Samantha Sterling Smith, a partner at NM Law, is a certified legal specialist in the areas of Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. Not only is she an excellent resource for both trustees and beneficiaries in search of sound advice, but unlike many trust attorneys, she is also an experienced, dynamic, and skilled litigator, thus a powerful advocate for her clients in the courtroom, be they, plaintiffs or defendants. This makes her an ideal choice for individuals who anticipate that trust or probate issues may lead to litigation and want one excellent attorney to see them through any and all phases of the process. Samantha is also thoroughly familiar with the complexities of real estate law, not only through her legal education and experience but from working for mortgage, escrow, and title companies throughout her high school and undergraduate studies. This is a valuable advantage for her trust and probate clients, for whom issues around the sale or distribution of real property often arise. Samantha understands that being involved in a legal dispute can be a highly stressful event in someone’s life, and she brings all her knowledge, experience, and skill to identifying, solving, and, when possible, avoiding legal problems.
Holding herself to the highest professional and ethical standards, Samantha’s goal is to provide clarity and superlative advice to people who are in confusing and sometimes intimidating situations. In keeping with her service-oriented approach, she provides a cost-free initial phone consultation to potential clients to help them understand their legal issues. As Samantha explains: “Many of our clients tell me that they feel as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders once I’ve taken the time to really listen to them and then put their problem in clear perspective. Hearing that reaffirms why I became an attorney.” She strives to achieve the best possible outcomes for her clients, which requires a strong work ethic, meticulous attention to detail, thorough research of relevant issues, a vigorously proactive approach, genuine compassion, and a talent for effective collaboration with colleagues in a team setting. She has received kudos not only from her clients but from her peers, having been nominated for five successive years to the rolls of the Super Lawyers Rising Star association, an exclusive list of top-rated attorneys in specialized fields.
While exceptionally committed to her career, Samantha understands the critical importance of balance in one’s life. She takes time out from work for running, spin classes, a romp at the dog beach with her two Australian Shepherds, and, whenever possible, traveling abroad with her husband. She also has an enduring passion for effecting change in her community; thus she volunteers on a regular basis for organizations like the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, and the Festival of Children Foundation. A native Californian, Samantha was awarded her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (with an emphasis in Real Estate and Entrepreneurship), and her law degree from California Western School of Law where she was the recipient of academic excellence awards in recognition of her consistently outstanding work. She is admitted to the bar in both California and Nevada and continues to hone her skills and knowledge, most recently with successful completion of the California Legal Specialization Exam.
- Chapman University (B.A., Business Administration, 2011)
- California Western School of Law (J.D., 2014)
- State Bar of California
- State Bar of Nevada
- Member, OCBA Trusts and Estates Section
- Member, OCBA Young Lawyers Division
- Conservatorship – Represent clients who want to obtain a conservatorship for their parent or other family member with diminished capacity.
- Trust Litigation Dispute: Settled the case to invalidate the amendment that sought to disinherit our client and restore his 50% interest in mom’s home.
- Trust Litigation Dispute: Represented a beneficiary who wanted to buy-out her sibling’s share of the Trust real property. Her co-trustee would not agree so we filed a petition for instructions and obtained a Court order allowing our client to complete the buy-out transaction.
- Trust Litigation and Financial Elder Abuse: Represent a beneficiary who was disinherited from her father’s estate as a result of her brother removing their father from a dementia care facility center and having him sign a trust and will after he had been diagnosed with dementia. We recorded lis pendens against the trust real properties to prevent brother from being able to sell them. We issued over 10 subpoenas to obtain records and prepare for depositions and trial.
- Petition to Modify Irrevocable Trust into a Special Needs Trust: Represent co-trustees who desire to modify an irrevocable trust into a special needs trust to protect the beneficiary from being disqualified from receiving governmental assistance benefits.
- Petition for Approval of Trustee Accounting: Represent trustees and attorney-in-fact to prepare trust and power of attorney accounting to file with the Court for approval. Trustees typically have a right to have their accounting approved by the Court, so the fees are paid by the Trust. Getting Court approval protects trustees for future claims by beneficiaries or other interested persons that they breached the trust or their fiduciary duties.
- Probate Proceedings: Successfully administered an estate worth $4,500,000 by helping client sell six real properties and obtain access to various cash accounts held in the name of the decedent’s various business entities.