My name is Don Saddler of Bethel out here in the real world of Alaska.  I am a building contractor and investor.

A few years ago I came across a small 3-bedroom house in Bethel that was located on a nice lot, but was depreciated to the point of not being habitable. (See Above) I thought I could made the house very nice and rocket the value of the home by much more than what I spent on the improvements with my people doing most of the labor. 

When I looked into the present owner of the house I discovered it had belonged to a longtime resident, one who had passed away a couple of years earlier.

The owner’s family in Bethel told me the man’s Last Will and Testament passed the home’s ownership to his grandson.  His grandson, a young man, had been unable to obtain title to the house though. 

A probate of his grandfather’s estate in court was needed to gain a good title.  The young man was not in a position to obtain the lawyer needed for that probate work. He was not in a position actually to take care of himself even.  

Someone else would need to run the show in selling the house to me and for me to pay for it.

I thought I would give it a try.

Then, I could not find a lawyer willing to do the work at a price that made a deal possible.  I was told I probably need two lawyers, not just one.  No one near Bethel was very much familiar with probate work, it seemed.

Months passed.  It looked like that old house was never going to be remodeled.  Literally no one owned it now.  Very sad.

Then one day online, I hooked up with Attorney Stephen Merrill from faraway Anchorage.

So long as we had a signed sales agreement and both parties were willing to work in full cooperation with each other, Mr. Merrill was willing to work closely with both seller and buyer, so long as there were no big differences arising between me and the young man who was selling. 

Having one lawyer to do the entire transaction was the first big hurdle to overcome.  The price set by Mr. Merrill for the entire case made a good profit possible from my end of the bargain.  So work began.


It took a long time.  Mr. Merrill had to put up with much craziness from the young man who was being parceled out the sales price as things went along.  It was not an easy process or easy people to deal with.

But Mr. Merrill filed his paperwork promptly and correctly and kept things together on a personal level successfully when issues arose.  

It ended up working out for everyone.

A young man had been paid an inheritance it looked like he was unlikely to ever see.

I received a property that I refashioned into a modern home that I rented successfully and have now sold at a handsome profit.

And the City of Bethel received a home that looks like this, to replace a property in the city that had become a nuisance instead of a benefit to the community.  That property would have remained ugly and unusable for decades or longer, but for what we accomplished.

Stephen Merrill of Anchorage is the business lawyer you want on your side, for more reasons than one, no matter where you might live in Alaska.