Grace G. St. Clair

Top rated Estate Planning & Probate attorney in Redondo Beach, California

St. Clair Law -- Quality Estate Planning
Grace G. St. Clair
St. Clair Law -- Quality Estate Planning

Practice Areas: Estate Planning & Probate, Business & Corporate

Licensed in California since: 1991

Education: Southwestern Law School

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2023 - 2024
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St. Clair Law -- Quality Estate Planning

2312 Artesia Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278 Phone: 310-374-5479 Email: Grace G. St. Clair Visit website


Ms. St. Clair represents families and small business owners in the area of estate planning, probate and trust administrations.  As many of her clients own real estate and need corporate assistance, Ms. St. Clair also handles the real estate and general corporate matters that are required to complete a "robust" estate plan.  Often business owners are focused on running their businesses and, as such, they do not always recognize the legacy needs their business requires such as digital asset planning, and powers of attorney for emergencies.  Families also own digital assets and require advice concerning their vulnerabilities. 

Ms. St. Clair is also very involved in working with local charities to support their community efforts and provide fundraising assistance through her clients who have a charitable focus.   Ms. St. Clair is in several leadership positions in her community allowing her to share her expertise with others, and operates as a community resource to spread the word about estate planning needs which are still not commonly known to others.  She is the current Chair of the Torrance Memorial Professional Advisory Council,  Leader of the Advisory Counsel of Walk With Sally, Chapter Leader of the South Bay Chapter of the Senior Specialists Group of the Foundation For Senior Services, and Program Chair of the South Bay 3 Provisors Group.  Ms. St. Clair combines her expertise with an empathetic style to assist her clients with their estate planning needs.  Having been a client herself before becoming a lawyer, Ms. St. Clair is in a unique position to provide excellent legal services to her community.

First Admitted: 1991, California

Professional Webpage:

