When an elderly Berkeley widow with millions in assets and a complicated relationship with her high-powered fiduciary decided to hire a lawyer to help with her estate, she picked up the phone book.

Anne Nutting, then 94 years old, found Howard Abelson, a Richmond solo who specializes in probate, and in 2007 she met with him to reorganize her estate and revoke the power of attorney she’d given to her neighbor, Paul Seeman, whom she was coming to distrust.

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