Firm history

Our firm was founded in 1959 by Ralph Gano Miller, a San Diego native who decided that it would be good to combine business (with an emphasis on accounting) with law. The first associate attorney joined him in 1959 and a partnership was formed in 1960. The firm has continued to grow since that time with business, tax, and estate planning as the major areas of focus.

Ralph was a leader in the estate planning field, developing estate planning techniques that are widely used by professionals across the country today. The firm strives to be on the cutting edge of estate planning practices.

To complement the estate planning focus of the firm, Mary Peshel focuses on probate and trust administration, and has become recognized as one of San Diego’s most expert practitioners in those areas. As the head of the firm’s Trust and Estate Administration department, Mary has the invaluable experience of both creating and carrying out the client’s estate plan. Mary’s expertise in administering trusts and estates makes her exceptionally good at estate planning as well.

Thomas Monson has headed up the firm’s civil litigation department for many years and developed a very well recognized reputation in the areas of pension plan litigation, and estate and trust litigation. Because of his expertise, he receives requests for assistance from across the nation.

Timothy Polacek focuses much of his efforts on higher net worth estate planning and family succession. Tim’s practice focuses on transferring wealth from one generation to the next. Tim is recognized in San Diego for his tremendous experience dealing with IRS estate and gift tax audits.

Susan Horner brings a unique set of skills to the firm – ERISA claims and appeals on behalf of employee participants or beneficiaries. Her decades of experience in this area make her a well-recognized expert, assisting, consulting with, and receiving referrals from attorneys across the nation as well as throughout California. Her background in medicine allows her to identify issues quickly and to craft winning arguments, while her bulldog tenacity has led to many exceptional results for her clients. Susan has a number of important published cases.

DeEtte Loeffler joined the firm in 2008 after obtaining her Master’s Degree in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law. DeEtte’s focus on estate and tax planning, trust administration and business law made her a great addition to our firm. DeEtte uses her background in litigation and family law to plan for minimizing future potential disputes for her clients. Her experiences as a military member (and as a military spouse), allow her to better understand and plan for clients with the unique challenges and benefits associated with such service.

William Hoshaw has a Master’s Degree in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law and is a Certified Specialist in Taxation Law. His encyclopedic knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code puts the firm at a distinct advantage in dealing with the toughest taxation matters. Because of Bill’s proficiency in tax issues, many business clients engage him to craft their more complicated contracts since taxation now pervades most business matters. Bill also has a deserved reputation in the area of tax-free exchanges of real property, an important area for many San Diegans.

In addition to the specialized areas discussed above, our partners and associates are experienced in real property, business, IRA planning, and certain litigation matters as well as estate planning. Our attorneys work collaboratively to provide the best service to our clients.

From the firm’s small beginning, we have built a staff of attorneys whose truly unique abilities and backgrounds have allowed the firm to become the largest in San Diego specializing in the areas of tax minimization, estate planning, and business planning with the training and the experience necessary to render the best possible service to our clients.