How We Can Help You
About Experienced Attorney Mark Gullotta
Attorney Gullotta received his Juris Doctor law degree in December 2002, from the Santa Clara University School of Law, simultaneously receiving his MBA. Mr. Gullotta’s received his bachelor’s degree in accounting. Attorney Gullotta began his law career as an associate attorney for the Thirkell Law Group in San Mateo, California, before opening his own practice in Burlingame. Mr. Gullotta has taught for the National Business Institute.
Attorney Mark Gullotta takes three factors into consideration when working to create the perfect estate plan for a client:
- The wishes of the client;
- The circumstances of the client and his or her family, and
- Current California Trust and Estate Law.
Working within those parameters, Mark knows a California Estate Plan cannot be a “set and forget” solution to your situation, because when there are changes in one or more of the above-listed factors, the Estate Plan may no longer be as effective as when it was created. As a highly experienced San Mateo County trust, estate planning and probate lawyer, Mark Gullotta understands the challenges and hard decisions to be made when an estate plan is constructed. Mark has been guiding his clients through every single step involved in preparing for the future for more than fifteen years. If you need an estate plan prepared from the ground up, or if you need representation in the probate or trust administration process, contact Attorney Mark Gullotta today for a comprehensive evaluation of your needs and objectives.
How Law Offices of Mark Gullotta Can Help You
- Preparing an Estate Plan—Virtually every adult in America can benefit from an estate plan. A thoughtfully prepared California estate plan can accomplish many different things, such as:
- Naming a guardian for your minor children;
- Providing for a family member with special needs;
- Providing instructions for your healthcare in the event of incapacitation;
- Providing instructions for passing your assets on to your loved ones;
- Providing for the transfer of your business after your retirement, death or incapacitation;
- Providing for family members who could need future protection from creditors or a divorce;
- Minimizing estate taxes, and
- Minimizing court costs.
- Protect Minor Children
The best estate plans provide for an ongoing process, rather than a one-time event. Our lives change dramatically through the years—family situations change, financial situations change, and estate laws change—and it is important that your estate plan reflect those changes. It is also important to remember that while few people want to think about an estate plan, it is a necessary part of life. If you die without a will or estate plan of any type, the state of California will take over the process, determining who will receive your assets, and will determine who will be the guardian for your children without your input. These are decisions which should never be left to chance—a solid estate plan can ensure that never happens.
Probate Services—Probate is a judicial process in which an existing will is proved in a court of law and, accurately reflecting the decedent’s last wishes. If no legal will or other estate planning documents exist, probate can settle the estate, distribute real property according to California intestacy laws. All claims are resolved during the probate process and all assets distributed. Some people may want to avoid probate by using a trust rather than a will, however there are certain things that only a will can accomplish. Probate can be a lengthy, expensive process, and all information exposed during probate is available to the public. The Law Offices of Mark Gullotta can handle the probate process, allowing you and other family members the time to grieve rather than having to deal with legalities.
Trust Administration—Attorney Mark Gullotta can help families and individuals with their trust administration following the death of a loved one. Trust administration refers to the management of all assets which are held in a trust by the named trustee (likely, the decedent). There are many steps involved in trust administration, including providing notice to all beneficiaries named in the trust, taking control of all trust assets, ensuring all the decedent’s debts are paid (including taxes), filing tax returns, and distributing remaining trust assets. The trust administrator must act in good faith, honestly, and in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries.
Preparing Wills—Only about 45 percent of adults in the United States currently have a will. Unfortunately, those who die without a will die “intestate,” meaning the state of California steps in and determines how the decedent’s assets will be divided. Not only can a will tell your chosen personal representative how you want your assets divided after your death, if you have minor children you can nominate a guardian in your will to increase the odds they are raised by a person of your choice. Specific language can be added in your will to greatly minimize the likelihood of a challenge, and if you choose to disinherit a person, you can do so in your will. It is very important to recognize that while you can get a real sense of accomplishment when your will is properly prepared, you must also know that your will must be updated as your life circumstances change. The birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce, changes in your financial circumstances—all these things and more can result in necessary changes to your will. Attorney Mark Gullotta can ensure those changes are made quickly and early.
- Business Succession Planning—If you own a business, business succession planning is an important aspect of estate planning. You can rest easy if you know what will happen to your business—perhaps a business you have spent your entire life building—in the event of your death, incapacitation, or retirement. Business succession plans are often associated with retirement, however they can serve an important function at any time, for any business. As we know, unexpected things happen on a regular basis. When you have a solid business succession plan in place, an unexpected happening will not financially ruin your business or cause it to be lost. A good, solid business succession plan also reduces the likelihood of disputes and drama following a death, retirement or incapacitation.
- Guardianship for Minors—If you have minor children, you will want to ensure there will be a person to take care of them in the event of your death—a person of your choice. Many young parents believe there is no rush to name a guardian. This type of thinking can leave children at the mercy of a California court—who may well choose a person you would not be okay with to raise your children. Guardianship for minor children is a subject which should be carefully thought out. You should have a long, honest conversation with the person you want to be your children’s guardian before you name them in your will. There are many considerations, including where the proposed guardian lives, whether he or she has roughly the same values as you (as they relate to raising children), the life situation of that person, and whether the person is willing and able. There should always be an alternate guardian named, “just in case.” Mark Gullotta can help you make these necessary decisions, memorializing them in your will, and ensuring your wishes for your children’s future will be properly carried out.
- Power of Attorney—A power of attorney can be used in many different situations, allowing you to manage your affairs in the event you are unable to because of physical or mental impairment. There are many different types of POAs, therefore it is highly advisable to have an experienced California estate planning attorney like Mark Gullotta help you create your power of attorney document. Your situation may require a General Power of Attorney, a Special Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, or a Durable Power of Attorney. It is important to ensure your power of attorney document accurately reflects your intentions.
- Advance Healthcare Directive—An advance healthcare directive is important in the event you become incapacitated. An advance healthcare directive is a legal document which outlines your preferences for the tough decisions which must be made during an incapacitation. You will choose a person you trust—your agent—to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Healthcare directives are not only for the elderly, as even a young, healthy person can suffer an unfortunate accident or have a medical issue which leaves you unable to communicate their wishes to doctors and to loved ones. Mark Gullotta can help you create the necessary documents contained in an advance healthcare directive, ensuring those documents clearly reflect your wishes.