Hoffman, Sabban & Watenmaker A Professional Corporation

Hoffman, Sabban & Watenmaker A Professional Corporation

Founded in 1981, Los Angeles-based Hoffman, Sabban & Watenmaker, APC ("HSW") is one of the nation's preeminent law firms devoted exclusively to the practice of all aspects of trusts and estates law, including estate and tax planning.

Firm Overview

HSW represents a diverse clientele, both national and international in scope. Our clients are engaged in a wide variety of business and professions, with many having extensive involvement in the entertainment industry. We work with estates ranging in size from several million dollars to in excess of $1 billion. This diversity has provided our attorneys with an unmatched depth of knowledge and experience to better serve our clients. We take pride in providing the highest quality service while remaining efficient and cost-effective.

U.S. News & World Report ranks HSW as a "Los Angeles Tier 1" law firm in three practice areas: "Trusts & Estates Law", "Litigation Trusts & Estates" and "Tax Law." Six members of HSW are Fellows of the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, an international organization of approximately 2,600 lawyers elected to membership by demonstrating the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence and experience as trust and estate counselors. In addition, seven attorneys have been designated as Southern California "Super Lawyers," a statewide peer ballot process recognizing attorneys who are in the top 5% of their practice areas. Paul Gordon Hoffman and Alan Watenmaker have also been twice named among the Top 100 Southern California Super Lawyers (without regard to speciality). Five HSW attorneys are listed in The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and one of the most highly respected peer review guides to the legal profession worldwide, and Mr. Hoffman was chosen by Best Lawyers as the 2010 "Top Tax Lawyer" in the metropolitan Los Angeles area.

At HSW, we are committed to finding solutions to the varied needs of our clients while understanding their particular concerns and emotions. We strive to address these emotional needs by fully explaining options and keeping our clients informed, at the same time we address the legal and technical issues presented. We consider ourselves to be true "counselors" as well as "attorneys at law."
Main Office

Main Office
10880 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 2200
Los Angeles  CA  90024

Phone
  • 310-470-6010
Estate Planning
Our estate planning attorneys assist clients with diverse backgrounds, assets and goals.
We pride ourselves on custom tailoring each estate plan to fit the needs of the client while providing the best tax planning possible. In addition, we explain the complexities of the estate and gift tax laws so the client understands the estate planning documents. Our clients range in net worth from a few million dollars to well over $1billion, and we have the experience, creativity and expertise to craft plans of all levels of sophistication.

Our attorneys prepare wills, living trusts, advance health care directives, durable powers of attorney for financial matters, deeds transferring real estate and all types of irrevocable trusts (gift trusts, life insurance trusts, generation-skipping trusts, education trusts, grantor trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, charitable remainder and charitable lead trusts). We believe that our clients should be able to understand all of the documents we prepare for them. To this end, we adopt a writing style intended to be "user-friendly" even while negotiating complex tax issues, and we provide our clients with explanations and instructions to assist in the continued management of a trust.

We also advise clients on international estate planning, private charitable foundations and other charitable giving techniques, LLC and other entity formation, property tax reassessment issues, business succession planning, asset protection planning, and the often-overlooked issue of preparing the next generation for handling wealth. When appropriate, we coordinate with our clients' other professionals (accountants, investment advisors, business managers, etc.), to maximize efficiency. In short, we consider ourselves true "counselors" to our clients.

Our extensive and positive relationships with other professionals (accountants, insurance brokers, trust companies, investment advisors and the like) add to our strong reputation to make our estate planners some of the most highly acclaimed attorneys in California.

Susan Abraham

Susan Abraham is senior counsel, practicing in the area of estate planning. She began her practice administering probate and trust estates, but has focused on estate planning since 1992.

Ms. Abraham has co-taught estate planning at UCLA Extension and co-authored the article "Transfers to Noncitizen Spouses Significantly Affected by RRA '89," Journal of Taxation, May 1990.

