Areas of Practice
trusts and estates
Each of our attorneys is skilled in estate planning disciplines, including the drafting of wills, trusts and other estate planning instruments; charitable planning; the administration of probate estates and trusts; business succession planning; and the representation of clients in court. We can help you to form and administer specialized trusts like charitable trusts, special needs trusts, QTIP Trusts, and irrevocable life insurance trusts. In addition, we assist in planning for unique assets, such as closely-held businesses, partnerships, real estate, art, and life insurance.
Elder Law is defined by the type of clients to be served rather than by particular legal techniques. In our practice, elder law is an individualized practice in which we work with our client to determine long-term goals and develop legal strategies to address specific concerns that arise for elderly or disabled people. Quite often we work with medical professionals, accountants, caregivers, financial planners, government administrators, and family members to put together a comprehensive plan that serves a number of the personal and financial issues in an elder’s life. In particular, we handle a diverse and sophisticated range of special needs trusts and Medi-Cal planning issues. In addition to basic estate planning, elder law practice includes planning for incapacity or conservatorship; long-term care (whether at home or in a skilled nursing facility); preparing special needs trusts or other forms of irrevocable trusts; and determining eligibility and compliance with public benefit programs that provide income, or help finance the costs of care.
trusts and estate litigation
Some families simply can not get along, and litigation of family trusts and estates becomes unavoidable. Gale & Nielsen’s attorneys have the judgment and experience to guide clients through these complex and emotional disputes.As estate planners, we strive to create estate plans that will avoid litigation later on, by understanding family dynamics and goals. In this way, we minimize the potential for disputes to develop later on. We have deep knowledge of wills, trusts, estate tax planning, charitable giving, and lifetime family gifting plans. We also have the ability to identify and resolve the unique issues raised by assets like family businesses, partnerships, real estate, life insurance and art. When a trust or probate case is disputed, however, as trust and estate litigators we offer skillful and thoughtful counsel, and zealous advocacy. Over the years we have tried a variety of cases in this arena, including trust and will contests, breach of fiduciary duty claims, removal of trustees, undue influence, and disputes following the death or incompetence of a family member. Our goal is always to arrive at the best resolution possible, considering both the economics of the dispute, and basic fairness. This outlook reflects our deep belief that an attorney’s counsel must follow not only the law, but a basic sense of right and wrong. Very often the best result is a negotiated settlement, but if this is not possible, we have the experience and passion to see the matter successfully through trial and appeal.
We understand how difficult everything can become after the loss of a family member or friend. This is a complex area of the law that can be exhausting for the people assigned to manage the estate through the court process. We have mastered the methods and procedures to make this process as easy for our clients as possible. Our firm maintains excellent relationships with court staff, government officials, and local professionals in the accounting, real estate, and financial planning fields. We provide a understandable step-by-step procedure that our clients can participate in as fully as they wish.
Medi-Cal for long-term care
Qualifying for Medi-Cal when a family member needs to move to a skilled nursing facility can be a complex process. We use a number of planning strategies, including trusts, asset transfers, and court petitions, to make sure that an application for Medi-Cal complies with the law while enabling the at-home spouse to retain as much of the family's assets as possible.
We believe that all of our lawyers, regardless of where they concentrate their practice, should have a grounding in trial court practice. The analytical thinking, poise, and common sense required to succeed in court will serve a lawyer well in any area of practice. Our lawyers apply sophisticated judgment and practical, real-world approaches to representing our clients in litigation. We also work hard to counsel our clients on realistic alternate dispute resolution processes. If litigation is unavoidable, we provide our clients with prompt and candid advice about the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and how to maximize their litigation prospects in the most cost-efficient manner. We have counseled clients and tried cases in a range of commercial litigation settings in county, state and federal trial courts and appellate courts throughout California; in arbitration and mediation; and in administrative proceedings with regulatory agencies at the county, state, and federal level.Whether you run a theater, recording studio, or an eCommerce website, all businesses need to minimize their legal liability and risk. Our lawyers will assess the structure of your operation, such as its physical or digital space, the types of products you sell, who your consumers are, what type of company you have filed under (LLC, Inc, etc.), and so on. From there, we will tailor the right risk plan, complete with permit applications, insurance policies, and more, so you can worry less about liabilities and concentrate on growing your business.
We help people establish conservatorships in Humboldt, del Norte, and Trinity Counties. A conservatorship is a court-administered case in which a judge appoints a person to manage the care and finances of another person who cannot do so for themselves, whether due to dementia, cognitive limitations, or mental disability. It is a complex area of law, and often involves not only physical but emotional burdens. Our legal professionals provide experienced and compassionate guidance through this process.
Our attorneys have extensive experience representing entrepreneurs, start-up companies, family business owners, partnerships, individuals, and borrowers, among others. We have the intellect, skill, and judgment to handle large, sophisticated transactions, but are equally adept and comfortable with smaller and more routine matters, which we handle pragmatically and cost-effectively. We strive to understand our clients’ businesses and provide the level of service appropriate to each situation. Whether structuring a transaction, conducting a difficult negotiation, or handling a day-to-day matter, we strive to produce the best result possible for our clients at a reasonable cost. The internet, software, and technology are so pervasive that we can’t remember having ever lived without them. They make our lives simpler, but behind the curtain are fluctuating challenges in protection and monetization; challenges that our firm stays two steps ahead of. We’ve helped engineers, inventors, gaming startups, and entrepreneurs develop, license, sell, and maintain ownership over their creations. We’ve also negotiated purchasing and partnership agreements for larger investment companies looking for their unicorn.
We provide legal, business, operational, and financial strategies for real estate transactions, including: purchase and escrow agreements, business buy-outs, property line and easement disputes; and business formation.