Interview with Patricia De Fonte, founder of De Fonte Law PC
Today we’re excited to feature one of our It Takes A Village Lead Sponsors, De Fonte Law PC. We are truly grateful to Patricia for her leadership in supporting our mission to help uplift families and ensure that our essential services are always available.
Did you know that estate planning has played a role in the perpetuation of the racial wealth gap in our country for generations? Estate planning involves the management, transfer and use of wealth...predominantly owned by white individuals and families.
But estate planning is for everyone — regardless of race, gender, or wealth. Because estate planning involves the discussion of values, relationships, personal capital and social capital...all of which can work toward greater social and racial justice.
With estate planning, you have an amazing opportunity to protect your loved ones, your assets, and leave impactful legacies to your families and communities...legacies for which you will be permanently remembered.
If you’re new to the world of estate planning, it may feel a little unknown and overwhelming. That’s why we’re excited to hear from Patricia De Fonte, founder of De Fonte Law PC about her relationship-based approach to helping clients create tailored estate plans based on their values.
In this post we’ll cover:
- Patricia’s background and why she started DeFonte Law PC.
- What brought Patricia to Natural Resources.
- Why Patricia is passionate about Natural Resources’ mission.
- About Patricia’s workshop she teaches at NR.
- Why estate planning is important for families with children.
- Steps families can take to provide for their loved ones.
- Tips for parents trying to balance it all.
- How to take Patricia’s workshop at NR.
- How to connect with Patricia.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and describe your company.
I was born in St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District of San Francisco. I grew up in San Jose, back when it was “Sa-na–zay,’ and attended Santa Clara University, from which I graduated with a BA in Communication and minor in Italian. After working at TBS in Atlanta and on “The Home Show” in Los Angeles, I moved to Rome, where I managed a television channel featuring American programming on the first satellite television platform in the Middle East.
Returning to San Francisco in 1998, I met my future husband on my first day at Golden Gate University School of Law, where I earned my JD. I practiced entertainment and intellectual property law with the Idell Firm for five rewarding and exciting years.
In 2016, while back at Golden Gate University to earn my LLM in Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Administration, I established De Fonte Law PC to work with families and individuals to provide the much needed stability and peace of mind that comes from knowing an estate is in order.
And I have a special passion for providing estate planning services to parents with minor children. I have dedicated my career to helping people protect themselves, their assets, and their families.
We work with all types of families - unmarried couples, married couples, single parents, divorcing parents, and green card holders...
Our practices focus on (1) Preserving Family Harmony, (2) Protecting The Survivors and (3) Promoting Your Values. We use top of the line drafting software and other technology that allows us to provide a robust client experience.
De Fonte Law PC was recently awarded a Better Business Bureau award for Ethics. We also won Best of The Bay Area in Bay Area Parent Magazine in San Francisco and Marin Counties.
I’m also a mom, to two wonderful boys, which informs why and how I work with clients. I believe that Love is Love, Black Lives Matter, and Women's Rights Are Human Rights and do not work with any client, vendor or other professional who does not share my values.
I find the time to play with family and friends, and support causes that are important to me. I will treat you as one of my own, until Cards Against Humanity comes out, when all bets are off.
What brought you to Natural Resources?
I was a client back in 2007 when my son was born with a cleft lip and palate. I was a wreck and the staff at NR was always so kind and helpful. Then when my second son was born and would not nurse the lactation consultant said “Well, just give him a bottle.” I had never felt so seen or so free!! I love that I am now a fiscal sponsor and an educator at NR!
Why are you passionate about Natural Resources’ mission?
Because they support all families regardless of gender, color and economic status. They are always striving to learn what their communities need and to provide education, support, and resources to all families.
Can you tell us about the NR class you teach and how you empower NR families?
I teach Estate Planning Fundamentals for Parents once a month. During this workshop parents learn that estate planning is a social justice issue, that it is not about what you have but about who you love and who is counting on you.
We go over the basics and answer frequently asked questions, like how to find a great lawyer, how much estate planning costs, and which forms are necessary to support a family to avoid chaos.
Minor children do not have the legal capacity to inherit. With a personalized trust, parents decide when their children receive their inheritance — at specific ages, for specific reasons, and with specified limitations.
What do you want birthing people and expecting and new families to know about estate planning and how this can bring stability and peace of mind?
Estate planning is not filling in a form and then signing documents. You should plan to spend about four hours with an attorney who will ask you many questions about yourselves, your families, and your assets.
A great lawyer will help you build a terrific team of insurance and financial advisors to help you protect what you have and build for the future. Estate planning is complicated and not something you should try to do on your own. I don't even know an estate planner who has done their own estate plan!
Is estate planning only for the rich? And what’s the most important step individuals and families can take to prepare for their future, protect their assets/property, and provide for their loved ones?
Estate planning is a social justice issue and every person over the age of eighteen needs an estate plan to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Health care directives give people you trust the instructions and authority to make health care decisions. Power of attorney gives people you trust the ability to manage your affairs if you cannot.
If you do not have these documents the people who love you the most might have to ask a judge for permission to take care of you. A revocable trust protects a surviving spouse or partner and the children from predators and creditors and creeps. Even if your only asset is an insurance policy, a revocable trust benefits your family.
And nominating guardians is critical - and sometimes making it clear who should not serve as a guardian is equally important.
As a mother of two, entrepreneur, and community philanthropist, do you have any words of wisdom or advice for NR families that are trying to balance it all?
Balancing it all is impossible. There is always something that gets lost in the mix - most often my will to exercise! I try to think in 12 week stretches — my family works hard at work, school, sports, enrichments for twelve weeks and then we stop.
Whether we just stay home and explore San Francisco or we run off to another place to visit with family or just have fun, these breaks have brought us closer together and it is a boost to always have truly free time to look forward to, even if it’s just one night away with friends.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Natural Resources community?
Thank you for your support of my workshop. Thank you for bringing your babies and pregnant and tired selves to Natural Resources and more recently to Zoom meetings. Thank you for your trust in me and for your support of Natural Resources.
Patricia’s Natural Resources Virtual Workshop: Estate Planning Fundamentals for Parents:
During this fun and informative workshop, parents will learn why they need a personalized estate plan to care for themselves and their children should the unfortunate happen.
Throughout this workshop you will cover:
- How a customized guardianship nomination can provide potential guardians with a roadmap to your vision for your children’s future.
- Why everyone over the age of eighteen needs an advanced health care directive and durable power of attorney.
- How to control the circumstances in which your children receive their inheritance.
- The difference between a will and a trust.
- How to create an estate with life insurance.
- What happens when someone dies without an estate plan.
Click here to sign up for one of Patricia’s upcoming workshops!
How can families connect with you?
Feel free to reach out to Patricia via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her website defontelaw.com, or follow her on Facebook. She'd love to connect with you and answer any questions you may have about estate planning.
To learn more about DeFonte Law PC’s services visit defontelaw.com.