Lesley Boyd 2014-07-03 00:29:30
Securing the Future for Generations It’s human nature to fiercely protect those we love. In doing so, we must account for the future to ensure that our assets are allocated as we would desire should something happen to us. Without proper guidance and advice, it’s nearly impossible to create sound estate plans and understand the laws governing distribution of wealth and assets. Louis Silverman and Kristel Patton offer their clients an approach to ensure the smooth and seamless transition of a family’s legacy from generation to generation, and help implement it. Recognized by Arizona Business Magazine as one of the top estate attorneys in Arizona, Louis A. “Lou” Silverman, partner at Silverman Patton, PLLC, spent the first 20 years of his career as a hard-nosed litigator, overseeing a wide variety of cases including everything from real estate to personal injury. In 2004, he began to grow weary of litigation and transitioned his solo practice into estate planning, business planning, and probate and trust administration – areas that Silverman Patton continues to practice today. “Litigation is tough,” Silverman said. “People spend too much money on litigation when good planning could have avoided it entirely. I realized that estate planning was a better use of my time and whether I am helping clients in the office or via monthly columns in the Arizona Republic, my goal is to educate people about the various pitfalls associated with estate planning.” Kristel K. Patton, partner at Silverman Patton, took a more direct route on the road to becoming an estate planning attorney. At the age of 17, Patton joined a boutique estate and business planning law firm in Missouri where she acted as a file clerk and later law clerk through undergrad and into law school. “I was handed the keys to the office on the first day of work,” remembered Patton. “The keychain said, ‘The key to success is self discipline.’ I took that saying to heart and have always applied it to my career.” In 2008, Patton opened her own estate planning practice in Chandler, and joined the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, an organization of which Silverman was also a member. After knowing each other for a number of years – they met in 2006 shortly after Patton moved to the Valley – and working on a number of matters together, Silverman and Patton decided to join together to create their namesake firm in January 2014. “We share an innate desire to help our clients and distinguish ourselves based upon educating our clients about their options and creating customized plans to address their unique circumstances,” Patton said. “We work with clients at every stage in their lives, whether they are new parents with minimal assets or retirees who may have accumulated some amount of wealth over their lives. We do not discriminate, but strive to meet clients where they are at the moment they set foot in our office.” “Partnering with Kristel in our new firm affords our clients the joint experience of two dedicated estate planning attorneys who share a common goal: enabling our clients to reduce or eliminate death taxes and avoid probate, as well as provide long term asset protection for loved ones,” Silverman said. Firm Philosophy “An estate plan should be updated throughout each client’s life as the accumulation of wealth grows and the family dynamic changes,” Silverman said. “We recognize each of our clients as individuals, with their own set of circumstances, goals and needs,” added Patton. “We take our time to get to know our clients before recommending any course of action because we know there is no such thing as one-size-fits- all in terms of long-term planning.” During the course of discussions, terms are drafted that minimize the impact on the lives of those dependent upon a client who may pass. “We make the best effort to minimize state and federal estate taxes whenever possible as well as ensure the maximum speed at which money can be transferred to spouses, children, loved ones and charities,” Silverman said. When estate planning documents are presented, Silverman and Patton work closely with their clients and discuss any detail that the client may not understand. “We explain the benefits of an estate plan in plain English, and make sure that our clients are comfortable with the services they are receiving,” Silverman continued. Unique Service Add-Ons “Our main goal is to educate our clients, ensuring that they have all of the tools necessary to make the best decisions about their future as possible,” Silverman said. “To that end, we offer bi-annual workshops to inform our clients about hot topics relating to our practice areas.” Recent workshops have included discussions about retirement plan distributions and the tax implications of early withdrawal, health care issues where a physician from St. Joe’s spoke about end-of-life decisions, and a very popular seminar titled, “Heir Conditioning” which discussed how to protect heirs and how they inherit wealth. “Not only do we educate our clients, but we also offer two important services that often go overlooked – we provide funding assistance and offer trust maintenance,” Patton said. Funding Assistance Many people today choose to create a revocable living trust instead of solely relying on a will or joint ownership in their estate for many reasons. A living trust can help heirs avoid probate, save money on estate taxes and protect inheritances for children from creditors and predators. The problem is that once created, the trust needs to be funded – the process of transferring assets from the creator into the trust. This includes changing titles of assets from an individual’s name to the name of the trust and includes updated beneficiary designations for assets that should not be owned by the trust, such as the client’s retirement plan assets. “Many attorneys do not offer the benefit of funding assistance to their clients,” noted Silverman. “In our desire to be a full-service estate planning firm, we have always offered this service.” Trust Maintenance People and situations change over time and it is necessary to make sure that the trust a client created is completely up-to-date. To this end, Silverman Patton offers trust maintenance plans that allow clients the opportunity to review their trusts to ensure that all current assets are correctly titled and that beneficiaries are designated as they wish. “Our trust maintenance plan is very popular,” noted Silverman. “It is important to keep trusts in line with current circumstances such as the addition of assets or the birth of a new child. Our trust maintenance program allows clients to change the terms of their trust in accordance with new circumstances.” “While we offer a wide variety of estate planning options to our clients, we know that our firm has room for growth. Looking to the future, we would like to provide more focused service in the areas of elder law and special needs planning,” stated Patton. Away from the Office… Both Silverman and Patton enjoy spending time with their families and enjoy a wide variety of sports. While Patton is an avid Arizona Cardinals fan and watches every game possible, Silverman’s sports obsession took another road. About five years ago, Silverman decided to start training for triathlons and has since competed in nine races. “I was having a bit of a mid-life crisis several years ago and instead of buying a sports car or getting an earring, I filled it with serious training for triathlons,” said Silverman. “I got hooked and now try to participate as often as possible.” When they aren’t attending to client needs, spending time with family or participating in sports-related activities, Silverman and Patton strive to give back to the community. Silverman is a former member of the board of directors of the Tempe Community Action Agency, which provides essential food and housing services to the underprivileged in the East Valley. He now serves as its pro bono counsel. He is also active in Tempe Leadership, having participated in Class 29, and is now a member of its board of directors. Silverman also serves on the board of trustees of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. Patton is active in the Chandler Horizon Rotary Club, where she has been a member since 2008. She is slated to become president of Chandler Horizon Rotary in 2015-2016. The partners at Silverman Patton, PLLC are committed to excellence in the level of service they provide to their clients. The firm strives to serve each client with unparalleled attention and care, earning the trust that comes with long-term business relationships. In order to continue to meet the needs of their clients, the two partners recently added Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law graduate, Timothy A. Heileman to their team as an associate. The team is grateful and humbled by the referrals they get every year, and they are keeping their eyes and minds on ensuring their firm remains above the crowd.
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