Michael E. Freedman

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Estate & Trust Litigation Attorney in San Francisco, CA

Freedman Law Firm
 | 580 California Street, Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415-777-1666
Fax: 415-777-1699
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2012 - 2020
Licensed Since: 1986
Practice Areas:
  • Estate & Trust Litigation (60%),
  • Estate Planning & Probate (20%),
  • Elder Law (20%)
    Attorney Profile

    Attorney Michael E. Freedman is the founder and owner of Freedman Law Firm in San Francisco, California. Nationally ranked as among the top attorneys in the country, Mr. Freedman provides invaluable counsel and support to clients throughout Sonoma, Alameda and San Mateo counties and beyond who have legal needs involving any of the following:

    ·       Estate planning, wills and trusts

    ·       Elder law

    ·       Estate and trust litigation

    ·       Estate and trust administration

    Certified as a Specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization, Mr. Freeman has more than 35 years of legal experience, and he has achieved considerable success assisting his clients in establishing their final wishes for the future while helping them to protect themselves, their assets and their loved ones against any potential contingencies. He has also advocated on behalf of those dealing with will contests, trust disputes and other matters, and he has become a recognized leader in probate litigation.

    Drawing upon his in-depth legal knowledge and extensive experience, Mr. Freedman has published many articles and conducted lectures and continuing legal education seminars across his region on topics related to estate planning, probate litigation, fiduciary misconduct, deed contests and other subjects. He has also achieved a number of precedent-setting verdicts and appeals, and he has secured substantial settlements and awards for his plaintiff clients along with defending trustees and other fiduciaries dealing with complex disputes involving their roles and the removal thereof.

    A 1979 magna cum laude graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo, Mr. Freedman obtained his Juris Doctor from Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law in 1984. He holds his license to practice in Pennsylvania as well as California, and he is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Along with maintaining a successful trial, appellate and transactional practice, he has extensive experience handling arbitrations as court-appointed Judicial Arbitrator for the San Francisco County Superior Court. 

    Active in his legal community, Mr. Freedman is a member of The State Bar of California's Trusts and Estates Section and the Bar Association of San Francisco's Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section as well as its Probate Experience Panel. He has earned an AV-Preeminent peer review rating* from Martindale-Hubbell along with many other top rankings and endorsements from his peers for his impeccable professionalism and outstanding legal service.

    *AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

    Practice Areas
    • 60%Estate & Trust Litigation
    • 20%Estate Planning & Probate
    • 20%Elder Law
    Focus Areas

    Will Contests, Probate & Estate Administration, Trusts


    Selected to Super Lawyers for 9 yearsbottom-image

    Super Lawyers: 2012 - 2020

    Certificates and Credentials

    California Board of Legal Specialization

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    About Michael Freedman

    Admitted: 1986, California

    Professional Webpage: http://www.freedmanlawfirm.com/Attorney-Profile/Michael-E-Fr...


    • Northern California Super Lawyers, 2012 to 2018
    • Phi Betta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, 1979
    • AV Rated by Martindale Hubble Peer Review Rating

    Special Licenses/Certifications:

    • Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, 2011

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • BASF Estate Planning Trust and Probate Section
    • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1986
    • BASF Probate Experience Panel
    • Bar Association of San Francisco
    • State Bar Trusts and Estates Section
    • California, 1986
    • Pennsylvania, 1984
    • State Bar Trusts and Estates Section, Bar Association of San Francisco, BASF Probate Experience Panel, BASF Estate Planning Trust and Probate Section, 2005

    Pro bono/Community Service:

    • State Bar of California, Educating Seniors Program, Michael Freedman has appeared on KALW 91.7 FM "Call a Lawyer Night" hosted by Chuck Finney. Michael Freedman is participant in the Law Academy Mentoring Program sponsored by the BASF. Michael has presented an innovative, one-hour course on U. S. Courts, the law, and reading a Supreme Court Case to students at San Francisco Public High Schools, Middle Schools, and Elementary Schools. Freedman Law firm offers pro bono and low fee estate planning and trusts and estates legal advice to qualifying employees of San Francisco businesses. Michael Freedman is a donor to the California AIDS ride, Environment California, The San Francisco Symphony., 2011
    • Financial Planning Day/Estate Planning Workshop at the San Francisco Public Library  October 25, 2014:  Volunteer attorney in Basic Estate Planning Presentation; Review and Preparation of Statutory Will, Statutory Power of Attorney, and Advanced Medical Directive. Met individually with participants to answer estate planning questions, discuss estate planning objectives and strategies, provide basic estate planning and probate law information.

    Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

    • State Bar of California, Educating Seniors Program.  Presentation on Estate Planning, Financial Elder Abuse at the Bernal Heights Senior Center, May 2009, Speaker, Attorney, State Bar of California, Attorneys, Seniors And Consumers, 2009
    • "Experts, Laws and Audio Tape", SANTA CLARA TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, Times & Trials, October, 1991
    • "Solar Access: An Issue for Local Governments", (Co-Author With Susan Perretta), OUTLOOK ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNAL, vol. 1,, 1982
    • Presenter, Probate Litigation, Probate Boot Camp, NBI, 2017, 2018, Presentation of topics including: The Ability of the Estate to Sue or Be Sued; Causes of Action; Procedural Rules and Evidentiary Provisions; Lost and Contested Wills; Deed Contests; Fiduciary Misconduct, Liability, Disputes with Beneficiaries
    • Author, “Probate Litigation,” Probate Boot Camp, (NBI, Inc. 2017), “Probate Litigation,” Probate Boot Camp, (NBI, Inc., 2018)
    • Panel lecturer for 2-day probate seminar presented by the National Business Institute.  Presentation on probate litigation including ability of the estate to sue or be sued, lost and contested wills, fiduciary misconduct, liability, surcharge and removal., Attorney, Lecturer, NBI, Attorneys, CPAs, 2018
    • Panel lecturer for 2-day probate seminar presented by the National Business Institute.  Presentation on probate litigation including ability of the estate to sue or be sued, lost and contested wills, fiduciary misconduct, liability, surcharge and removal., Faculty, Attorney, NBI, Attorneys, CPAs, 2017


    • In Re: The Restatement of The Olga Smirnov Trust Agreement dated December 2, 2003, (2012) San Mateo County Superior Court: 121797
    • Estate of Lorenzo Ferneil, (1991) Superior Court of California, County of Alameda: 234724-4
    • Estate of Melvin Ward, (2004) San Francisco County Superior Court: PES-00-281052
    • In re: the John C Survivor’s Trust, (2007) Alameda County Superior Court: VP07-314009
    • In re: the Matter of the Russell Family Trust, created June 30, 1992, and Amendments (2012) Tehama County Superior Court: PR14010
    • The Zamlich Family Trust UTD 4/20/2005, (2016) Sonoma County Superior Court: (87261)
    • In Re: The John J. Curran Survivor's Trust, VP 07-314009, Alameda County Superior Court
    • Bergland v. Isch, (2017) California Court of Appeals 3rd Appellate District: C077965 
    • Kindred Nursing Centers West, LLC, dba Nob Hill Health Center v. Judith Davis, CGC-04-434772, San Francisco County Superior Court
    • Sometime in the fall of 2002, our client's brother John C made an appointment to visit an estate planning attorney. Prior to the appointment , John C had handwritten certain amendments he wanted to make to his prior Trust and also drafted a handwritten holographic codicil to his will. In accordance with J C’s wishes, the attorney prepared the trust instruments, and forwarded these documents to John C by mail. John C received the letter and enclosed documents. However, John C did not sign the documents. Prior to his death, however, John C expressed his belief to his friend and physician and to relatives that he had made a change to his will and trust in which he named his brother, our client, Thomas C sole beneficiary and Trustee. We argued that the handwritten changes were a valid amendment to the prior trust.  Prior to trial, the case settled in our favor for a seven figure amount., 2007
    • Darla Jean Dykier v. Richard A. Cox, Platte River Insurance Company, PR14010 (Tehama County Superior Court) C077006 (Third Appellate District California Court of Appeal)
    • Trial verdict, Sonoma County Superior Court, Dept. 18, Probate:  Successfully defended our client, trustee and surviving spouse in a petition brought by the children of the deceased spouse to interpret the trust and for reformation of the trust terms to create an irrevocable bypass trust.  Bench trial from 2/19/2016 to 2/26/2016., 2016
    • $280,000 verdict against professional trustee who mishandled family trust fund. Tehama County.Professional trustee used funds of clients for his own investment company., 2012

    Representative Clients:

    • Freedman Law Firm wins appeal for his client in the California Court of Appeals 3rd Appellate District In an unpublished decision, the Freedman Law Firm won an appeal for his client the trustee in the matter Bergland v. Isch, C077965. In this trust matter, Freedman Law Firm represents the successor trustee, Harry Bergland, of a trust which distributed the trust assets in equal shares to three children of the settlors. One of the children, Rudolf V. Isch, was named the trustee but was removed due to self-dealing and failing to account. Rudolf V. Isch, the removed trustee ultimately settled the claims against him but failed to pay the full amount of the settlement. The settlement called for a stipulated judgment which was entered by the court, and our client Harry Bergland, the successor trustee commenced enforcement proceedings to collect the judgment. Isch brought a motion to set aside the judgment and to otherwise seek claims such as set-off against the judgment. Our client prevailed against Isch in the Sacramento Superior Court, but Isch filed an appeal. The 3rd District Court of Appeals affirmed the Sacramento County Superior Court decision., 2017

    Other Outstanding Achievements:

    • AV by Martindale Hubble Peer Review Rating

    Educational Background:

    • SUNY at Buffalo, B.A. and New York State Teacher Certification, 1979
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    Office Location for Michael E. Freedman

    580 California Street
    Suite 1200
    San Francisco, CA 94104

    Phone: 415-777-1666

    Fax: 415-777-1699

    Michael E. Freedman:

    Last Updated: 4/30/2020

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