John Goralka

John Goralka

Business, Asset Protection, Tax & Estate Planning Attorney
  • The Goralka Law Firm
  • 916-440-8036

Why I Chose to Get Into Estate Planning

I am often asked how or why I got into the area of estate planning. I thought I'd share with you my story, particularly in light of National Estate Planning Awareness Week, which is the third week of this month.

I originally went to law school at night while I worked as an income tax auditor and hearing officer for the California Franchise Tax Board. This experience provided a solid foundation for the knowledge and skills used today with saving taxes, tax planning, business and tax matters. As a hearing officer, I would have the Field Auditors report and the taxpayer protest or appeal often from large law or CPA firms. This enabled me to learn much faster from the experienced professionals of both sides of every issue. The best possible learning opportunity.

As a hearing officer, I found many were poorly represented and positioned. I was confident that I could do far better than that. This experience was directly transferable to estate planning. Many view estate planning as being simplistic. But to be done well, estate planning draws upon business and property laws, probate law, estate, and income tax laws, property law, real gift tax, and property tax law. Gary Perry, an early mentor and employer, advised that if things seem simple, then someone is not really telling you something, possibly lying to you, or completely oblivious to the true facts and issues.

I began my firm because I needed more flexibility to spend time with my kids. As a single parent with a 2 and 5-year-old, I was coaching my daughter’s soccer team, doing lunch yard school duty, and simply enjoyed just spending time together. Establishing my own firm permitted that, but often required that I work late at night after putting them to bed.

An estate planning, business, and tax practice provided the flexible schedule I needed. Even with that, there were times when I brought my kids to court with me. I was very concerned that my daughter might object at any time to my position.

As an estate planning, asset protection, tax, and business attorney, my goal is to help my clients to make a transformative change in their lives for the better. By transformative, we mean making a substantial improvement that will benefit the family for generations into the future. As a firm, we seek to identify and apply uncommon knowledge and unique solutions to the challenges, risks, and opportunities faced by our clients.

The years go by so very fast. We now have many clients that we represented for over 20 years. We represent multiple generations including grandparents, children, and then grandchildren from the same family. We have also helped administer their estate and business and continue to assist their future generations for years to come. One example is establishing a Family Limited Partnership 25 years ago for a mom, dad, and son, and then helping pass down those interests and businesses to third and fourth generations over the past 25 years.

I believe that estate planning is one of the most gratifying areas of law because you really get to know your clients often on a deep, personal level. We help with some of the most important life decisions they will make (both good and bad) with their family and hard-earned assets. Unlike many other areas of law, we routinely establish long-term relationships with our client family members for many years to come in the future. I feel truly blessed to have found a career in an area that brings me such joy and is truly satisfying. Every day presents a new chess game - we identify where the pieces are on the board and plan for the next move and beyond.

Professional Specialties

  • Income Tax and Estate Tax Planning
  • Tax Litigation Controversy
  • Trusts
  • Asset Protection Planning and Implementation
  • Business and Corporate Law
  • Shareholder and Business Buy/Sell Agreements for Estate Planning and Business Continuation Purposes
  • Estate Planning
  • Probate and Trust Administration
  • Sales of Businesses and Real Property


  • Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization
  • Certified Specialist in Taxation Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization
  • Former Hearing Officer and Income Tax Auditor, Franchise Tax Board, California
  • Passed the California Certified Public Accountants' (CPA's) Exam
  • Approved Educator - California Department of Insurance
  • Approved Educator - California Certificated Financial Planning Board
  • Blue Star Wealth Professional
  • Distinguished Client Service Award - Martindale-Hubbell
  • Northern California Super Lawyer for Estate Planning and Probate, Tax, and Business Law
  • Sacramento Magazine Top Lawyer for Business and Corporate Law
  • Rated AV preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
  • 10.0 Rating with
  • Recognized as a Best Lawyer and top attorney in the United States by US News and World Reports for Taxation and Estate Planning.
  • Recognized as a top taxation attorney in the United States by Premier Tax Planners


  • California Tax Lawyer, August, 1992 – "Can the Service Partner Finally Go Back To Work?"
  • Nationally recognized author with articles regularly appearing in Kiplinger,, On Wall Street, The American Journal of Managed Care, Penton: Wealth Management, Yahoo Finance, Leimburg, ThinkAdvisor and Hospital Impact.


  • Family Limited Partnerships in Estate Planning and Asset Protection, "Maximize the Use of Family Limited Partnerships in Estate Planning" and "Sort Through the Complex Rules Regarding the taxation of Family Limited Partnerships," August 2008
  • Estate Planning Basics, "Estate and Gift Taxes" and "Charitable Planning," August 2008
  • Fundamental Probate Procedures and Practices, "Inventory & Appraisal," May 2008
  • Estate and Gift Taxes, "Estate, Gift and GST Taxes," January 2008
  • Estate Planning Basics, "Basic Taxes You Need to be Aware Of," January 2008
  • The Probate Process for California Paralegals: From Start to Finish, 2003 and 2004
  • A Practical Guide to Estate Administration in California, 1992 and 1993


  • California State University of Sacramento, B.S. Accounting
  • McGeorge School of Law, J.D. with distinction, Class Rank – 4th
  • McGeorge School of Law, L.L.M. Taxation

Academic Achievements

  • American Jurisprudence Awards in Torts and Business Planning
  • Corpus Juris Secundum Award For Making the Most Outstanding Contribution to Legal Scholarship (1985 and 1988)
  • Order of the Coif
  • Prentice-Hall Outstanding Tax Student Award
  • Traynor Society Award for Academic Achievement


  • Former Member of Board of Directors, Sacramento Estate Planning Council
  • Former Education Chair, Sacramento Estate Planning Council
  • Sacramento County and California Bar Associations
  • National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
  • Wealth Counsel
  • California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)


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