Certified Elder Law Attorney*
What Types of Legal Matters Do You Handle?
The focus of my law practice is helping people develop a thoughtful estate plan to better protect their loved ones in the event of death or disability. I want to use my knowledge and experience to help families avoid problems and disputes during normal life transitions. I also handle a variety of probate and trust matters, including estate administrations, guardianships and conservatorships.
General business planning is usually a part of estate planning for business owners. I often help clients get their business house in order during the estate planning process, ensuring that the proper documents are in place to ensure a smooth operation and eventual succession.
I have a particular passion for special needs planning, which is estate planning for the benefit of someone who is developmentally disabled or who may be receiving needs-based government assistance. Special needs planning can greatly enhance such an individual’s life. It is also necessary to be even more deliberate and thoughtful in a special needs plan, as we are providing for someone who will likely never be able to care for themselves.
What is your philosophy about estate planning?
Estate planning is deeply personal, as it addresses an individual’s disability and death and involves all members of their family. There are legal, medical and even spiritual dimensions to a person’s estate plan. I want to respect those individual differences and help a client incorporate their particular values into their plan. I also believe that estate planning is more than just a Last Will and Testament. A comprehensive estate plan involves not only preparing a Will, but addressing other types of “transfer documents” like beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement assets. If someone owns a business, the plan should address business succession planning and updating the corporate documents. Finally, estate planning should also address potential disability, which includes long-term health care planning (or paying for long-term care). An estate plan is not necessarily a set of documents, but rather a comprehensive plan for someone’s life.
What do you see as your role as an attorney?
I like to think of myself as a “personal family adviser” for my clients. I want to learn about them, their families and their businesses so that I can better address concerns and identify potential pitfalls. I also see my role as thinking about things or issues that my clients may not have thought about. I feel that I have done my job when a client says “I never thought of that!” When a problem does arise, I want my clients to contact me first. If we can help them, we will, but if we cannot perform a particular service, we will see that they find someone who can help them. There is a reason society gives a confidentiality privilege to attorneys (as it does for doctors and ministers). We want clients to feel comfortable fully disclosing their problems so that we can effectively address them. I am aware of and humbled by the great responsibility I have as an attorney.
What are your qualifications?
I have about 18 years practicing estate planning and probate law. I hold the designation of a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA)‚ awarded by the National Elder Law Foundation as accredited by the American Bar Association. I spent the first four years of my legal career in the estate planning department of a large law firm. I eventually decided to open my own law practice to be able to provide much needed estate planning services to a wider range of individuals (and at a reasonable price). I received my law degree from Tulane Law School (J.D., 2001, summa cum laude) and graduated from the University of Alabama (B.A. 1998, summa cum laude) with an undergraduate degree in history and Spanish.
Tell me more about yourself
I was born outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but I spent most of my childhood growing up in Northport, Alabama. I am quite fond of Pennsylvania, but I consider Alabama my home and after school I wanted to return here to begin practicing law. My wife and I have a well blended family with five children. Our family enjoys soccer, golf and dance, and we are members of Prince of Peace Catholic Church.
*The Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) designation is awarded by the National Elder Law Foundation. For more information visit www.nelf.org« Back to Attorneys Page