2890 N. Main Street, Suite 206 • Walnut Creek, CA 94597

Meet the Team

Kirsten Howe, Esq.
Founder and Managing Partner

For more than 20 years, individuals and families in Walnut Creek, California and the surrounding areas have trusted Absolute Trust Counsel Managing Partner Kirsten Howe and her team to help them secure their legacy.

Uniquely qualified to create individualized estate plans, Kirsten and her team provide focused counsel on estate planning, trust administration, probate, Medi-Cal planning, special needs planning, and other estate-related issues.

“I began my law career as a business planning attorney, but soon realized that I was most passionate about estate planning and elder law. I founded Absolute Trust Estates as a firm dedicated exclusively to providing full-scope, client-centered estate planning services and I’m very proud of the specialized counsel we’re able to provide to families as they plan for their futures.”

She earned her law degree cum laude from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a B. S. in Biology from the University of Michigan. While in law school, she was a member of the Thurston Society and managing editor of The Hastings Law Journal.

A noted speaker on estate planning issues, Kirsten is a member of the Trust and Estates Section of the California State Bar, and the Estate Planning and Probate, Elder Law, and the Women’s Sections of the Contra Costa County Bar. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Estate Planning Council Diablo Valley and is a member of the Robert G. McGrath Chapter of American Inns of Court.


Cynthia Barclay
Associate Attorney

With expertise in estate planning, trust administration and probate, Cindy advises individuals and families in every facet of estate and trust matters.

“Law is my second career. After 10 years in the environment and geology professions, I went back to school with the goal of earning my law degree so that I could do more to help people. I knew immediately that estate law was the right practice for me. It is personally rewarding to me to be able to help members of our community find peace of mind in planning for the future of their families.  We help them develop a plan that provides for their immediate needs and also the future needs of their family.”

Cindy’s passion for service extends to volunteer work with many Bay Area organizations, including board service for Christmas in April, Castro Valley (aka Rebuilding Together); serving as a co-founder and co-director of Castro Valley Mothers Club; and giving her time to the Castro Valley Education Foundation and many other school and community organizations. During law school, Cindy worked with Bay Area Legal Aid and the Tenants Union of San Francisco, assisting clients with difficult housing conflicts.

Cindy earned her bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and her JD from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill.


Sandra Tanhuanpaa

Sandy has more than 14 years of experience working as a paralegal with estate planning law firms.

“I enjoy working at Absolute Trust Counsel because it is a firm with heart and compassion, which is very important for the type of law that we practice.”

She attended UC Santa Barbara and earned her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Hayward.



Ivy Altman
Marketing/Event Planner

Absolute Trust Counsel is committed to providing the community of Walnut Creek with tools that make it easy to understand estate planning and make the process pleasant, convenient and efficient.  As part of that effort, Ivy takes the lead in coordinating our community seminars and other education programs.

“Working at ATC is not only professionally satisfying but also personally satisfying.  By providing a service to our clients in a warm, comfortable environment, and being able to help them work through some difficult decisions is very rewarding for me.  Not a day goes by that I don’t feel inspired by what I do.”

Ivy earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.


Denette Grebe
Resource Manager

Every member of the Absolute Trust Counsel team plays a role in making our client’s experience a positive one. As our Resource Manager, Denette makes sure all firm projects and processes run efficiently so that we’re able to deliver the highest levels of service.

Denette also assists our clients as they finalize their estate planning documents, ensuring that all paperwork is completed and filed properly.

“I enjoy working for someone I admire and respect and at a company where we truly work as a team and care about our clients.”


EllenEllen Berry
Administrative Assistant

At Absolute Trust Counsel, our administrative support is the glue that binds the team’s effort to produce the highest level of excellence to our clients.  Ellen’s extensive experience in the banking industry and the organizational knowledge from her work as an event manager give her the perfect skill set to tackle the day to day administrative duties that keep our firm running smoothly and efficiently along with her warm and friendly personality.  She graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a minor in business.

“I feel very lucky to work with a team where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued.  We are constantly collaborating to improve our processes to create a better experience for our clients.”


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2890 N. Main Street, Suite 206
Walnut Creek, CA 94597


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