Educational Background:
  • B.A. University of Southern California, Political Science, 1983
  • J.D. Southwestern University School of Law, #3, 1991
Representative Clients:
  • Probate of father's estate was hampered by participation of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in a federal foreclosure during the probate administration based on a reverse mortgage which was overdue.  Son, executor (same name as father) searched the property records after his father died.  A reverse mortgage had been secured by the father in order to pay for his care toward the end of his life.  Son could not find records of the loan and there were no monthly statements being received.  The Deed of Trust was recorded by a lender which went bankrupt as part of the 2008 mortgage crisis.  The Recovery Corp had also been dissolved.  HUD was contacted about the pending probate case and son's appointment as executor, and the HUD representatives and the executor were discussing payment options when HUD filed for a 21 day federal foreclosure proceeding.  Executor hurriedly applied for Special Letters of Administration and received authority to obtain a loan in time to save the property from the foreclosure auction only 7 days later.   In arguing the need for the Special Letters, counsel had to explain to the Judge that time was of the essence since the foreclosure sale was on a short fuse (CA state foreclosure proceedings are more than a 90 days process) as the auction was pending and was able to obtain the needed Letters to save the only estate asset for the heirs.  A sibling buyout was negotiated and the payoff was completed.  , 2018
  • Dad passed away.  Both spouses had separate property trusts and lived with separate property interest during their entire marriage of 42 years.  Dad errantly placed spouses name on the asset he expected to be listed and was separately signed by both parties as separate property in the Separate Property Agreement.  We are creating a Settlement Agreement between the parties where the issue is the multiple party accounts rule of PC 5302 and the new Placentia v. Stazicich case 42 Cal. App 5th 730 (2019).  , 2023
  • Representing co-trustees of a living trust where a life estate was granted to mom's partner. The deceased granted a life estate in exchange for her interests in a sale of a business she has participated in developing for 25 years.   After death, the partner has been reluctant to honor an agreement the two of them had with each other.  We are creating a settlement agreement which requires certain inspections to protect the trust from long term deferred maintenance which has been neglected over the years and create expectations between the parties.   , 2023
  • Mother created a Trust in 2004 and did not update the documents before she passed in 2018.   There were two children named as co-Trustees in the 2004 Trust.  Daughter/Sister gave notice to the Reverse mortgage lender through her mortgage broker.  Unfortunately, this notice was not properly delivered, and lender began foreclosure proceedings which would wreak havoc on the pending listing and offers to purchase.  Counsel had to threaten the secured lender with exposing them to a Judge in a lawsuit to explain why they had to provide the trustee with a $1.3 Million surplus after the foreclosure sale as until then they were unwilling to grant the Trustee their allowed 6 month extension.  Later on, one of the Trustee's, without knowing he had been named as Co-Trustee with his sister, repudiated the family after he felt slighted at the funeral.  First trustee, believing she was named as sole Trustee, began to update the home and sell the property.  After she obtained counsel, she learned she was actually a Co-Trustee with her brother with whom she was no longer on speaking terms.  Sister had hired her brother-in-law as listing agent pursuant to Mom's request.  Brother refused to accept listing agreement which would need to be signed by him as co-trustee.  Brother refused to hire a new listing agent which was one of his recommended agents and drew out the process.  After several conversations between opposing counsel, it was decided that the parties would use the trust provision which allowed a Special Trustee to take over without a Court proceeding if the two trustees could not agree.  The Special Trustee began to serve but created $70,000 of extra costs which could have been avoided., 2018
  • A probate was opened by the nephew of the deceased as the deceased and her only child were estranged.  Son was disinherited by his mother in her Will and the nephew and had been named as her only heir and executor.  Nephew located lost son and agreed that the son should receive the assets and not the nephew.  Counsel argued that the disinheriting was due to a mistake by the deceased since she had not known his whereabouts.   Despite his Aunt's generosity to him, nephew believed the proper place for her assets was with her son and he participated in obtaining the Order to include son as executor.  Property was encumbered by a reverse mortgage.  Son participated with the secured party, informing them of the probate process and is desire to sell the property to pay of the lien.  Secured party wrongfully caused son to obtain listing agreements and offers to sell the property and approving them before son was surprised by a call from a bona fide purchaser who had purchased the property at auction that Thursday.  Counsel scrambled on a Friday to find the bona fide purchaser, send a threatening letters to both the secured party and the bona fide purchaser, in order to defeat the transfer and have it unwound  before leaving the country on vacation the next week.  The parties negotiated for a week until talks stalled due to slow response time by the secured party.  Negotiations were completed by Counsel while vacationing during hurricane season in the Virgin Islands and the property was restored in the executor's hands.  Executor was under contract with a bona fide purchaser before the trustee sale was completed.  Executor received court approval of his sale just in time to pay off the secured creditor before the negotiated settlement period expired.       , 2015
  • Trust Administration $2.3M – 11 Beneficiaries, of which 2 were international beneficiaries.  One named beneficiary died before the Grantor and his heirs were not included in his share.  One died before the distributions were available but after the Grantor passed away.  We had to get an agreement among the 9 remaining beneficiaries to divide the last share among the 10 beneficiaries to avoid finding 280 heirs to distribute his share too.  It would have cost the Trust an astronomical sum to find these heirs in order to distribute $100 each by the time the expenses of the search were removed from the distribution. The distribution fell under the provision in the Remote Contingent Beneficiaries Section after defining “heirs at law.”, 2021