Ms. Abraham was admitted to the California Bar in 1986. She received a B.S. degree from Indiana University in 1979 (graduating with Highest Distinction), an M.S. degree in Judicial Administration from the University of Denver in 1980, and a J.D. degree from UCLA in 1986 (graduating Order of the Coif and the recipient of American Jurisprudence Awards in Wills and Trusts and Ethics).

Ms. Abraham grew up on Long Island, New York, and has lived many years in Los Angeles. She speaks Portuguese and has studied abroad in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning

Education
-Indiana University
--(B.S. Highest Distinction, 1979)
-University of Denver
--(M.S. Judicial Administration, 1980)
-University of California
--Los Angeles
--(J.D., 1986 Order of the Coif)

Recipient of American Jurisprudence
-Awards in Wills & Trusts & Ethics
Education
  • University of California
    Juris Doctorate , 1986

Chang H. Chae

Chang H. Chae is a member of the firm, practicing in the areas of estate planning, trust administration and probate, entity formation and tax and charitable planning.

Mr. Chae is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization) and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association. He has been named by Los Angeles Magazine and Law & Politics Magazine as a "Southern California Super Lawyer," and is rated AV Preeminent by LexiNexis Martindale-Hubbell. Mr. Chae has served as a member of the board of directors for a community college foundation, as chairperson for a planned giving committee and as a professional advisor to a community foundation. He is a member of the International Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and is on the membership committee of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Professional Advisory Network.
Mr. Chae has lectured to many professional and lay audiences, including the USC Tax Institute, the USC Trust and Estate Conference, the National Business Institute, the Advanced Planning Conference and to other professional and charitable groups.

Mr. Chae is the co-author of the following published articles:
-"Keeping the 'Family' in the Family Home: Special Planning Challenges Posed by QPRTs," California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Official Publication of the State Bar of California Trusts and Estates Section
-"Power to the People! (An Exploration of the Use of Powers of Appointment in Estate Planning)," Estate Planning, 2008 (30th Annual UCLA-CEB Estate Planning Institute)
-"Death and Taxes: No Longer a Certainty. A View of Estate Planning When the Federal Estate Tax Is Not an Issue," 37th Annual USC Trust and Estate Conference, 2011
-"Give Me My Money Now! (Having Second Thoughts on the Wisdom of an Outdated Plan)," 64 Major Tax Planning, 2012

Mr. Chae was admitted to the California Bar in 2000 and the Iowa Bar in 1996. He received a B.A., with honors, from Grinnell College in 1993, and a J.D. degree, with distinction, from the University of Iowa in 1996. Mr. Chae also attended the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Mr. Chae was born in Seoul, South Korea, but raised in Des Moines, Iowa. He also speaks Korean. He is on the Leadership Board for his church, and is an AYSO soccer coach and referee for the teams of his three children.

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning
-Trust Administration & Probate
-Tax & Charitable Planning
Education
  • University of Iowa College of Law
    Juris Doctorate , 1986

Paul Gordon Hoffman

Paul Gordon Hoffman is a founding member of the Firm. He practices in the areas of tax, estate planning, trust administration and probate, and charitable planning.

Mr. Hoffman was chosen by Best Lawyers as the 2010 "Top Tax Lawyer" in the metropolitan Los Angeles area. He also has twice been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Lawyers" in Southern California by "Super Lawyers." He is a former Chairperson of the Tax Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and has taught taxation at UCLA School of Law, and taxation and gifts, wills and trusts at the USC Law Center.

Among the many organizations to which Mr. Hoffman has spoken are the American Bar Association Tax Section, AICPA Advanced Estate Planning Conference, USC Tax Institute, UCLA/CEB Estate Planning Institute, USC Probate and Trust Conference, Practicing Law Institute, California Continuing Education of the Bar and the NYU Tax Institute. He is the Co-Chair of the UCLA/CEB Estate Planning Institute. He is a member of the Motion Picture and Television Tax Institute and is on the planning committee of the USC Trust and Estate Conference (formerly known as the USC Probate and Trust Conference).

