Haley Freeman 2014-07-03 00:27:58
A Man for All Seasons Harold Bliss – family man, world traveler, history enthusiast, community thespian and zealous advocate. A solo practitioner, Bliss has been assisting Arizonans with matters of estate planning, business formation and representation, real estate, and intellectual property for over 40 years. Bliss grew up in historic Philadelphia, where he also earned his undergraduate degree at La Salle College (now University). “Before my mother moved to Philadelphia, she lived in Springfield, Illinois. She had been a teacher and later worked in a law office. One of the attorneys she worked for was also a state legislator. She often spoke about her experiences there, and since I had already decided I didn’t have a strong attraction to science or medicine, I decided the law was where I would devote my efforts,” Bliss said. While attending law school at Notre Dame University, Bliss began making plans to relocate to Arizona. “My parents retired to Arizona in the time between my attending college and law school. While I was a law student, I came out looking for a summer clerkship with a law firm. I found one with a position at one of the large firms – Evans, Kitchel & Jenckes. At the end of the summer, they offered me a permanent job.” As a young associate, Bliss worked personally with a number of the firm’s partners. “From each one I learned an awful lot about both the law and how to approach it and also about how to be a worthwhile, upright lawyer. I think I owe an awful lot to each of those individuals.” Bliss spent the first 17 years of his career there, before he and another partner from EK&J, David West, decided to practice together. “Our firm, West & Bliss, focused on litigation and lobbying work, as well as business representation and estate planning.” In 1991, the partners made the decision to split into solo practices. “I lived in Scottsdale during most of my existence here in Arizona, but I kept going into Phoenix to work. I was ready for an office close to home.” Bliss describes himself as “thorough and very client-oriented. I will spend whatever time it takes to get the estate planning done, even if doing the job right means it takes longer than I initially anticipated.” His estate planning and probate practice often calls Bliss to help people during particularly vulnerable or emotionally-charged circumstances. Bliss recalled a case in which a couple had succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while traveling in their motorhome in Arizona. Their grown daughter, an Arizona resident, contacted Bliss for help. “She called me on the spur of the moment, and I went immediately out to help her. I met her in the eastern part of state. Within 24 hours, I was able to get the daughter appointed as special administrator of the estate and claimed the parents’ bodies and property from the sheriff’s office. Then I located an attorney to open a probate in the state where her parents resided.” This kind of immediate action is a hallmark of Bliss’s practice. Bliss has transferred his own legacy of a happy family to his wife, children and grandchildren. “I take a lot of pride in my family. I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my parents and siblings. Now, my three children are adults who have all made wonderful lives for themselves and their children and are close to their siblings. I feel fortunate to have such a family.” Bliss and his wife share a passion for history and travel. “We look for historical homes and other locations whenever we take a trip. We went back to Philadelphia and covered the Revolutionary period sites there and then went to Gettysburg and worked our way down through West Virginia and Virginia. She has a particular interest in early Virginia and her ancestors there, and she was able to do some genealogical research during our visit.” “When I’m not going to an ASU game, I primarily participate in the community theater. I initially played Officer Brophy in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ And, most recently, I played Joey Biltmore and a crapshooter in ‘Guys and Dolls.’ I thought it would be a one-time deal when my daughter first introduced me to the theater four years ago, but I’ve found I really enjoy it.” Combining his passions for history and acting, Bliss recently participated in a Civil War reenactment. During Arizona’s 2012 centennial, he played an artillerist at the reenactment of the only Civil War battle fought in the Arizona territory, the Battle of Picacho Pass. “I got to pull the lanyard and actually fire the cannon. I thought it was so much fun to see the historical uniforms and equipment firsthand. There is also a group here in Arizona that hosts period dances. It is nice to see our culture being retained that way, for us to understand what our forebears did and their lifestyle.” Bliss takes his advocacy for other families to heart. According to Bliss, people often forget that estate planning is not just about preparing for what happens after a death, but planning for what will happen in the later stages of life. “As people get older, there is a greater likelihood of dementia or Alzheimer’s coming on. It is important to put a power of attorney in place ahead of time,” he said. “Once a parent is in a home and suffering from Alzheimer’s, it may be too late. There is a need for families to address and discuss these matters ahead of time, so there is no contest among family members later. My goal is to get my clients the best protection while meeting their objectives, all while preserving the peace of the family during a difficult time.”
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