Debra Macaluso

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Julie Martin

Lead Paralegal

Debra Macaluso joined the Law Offices of Chester B. McLaughlin, P.C. in 2015. She is the lead paralegal and handles the Firm’s Yavapai County cases and clients. She is a certified paralegal with seven years of experience in estate planning, probate, trust administration, guardianships/conservatorships, and estate-related litigation. Debra’s first paralegal position was with the Dana Law Firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she worked on litigated matters related to estates, probates, trust administrations and guardianship/conservatorship matters, gaining valuable experience in how cases are handled in Maricopa County. When her supervising attorney at the Dana Law Firm started his own firm a few years later, he recruited Debra to perform the same type of work for his new firm. Debra left that position in 2015 because she and her husband purchased property in Prescott and hope to make it their new home soon. Although she currently telecommutes full-time from her home in north Phoenix, she and her husband are working toward relocating to Prescott Valley as soon as possible..
Debra holds a Bachelor’s degree from Ursinsus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and obtained her paralegal certificate from Phoenix College in 2010, earning a GPA of 3.96. In 2013, she became a certified paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”), the nation’s leading professional association for paralegals, and is currently pursuing her “Advanced Certified Paralegal” certification from NALA. In order to obtain certification from NALA, the applicant is required to take a two-day written exam covering communications, legal ethics, judgement and analytical ability, legal research, and substantive law. In order to maintain her certification, Debra participates in continuing legal education programs.
Debra’s responsibilities as lead paralegal include preparation of estate planning documents. She drafts the necessary estate planning documents such as a will, trust, or powers of attorney after Mr. McLaughlin meets with the client. She then works with Mr. McLaughlin and the client to revise the documents as necessary and supervises office staff to make sure any necessary documents are recorded with the County Recorder’s office, that advance directives are registered with the state of Arizona, and that all remaining tasks to be performed for the client are completed. She also works with clients to probate an estate. This usually entails working with the client to obtain necessary information, then drafting the various pleadings that must be filed with the court. After the personal representative has been appointed, Debra works with the personal representative to notify heirs, marshall all assets, notify creditors, file an inventory, prepare an accounting, make distributions, and then close the probate. Debra assists clients who are functioning as trustee of a trust, typically when the initial trustee is no longer able to function due to incapacity. She prepares the necessary documents to have a successor trustee appointed, then assists the successor trustee in meeting the Arizona Trust Code’s reporting requirements, marshalling trust assets, preparing an accounting and making distributions to the trust beneficiaries. Filing for guardianships and conservatorships is a large part of this Firm’s practice and Debra handles all of the Firm’s guardianship and/or conservatorship cases in Yavapai County. This work includes filing the extensive pleadings required by the court to have a guardian and/or conservator appointed and assisting clients with the ongoing reporting requirements of a guardianship and/or conservatorship. Debra works on all Yavapai County cases and all cases other than those in Maricopa County or those that are ALTCS-related. Debra very much enjoys getting to know and working with our clients and strives to provide them with the best service possible.
In her free time, Debra enjoys spending time outdoors whenever possible, running, cycling, hiking or horseback riding, as well as spending time with her four grown children and eight grandchildren.