  • Charitable Remainder Trust: A CRT was proposed to a client to facilitate Wife’s inability to keep her children from invading all of her assets to fund their desires and allow the Husband to benefit charities with his Retirement Plan.  , 2022
  • Charitable Remainder Trust: Mom owned highly appreciated real estate in California and after becoming more vulnerable health-wise and needing more medical and non-medical assistance decided to move to Alaska where her only living son and his wife lived.  The plan required Son to drive certain valuable antiques to Alaska for mom to enjoy in her new home.  Son and wife were going to buy a new home which was large enough for the three of them so Son and wife could assist Mom in her remaining years.   Weather could cause the drive to Alaska to be unobtainable after August.  Mom was not comfortable leaving her cherished antiques to a storage unit as she had a prior negative experience with a theft of her items from a prior storage unit.  Mom’s real estate had appreciated $1.5M since her husband died leaving her exposed to a $225,000 capital gains tax exposure.  A Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) was proposed and created to eliminate the capital gains tax exposure, facilitate the gifting of Grantor’s primary residence before it was sold and create sufficient corpus to fund her move and re-purchase of another home in Alaska while funding the CRT during its term., 2022
  • Trust Creation (capacity):  Grantor wanted to create a Trust for his wife and himself after his wife had a stroke.  Wife’s stroke had left her paralyzed on her let side (she was left handed) and she could not speak.  Me and my notary, had to watch the two Grantors as they communicated with each other to determine if she was competent to create a Trust and to determine if she and he wanted the same Trust design before the Trust was created.   Based on the couple’s body language and interaction with each other, we determined that both Grantor’s were capable and understood the process they were undergoing and the Trust was created. , 2022
  • Trust Creation (incapacitated beneficiary):  Grantor needed to prepare a 3rd Party Special Needs Trust (SNT) for her adult son who had cerebral palsy.  Son needed to sign his powers of attorney and we needed to determine Son’s capacity in his incapacity of Cerebral Palsy. , 2019
  • Trust Addition and Heggestad Petition:  Father was suffering from Parkinson’s which was becoming more debilitating causing his inability to participate in managing his trust assets.  Son was added as a Co-Trustee with dad grantor to manage the Trust and the corpus.  At the time the documents adding Son as a co-trustee to help Dad were signed, papers were discovered in the binder from 2006 (in 2017) where Dad was to make some filings and reports to the investment company who has handling Dad’s investment account about the handling of a newly created Stand Alone Retirement Trust.  Despite adding a co-trustee and receiving instructions which were from 2006 in 2017 to create a Stand Alone Retirement Trust for Dad’s retirement assets of many years, customer service representatives for T. Rowe Price did not go over dad’s account with his Son.  Dad died.  Son discovered that buried in the middle of the investment account statement, the investment company was depositing over $1.7M  of Dad’s Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s) in Dad’s individual capacity despite working with Dad for 0years with two separate Trusts to manage.  This required me to argue a Heggestad Petition in Court which was granted after I showed that my client, the Son, would have had to have a degree in the investment company’s rules and regulations in order to “notice” the individual account buried inside the Trust Account investment account statement, and that the company had a duty to share this information with Son after Dad became unable to manage his affairs due to Dad’s disease of which they were aware when Son was added to the paperwork to help Dad before he died., 2018
  • Trust Creation:  $1M.  Grantor desired to have loans provided to one child returned to the trust corpus after her death before distributions were made.  One of her children had drained her monetarily as he lived with her harassing her for money, living with her for 12 years after his divorce, and abusing her financially before he remarried a few years before her death.  Grantor’s eldest son bought two motorcycles, a new truck for his son who was working at the time, requested that his mother help to pay for his daughter’s back surgery which was covered by insurance and finally, barely one year before she died, her son requested that the Grantor cover $30,000 of his wife’s complete mouth and teeth reconstruction with veneers.  Grantor was furious when her son failed to pay back this sum.  Son was involved with her eldest daughter in creating a new trust before her husband passed away where either by inadvertence or stupidity, she was completely removed as successor trustee from her trust after her husband died.  We caused her children to restate the Trust such that she was returned as successor trustee so she could manage her own affairs.  Grantor added a new provision where all of her children would return all of their advances on their inheritances before any distributions would be made to even out their distributions as some children were financially self-sufficient.  Even though her Son desired to buyout his siblings after the Grantor died so he could retain the family home, Son had drained his mother of $75,000 in her last year of her life such that the sibling buyout could not be created for his benefit as there would be no way to return capital to the Trust if the Son bought out his siblings even with a sibling buyout loan.  During the first months of the Trust Administration, the Covid pandemic occurred, and it took 9 months to get access to the Trust bank account.  During this time, the successor trustee discovered the trust was virtually without cash to manage the trust administration duties such that options to create deferred retirement benefit distributions from the Grantor’s IRA for her children were defeated.  The family home had to be sold to create funding for the trust administration against the Grantor’s intentions., 2019
  • Trust Creation:  Grantor wanted to benefit the children of his son who had predeceased him, but his son’s wife was not good with handling money.  Grantor named his other son as a financial trustee for his daughter-in-law who has four children with his deceased son.  Daughter-in-law had two other children with another man whom he did not want to benefit.  Grantor created a sub-trust which would stay open for ten years in order to get all four children out of college.  Grantor committed suicide after two years of suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  The Trust Administration included managing the money in order to allow all four children to complete college and provide living expenses to the family living in Washington.  The Sub-Trust was used by the family as support for ten years and then provided an additional $50,000 for the daughter-in-law for her retirement needs after the Trust terminated., 2022
