Patricia De Fonte

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Estate Planning & Probate Attorney in San Francisco, CA

De Fonte Law PC - Estate Planning With Heart
 | 4104 24th St, Suite 212
San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone: 415-735-6959
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2021
Licensed Since: 2002
Practice Areas:
  • Estate Planning & Probate
  • Free Consultation
Attorney Profile

The founder of her eponymous professional corporation, Patricia De Fonte focuses her practice primarily on estate planning matters. Her firm is based in San Francisco, and she represents clients throughout the Bay Area and in other parts of California. Ms. De Fonte is a 2002 graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law, and several years later she returned to her law school alma mater and obtained a Master of Laws in estate planning. She is admitted to practice before all California state courts.

Ms. De Fonte knows that estate planning is not a “one size fits all” type of endeavor, and she tailors each component document to match the particular goals and circumstances of each individual client. She has extensive experience in the preparation and review of last wills and testaments, advance medical directives, health care and financial powers of attorney, and living and irrevocable trusts. Ms. De Fonte also provides her clients with advice and counsel on how best to preserve and protect their assets for future generations. In addition to her estate planning practice, she has worked on prenuptial and post-marital agreements, and she has handled entity formation and other business law matters as well.

Ms. De Fonte attended Santa Clara University, where she majored in communications and Italian. After she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1990, she moved to the Los Angeles area, and she was a production assistant for a live television show before relocating to Italy and serving as a program manager for a major satellite network that featured hundreds of diverse channels before deciding to pursue her legal education.

 
Practice Areas
  • 100%Estate Planning & Probate
Focus Areas

Estate Planning, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts, Wills

Selections

Selected to Super Lawyers for 1 yearsbottom-image

Super Lawyers: 2021

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To: Patricia De Fonte
Super Lawyers: Potential Client Inquiry

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this web site is intended to convey general information. It should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. It is not an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The use of the internet or this contact form for communication is not necessarily a secure environment. Contacting a lawyer or law firm email through this service will not create an attorney-client relationship, and information will not necessarily be treated as privileged or confidential.

About Patricia De Fonte

Admitted: 2002, California

Professional Webpage: https://defontelaw.com/about/

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • Secrets and Lies: Family Dynamics in Estate Planning. San Francisco Bar Association, Trust and Estates Section of the Barristers Club, 2019

Pro bono/Community Service:

  • Professional Women’s Network 
  • Bay Networking Group
  • Attorney Action Club
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Smile Train
  • Friends of the Urban Forest
  • Southern Poverty Law Center 
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • America SCORES Soccer Bay Area

Representative Clients:

