Helping you prepare for the unexpected by planning for the future.

My Mission


It is my mission at the Law Office of Michelle D. Smith to compassionately and sensitively help everyone put in place a plan for sharing their wealth with the ones they love when they are gone. Death and incapacity are stressful and painful times, times when the people we care about need to be able to focus on what has happened, to grieve and to learn how to live in a new and dramatically changed world. It is my mission to help people discover their options for sharing their lives with those they care about once they can no longer do so themselves. I hope to provide people with peace of mind knowing that they are doing all they can to help those they love with proactive, personal and unique planning.

I believe that we all have a right to determine what happens in our lives and to make decisions that bring us happiness and contentment. I believe that we each have a right and a responsibility to make decisions for ourselves, both while living and also to make the decisions regarding what will happen when we leave this world or are unable to make decisions due to incapacity. We all want to provide for the ones we care about, we want to ease their burden in difficult times, and we want to share what we want with who we want. All of this leads one to early and comprehensive legal planning.

Services


Inheritance Guidance

Nomination of Guardian

Pro-Active Life Decision Making

 

Wills
 

Trusts
 

 
 

Inheritance Guidance


We all have wealth and more of it than we often realize. Our wealth is not determined by the dollar value of our home or the amount of money we have accumulated in our retirement accounts. Of course these are elements of our wealth, but instead of believing that the definition ends there we need to recognize that wealth is everything we have to share with others. It includes our knowledge, experiences, and feelings. When we die we have an invaluable opportunity to share all of our wealth with the people we care about, and with effective inheritance guidance we can be confident we have made the right decisions for sharing the wealth of our lives with those we care about.

There are so many different options for making your wishes known when you die or become incapacitated, it can be hard to decide what is best. As our last gift, we want to be sure that our wishes are met. Though the decisions are ultimately our own, we can make better more complete decisions with effective inheritance guidance. This guidance can help us to know what we want to do and what we need to do in order to make it happen. With advance planning and thoughtful inheritance guidance, we have the opportunity to make a stressful and emotional time for the people we care about a little less stressful, allowing our loved ones to focus on the process they are experiencing instead of forcing them to make difficult decisions that can tear relationships apart in a time when relationships and bonds should be growing stronger.

The decision of whether to create a will or a trust is not only based on our material wealth and needs instead to consider who we want our things to go to and when that transfer will happen. With effective inheritance guidance we can be sure to make the best decision for our loved ones. Your plan can never be created too soon, as it can easily be changed or updated as the need arises. Having it in place early can provide peace of mind and security as we go through our daily lives, commuting to and from work, traveling, going on date night, or even catching a bad case of the flu.

Contact me today to schedule an appointment to learn your options about how inheritance guidance can bring comfort to your everyday life today!


 

Disclaimer: The materials contained on this page is for general informational purposes, it should not be considered formal legal advice and does not create a formal lawyer/client relationship.

 

Nomination of Guardian


As a parent one of the most frightening possibilities is not having someone to care for our children. By nominating a guardian we can be sure that we know that our children will be loved and cherished even though we are gone. We will know where our children will be should the unthinkable ever happen, and they can have the security of that knowledge as well. We can be sure that our children are raised with the values we hold dear, and with the knowledge that even though we are no longer with them, we cherish them still. Our children will know that though we are not with them, we cared about them so much in life that we made sure that they were cared for even though we were no longer able to do so ourselves.


 

Disclaimer: The materials contained on this page is for general informational purposes, it should not be considered formal legal advice and does not create a formal lawyer/client relationship.

Pro-active Life Planning


Pro-active life planning includes health care directives and powers of attorney. These documents allow you to identify and record decisions regarding your health care and the care of your person or finances during a time when you are unable to make those decisions yourself. An advanced healthcare directive specifies how you want to be treated and the extent of medical care you want should you need medical care, i.e. for how long do you want to be on life support? Do you want additional medical treatments for secondary conditions that are identified after you are no longer able to make a decision for yourself?

Powers of attorney are documents that allow you to name a person to make decisions on your behalf. A financial power of attorney allows someone you designate to pay your bills and to access your financial documents. A power of attorney for health care allows someone else to make decisions regarding your physical care when you cannot. All powers of attorney can be limited by you regarding the decisions that can be made on your behalf and regarding the time frame that they are effective.

Contact me today to schedule an appointment to learn your options about how pro-active life decision making can bring comfort to your everyday life today!


 

Disclaimer: The materials contained on this page is for general informational purposes, it should not be considered formal legal advice and does not create a formal lawyer/client relationship.