  • Trust Administration: $5M Trust included real property and financial assets.  Grantor was one of four distributes of a prior family trust but died before the distribution could take place.  He had an interest in his deceased wife’s share of her mother’s Trust.  His mother-in-law predeceased him and left him a share of her deceased daughter’s share of her trust.  His assets were to be distributed to blind his sister,  whom he left a share to in a Special Needs Trust which was funded by an annuity upon his death, and his two step-children.  His 401(k) had two predeceased named beneficiaries, his father and his predeceased wife.  Based on the company’s Plan Description, this share had to go through Probate.  Since he did not adopt his to step-children during minority as they were in college when he married their mother, one whom resided in Japan, the probate would benefit his sister, who survived him, and would be distributed to these stepchildren upon her death.  , 2019
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Published Author in the November issue of "Patrons Magazine", Torrance Memorial Hospital, Torrance, CA. , Author, Defining An Estate Plan And Roadblocks To Avoid, Torrance Memorial Hospital Patrons Magazine, Community, Charitable Causes, 2020
  • , Business Hall of Fame: Best Professional Services 3 years running, Redondo Beach, 2020
  • Lawyers of Distinction Members have been selected based upon a review and vetting process by our Selection Committee utilizing U.S. Provisional Patent # 62/743,254. Lawyers cannot pay to be nominated. Member selection is based upon a proprietary analysis, utilizing both objective and subjective factors. Lawyers of Distinction is not affiliated with any State Bar Association or the District of Columbia Bar Association., 2023 Lawyers of Distinction, National Lawyers of Distiction, 2023
  • Awarded esteemed honor of Super Lawyer 2023, Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, 2023
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Charity: Walk With Sally -- Leadership Team: Advisory Board, 2020
  • Spoke to and educated the residents of Casa De Los Amigos, Redondo Beach Low Income Housing Unit About the need for Durable Power(s) of Attorney and the "Supported Decision Making" Rules of AB 1663 and LA Conservatorships., 2023
  • Chapter Leader, South Bay Chapter of Senior Specialists Group (SSG) -- a nonprofit supporting the senior community in the South Bay.  SSG is the working chapter which supports the Foundation For Senior Services organization., 2020
  • Grace St. Clair was interviewed by Slaka Jasik in Honor of Women's History Month., In Honor of Women's History Month, Estate Planning, 2021
  • During Covid our brought free lunches to local Board and Care facilities which were doing a great service to their clients.  Raul's Mexican Restaurant participated in providing Taco Tuesday and Fajita Fridays to these generous care facilities to thank them for being a part of the solution during the pandemic of 2020.  Thank you to everyone who participated in this great effort.    , St. Clair Law Restaurant Revival Project -- Ocean Breeze San Pedro, Estate Planning, 2020
Verdicts/Settlements (Case Results):
  • Settlement of Civil Case where sister-in-law sued brother-in-law as an individual and as Trustee of the Family Trust.  Sister-in-law obtained her interest from her husband after he died.  Property was originally purchased by the Father/Grantor of the Family Trust with son (deceased) and the two owned the parcel 5/8th's to father, 3/8th's to son for several years.  Both owners owned the property in their respective living trusts.  The property was a rental and remained income producing for the owners.  Son died and passed his interest to his wife who continued to receive income.  After father died in 2010, daughter-in-law participated in a court proceeding wherein she agreed to transfer her interest into the Family Trust.  Mother/Grantor died shortly after father and brother-in-law became successor trustee with his sister.  Family Trust Survivor's subtrust did not pass any trust property interests to any spouses of the grantor's children.  Brother-in-law continued to pay sister-in-law her interest in the rentals until all long term tenants moved out during the COVID pandemic.  Brother-in-law began to repair tenant damage and normal wear and tear which had occurred over a period of years with long term tenants.  When property was not producing income and repairs were being made, brother-in-law stopped paying sister-in-law any share of income.  Sister-in-law, desiring to retire and to obtain a buy-out of the rental property, sued brother-in-law to Quiet Title.  Sister-in-law's case was diminished by her participation in prior court proceeding where she agreed to place the property's title in the name of Family Trust after grantor/father died, which did not provide any benefits to her after the surviving grantor passed away., 2022
  • Action for Partition wherein brother allegedly fraudulently signed a deed for dad giving brother the property over sister.  Brother allegedly refinanced a few times taking interests out of the asset.   Family wants sister to receive the asset. , 2023
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Member of the Torrance Memorial Professional Advisory Council.  The Torrance PAC provides educational presentations for the community in a variety of areas concerning estate planning and financial wellness and assist the hospital in its fundraising efforts.  Ms. St. Clair recently spoke about Hiring Private Fiduciaries and 3 Most Common Misperceptions About Estate Planning and Conservatorships., 2023
  • Chapter Leader Emeritus of the South Bay Senior Specialists Group (SSG) of the Foundation For Senior Services (FFSS), a 501(c)(3) organization which is designed to be a central location for seniors to obtain needed services on their respective neighborhoods.  All members are vetted professionals with businesses who serve the senior community.   The South Bay SSG services the beach cities from Long Beach to Marina del Rey., 2023
  • Leader on the Advisory Board of Walk With Sally (WWS), a 501(c)(3) corporation which supports children whose parent(s) have been diagnosed with cancer.  Walk With Sally provides a mentor to these children who can provide them support through the process.  The Advisory Board supports the WWS organization is composed of business leaders and volunteers in the community who support WWS in their fundraising needs and creative programs., 2023
  • South Bay Bar Association member, 2019

Office location for Grace G. St. Clair

2312 Artesia Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278


2 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2023 - 2024

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