12555 High Bluff Drive, Suite 190, San Diego, CA 92130                                                                                    Tel.  858.299.0123     Fax. 858.299.0044

Debra J. Vella, Esq.

Debra Vella is a sole practitioner at Vella Law. Ms. Vella’s areas of practice include estate planning, estate and trust administration, charitable giving, charitable foundations and other tax exempt organizations.


Ms. Vella is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law (California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization), and a past chair of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the Taxation Section of the California State Bar. Ms. Vella has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” in the area of estate planning and probate by Super Lawyers® magazine, most recently in 2018.


Ms. Vella obtained her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1996. Ms. Vella received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from San Diego State University in 1988, where she was a National Merit Scholar. She next attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor on a National Science Foundation fellowship, earning her master’s degree in 1990 and her Ph.D. in 1993 in the field of Developmental Psychology, with an emphasis on Gerontology.


Ms. Vella volunteers with several local charitable organizations, including as a member of the Estates and Trusts Committee of San Diego Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, as Chair of the Helen Woodward Animal Center Planned Giving Committee, and as a volunteer in the AniMeals program at Helen Woodward, which provides food to the pets of homebound individuals throughout San Diego County. Ms. Vella has previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, as a member of the Board of Directors of Red Rover, and a member of the Scripps Health Foundation Gift Planning Advisory Board.


Prior to establishing her own law firm, Ms. Vella was a partner at Henderson, Caverly, Pum & Charney, LLP, from 2004 to 2016, and an associate attorney with Cowley & Chidester LLP from 1999 to 2004 and with O’Melveny & Myers LLP from 1996 to 1999.