Law Offices of Woodford G. Rowland

Law Offices of Woodford G. Rowland

Specializing in tax controversies, business matters, estate planning and estate litigation

Firm Overview

The Law Offices of Woodford G. Rowland is located in San Rafael, California. San Rafael is 15 miles north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and up Highway 101. We represent clients through out the San Francisco Bay area including Marin County, Napa County, Sonoma County, San Mateo County, Alameda County, and Contra Costa County, and in some cases throughout California.

Our competent and congenial staff is dedicated to helping clients with their legal matters regarding:
-Tax controversies
-Tax Audits
-Tax Liens / Levies
-Tax Fraud
-Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties
-Innocent Spouse Relief
-Tax and business planning
-Estate planning
-Probate Administration
-Estate and trust litigation
-Fiduciary Litigation

Please contact our firm with questions about your legal issue. Provide as much information as possible regarding your inquiry. While this contact does not serve to establish an attorney/client relationship, it will allow our legal team to begin an assessment of your case.

Dedicated San Rafael attorney:
Attorney Rowland was admitted to the California State Bar in 1980 and has 35 years of total legal experience. He has been a Certified Specialist, Taxation, The California Board of Legal Specialization since 1995. He is AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest recognition possible in the legal industry, for his professionalism and ethics. Mr. Rowland was licensed (and is now inactive) as a Certified Public Accountant in Ohio and California. He is also a former IRS Office of Chief Counsel attorney.

Main Office

Main Office
55 Professional Center Parkway, Suite A
San Rafael CA 94903





Estate Planning

A typical engagement - In a typical estate planning engagement, after a discussion of the client's needs and circumstances, we prepare the following documents:

What is a living trust?

-A trust is an arrangement under which one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. You can be the trustee of your own living trust, and you will retain total control over all property held in trust.

-A "living trust" is simply a trust you create while you're alive, rather than one that is created at your death under the terms of your will.

-Different kinds of living trusts can help you avoid probate, reduce estate taxes or set up long-term property management for you or your beneficiaries.

-Avoiding probate is desirable because it can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Probate costs may run several times the cost of administration if a living trust is in place. These costs are based on the fair market value of the property, and not on just the net worth or equity.

A trust avoids probate because your property may be titled in the name of the trust before your death. You have complete control of the property during your life, but the trust is considered to be the legal owner of the property for title transfer purposes. Upon your death a trustee whom you have pre-selected will simply handle the transfers or payments to your heirs that you specified in the trust. You have a great deal of flexibility in specifying the details of these payments and transfer. Although there are some exceptions, after your death the trustee can usually handle everything quickly and simply, with less attorney's fees, without court supervision and avoiding certain costs and delays.

The traditional technique for passing assets when a person dies is a properly executed and witnessed will. The legal requirements for execution and witnessing should be meticulously observed. We have handled many disputes about these formalities, many of which could have been avoided.

If you don't have a will or use some other legal method to transfer your property when you die, the California Probate Code will determine what happens to your property. Generally, it will go to your spouse and children. If you have neither, it will go to your closest relatives. If you leave no relatives, it will go to the state. Obviously, your wishes might be very different from the results prescribed by the Probate Code.

In a will, you can decide who will care for your young children and their property if the other parent is unavailable or unfit.

Estate tax planning:

Today, estate taxes are less of a factor in estate planning than in the past. The current estate tax exemption is at $5 million dollars. That is, an individual can pass up to $5 million in assets and there is absolutely no estate tax liability. If the taxable estate (gross estate less allowable deductions) exceeds $5 million, the estate tax on the excess is thirty-five percent (35%). A married couple can pass up to $10 million in assets with no estate tax liability. (These rates and exemption figures are subject to change.)

In past years when the estate tax exemption was lower, a typical husband-wife estate plan would involve, at the least, a division of the trust into two trusts when the first spouse passed away. Now, frequently, this complexity is not necessary if we can predict that the couple's net assets at the time of death are not likely to entail any exposure to estate taxes. So today, the typical estate plan for a married couple will provide that, when the first spouse dies, all of the assets will pass to the surviving spouse in the form of a "survivor's trust" over which the surviving spouse has total control including the power to revoke or amend the survivor's trust.

This typical estate plan will also include a provision for a disclaimer trust, meaning that if, after the first death, the surviving spouse and his/her advisors believe that it might be desirable to split the trust into two for estate tax purposes, the surviving spouse can sign a "disclaimer" with the result that the assets of the first spouse to die will go into a disclaimer trust. The survivor will have considerable access to these assets during her lifetime, but they will not be includible in her taxable estate when she dies.

Woodford G. Rowland

Law Offices of Woodford G. Rowland

Woodford G. Rowland

Mr. Rowland is AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest recognition possible in the legal industry, for his professionalism and ethics.

Practice areas:
-Tax controversies
-Tax Audits
-Tax Liens / Levies
-Tax Fraud
-Tax Planning
-Estate planning
-Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties
-Innocent Spouse Relief
-Probate Administration
-Trust litigation
-Estate litigation
-Fiduciary litigation
-Business planning
-Business litigation

-Ohio, 1977
-U.S. Tax Court, 1978
-California, 1980
-U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1981
-U.S. Supreme Court, 1989
-U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 1990

-The Ohio State University, J.D., cum laude, 1977
-University of Cincinnati, B.B.A., 1974

Certified Specialist, Taxation Law, the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

Associations and memberships:
-Bar Association of San Francisco
-Marin County Bar Association
-American Bar Association (Member, Sections on: Taxation; Litigation)
-State Bar of California (Member, Taxation Section; Executive Committee, 1999-2002; Former Chair, Tax Procedure and Litigation Committee)

Biographical details:
-Certified Public Accountant: Ohio, 1975, California, 1984
-Adjunct Professor, Federal Tax Procedure, Golden Gate University Graduate Tax Program, 1981-1992
-Attorney, Chief Counsel Office, Internal Revenue Service, San Francisco, California, 1978-1980


The Ohio State University
Juris Doctorate, cum laude, 1977