San Diego attorney Rodney J. (“Rod”) Hatley's path to becoming an asset protection and estate planning attorney began with a seven-figure estate tax bill.
His father had been ill for a while before he died. Though Rod knew that his father needed to set up a trust and undertake additional advanced planning to prepare for the eventual passing of his accumulated wealth, by this point his father could not bear with the idea of parting with legal title to the assets he had spent his life amassing. As a result of this lack of preparation, it took Rod and his sister fifteen years of installments to pay off the taxes owed on the money the family spent a lifetime working and sacrificing for.
It was his father’s influence that initially led Rod to practice law. Rod was the first person in his family to attend college and his father wanted him to either go to law school or medical school. His path was chosen by default, since he wasn’t scientifically-inclined and, after getting a BA in Political Science from Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis), he got his Juris Doctor at the University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University) Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
He began his law career working in personal injury litigation and then for the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, first as a Criminal Defense Counsel and Legal Assistance Attorney and then as a Staff Judge Advocate and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. In the early 90s, based on his experience with his father, he decided he wanted to know more about tax law and, just as important, to find out the best way to ensure family wealth wouldn’t be devastated by confiscatory estate taxes and the delays and costs of probate. He pursued a Master of Laws from the University of San Diego School of Law's acclaimed graduate tax program and shifted into asset protection and estate planning.
As for being an asset protection attorney in light of the economic downturn, Rod observes "The Great Recession has been an emotional rollercoaster for our clients. As asset protection attorneys, the Chhokar Law Group, P.C. represents a great many people facing financial adversity. Our clients often come to us in a very depressed and disturbed state of mind; many have been sued on personal guarantees for real estate projects that have gone south. People argue that our clients deserve what is coming to them; that anyone who invests in risky real estate projects should know better; that there is always a direct correlation between risk and return; and those high profiits they were anticipating come at a price. It can be further argued that it would be immoral or unethical to protect assets at such a late stage and the attorney should turn down the engagement. Making such arguments as part of an abstract conversation about investing or morals is quite different from facing one of these unfortunate investors across the table and watching their lives tumble around them. Do you tell prospective clients that they were fools and that they should suffer the repercussions of taking risks or do you help them? We choose to help because we simply cannot turn down a human being who looks us in the eyes and asks for help. When we are able to help, we literally manage to salvage a client's life. They walk into our office in tears and walk out with renewed hope. They climb off the emotional rollercoaster."
When he isn’t busy with his practice, Rod enjoys scuba diving (he is open water certified) and surfing in San Diego. He is a fan of Mid-Century Modern architecture and volunteers his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego, Inc. and the Rotary Club, where Rod is a Paul Harris Fellow.
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I have worked together with Rod on several estate planning and business planning cases. Rod is always very professional and responsive, and is dedicated to providing quality client services and representation. Rod is a very experienced and skilled estate planning attorney.
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|Award name||Grantor||Date granted|
|Finalist, Advisor of the Year 2015||BNY Mellon Wealth Management||2015|
|Paul Harris Fellow||Rotary International||2012|
|Superb Lawyer Rating||Avvo.com||2009|
|Graduate, Masters Program in Advanced Estate Planning||Esperti Peterson Institute||2003|
|Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal||Department of the Navy||1995|
|Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal||Department of the Navy||1991|
|National Defense Service Medal||Department of the Navy||1990|
|Attorney & Counselor at Law||Hatley Law Group, A P.C.||2008 - 2010|
|Attorney||The Law Firm of Strazzeri Mancini LLP||2002 - 2008|
|Attorney||Law Office of Rodney J. Hatley||1996 - 2002|
|Staff Judge Advocate & Special Assistant U.S. Attorney||U.S. Navy JAG Corps (Naval Weapons Center/Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake)||1991 - 1995|
|Officer In Charge||U.S. Navy JAG Corps (NLSO Detachment, NAS Moffett Field)||1990 - 1991|
|Criminal Defense Counsel/Legal Assistance Attorney||U.S. Navy JAG Corps (NLSO, Naval Station Treasure Island)||1989 - 1990|
|Association name||Position name||Duration|
|ProVisors, San Diego Real Estate Affinity Group||Member||2015 - Present|
|ProVisors, Estate & Succession Planning Affinity Group||Member||2014 - Present|
|ProVisors, Distributors & Manufacturers San Diego Affinity Group||Executive Committee Member||2014 - Present|
|North County Estate Planning Council||Member||2011 - Present|
|ProVisors, San Diego Lawyers & Legal Professionals Affinity Group||Member||2010 - Present|
|ProVisors, University Town Center II Chapter||Member, Executive Committee||2010 - Present|
|United States Department of Veterans Affairs||Accredited Attorney||2009 - Present|
|Estate Planning Council of San Diego||Member||2007 - 2008|
|San Diego County Bar Association||MCLE Co-Chair, Financial Professional Liaison Section||2004 - 2009|
|San Diego County Bar Association||Member, Taxation Law Section||1997 - Present|
|San Diego County Bar Association||Member, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Section||1997 - Present|
|State Bar of Caliornia||Member||1992 - Present|
|Tennessee Bar Association||Member||1987 - Present|
|U.S. v. Yakos||Found Not Guilty of the charge and specifications thereunder.|
|U.S. v. Murphy||Found Not Guilty of the charge and specification thereunder.|
|U.S. v. Huckaby||Found Not Guilty of Violation of the UCMJ, Article 134, but found Guilty of Violation of the UCMJ, Article 128. LT R.J. Hatley, JAGC, USNR, appealed the conviction to the Convening Authority and, on 23 May 1990, secured a dismissal of the charges.|
|See all legal cases|
|Guardian Publishing, LLC publication||For California Doctors: A Guide to Asset Protection, Tax and Estate Planning (with Christopher R. Jarvis, MBA, David B. Mandell, JD, MBA, and Jason M. O'Dell, CWM)||2009|
|Quantum Press publication||Giving: Philanthropy for Everyone (with Robert A. Esperti, Esq., and Renno L. Peterson, Esq.)||2003|
|Naval Legal Service Office, Naval Station Treasure Island publication||California Probate Information (with LCDR Jay J. Kessler, JAGC, USN and LNC May S. Fujimoto, USNR; Naval Legal Service Office, Naval Station Treasure Island, San Francisco, California)||1990|
|University of Memphis Law Review||Torts--Abolition of the Fireman’s Rule in Oregon and What It May Mean for Tennessee--Christensen v. Murphy, 296 Or. 610, 678 P. 2d 1210 (1984)||1985|
|University of San Diego School of Law||Taxation||LL.M - Master of Laws||1996|
|University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law||Law||JD - Juris Doctor||1986|
|Rhodes College||Political Science||BA - Bachelor of Arts||1983|
|Lavine, Lofgren, Morris, and Engelberg, LLP Lunch & Learn||The Future of the Estate Tax/Asset Protection Using Family Bank Trusts||2012|
|San Diego Osteopathic Medical Association Quarterly Meeting||Risk Management for the Practicing Physician||2011|
|Living Legacy Financial & Insurance Services Presentation||Military Spouses Residency Relief Act||2010|
|Puzzled Parents Quarterly Meeting||Special Needs Trusts||2009|
|Advanced Estate Planning and Asset Protection Techniques in California Seminar||Charitable Remainder Trusts||2007|