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In 30-plus years of practicing law, Chuck Packer has just about seen it all. “My clients have brought me virtually every kind of sophisticated wealth, estate planning and family business issue you can imagine.”
These issues often involve complex tax concerns with high-stakes consequences for high net worth individuals and families. Clients throughout Northern California and beyond (including France and Australia) rely on Chuck’s strategic planning counsel and experience with estate, gift and philanthropic tax planning.
“I’ve gotten a reputation for thriving on this intensely personal, sui generis kind of work. Nothing about it is cookie-cutter. I’m grateful for the trust individuals and families put in me, often from generation to generation.”
In addition to his focus on trusts and estates, Chuck heads the firm’s legal services for the wine and viticulture industry. “It’s a good match. I’ve noticed that I can better help a lot of my clients—particularly, it seems, those in the tech sector—over a glass of good wine.”
Being the right size matters
Chuck returned to Hopkins & Carley in 2006 because he liked the firm’s stability, 70-attorney size and its long-term commitment to clients’ family wealth and tax planning needs. He was made Co-chair of the Family Wealth & Tax Planning department in 2011. “While this is one of the largest trust and estate practices in Northern California—maybe the entire state—we’re not too big. You’re never treated like just one more client.
“There are a lot of other client benefits to being in this platform—a top-tier, full-service firm. For example, I love being able to walk down the hall to another attorney and getting an answer to a rare land-use, tax or charitable giving question.”
Other than Hopkins & Carley
Chuck has been front-and-center in growing a regional resource for estate planners. For the past several years, he has co-chaired the planning committee of the Jerry A. Kasner Estate Planning Symposium sponsored by the Santa Clara University School of Law. In that period, attendance at the annual conference has exploded from a few dozen to several hundred.
In addition, the Ronald McDonald House program at Stanford has recently asked Chuck to chair the group’s Professional Advisors Council.
Yin and yang
Chuck enjoys good food and wine. Which he works off on his road bike.
When did you decide to become a lawyer?
“Freshman biology. I knew at that point that I would never be a doctor. And, in my family, that left one option.”