About Us

Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Lawyer in Pleasanton

James J. Phillips has focused his practice on estate planning, trust, probate, and related tax matters since 1980. Below, you can read more about his background and about his paralegals.

About James J. Phillips

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Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer for Alameda County

James J. Phillips

Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization since inception of State Certification program in 1990.

AV Rated: Achieved the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards by Martindale Hubbell Law Directory, and included in their Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers annually since 1995.

Super Lawyers: Awarded Northern California Super Lawyers since 2005.

Education: Golden Gate University of Law (Master of Laws (LL.M) in Taxation, 1988. Hastings College of Law, University of California (Juris Doctor, 1980; First Place, 1979 David E. Snodgrass Moot Court Competition - Best Written Brief); University of California at Davis (Bachelor of Science in Human Development, magna cum laude, 1976); Castro Valley High School (1972).

Professional Memberships: 1991-1992 Member of the Executive Committee of California State Bar's Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section. 1990 President of the Eastern Alameda County Bar Association. Former member of the Executive Committee of the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section of the Alameda County Bar Association. Former director of the Estate Planning Council of the East Bay. Member of Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section and Taxation Section of the State Bar of California and of Tri-Valley Business and Estate Planning Council. Member of National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.

Publications: Author: "Tax Comparison of Living Trusts and Wills," Fundamentals of Estate Planning, CEB and the State Bar Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Section Program (April 1991); "Tax Considerations in Comparing Living Trusts and Wills," Drafting Wills and Related Estate Planning Documents, CEB and the State Bar Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section Program (April/May 1990); "Taxes and Living Trusts," California Lawyer (February 1989); "Federal Income Tax Differences between Living Trust Administration and Probate Administration," Tax Exchange (November 1988).

Probate Court Appointments: Served as Judge Pro Tem, Alameda County Superior Courts. Appointed by Alameda County Probate Court as Special Master, Guardian Ad Litem, and Personal Representative in contested trust, probate, conservatorship, and guardian cases.

Prior Employment: Existing firm established in Pleasanton in 1989. Of Counsel to Varni, Fraser, Hartwell & Rogers in Pleasanton from1989 to 1992. Attorney with Smith, Etnire & Scott in Pleasanton from 1983 to 1989. Attorney in Hayward from 1980 to 1983.

Community Involvement: Former director of Castro Valley Arts Foundation. Director Emeritus of California State University Hayward Educational Foundation, Inc. Director of Eden Area Foundation. Member of Pleasanton, Livermore, Castro Valley Cambers of Commerce and Castro Valley Rotary Club. Founder and coach of Castro Valley Track Club.

Personal: Native to Castro Valley, California. Son of Alameda County Superior Court Judge George W. Phillips, Jr. who served from 1964-1980. Married with two children.

Office Staff

Donna DeMartini

Donna DeMartini has over 17 years of experience as the probate examiner in Alameda County, three years as a senior probate and trust administration paralegal with the firm of Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos and Rudy, LLP in San Francisco, and as the senior paralegal with the Law Offices of James J. Phillips since November of 2003. She is a graduate from Ohlone College in Fremont, obtained her paralegal certificate from St. Mary's College in Moraga in 1982, has taken numerous continuing legal education classes in probate, trust administration and tax matters, and has spoken at CJER's Continuing Judicial Studies Program and the Legal Secretaries, Incorporated Quarterly Conference.

Mary Beth Bochner

Mary Beth Bochner is a graduate from California State University Hayward and earned a paralegal certificate from St. Mary's College in Moraga in 1989. She was a paralegal with the law firm of Fitzgerald, Abbott & Beardsley, LLP in Oakland for fourteen years before joining the Law Offices of James J. Phillips in Pleasanton in May 2008. Mary Beth has taken various continuing education courses from CEB, Alameda County Bar Association Estate Planning Group, San Francisco Paralegal Association and the Alameda County Legal Secretaries Association

We provide probate court services for any County in California and estate planning services to California residents, including those in Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Alameda, Hayward, Castro Valley, Antioch, Brentwood, Danville, El Cerrito, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Tracy, Stockton, Alameda County and Contra Costa Counties, and the San Francisco Bay Area.