Stacie L. Chau is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Los Angeles office and a member of the firm's Private Wealth Services Dispute Resolution Team. Ms. Chau's practice focuses on complex trusts and estates litigation and administration. Ms. Chau aims to provide the most efficient resolution to disputes, always keeping in mind the best interests of her clients and the complex issues and emotions that probate litigations often involve. Whether through mediation, alternative dispute resolutions or trial, Ms. Chau is with her clients every step of the way to navigate through the dispute and achieve successful results.
Representing Professional Fiduciaries: Ms. Chau has experience in representing professional fiduciaries in complex trust and estate administration and litigation. In working with professional fiduciaries in the administration of complex trust and estate matters, Ms. Chau is also experienced with spotting and identifying tax issues related to federal estate tax returns and gift tax returns. Having dealt with numerous cases where family members are unaware of and reluctant to comply with gift tax reporting obligations, Ms. Chau's skills and knowledge can assist professional fiduciaries to investigate gift reporting issues and ensure that a professional fiduciary representing the decedent complies with all tax reporting obligations. With her extensive experience handling complex trusts and estates administration, Ms. Chau is also familiar with the complex California statutes regulating the creditor's claims process. She regularly assists professional fiduciaries and debtors in pursuing or defending creditor's claims relating to the decedent's estate.
Representing Beneficiaries and Individuals: Ms. Chau also has extensive experience representing beneficiaries in litigations such as will and trust contests, elder abuse claims and pursuing breach of fiduciary duties claims against fiduciaries. In these proceedings, Ms. Chau often represents high-profile clients in probate disputes and has extensive experience handling these sensitive family-related issues. Recently, Ms. Chau represented a widow in obtaining a $4.9 million settlement against a former corporate trustee over its mismanagement and oversight of the sale of the trust's primary asset – the widow's marital residence, which she and her husband had lived in for more than 20 years. In another matter, Ms. Chau is representing her clients in ongoing high-profile, contentious litigation involving trusts with multi-million dollar assets and relating to the contested definition of the term "grandchildren" that was undefined in the trust instrument. The definition will determine whether certain individuals claiming to be "grandchildren" of the trustor will be entitled to a share of the trusts.
Trial Attorney: Ms. Chau is a litigator and has taken to trial some of the most complex and challenging probate cases. After nearly three months in trial, in a proceeding where more than 30 trust amendments were challenged, Ms. Chau successfully secured a favorable settlement agreement for her client.
Transactional Experience: Ms. Chau also has experience with various corporate transactional work, including real estate transactions, land use and financing. Experience in these areas are particularly important for trusts and estate administration, in which many estates own interests in substantial real estate and interests in family offices or public companies. Recently, Ms. Chau represented the administrator of a decedent's estate, which consisted of the decedent's one-half interest in commercial real properties valued at close to $80 million, from which the decedent and her husband jointly owned. Working closely with Holland & Knight's Real Estate Practice and West Coast Land Use and Environment Team, Ms. Chau facilitated the sale of the majority of the commercial real properties, including handling environmental and contamination issues affecting the properties, resulting in the ability to generate the much-needed liquidity for the estate.
Conservatorships and Guardianships: With increasing conservatorship and guardianship proceedings and the demand for attorneys proficient in this area, Ms. Chau has developed a wealth of experience in contested conservatorships. With a keen eye on the sensitivity of these proceedings and the stress this often causes for the family, Ms. Chau resolves these proceedings expeditiously in the best interests of her clients. Ms. Chau recently was invited to speak on the topic of emergency conservatorship, guardianship proceedings and advanced healthcare directives in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need for such proceedings.
In addition to her legal practice, Ms. Chau shares her diverse background and fluency in the Chinese language by serving as lead legal counsel for the Khawalung Foundation, a charitable organization aimed to assist homeless children in Nepal. Ms. Chau is also active in the Asian American legal community. She is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and serves as the chair of NAPABA's communications subcommittee of trusts and estates section.
While attending law school, Ms. Chau served as a staff editor for the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal, where she reviewed and edited articles for publication. She also had extensive experience working in the court system during law school, serving as an extern at both the Los Angeles Superior Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for the Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw. Ms. Chau was also a co-mediator at the Loyola Law School Center for Conflict Resolution, where she mediated domestic and business disputes.
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