Mr. Hoffman has published the following articles:
Author
-"Limits on Retroactive Decision Making by the Internal Revenue Service: Redefining Abuse of Discretion Under Section 7805 (b)," 23 UCLA Law Review 529
-"Should You Make Gifts Before Year-End? The Effect of the Tax Reform Act of 1976," 52 Los Angeles Bar Journal 226
-"Salary Continuation Plans Can Be Estate Tax Free But May Run Into Gift Tax Problems," 9 Taxation For Lawyers 376

Co-Author:
-"Planning An Estate in Light of Recent Changes in Tax and Copyright Laws," 5 Estate Planning 90
-"Estate Planning for Individuals in the Entertainment Industry," Southern California Tax Institute 875, 1979
-"Income Taxation of Estates and Trusts," CEB, 1980; "Estate Planning for Clients with Special Assets," Estate Planning, 1980
-"The Marital Deduction: Beyond the Basics," 35 Major Tax Planning, 1983
-"Estate Planning A Client Based Approach," 39 Major Tax Planning, 1987
-"Estate Planning for Qualified Plan Benefits After 1986, " Estate Planning 1987
-"Retirement Plans & QTIPS," CEB, 1995
-"New Developments: Grantor Trust," NYU, 1995
-"Federal and California Individual Income Tax Developments," USC Law School Tax Institute, 1996 # 1300

Contributing Author:
-"International Estate Planning," Matthew Bender, 1992
Co-Designer of a best selling software program:
-"Brentmark Pension & Excise Tax Planner"

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning
-Trust Administration & Probate
-Tax & Charitable Planning
Education
  • University of California at Los Angeles
    Juris Doctorate , 1976
    Beta Gamma Sigma
    Beta Alpha Psi

Danielle E. Miller

Danielle E. Miller is a senior attorney with the firm, practicing in the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration, related income, gift and estate tax matters, and entity formation.

Ms. Miller is the author of "Unanticipated Estate Tax Consequences of Divorce: How to Treat an Obligation to Maintain Life Insurance," published in California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Official Publication of the State Bar of California. She has given lectures to professional and lay audiences on estate planning, probate and fiduciary income tax, and she serves as an Executive Committee member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association Trusts and Estates Section.

Ms. Miller was admitted to the California State Bar in 1996, received a B.A. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993, and a J.D. degree from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1996.

A native of Los Angeles, Ms. Miller has completed many triathlons and running races. Though she is not currently racing, she remains physically active, including keeping up with her young daughters.

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning
-Trust Administration & Probate
-Tax & Charitable Planning
Education
  • University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
    Juris Doctorate , 1996

Erin L. Prouty

Erin L. Prouty is a member of the firm, practicing in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, dispute resolution, entity formation, and tax and charitable planning.

Ms. Prouty is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization), and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. She has been repeatedly listed by Los Angeles Magazine and Law & Politics Magazine as a "Southern California Super Lawyer", and she serves on the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the State Bar of California, and is a former Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association. Ms. Prouty has lectured for many charitable and professional groups, including the USC Probate and Trust Conference, the UCLA/CEB Estate Planning Institute, the UCLA Anderson School of Business, Pepperdine University, the Jewish Community Foundation, the National Business Institute and the San Fernando Valley Estate Planning Council.

Ms. Prouty is the author of the following published articles: "Running Away Will Get You Nowhere: New Taxes Imposed on Expatriates," California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Official Publication of the State Bar of California Trusts and Estates Section, and "Withholding Regulations under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980, as Amended," 5 Boston University Journal of Tax Law, 1986.

Ms. Prouty was admitted to the California Bar in 1985. She received a B.A. from the University of Southern California in 1980, a J.D. degree from the University of San Diego in 1985, and a Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) in Taxation from Boston University in 1986.

Ms. Prouty is a native of the South Bay area of Los Angeles, and has competed as a professional beach volleyball player throughout California and other parts of the country, and she was a member of the USC Trojan Women's Volleyball team. She is also a classical flute and piccolo player and has performed regularly with the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony, the Beach Cities Symphony, and the L.A. Lawyers Philharmonic.

