Hello Friends and Happy Fall! It has been a busy summer at M.S. Domingo Law. This summer we have taken and defended six depositions, propounded and responded to discovery requests, settled three cases, appeared in several trust and probate hearings in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano County courts, and have been continuously helping our clients with customized estate planning portfolios and business formation needs.
Not only have we been busy helping our wonderful clients, we have also been busy in the community. Be sure to read the rest of the newsletter to find out what’s been going on!
On August 23, 2018, Mika Domingo, as Director for Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA) Board, along with CCCBA’s Executive Director Theresa Hurley, and CCCBA Director Steve Derby, organized a successful Judges Night, drawing in Contra Costa County Civil, Criminal, Family Law, Juvenile and Traffic court judges, attorneys and community leaders for an evening of bridge building.
On September 12, 2018, Ms. Domingo, as Chair of CCCBA’s Diversity Committee, along with CCCBA Board Directors Qiana Washington and Phil Andersen organized CCCBA’s Inaugural Diversity Networking Event with Minority Bar Associations. This event gathered at least eight minority bar associations in the Bay Area, along with their respective representatives, to provide information about their organizations, inform of upcoming events and was an overall great networking opportunity. M.S. Domingo Law is committed to celebrating diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and was a Gold Sponsor for this event.
On October 4, 2018, Ms. Domingo, as Director for the Women Lawyers of Alameda County (WLAC) Board, and past recipient of the Margaret A. Gannon Scholarship, spoke at the Women Lawyers of Alameda County’s Annual Judges Night about the impact the scholarship has made on her professional development. WLAC is committed to promoting the interests of women, encouraging professionalism, mutual respect and equal opportunity.
Diana Lopez, Legal Assistant
Diana Lopez is very excited to have joined the M.S. Domingo Law Team! In 2016, she graduated, with the highest honors from John F. Kennedy University receiving both bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and a Paralegal Certificate. Currently, Ms. Lopez is a Second Year Law Student at John F. Kennedy University College of Law and hopes to become a practicing attorney. As a Paralegal at M.S. Domingo Law, Ms. Lopez assists the firm with legal research, preparation of judicial council forms, and trial preparation.
Melanie Yabut, Legal Assistant
Welcome Melanie Yabut!
Melanie Yabut received her bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and recently, a Juris Doctorate from John F. Kennedy University College of Law, with Dean’s List and Honors recognition. During her time at John F. Kennedy University, Ms. Yabut received Witkin Awards for Professional Responsibility, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law and earned a Public Interest Certificate. The Contra Costa County Bar Association Women’s Section awarded her with the Honorable Patricia Herron and the Ellen James Scholarship for her outstanding community work and academic excellence. Since receiving her bachelor’s degree, Ms. Yabut has been a legal assistant encompassing several areas of law including: employment law, immigration law, and labor law.
Elizabeth Lam, Summer Intern
During the summer, M.S Domingo Law was also happy to host a summer intern from John F. Kennedy University College of Law, Elizabeth Lam. Ms. Lam is a third-year law student. She assisted Ms. Domingo with research related to liens, lis pendens and other real property issues. Thank you, Elizabeth, for your hard work and good luck in your future endeavors.
Estate Planning Portfolio
What do Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Marley, and most recently, Aretha Franklin have in common? Aside from their major contributions to society through various mediums, all these celebrities have died “intestate” or without a will. When a person with assets dies intestate, their estate enters probate. Probate is the legal process in which there is court case that deals with the transfer assets of the deceased to their legal heirs instead of a beneficiary of the deceased choice. Generally, the court will appoint an “administrator” to collect the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries all under the supervision of the court. Probate can be costly as this requires filing fees, hearing fees, and in most cases, attorney representation. The process is also time consuming, as an entire case can take 9 months to 1 ½ years, and in some cases longer, leaving heirs to cover the costs including ongoing mortgages left by the deceased until reimbursement can be made for the administration of the probate at the end of the process. When the deceased’s property is worth more than $150,000 the surviving heirs are forced to take this avenue. This timely and costly process can be avoided if there a customized estate portfolio in place.
A will is a legal document that provides certain instructions regarding the disposal of one’s property or estate upon death. These instructions include how one’s assets will be distributed to beneficiaries, who to appoint as executor(s) to administer the estate, who to appoint as guardians for any minor children, what payment arrangements are to be made, and what final disposal should be in place. California requires the testator (the person writing the will) to be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, and that the execution of the will be witnessed by at least 2 persons present at the same time, witnessing either signing of will or testator’s acknowledgement and must understand that it is the testator’s will. A “holographic” will is valid in California if the signature and material provisions are in the testator’s handwriting. No witnesses are required for a holographic will and testamentary intent may be shown by extrinsic evidence.
A living trust is a legal document that provides instructions on how assets are to be managed and distributed during and after a person’s lifetime. Generally, one’s assets are placed into the trust and the trust is administered by the ‘Trustee.” The Trustee can be anyone, however, usually one will name themselves as the Trustee, thereby allowing for management and control of one’s own assets until death. The trust names the beneficiaries (persons or charitable organizations) who are to receive the trust’s assets upon death. A living trust also allows for a successor trustee in the event of the trustor/settlor (creator or owner of the trust)’s incapacity or death. The trust can be amended at any time by the trustor. While a will costs less to draft, a living trust can save your estate a significant amount of money, as the distribution of assets that are in a trust will not go through the probate court. A living trust also provides privacy and is an effective way to preserve your legacy.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is an important legal document whereby one authorizes another, an “attorney-in-fact,” to act on one’s behalf. A durable power of attorney gives one’s attorney in fact to manage, dispose of, sell and convey any personal or real property. A durable power of attorney can be a lifetime appointment or can be revoked at any time. A durable power of attorney is extremely important in the event of a sudden illness or mental incapacity. Even with minimum assets, it is important to have one in place in order to expedite any urgent monetary decisions including issues with mortgages or automobile payments.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An advanced healthcare directive is like a durable power of attorney, but for healthcare. An advanced healthcare directive allows a specified agent to make designated healthcare decisions on one’s behalf in the event that one cannot make health care decisions. An advanced healthcare directive helps memorialize decisions regarding: treatment, service, or procedures, and programs of medication, including artificial nutrition and hydration, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. An advanced healthcare directive also allows one the decision regarding anatomical gifts, disposition of remains, and the donation of organs and tissues following death. Advanced healthcare directives last a lifetime but can be revoked at any time.
While portfolios may include the same documents, provisions in each document are specifically tailored to each client’s needs. Losing a loved one is extremely difficult and dealing with a lengthy and costly court proceeding should not be an added stress.
Thank you to all our clients, colleagues and friends who have worked with us and supported our business!