a flexible and effective way to plan for contingencies, to provide for loved ones after you pass, and to manage your affairs while you are living.
Mary E. MacLellan begins the process of planning your estate by evaluating your current situation and goals and determining the appropriate next steps. Your estate plan will meet all of your needs, whether it is to create a simple will or a complex trust. It will also include a power of attorney for health care and financial matters to allow an agent to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Depending on your circumstances, it may be appropriate to create a trust plan. Certain types of trusts provide a vehicle to manage assets and minimize tax implications. With tax laws in flux, anyone living in California who owns a home or business should consider a trust plan.
For relatively small estates, a Last Will and Testament may be sufficient to ensure your wishes are carried out. However, without a trust plan, heirs face the task of probate - the court process to settle your estate. Probating a will or intestate estate can take six to nine months, and costs thousands of dollars.
HANDLING OR CONTESTING ESTATES
If you are the executor of an estate, Mary E. MacLellan will work with you to complete the trust administration or probate process in a timely and effective manner. She has worked with clients to settle complex and simple estates across Northern California, providing personalized service and attention. She also represents beneficiaries in trust and estate litigation and disputes.
Advance Directives and Power of Attorney
Any estate plan should include two very important components: an Advance Directive and Durable Power of Attorney. But if you need one or both of these crucial documents outside of the estate planning process - for instance, before beginning major medical treatment, when planning a trip, or when the previous person appointed to carry out these duties is no longer able to act - Mary E. MacLellan is ready to assist you.
An Advance Directive provides someone you appoint with the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so. You can also provide detailed instructions for your loved ones regarding treatment, care, pain management, and what to do after you pass away.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Durable Power of Attorney provides your agent with the authority to manage your financial and legal affairs. In some cases, you will want to appoint the same person as your agent for both health care and financial affairs; in others, it makes more sense to appoint two different people. In either case, you have complete flexibility and control over who you appoint, when their appointment becomes effective, and what their powers will be.
APPOINTING AN AGENT
Mary E. MacLellan can help you determine who will best serve as your agent. If the need for an Advance Directive or Durable Power of Attorney arises unexpectedly, Mary E. MacLellan is available to meet with clients on short notice to prepare and execute these documents outside of an estate plan.
Conservatorship and Guardianship
When loved ones can no longer take care of themselves, others must step in to handle financial and personal affairs. The court process for doing this is known as Conservatorship. In general, a family member petitions the court to be appointed Conservator of the Person or Estate. This complicated process requires knowledge and expertise to ensure that the Conservator has all powers necessary to manage a person's life, and that their appointment can be achieved as soon as possible.
Guardianship is a similar process and tool, but applies to situations in which a child is left without parents to provide for their personal and/or financial needs. Like a Conservatorship, Guardianships involve a long, complicated legal process.
Mary E. MacLellan has the knowledge and experience necessary to secure appointment for clients as quickly and compassionately as possible. In Conservatorship and Guardianship matters, time is of the essence. Mary E. MacLellan responds to same-day requests for legal assistance, as well as to make house-calls and hospital visits when necessary for these complex matters.
Family Law Issues
DISSOLUTION AND CUSTODY
At the MacLellan Law Firm, we handle dissolution, child custody and visitation, and support cases. The primary focus is to mediate and work out agreements that will allow clients to control the outcome as much as possible. If necessary, Mary E. MacLellan can and will seek the help of the court and is experienced with hearings, emergency screenings, judicial custody conferences, settlement officer conferences, and mediation preparation. With the support of a paralegal with over 30 years of experience, the MacLellan Law Firm is able to efficiently handle your case in a cost-effective way.
STEPPARENT AND ADULT ADOPTION
When blending families, a stepparent may need more than a marriage license to provide family security for a stepchild. When children's biological parents abandon them and stepfathers or stepmothers fill the vital role of parent, stepparent adoption may be an appropriate legal avenue.
To create a family unit, clients seeking to adopt their stepchildren must go through the Stepparent Adoption process at Superior Court. The process includes petitioning the county, submitting to a Social Services Agency investigation, and in some cases, requesting that the rights of a biological parent be terminated. Stepparent Adoption in Santa Clara County and throughout the Bay Area can take six months or longer.
If adoption is not an option until after a child turns 18 due to family dynamics or any other reason, Mary E. MacLellan can assist with an adult adoption. Consent of the biological parent is not required, and the MacLellan Law Firm handles all of the procedural work required to have your case heard.
Mary E. MacLellan is an experienced stepparent and adult adoption attorney who will help ensure the process goes smoothly and without delays.
Whether you desire to change, correct, or add to your name, you are required to file a petition with your county's Superior Court and publish your request in a local newspaper. For a low flat rate, Mary E. MacLellan will complete the paperwork, arrange publication, and obtain your name change decree for you. You don't have to take the time to go through the process.