Law Offices of Mary L. Symons

Certified Specialist. Affordable Rates. Over Twenty Years of Experience in Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Administration.

Contact Us

Firm Overview

I provide advice regarding estate planning, probate and trust administration to my clients. I work with my estate planning clients to develop and implement a plan that is designed to meet their estate planning goals. After a death, I will work with clients to administer the estate of the decedent and to implement the decedent's estate plan (or administer the estate of a decedent who died intestate).

I established my firm in 1999 after specializing in estate planning at firms in San Francisco. I decided to open my own practice because I wanted to be able to work directly with clients.

Example cases

I assist clients in formulating and developing an estate plan to meet their goals. I work with them on an individual basis because every estate plan is different, it must meet the goals of the individual client. Following a death, I will work with the decedent's Executor or Trustee to administer the decedent's estate. I assist the family in dealing with the tasks that are often made more difficult as a result of their grief.

Main Office

.
1000 Fourth Street
Suite 875
San Rafael  CA  94901

Phone
  • (415) 256-5408 x132
Fax
  • (415) 459-3668

Fees

Free Initial Consultation?

No, but if at the end of the initial meeting, a client decides not to hire me, then I usually do not charge for the meeting.

Services Offered For Fixed Fees?

Generally, I perform estate planning and trust administration services on an hourly rate. After meeting with a client and gaining an understanding of their desired plan I am able to give an estimate of the cost of preparing the proposed plan. Fees in probate are based on the statutory schedule set forth in the California Probate Code. I often request that my clients pay the upfront out of pocket costs associated in opening a probate. However, any fees are not due until ordered by the Court, generally at the end of the probate proceeding.

Hourly Rates

$300 an hour

Office Information

Office Hours

Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Evening and weekend hours can be arranged.

Office Manager

None

Emergency After Hours

Yes

Languages Spoken

None

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

I enjoy working directly with people and assisting them to meet their goals. I like the personal nature of the practice and that it tends to be far less adversarial than a litigation oriented practice.

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

I try to educate my clients on the reasons for the use of the various estate planning documents/techniques and I encourage them to ask questions as needed. I am happy to provide suggestions as to places they can obtain more information.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

While I will always review a client's existing estate planning documents, I have found that it is not cost effective for a client to have me review documents that the client has prepared without the assistance of counsel or using over-the-counter books or software. I am familiar with my forms, but in order to effectively review a document, I would have to review the draft document very carefully to see if it contained all of the relevant provisions. In addition, I would need to consider the effect of any unusual language used in drafting the document. I find that it is far less expensive to have me draft the documents rather than review documents drafted by the client and advise the client as to any necessary changes.

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

I don't think that estate planning is an area that lends itself to self representation except in the case of very simple estates. With respect to post death administration, I am happy to work with the client to allow the client to do as much as the client is comfortable doing.

Mary L. Symons

I worked in the estate planning departments at several San Francisco law firms, both large and small, where I was able to see a variety of different approaches to accomplishing a task. This background has allowed me to better recommend possible approaches for my clients. Based on my contacts in the community, I have a vast network of individuals to whom I can turn in unusual situations. My experience as a pro bono research assistant in the Probate Department at the San Francisco Superior Court has given me insight into the internal workings of the Probate Court.I feel that my undergraduate degree in business administration and my previous work experience as an estate planning attorney working with a number of other attorneys makes me a better lawyer. I have seen a number of different techniques that attorneys approach given matters and I adopt the technique that I feel is the most appropriate in a given situation. Both of my parents were economics majors; education was always important in our family, as was always doing your best at what ever you do.
I meet or talk with clients to determine their estate planning goals. I then prepare draft documents and an explanatory letter explaining the various provisions of the documents. I will arrange further meetings with the client as needed and then meet with the clients to execute their documents. I will assist them with the funding of the trust and remain available to them if they have any additional questions. In post death administrations, I assist the client in accomplishing the tasks that need to be completed to administer the decedent's estate to distribute the decedent's assets as provided in the decedent's estate planning documents (or as provided by law if the decedent dies intestate).Personal interests: I enjoy cooking, especially the various Asian cuisines. I also enjoy reading, especially mysteries, and doing crafts, including quilting and embroidery.
License
  • Bar Number: 148060
    California , 1990
Education
  • Hastings College of the Law
    J.D. , 1990
    San Francisco, CA
    Member - Hastings Law Journal (1988-1989); Associate Executive Editor - Hastings Law Journal (1989-1990)
  • New York University
    LL.M. , 1994
    New York, NY
    Taxation
  • University of California, Berkeley
    B.S. , 1986
    Berkeley, CA
    Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting and Finance.

* Nolo has confirmed that every member attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with the state agency that licenses lawyers. Any past disbarments and suspensions (with possible exceptions for minor violations or nonpayment of dues, in our discretion) will be indicated accordingly in the badge. Member attorneys are required to notify Nolo immediately if they become the subject of any disciplinary action by any state licensing agency.

LA-NOLO4:DRU.1.6.4.20141222.29342