Susan works closely with clients to protect their families and create their legacies. Her practice involves developing and implementing plans that are both practical and tax efficient for wealth transfer, business succession and charitable giving.

Susan is lead partner in the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices for the Private Clients, Trusts and Estates practice group. In this capacity, she represents individuals, couples, multi-generational families and professional fiduciaries involved in all aspects of estate planning and estate and trust administration, including related dispute resolution and nonprofits. Clients include private equity, venture capital and hedge fund managers, founding investors in technology companies, senior executives in Fortune 500 companies, family business owners, partners in legal and accounting firms, and beneficiaries of inherited wealth. Many of Susan’s clients have ties to countries other than the United States.

In addition to her work with traditional families, Susan has been at the forefront of planning for families headed by same-sex partners since California first began granting spousal-level rights to gay and lesbian couples. As federally recognized marriage has become a reality for all who live in this country, Susan and her team are well positioned to help their same-sex clients navigate the range of choices now available to them. This includes implementing planning to protect LGBT families from the harm that can result from the unevenness of the current laws around the world.

Susan also advises her clients with respect to premarital planning. Susan has become an authority on the premarital planning issues that arise for gay and lesbian couples and is able to help her clients make informed decisions regarding choice of law and choice of venue for dissolution and division of property in the event of divorce.

  • Experience

    • Developed a comprehensive wealth transfer and charitable planning strategy for an heir of the founder of a Fortune 100 company, which included a series of grantor retained annuity trusts that were effective in transferring approximately $80M to the client’s children on a tax-free basis.
    • Counseled the winners of one of the largest lottery jackpots in U.S. history.  The representation involved developing a plan to preserve privacy, designing strategies to accomplish tax-efficient wealth transfer to descendants, and forming a foundation to execute the family’s charitable goals. 
    • Assisted the manager of a hedge fund in a gifting transaction designed to transfer a portion of his carried interest to a trust for the benefit of his children and future grandchildren.
    • Designed and implemented a sophisticated wealth transfer, charitable giving and governance strategy for the co-founders of a company that owns senior communities where the family goals were disparate and coordination was key.
    • Drafted and negotiated a premarital agreement for a French citizen planning to marry a Belgian citizen in France.  Client was living in San Francisco at the time of the wedding but the couple was planning to relocate to the UK at some point in the future, making the enforceability of the agreement in various jurisdictions critical.
    • Represented a family trustee who was being sued by a trust beneficiary after the death of their father.  The trustee’s responsibilities included the operation of multiple shopping centers located in Northern California.
  • Credentials


    • University of California - Berkeley - School of Law, J.D., 1984, Member, California Law Review
    • Stanford University, B.A., 1981

    Bar Admissions

    • California
    • Illinois
    • Massachusetts


            Judicial Extern —Hon. William H. Orrick, Jr. of the Northern District of California

            Professional Memberships

            American Bar Association


            California Bar Association


            Hawaii Estate Planning Council


            San Francisco Bar Association


            San Francisco Estate Planning Council

            Former Board Member

          • Insights

            Other Publications

            “What Does Same-Sex Marriage Mean for California Estate Planners?” Daily Journal, April 24, 2013

            Speeches & Presentations

            Co-author and panelist, "Planning for Same-Sex Couples in an Uncertain Environment," American Bankers Association, Teleconference (April 3, 2014)

            Author and lecturer, "Tax and Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples after the Demise of DOMA" Hawaii Tax Institute, Honolulu, HI (Oct. 28, 2013)

            Panelist, "Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples," Stonewall Bar Association, Atlanta, GA (July 10, 2013)

            Co-author and lecturer, "Protecting the LGBT Family:  Approaches to Wealth Transfer and Preservation for Same-Sex Couples," Hawaii Tax Institute, Honolulu, HI (Nov. 7, 2012)

            Author and lecturer, "Current Issues In the Estate and Tax Planning for LGBT Families," Bar Association of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA (Sept. 7, 2011)

            Co-author and panelist, "Estate Planning for the Blended Family," California Continuing Education of the Bar, San Francisco, California (July 23, 2010)

            Author and lecturer, "Estate Planning for Non-Traditional Families in an Era of New Rights and Responsibilities," Bar of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA (Nov. 5, 2008)

            Co-author and panelist, "Estate Planning for the Blended Family," California Continuing Education of the Bar, San Francisco, CA (June 6, 2008)

            Co-author and panelist, "Estate Planning for the Blended Family," California Continuing Education of the Bar, Sacramento, CA (March 31, 2008)


          • Citizenship

            Pro Bono Activities

            Susan is a current member of the Board of Trustees of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and serves on the development committee and as head of planned giving. She is a former member of the Board of Regents of Point Foundation, a national LGBT scholarship foundation. She has also served on the Board of Delegates for Alta Bates Summit Foundation and as a Heritage Advisor for Clausen House, a charitable organization that provides housing, wellness programs and advocacy for developmentally disabled adults.