Attorney at Law James D. Stephens is designated by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. He is a member of the Trusts & Estates section of the California State Bar (1998-2018), a founding member and past President of the Conejo Valley Estate Planning Council, and a founding member of the Pepperdine Network of Estate Planning Professionals. He received a B.A. in History from Pepperdine University in 1994, and his Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine School of Law in 1997.
Mr. Stephens began his estate planning career in law school, where he worked as a Law Clerk for the Vice Chancellor in charge of all planned giving for the University’s donors. A veteran of one of Southern California’s most prestigious celebrity estate planning law firms, Mr. Stephens launched his own practice in Westlake Village in 2002.
His law practice focuses on estate planning (Will and Trust drafting), probate and trust administration (including court appearances and tax compliance), and contested estate matters (litigation). He offers estate planning and wealth transfer strategies (e.g., ILITs, Grantor Retained Trusts, Charitable Trusts, to name a few) to high net worth individuals, families, and business owners, with a special emphasis in estate planning for retirement benefits, life insurance, vacation homes, employee benefits, privately owned companies, and family foundations.
As a father of four, he has a special interest in helping parents make the best choices for their children, including guardianship, spendthrift Trusts, and planning for the Special Needs child. Mostly, he enjoys taking really complex legal terms, and discussing them in plain English with clients.
Mr. Stephens spends most of his free time coaching youth sports, or training for the next marathon or triathlon.