The Journey Into The Heart of Estate Planning
After graduating from law school in 1985, I went to work for a small law firm in Santa Cruz focused on family law and civil litigation. I loved the idea of working with clients to help solve their problems, but I soon found myself mired in mountains of deposition transcripts for a big case being conducted by my firm. I spent months poring through transcripts and summarizing them in agonizing detail. I didn’t even know what the lawsuit was about, what our side wanted to prove, or why we were representing them. So much for my dreams of getting to know our clients and helping them with my legal skills!
Around that time I was asked to join the Board of Directors of a new volunteer organization that was being formed to help people with a frightening new illness called AIDS. Through my work helping to get that organization up and running, I became acquainted with its clients – young men who were desperately ill and terribly frightened. They were dying, and they didn’t know what to do. They hadn’t made any plans for death. I began to offer to write wills for them, then Living Trusts and Advance Health Care Directives, whatever they needed. All for free. It was the most meaningful thing I could imagine doing for them, and it gave me a new sense of direction for my work in the law.
Back at the law firm, I told my employers I had found my niche, and I wanted to do estate planning. They flatly told me no, that they didn’t want to add that as an area of practice in their firm. I thought about this long and hard, about what I was doing in my job, what I wanted to do as a lawyer, and about what I saw as my calling to help people in need. It didn’t take me long to realize I had to leave my job in order to do my Work. So, not quite 2 years after graduating from law school, I resigned from my position as an associate attorney with a secure future and stepped out into the unknown of a solo law practice. I have never regretted that decision.
This is my “Great Work”: serving people just like you who want to make sure their families and loved ones are protected in the event of death or incapacity. That means I’m intent on listening to, and really hearing, your story. It means I’ll help you list your most precious values as well as your financial assets, so you’ll know the estate plan I create for you is really yours, leaving a legacy that honors the unique individual you are in life. If you want to leave everything to your beloved Scottie Terrier, we can do that plan. If you have a disabled child, your plan will make sure your child’s future is safe and secure. If you have a special cause or organization you would like to support, we can include a charitable gift in your plan. Whatever your unique circumstances, I’ll listen attentively, and then craft a plan that supports your needs.
Our journey doesn’t stop when the documents are finished. I’ll keep in touch with you to update your plan as your life evolves. Things change, and estate plans do also. Nothing is written in stone. Everything needs to be reviewed periodically to keep up with changes in the law and changes in your life. I have systems in place to review your plan at a minimum every three years so that your plan is sure to work the way you need it to at the end of your life.
Finally, I have set up my practice so you will never have to let fear of a bill in the mail prevent you from calling me. Years ago, I banned the billable hour from my law practice! I only work on a flat fee basis, agreed to ahead of time, so you will never be surprised by an unexpected invoice from my office.