  • Divorcing Client:  The client who is contemplating or in the middle of a divorce is special. Their family law attorney is focused on asset division, domestic violence, and custody.  As the estate planning attorney, I can (in California) create new advance health care directives and durable power of attorney, and a guardianship nomination form stating a client's preferences for custody conditions. I can also create a personalized estate plan for the client's assets, although at time the funding of that trust must await a final division of assets.  Divorcing clients often lose all of their trusted advisors in a divorce. They need new financial planners, CPA's and insurance professionals. Working with them to build a new team that is loyal to them and has their best interest at heart is an important part of my role as counselor., 2020
  • Green card holders: I work with green card holders, creating QDOTS that address the taxation of estate passed to non-US citizen resident spouses.  Working with people who did not grow up in the US is rewarding. Most of the counsel and personal attention is related to explaining the need for all types of liability insurance, retirement accounts and insurance related to disability and long term care.  Most of these clients work in the tech sector, typically 70-90 hours a week. They have not had time to truly spot the issues created by moving their lives to US, much less to California which is a community property state.  Most clients are also thrilled that the US does not have forced inheritance laws and that they may create highly personalized estate plan which control when and how an inheritance can be used., 2020
  • Pet owners: I work with many clients with pets that are very important to them. It is important to draft advance health care directives, durable power of attorney, and revocable trusts that provide for the care and maintenance of a client's pets should they lose capacity. Clients also wish to make provision in their trusts for the permanent caretakers of their pets, or include care and maintenance of their minor childrens' pets, 2019
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Clients how had used assisted reproductive technologies to create their families require extra care.  What is the source of the genetic material? Are there additional materials stored? Would posthumous children be permitted? Would a child created with third party genetic material but gestated by the client be eligible to inherit as a grandchild.  These are deeply personal questions and generally unexpected by the clients. https://us16.campaign-archive.com/?u=d0da33794a1af0ecf55e2a10e&id=f3517a130b, 2020
  • Typical Client: My typical client's new parents, married or unmarried, citizens or green card holders, of young children. They are typically experiencing their first experience of earning a high wage and may be unsophisticated about banking and insurance.  They are go getters and DIYer's who are sharp and bright.  It is deeply satisfying to create personalized estate plans for their children, protecting heirs from the perils of inheritance while promoting a client's values, such as education, travel or family.  It is also a passion to introduce them to a team of advisors they can count on for insurance and finance and perhaps other areas of law, moving them away from online solutions.  During their time with me I ask that they conduct a full insurance audit, meet with their financial advisor or interview a new one to have their employee benefits package and current investments reviewed, and meet with a life and disability broker to ensure they make educated decisions to mitigate risk, 2020
  • Unmarried Couples:  Unmarried couples are always interesting clients. They often believe that by not getting married that they are not intertwining their finances, and under California law that is often not the case. They also often believe that they are "common law" married, but California does not offer this avenue to couples to allow them to fall under the rubric of the Family Law Code.  Sometimes clients have not married because a CPA advised them against it, and they had not considered the value of community property ownership of real estate and other assets.  Unmarried parents can often be more complicated, and they are always amazing to find out that if one of them were to die that their portion of the tenancy in common in their real estate would go to their children, not to their partner.  It is deeply satisfying to provide counsel and education to these couples., 2019
  • Planning for beneficiaries with addiction issues: My client came to me to change the beneficiaries of her trust, all of which were charities.  I asked her about her family, learned about her brothers and her nephew, and about their loving relationships.  Only after this discussion, and a review of her assets of about $2,000,000 did I ask her what changes she would like made to the beneficiary designation. She told me she simply wanted new charities. I asked her why, then she loved her family and none of them were well off. She told me it was because they suffered from alcoholism and she was afraid they would "drink the money".  She was astonished when I told her we could simply create a trust for their health, education, maintenance and support, providing a safety net and providing funds for recovery programs.  Her prior lawyer simply did exactly what she asked, without asking her questions, 2018
  • Non-traditional families: I worked with a couple who was part of a larger polyamorous family.  There were multiple children with my clients' union and outside of the union, and we used life insurance to preserve community property assets and potential step ups in basis while ensuring all children received equitable distributions, 2018
  • Single Parents: My client was a single father with a toddler. He had worked with an attorney to create a revocable trust when his son was born. He came to me a few years late because he had had a change in asset structure and wanted to review his plan.  We learned that his prior attorney had drafted a trust which left all of his estates to his child's mother, with the remote contingent beneficiary being his son via a mandatory distribution at eighteen.  Together we created a plan that honored his son's mother's role and provided for her welfare, while also protected his son's inheritance from third parties and the perils of inheritance, 2017

Videos:

  • The Attorney Action Club (AAC) is a community of legal professionals that exists to help lawyers succeed in life and business. Our membership includes both practicing lawyers and legal professionals who help lawyers succeed. The AAC helps shine a light on the importance of taking care of yourself and learning to create commercial profitable legal enterprise. I spoke on Estate Planning Fundamentals, Estate Planning Fundamentals, Attorneys, Financial Advisors, Insurance Professionals, 2018
  • I participated in a panel discussion hosted by Court Buddy wherein member of the public were able to ask attorneys questions about various topics, CourtBuddy: Trust and Estates, Direct To Consumers, 2020

Newsletters:

  • Over a million babies have been born in the United States thanks to assisted reproductive technologies. Some studies show that two percent of all births in the US are the result of IVF.  It is critical to ask each client if they have stored genetic materials, if they used IVF and if so if a third party's genetic materials were used.  If a couple is in the middle of an IVF cycle, should the advance health care directive permit the extraction of eggs or semen where a patient is terminal?, Estate Planning and Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Consumer, Financial Advisors, Insurance Professionals, Lawyers
  • So many of us have family members who struggle with addiction. Assets or cash can often cause harm and in some cases may even be fatal. The combination of grief and an influx of cash can be overwhelming to an addict and devastating for their family., How to provide for loved ones who can not or should not inherit from you., Consumer, Financial Advisors, Insurance Professionals, Lawyers
  • Owning real estate in California is not a simple matter. In the Bay Area’s highly competitive and quickly appreciating market, home owners often make mistakes.  , Four Tips for Every New Homeowner, Direct To Consumer, Financial Advisors, Insurance Professionals
  • Most of my estate planning clients are couples with minor children and aged parents. They are the sandwich generation, with all of the joys and all of the obligations that come with that role. This article explains what parents with young children should think about when it comes to their parents' estate plan.   Mitigating all types of risk for my clients is a big part of my practice - so ensuring that their parents have an up to date plan is something we have to discuss., Your Parents' Estate Plan and Its Impact on You, Direct To Consumer

Educational Background:

  • Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration LL.M at Golden Gate University School of Taxation, 2020
  • Santa Clara University, Bachelor of Arts, Communication and minor in Italian, 1990
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Office Location for Patricia De Fonte

4104 24th St
Suite 212
San Francisco, CA 94114

Phone: 415-735-6959

Patricia De Fonte:

Last Updated: 3/1/2021

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