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning
-Dispute Resolution
-Trust Administration & Probate
-Tax & Charitable Planning
Education
  • Boston University
    LL.M. , 1986

Mary K. Ramsden

Mary K. Ramsden is senior counsel for the firm, practicing primarily in the areas of trust and estate administration. Since 1994, she has been a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). She has been recognized as a "Southern California Super Lawyer" Ms. Ramsden was admitted to the California Bar in 1981. She received a B.A. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a J.D. degree from the Loyola University Los Angeles. Ms. Ramsden has been a speaker for CEB seminars and has written articles for State Bar publications in these areas.

Areas of Practice
-Trust Administration & Probate
Education
  • Loyola University of Los Angeles
    Juris Doctorate , 1981

Loretta Siciliano

Loretta Siciliano is senior counsel of the firm, and practices in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, entity formation, tax and charitable planning, and income, estate and gift tax controversies.

Ms. Siciliano is a member of the State Bar of California Taxation Section, Tax Procedure and Litigation Committee, Tax-Exempt Organizations Committee, and Pass Through Entities Committee.
Her publications include "Estate Planning Checklist To Review With Clients In Dissolution Proceedings", written with Nina Madden Sabban for the 1994 Family Law Reference Book, published by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and "Federal and California Individual Tax Developments", written with Paul Gordon Hoffman, and published as part of the University of Southern California Forty-Eighth Annual Institute on Federal Taxation, 1996.

Ms. Siciliano volunteers as an arbitrator in attorney-client fee disputes through the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She also volunteers through the Beverly Hills Bar Association in the United States Tax Court as an advisor for taxpayers without legal counsel. Ms. Siciliano has engaged in both of these volunteer activities for more than ten years.

Ms. Siciliano was admitted to the California Bar in 1977. She received a B.A. from Stanford University in 1971, a J.D. degree from Hastings College of Law in 1977, and a Master of Laws degree (L.L.M.) in Taxation with great distinction from Golden Gate University in 1982.

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning
-Tax & Charitable Planning
Education
  • Golden Gate University
    LL.M. , 1982

Alan S. Watenmaker

Alan S. Watenmaker is the managing member of the Firm. He practices in the areas of tax, estate planning, trust administration and probate, and charitable planning.

Mr. Watenmaker has twice been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Lawyers" in Southern California by "Super Lawyers" and has been selected as a "Southern California Super Lawyer" every year since 2004, when the list was first determined. He has also been listed in Best Lawyers in America every year since 1995. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Probate and Trust Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Mr. Watenmaker is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization).

Among the many organizations to which Mr. Watenmaker has spoken are the USC Tax Institute, UCLA/CEB Estate Planning Institute, USC Probate and Trust Conference and California Continuing Education of the Bar. He is a member of the planning committee of the USC Trust and Estate Conference (formerly known as the USC Probate and Trust Conference).

Mr. Watenmaker has published numerous articles in the field of estate planning and post-mortem estate administration, including the following articles:

Author:
-"Supplement to California Decedent Estate Practice 1 & 2," 1994
Co-Author:
-"Post-Mortem Tax Planning Checklist," 20th Annual USC Probate and Trust Conference, 1994
-"Death of a Spouse 'Now What Do I Do . . . ?' Selected Tax Issues for the Surviving Spouse," 47th Annual Institute on Federal Taxation, USC Tax Institute 1995
-"Power to the People! (An Exploration of the Use of Powers of Appointment in Estate Planning)," Estate Planning, 2008 (30th Annual UCLA-CEB Estate Planning Institute)
-"Give Me My Money Now! (Having Second Thoughts on the Wisdom of an Outdated Plan)," 64 Major Tax Planning, 2012

Contributing Author:
-"California Decedent Estate Practice 3," California Continuing Education of the Bar

Mr. Watenmaker graduated from U.C. Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. Prior to that, he earned both a B.S. and M.S. at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, both degrees with a specialty in the field of accounting. Among his academic honors, Mr. Watenmaker was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Gamma Sigma, and was awarded the Order of Coif upon graduation from Boalt Hall.

Among his charitable and civic endeavors, Mr. Watenmaker is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.

