Who We Are

Julianna M. MalisJulianna Malis, Attorney at Law, LL.M (Taxation-Estate Planning)

Julianna Malis is the founder of Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law. She is a mom, wife, and estate planning and elder law attorney and has been practicing law on the Central Coast for over twenty years and is devoted to protecting families and small businesses.Prior to founding Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, she was a consumer protection attorney and civil litigator.

She brings to her law practice a caring warmth and understanding of family needs and a depth of real life experience with estate planning.  As a teenager she lost her father to a tragic car accident and later became her mother’s caregiver through a terminal illness while also caring for her own children. After her mother passed away and some reflection, Julianna decided she would use her personal experience navigating the elder care life care continuum to help other families. Over the last several years, Julianna has created a law firm that attends to her clients’ needs from a ‘holistic’ viewpoint, by addressing legal, medical, financial, social, and family issues we encounter every day. Julianna’s primary goal is to promote the highest quality of life for her clients. Her intelligent and heart-felt guidance for her clients is reflected in each and every estate and life care plan prepared. She truly enjoys helping others.

Julianna has helped many clients set up wills, trusts, and powers of attorney for financial and medical decisions. She helps protect assets from the devastating costs of nursing homes and other long-term care, and she’s experienced in qualifying both married couples and single people for Medi-Cal benefits. She is also accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs and advises clients about Veterans’ benefits to help pay for the cost of in-home care and assisted living.

After excelling academically at McGeorge School of Law (University of the Pacific), where she graduated in 1996, she went on to earn a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree in Taxation, with an emphasis in Estate Planning in 1999. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Barbara in 1993. She is licensed to practice law in all courts in California. Julianna is a Certified Dementia Practitioner Trainer and Certified Dementia Practitioner, and an active member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), ElderCounsel, WealthCounsel, the Trusts & Estates Section of the California State Bar. She serves on the Leadership Board of the Central Coast region Arthritis Foundation and is a board member of the Santa Barbara County Legal Aid Foundation.

Laura Milani, Client Services Director and Certified Paralegal

Laura Milani, Client Services Director and Certified Paralegal

Laura Milani serves as Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law’s Client Services Director and Paralegal. She brings to the firm a broad range of paralegal and firm administration experience.  Laura is a California Notary Public and graduated from the UC Santa Cruz Paralegal Program in 1994. She has 27 years of experience as a certified paralegal working in both small and large firms Laura has worked as senior paralegal and firm administrator for a growing consumer law firm and for several large civil litigation firms participating in a number of high profile civil trials. After a personal experience brought awareness to the importance of long term care planning, Laura transitioned her career to estate planning, and elder law matters. She has spent the past 4 years with several well known and established law firms on the Central Coast before joining Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law.

Laura’s enthusiasm, rapport with clients and their families, and dedication to their needs has led to her current position. Her warm and genuine approach to clients cultivates client trust in a way that provides them with peace of mind that Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law will provide the highest quality services in a most personal, compassionate and professional manner.

Sean Malis, Veterans Benefits Specialist

Sean Malis, Veterans Benefits Specialist

Sean is our Veterans Benefits Specialist, and his experience with Veterans Affairs is a welcome and invaluable addition to the Veterans Benefits Services we provide. He has served in the military as an Army Reserve officer for over 30 years and acts as our liaison with local Veteran Service Organizations.

Like many large governmental institutions, the bureaucracy of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs can be overwhelming. Veterans seeking information on benefits often have to do it alone. Thankfully, the VA now allows Attorneys to represent and advise Veterans. Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law is proud to be one of the few law firms on the Central Coast to be Accredited by the VA, and empowered to help Veterans pursue the benefits to which they are entitled and deserve.

Sean entered into the U.S. Army in 1992 and has served tours in Iraq, Kuwait and Africa, in addition to numerous assignments stateside.  He also worked for CA State Parks as a State Park Ranger overseeing living history programs for nearly 20 years and is a CA credentialed social studies teacher.


Leah Makler

Leah Makler, Client Services & Social Media Coordinator

Leah Makler joined Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law in January 2020 as our Client Services and Social Media Coordinator to assist with client support and to manage our social media outreach through all of the social media platforms.  Leah ensures client satisfaction and helps to create systems to better serve our clientele. She assists our other members of the firm with special projects to enhance the services we provide.  Leah is also working full-time on her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology.


Augustus, Director of Greetings and Law Support Dog

Augustus ‘Gus’ is our Director of Greetings and Law Support Dog. He has five years experience working as an office dog and brings to his position a love and devotion for his work like no other.

He is always up for a head pat or a chest rub and sometimes clients even take him on a walk around the block.  Gus is content to sit in on client meetings and rest under the conference table.  However, if you aren’t a dog lover, he won’t take offense.

Gus has been professionally puppy-trained by local experts and aspires to one day become a hospice therapy dog.



 April 25, 2020

“We worked with Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law when my father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers, He was only 65 and it was the most difficult time of our lives, feeling completely lost and uprooted. Luckily, Julianna Malis was there to help us, one step at a time, to plan and navigate this unknown. We had no idea all of our trust documents were not only outdated, but lacked legality and protection on so many levels. She was there to put together a new trust, help manage our finances, and get my father into a specialized care facility with ease and professionalism. She took the burden off of our family during our darkest days by taking on sensitive and complex issues. Because of her we have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of extra heart ache. We now have confidence knowing all of our documents are in place, my dad is in a safe place, and my mom is not suffering financially. Juliana is a wonderful attorney to work with and has helped us immensely, we are forever grateful.”     –  Sheri R.