James K. Leese

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Estate Planning & Probate Attorney in Newport Beach, CA

Ferruzzo & Ferruzzo, LLP
3737 Birch Street, Suite 400
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone: 949-608-6900
Fax: 949-608-6994
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2011, 2014 - 2022
Licensed Since: 1979
Practice Areas: Estate Planning & Probate
Attorney Profile

James K. Leese is a Senior Partner in the law firm of Ferruzzo & Ferruzzo, LLP. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, and admitted to the California Bar in 1979. He is recognized as a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law. He earned his bachelor's degree from The Defiance College in 1975, his Juris Doctor degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1978, and a master’s degree in taxation from Golden Gate University in 1992.

Mr. Leese is primarily responsible for the firm's estate planning and business succession planning departments and limits his practice to matters involving business, estate and gift tax planning, preparation of trusts and wills, and to handling probate and trust administration for individuals and owners of businesses. Mr. Leese works with both the high net worth client, using sophisticated estate planning strategies and tools, as well as with the client who has non-tax related planning goals in mind. He also works closely with trust officials, financial planners, insurance agents, accountants and appraisers in a team effort to design and implement plans that will best meet each client's needs and objectives.

Since 1994, Mr. Leese has taught the fundamentals of estate planning in the personal financial planning certificate program at the University of California at Irvine (UCI). He also has authored and taught an advanced estate planning course and a layperson course on estate planning for UCI. He has spoken to such professional groups as the National Business Institute, the Orange County/Long Beach Chapter of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Easter Seals Society. He has contributed to the estate planning text "Estate Planning and Taxation" by John C. Bost, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company; and is a co-author of the textbook used at UCI extension entitled "Advanced Estate Planning for Financial Professionals." His chapter entitled "Best Estate Plans Take Family Dynamics into Consideration" appeared in Best Practices for Structuring Trusts and Estates, 2015 Edition, 2015 Thompson Rueters / Aspatore.

Practice Areas
  • 100%Estate Planning & Probate
Focus Areas

Estate Planning, Trusts


14 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2011, 2014 - 2022

About James K. Leese

Admitted: 1979

Professional Webpage: http://www.ferruzzo.com/


  • Over 20 years AV Preeminent Rated Attorney (Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating)
  • Listed by Orange Coast Magazine, as a 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Five Star Wealth Manager, Estate Planning (Represents 3 percent of Wealth Managers in Orange County)

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Past President, Irvine Senior Foundation, 1996 - 1999
  • Board Member, UC Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business
  • California, 1979
  • Member, State Bar of California, Sections on Estate Planning, Trust & Probate, 1979- Present
  • President, Irvine Swim League, 1999 - 2001

Special Licenses/Certifications

  • Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, The State Bar of California

Educational Background

  • Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California, M.S. in Taxation, 1992
  • The Defiance College, Defiance, Ohio, B.S. in Political Science, Honors: Cum Laude, 1975

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • UCI-Extension, PFP Certificate Program, Estate Planning and Advanced Estate Planning, Instructor, 1994
  • Advanced Estate Planning for Financial Professionals, (Co-Author)
  • Estate Planning & Taxation, (Contributor), Kendal-Hunt, 1996
  • Teacher, Fundamentals of Estate Planning, PFP Certificate Program at UCI-Extension/Continuing Education, 1994 - Present
  • Business Succession Planning, a Critical Element for Family-Owned Businesses, Uncertainty About Fate of Estate Tax Increase, Urgency for Effective Planning, Orange County Business Journal, Vol. 25, No. 42, 2002
  • Teacher, Estate Planning for the Layperson, UCI-Extension/Continuing Education, 1995 - Present
  • Speaker, National Business Institute
  • Speaker, Orange County/Long Beach Chapter of the CA Society of CPAs
  • Speaker, Easter Seals Society
  • Teacher, Advanced Estate Planning, PFP Certificate Program at UCI-Extension, 1996 - 2009
  • Speaker, Arthritis Foundation
  • Estate planning should include the consideration of Family Dynamics and Family Values and those planners who take time out to discuss with their clients the factors described in this Chapter, we provide a service outside the box, by helping families get the opportunity to produce lasting legacies for generations., Author, Best Estate Plans Take Family Dynamics into Consideration, Best Practices for Structuring Trusts and Estates, 2015 Edition, Thomson Reuters / Aspatore, 2015
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Office Location for James K. Leese

3737 Birch Street
Suite 400
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Phone: 949-608-6900

Fax: 949-608-6994

Last Updated: 6/25/2021

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