Wills


A will can be a simple or complex document that establishes your desires for how your property will be distributed after you die. It can allow you to transfer property to the people whom you want to receive it when you are gone, and can establish your wishes for the care of your minor children and pets. A will requires the use of the court probate process.

Contact me today to schedule an appointment to learn your options about how preparing a will can bring certainty to your everyday life today!


 

Disclaimer: The materials contained on this page is for general informational purposes, it should not be considered formal legal advice and does not create a formal lawyer/client relationship.

Trusts


A trust is a document that specifies what your wishes are for yourself and your property. The benefits are extensive. A trust allows you to make decisions that meet your specific needs and the needs of the people you care about. A trust lays out in detail how you want your possessions to be distributed when you are gone. It is a private document and can allow your wishes to be carried out without the need of your beneficiaries to participate in, or to participate in a more limited scope, in the court process established for people who die without a trust in place, called probate. With a trust, you name your beneficiaries and the person to oversee carrying out your wishes in the trust. You can choose who receives what property or money and you can decide when, or under what conditions, they receive that property. You can name guardians of minor children and establish a timeline for them to receive the benefits from the trust; you can even create a trust that provides for the care of a beloved fur baby or other pet.

Contact me today to schedule an appointment to learn your options about how a trust can provide security to your everyday life today!


 

Disclaimer: The materials contained on this page is for general informational purposes, it should not be considered formal legal advice and does not create a formal lawyer/client relationship.

 

About Me


While attending college I realized that becoming an attorney would provide me with a distinct set of tools that would enable me to help people navigate challenging and complex issues that could face them in life. A lover of nature, I obtained a bachelor of science in Environmental Science and went on to graduate from law school with honors and receiving certificates of specialization in public interest and environmental law. I began my legal career practicing environmental law, advocating for clean water, the clean-up of contaminated properties, and for the future of our world: using my skills to help protect those without a voice – the unborn, nature, and the future.

Fast forward a few years and I was enjoying working as staff attorney for a non-profit organization that focuses on protection and restoration of water quality. While I was pregnant with my first child, my family received a sudden diagnosis – my father learned that he had advanced esophageal cancer. Barely a month passed from the diagnosis and he was released from the pain of an aggressive cancer, and my sister and I were left picking up the pieces. As devastating as the circumstances surrounding his passing were, my father was fortunate to have a small window to bring in an experienced estate planning attorney to help him put his affairs in order.

Even with the attorney’s help, the lack of foresight was devastating. Seeing my father struggle through his pain to ensure that his wishes were carried out was humbling. Having to spend our last few days together hearing his fear that his decisions would not be recorded and carried out took something more from us, and took something more from him. That time could have been spent reminiscing about our lives together, sharing his knowledge and our love, and would have been much more comforting, and much more fitting, for the last hours we had.

Enter my first son and planning took on a whole new layer. Now my concerns had a new meaning. If something happened to me and my partner, what would happen to our son? Not living close to family, where would he go while family was found and while they handled having guardianship established? What would happen to our home? Who would help? How would they know what needed to be done and who was supposed to take care of these decisions?

This experience opened my eyes to the need for early planning in making decisions and having them properly recorded. After having the experience of rushed planning, and having a family of my own, I realized that my gifts could help others not have to experience what my family had experienced by putting in place available estate planning protections.

I am excited to help you on your journey by providing you with the right services for your individual situation. Options include nominations of guardians, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advanced health care directives, and a combination as appropriate to ensure that your wishes are carried out.


 

  • Member California State Bar Association

About My Practice


Providing estate planning attorney services to the residents of Santa Cruz County, including the communities of Felton, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Boulder Creek, Bonny Doon and beyond - I strive at the Law Office of Michelle D. Smith to provide my clients with solutions for their legal life planning needs. I am a trust attorney who empathetically places myself in your shoes to find the best answer to maintaining dignity in life choices and making decisions for sharing your life’s wealth with those you care about. When you wonder “What estate planning attorney near me?” is available, I am available by appointment in person, by phone, via video conference and am able to meet at locations close to you for your ease of access. My wish at the Law Office of Michelle D. Smith is to be the trust attorney to provide you with the answers you need to make sure your legal life planning needs are addressed thoroughly so neither you nor the ones you care about need to worry.

Contact Me

      Phone: 831.264.7670             6265 Highway 9 Felton, CA 95018

Schedule an Appointment

Email: michelle@lawofficemdsmith.com

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