A Leader in Estate Planning
Law Professor Jerry Kasner was a brilliant teacher, mentor, and professional. Santa Clara Law honors his legacy through the annual Kasner Symposium, which has become one of Northern California’s largest estate planning symposiums.
BY ASA PITTMAN ’09 AND MICHAEL WALLACE
Jerry Kasner (1933-2004) served as a professor at Santa Clara Law for 37 years and was a widely respected estate planning professional.
Jerry Kasner, who taught at Santa Clara Law 1961-1998, was the professional’s professional—a man whose influence extended far beyond the classroom. In addition to receiving a wide range of honors for his work in the estate-planning field, he served as a mentor to many of Santa Clara County’s estate planners and attorneys and shared his passion and expertise at countless seminars.
“He was a staunch advocate of estate planning practice and a consummate networker before networking was even a concept,” says Charles Packer J.D./MBA ’80, a shareholder in the firm Hopkins & Carley Retired law Professor Paul Goda, S.J., says, “Jerry’s collegiality exceeded his brilliance as a teacher.”
One of Kasner’s last public appearances before his death in 2004 at the age of 71, was at the first Allied Professionals Seminar, organized by Packer and Frank Doyle, founder of the WealthPLAN family wealth preservation law firm.
Suggested by Kasner himself and sponsored in part by Santa Clara Law and the University’s Planned Giving Advisory Board, it was conceived as a small-scale event, and in its first two years attracted about 50 mostly local professionals in the estate planning field.
After Kasner’s passing, the event was renamed the Kasner Symposium in his honor, and Santa Clara Law, under newly appointed Dean Donald Polden, took on a greater role in sponsoring the event.
“The backing of the law school lent credibility to the event and completely changed the scope of what we were doing,” says Doyle. It helped attract sponsorship from large financial institutions, and attendance grew to 400 in 2009, an eightfold increase from the original numbers just a few years earlier. It is now believed to be Northern California’s largest estate planning and wealth management seminar.
An additional benefit of the symposium is that all net proceeds are earmarked to furthering the legacy of Jerry Kasner. To date over $330,000 has been raised for the Jerry A. Kasner Endowed Professorship at Santa Clara Law. The purpose of the fund is to enhance educational opportunities for future estate planning professionals.
Enthusiastic sponsorship has enabled the symposium to grow while keeping costs low. Last year’s symposium was attended by attorneys, accountants, insurance executives, certified financial planners, and other estate planning professionals. They received seven hours of continuing education credit for attending workshops and presentations offered by the nation’s top estate planning practitioners.
“Over the years we have had friends and colleagues of Professor Kasner from all over the country speak,” said Packer. Past lecturers, he said, have included Professor Stanley Johanson of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law; husband and wife estate and family wealth planning experts, Dr. Eileen Gallo and Jon Gallo, Esq.; as well as Hon. David Laro, a senior judge of the United States Tax Court.
Packer and Doyle, along with the Santa Clara Law Alumni Office, are now organizing this year’s event. Speakers and topics are not yet fixed, but they promise there will be updates on estate planning in California, insurance planning, and a program on current and anticipated changes in the federal estate tax.
“2010 will be an uncertain year in estate planning,” Doyle says, adding that at least one workshop will be dedicated to guiding attendees through new IRS compliance procedures.
With the upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the field, they’re predicting record attendance. “We’re expecting to top 400 people this year,” says Doyle.
The growing popularity of the symposium, the organizers say, is driven by the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation that Professor Kasner generated in those he touched. “We do this,” Doyle says, “to honor his life efforts.”
SAVE THE DATE
The 2010 symposium will be held Sept. 29 at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose. For more information, contact the Santa Clara Law Alumni Office at (408) 551-1748 or visit law.scu.edu/alumni/kasner-symposium.cfm.