Areas of Practice
-Estate Planning
-Trust Administration & Probate
-Tax & Charitable Planning
Education
  • Boalt Hall School of Law University of California Berkeley
    Juris Doctorate , 1972

Geraldine A. Wyle

Geraldine A. Wyle is a member of the firm, practicing in the areas of litigation and dispute resolution concerning trusts and estates, conservatorships and guardianships often involving fiduciary and inter-generational family controversies as well as appellate law.

Ms. Wyle is responsible for significant California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal victories, including the seminal case of Estate of Goulet (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1074. She has been the lead attorney in numerous complex matters. Ms. Wyle often heads a team of tax, administrative and transactional specialists, frequently resolving the disputes by settlement, employing creative solutions with tax-efficient strategies.

Ms. Wyle is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and has been repeatedly listed by Los Angeles Magazine and Law & Politics Magazine as a "Southern California Super Lawyer" and also has been named in The Best Lawyers in America, published by Woodward/White, Inc. She is rated AV Preeminent by LexiNexis Martindale-Hubbell. Ms. Wyle serves on the Board of Directors of the Beverly Hills Bar Foundation, and is its former President. Ms. Wyle also is a former Chair of the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and has received the Distinguished Service Award twice from the organization. Ms. Wyle has lectured for many professional groups, including the Continuing Education of the Bar California, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the San Fernando Valley Bar Association and the San Fernando Valley Estate Planning Council.

Ms. Wyle is an author of the following published articles: "A Charitable Catch-22: Standing for Private Attorney General Actions in California," California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, Official Publication of the State Bar of California Trusts and Estates Section, and "Banking on Trust: The Trustee's Role as Neutral Stakeholder May Now be Changed to Require an Affirmative Duty to Protect the Trust and the Trustor's Intent," Los Angeles Daily Journal, as well as "Tax Considerations of Probate and Trust Litigation and Settlement," Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Ms. Wyle was admitted to the California State Bar Association in 1979, and the United States District Court, Central District of California, in 1980. She attended Radcliffe College (1971 1973) and received her B.A., magna cum laude (1976), and her J.D. (1979) from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Areas of Practice
-Dispute Resolution
Education
  • University of California Los Angeles
    Juris Doctorate , 1979

Kenneth S. Wolf

Kenneth S. Wolf is "Of Counsel" to the firm with more than forty years experience in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, litigation and dispute resolution. Mr. Wolf is also an experienced mediator of trust and estate litigation matters, having handled more than 100 mediations with a 95% success rate.

Mr. Wolf is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (since 1983) and is a certified specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law under the California State Bar legal specialization program (since 1993). He served on the Executive Committee of the Trust and Estates section of the California State Bar for six (6) years from August, 2000 to August 2006 and was a founding member of the University of Southern California Trust and Estate Conference where he has served as Chair of the planning committee since 1993. Mr. Wolf has spoken many times before various local bar associations, professional groups, and conferences in the areas of estate planning as well as trust and estate administration and litigation.

Mr. Wolf has been listed in "The Best Lawyers in America", published by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, South Carolina since 2001 and has been recognized as a "Super Lawyer" for Los Angeles County in Estate Planning and Trust litigation since 2004.

Mr. Wolf has also qualified and testified as an expert witness in several Los Angeles County Superior Court cases involving probate and trust issues. He has also been appointed by the Los Angeles County Probate Court as PVP counsel or guardian ad litem in at least ten (10) cases over the past thirty years and on two (2) occasions has been appointed as a special master to render written reports to the Court on probate-related matters.
Mr. Wolf was admitted to the California Bar in 1969. He received a B.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1965 and his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1968.

Mr. Wolf is an avid sports fan, enjoys playing golf (with minimal success), and enjoys travel and photography. He and his wife, Madeline, were married in 1971, have two children and three granddaughters. His philosophy of practice is to first identify and recognize the needs of his clients and then seek to find solutions in the most efficient, creative, and economical manner.

Areas of Practice
-Dispute Resolution and Litigation
-Estate Planning
-Trust Administration & Probate
-Mediation
Education
  • Harvard School of Law
    Juris Doctorate , 1968
LA-NOLO2:CM1.2.1.1.20150623.32264+