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Firm Overview

We work with people who want to establish a Will or a Trust and also those who need help with a loved one's Probate, Trust Administration or Conservatorship. We also represent those who may be having a conflict about how a loved one's estate is being probated or administered. We also help those who are trying to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits or who are on Medi-Cal, but are worried that they be disqualified if they receive an inheritance.

Example cases

I have had run of the mill trust drafts for couples, but have also drafted trusts for families that have children with special needs or who are on public benefits. I have administered very contentious trusts representing beneficiaries and trustees alike. My most cautionary tale is regarding a couple in their seventies who only had a Will.

The husband began to have signs of dementia, but the wife felt they weren't advanced and looking back on it, didn't recognize some of the signs. He had always taken care of finances and the managing of the household and so she trusted he knew what he was doing.

He had an "incident" that frightened her so badly she phoned the police. He was hospitalized and quickly deteriorated from there. It was clear that although physically healthy, his dementia had advanced into Alzheimer's Disease. He could not come home and needed 24 hour supervision.

She found a wonderful facility that treats and cares for persons with Alzheimer's and dementia requiring 24 hour monitoring. However, they could not admit him on her decision alone. The Wills didn't help her and they didn't have Advanced Health Care Directives or Powers of Attorney. She needed to proceed with a Conservatorship in order to be the person who could make medical and placement decisions for him.

We proceeded with the medical Conservatorship and then later Petitioned the Court to create a joint trust so that she could take over the management of their accounts even if he was the only named person on the account. This process took many months and was costly.

She often remarked that she was thankful to have the guidance and help with getting their affairs in order, but that it would have saved a lot of time, heartache and money if they had completed a living trust.

Main Office

Main
100 4th St
Petaluma  CA  94952

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?

I do offer a free half an hour consultation, this could occur in person or over the phone.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

Your first half hour of a consultation or meeting is free. This gives us a chance to get a feel of how we will work together- for you to see if I am what you want! It also gives us a chance to find out what your legal issue is and whether we can help.

I do have fixed-price services for the drafting of Living Trusts. These generally hold true, but there are instances where the situation requires a different fee scheme, if this is the case, it will be discussed with the client before signing any fee agreement.

In matters of fees and costs to the client, I always prefer to be clear and up front about what things will likely cost.

My set fees for Living Trust Packages or Estate Plans include all the documents: Trust, pour over Will, Advanced Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney and all the initial funding. It also covers all the time needed to spend together to create the Estate Plan. When the plan is completed, all your affairs are in order and we give you an organized binder with all the documents and explanations.

$1800 for a single person
$2400 for a heterosexual couple
Individual estimates for Registered Domestic Partners, Same Sex Married Couples or Heterosexual Domestic Partners

Hourly Rates

Bridget Mackay~ $285/hr (Attorney)
Max Mickelsen~ $350/hr (Attorney)
Teresa Sartori-Matott~ $175/hr (Paralegal)
Maryann Nagy~ $100/hr (Legal Secretary)
Christopher Watts~ $45/hr (Legal Assistant)

Office Information

Office Hours

We are here Monday - Friday 9-5, but we also offer later appointments for commuting families and weekend appointments with enough advance notice.

Office Manager

Yes, there are three staff members: Teresa Sartori-Matott, Maryann Nagy and Christopher Watts

Emergency After Hours

Yes

Is your firm willing to help a client with one discrete part of a case, without taking on the whole case?

I'm going to have to give the standard lawyer answer here- it depends.

What are your policies about dividing work within the firm to make the process most cost-effective for the client?

I have both a legal secretary and a paralegal and I religiously give them work if I don't need to be doing it. Not only is it cost effective, it is how to run an efficient practice.

How frequently does your firm use mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law to resolve cases?

The practice of law lends itself to negotiation, mediation or whatever you want to name it. It is imperative to explore all other avenues to resolve a conflict before court litigation. Litigation is expensive, time consuming and often doesn't give the results a client is expecting.

Does your firm provide pro bono legal services or otherwise participate in your community?

I do take pro bono cases that have been screened and sent to me through the Sonoma County Legal Aid.

What distinguishes your law firm from others?

I think there are many choices for an estate planning attorney out there. However, ultimately the choice rests on the relationship you can establish with your attorney. What is your comfort level with this person? Do you feel you trust them? I think what distinguishes us from other law firms, is that our office is the whole package- you will receive the right advice from attorneys who have a lot of experience and in an environment of people who listen and explain what is going on to you in terms you can understand. We build trusting relationships and deliver quality representation.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

Knowledge is power. I enjoy meeting with clients who have some understanding of how their issues fit into the scheme of the legal process. In representing clients in all the areas that I practice I strive to make sure they understand the process every step of the way. I like to explain things in plain English instead of legalese.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

Yes.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

I don't mind consulting with clients who are trustees and trying to do most of the trust administration for a loved one themselves or trying to help a loved one qualify for Medi-Cal. In any litigation or Probate or court matter, I prefer not to consult if a client is representing themselves, it is honestly too much of an ethical mine field.

Bridget Mackay

I started this practice in 2005 after leaving a 10 year career as a Deputy District Attorney for both Sonoma and Solano Counties. I need a practice that would allow more time with my family. I have found that my background has prepared me to help families and deal with any conflicts among beneficiaries. I find this work very rewarding.

I have both a legal secretary and a paralegal and I religiously give them work if I don't need to be doing it. Not only is it cost effective, it is how to run an efficient practice.

License
  • Bar Number: 180920
    California , 1995

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