I have a confession. A dark secret that I hide behind a facade of confidence and competence. I know this may come as a surprise to some people who know me well, but I am here to admit, “I don’t know everything.” (I can hear a collective gasp of disbelief from my friends, and a faint scoff from my family…) Because I don’t know everything, I also do not handle all legal matters myself.
Many of my classmates from law school seemed to act like they knew everything, or at least that they knew better than everyone else. I have never found being all-knowing to be particularly effective in my law practice. I know what I enjoy and what work I can do well for you, as my client, and so I stick to that. To that end, I have limited my law practice to estate planning. Estate planning encompasses many different strategies, and plenty of areas of the law are involved, but because I have intentionally limited my practice to estate planning, I think I do it well.
Such specialization does mean that when something comes up in my practice that is beyond what I do in my practice, I need to collaborate with other attorneys who are experts in their areas of practice to make sure a client is properly served. I want to do what is right for you, and sometimes that involves using other attorneys, but it always starts with you. I may know some of what needs to be done, but sometimes I lack full knowledge of the proper process and procedures, so I leave that up to my friends who have expertise beyond my own.
So without further ado……
The Best Family Law Firm in Denver
Danielsen Westhoff, PC
I have lost track of how many times my clients will ask me how to handle their child’s ex-spouse, who generally is involved in some sort of child support or alimony dispute. I think I may be the only attorney that my client knows, so they want me to give them legal advice on their child’s family law situation. Since I do not handle family law, I generally refer discussions of such matter to my friends Daniel Westhoff and Karli Danielssen, who operate a law firms that specializes in family law. These two have won cases in front of the Colorado Supreme Court, taken care of all the people I send to them, and are just all around good people to deal with. By referring people with question of family law to them, I can get you the right answer through them, even if I cannot give it to them. I endorse Daniel Westhoff and Karli Danielssen because I know they are among the best family law attorneys in Colorado, and because they care for their clients, even the clients I send to them.
The Best Personal Injury & Civil Litigation Law Firm in Denver
Silverman & Olivas, PC
Law Offices of Natacha M. Gutierrez, LLC
Occasionally I have people who ask me about personal injury law, or some sort of civil litigation. I refer to Craig Silverman, or Natascha Gutierrez, both of whom specialize in civil litigation and personal injury type of cases.
Craig Silverman has been practicing as an attorney for a long time, is a Denver radio personality, and only takes cases that are “righteous,” or the right thing to do. He helped me work through the possibilities when my son was injured at a restaurant, and led me in the correct direction.
Natascha Gutierrez has helped me work through a situation where I was injured on a water slide and gave me good legal advice, which led to a good outcome. They are also both quite helpful to my clients who need that type of legal help, as I am not. I don’t do trial work, so someone who has plenty of experience in this area is a much better fit than I am. I endorse Craig Silverman because he is a top civil litigation attorney in Denver, and I endorse Natascha Gutierrez because she is also an excellent attorney and I can personally attest she does great work.
The Best Real Estate Law Firm in Denver
London Law, LLC
I do help people re-title assets into the name of a trust, including real estate assets. As such, I will prepare real estate deeds to transfer assets. Since many clients know I have transferred real estate assets for them, so when something comes up related to real estate, they will contact me. I have been asked about subdividing real estate, settling boundary disputes, and determining who owns a piece of land, whether through a quiet title action, or some other manner. These questions of real estate law are beyond what I do, so I refer them to my friend David London, who has a real estate law practice. He has helped dozens of my clients resolve whatever real estate problem, or dispute, arose and has helped implement whatever steps I took with a client to serve the client’s needs. It is always nice to have someone who can properly prove what the client wants. Although I touch upon real estate law, there are many aspects which are better to defer to him. David has an excellent personal touch and knows what he is doing when it comes to real estate law.
The Best Small Business Law Firm in Denver
Law Offices of Julia M. Knearl
Similarly, although I know a fair amount about business formation and taxation, I refer clients with questions about business law to my friend Julia Knearl, who specializes in business law. She focuses on the needs of small businesses, which is quite helpful for the size of business I generally deal with in my estate planning line of work. I have a lot of clients who own small businesses and I need someone to send these people to see. I had a friend who was involved in a dispute with his partners, which eventually ended in a messy fight as they split from the business. Julia Knearl provided him invaluable guidance and protected his interest, so that an unpleasant split from the business he owned did not become a disaster for him. I wholeheartedly endorse Julia Knearl as she is a top attorney who specializes in small businesses, which is invaluable for you, as a business owner.
The Best Estate Tax Planning Law Firm in Denver
Goodspeed & Merrill, LLC
Even in the area where I specialize, estate planning, there are limits to what I do. I am generally not involved in setting up estate plans for those who have large taxable estates, exceeding $11.4 Million per person in 2019, as I have a friend named Nathan Merrill who handles taxable estates on a regular basis and can better serve those in that type of situation. I call him whenever I have a client whose assets exceed the estate planning limits. He has techniques and tools that he uses on a regular basis that I do not, and I defer to him on such areas. He uses sophisticated gifting strategies, valuation discount strategies, charitable giving, legacy planning, and other strategies based on spousal relationships and child relationships, all of which use provision of the tax code to your advantage. This allow you and your family to keep your money, instead of giving it to the Internal Revenue Service, or State of Colorado. Nathan Merrill helped one of my clients exchange his real estate property from inside of a trust, saving the client tens of thousand of dollars in taxes. He can quote you the statutes and tell you how they apply and how to use them to your benefit. He is an amazing attorney, so I recommend him every time an estate tax planning issues comes across my awareness.
I also do not handle the administration, or carrying out of an estate plan. I know the rules of probate and trust administration, so that the estate plans I set up can be administered properly under the law, but I do not handle probate cases or legally represent trust administration myself.
Probate Proceedings and Trust Administration
The Best Estate Administration and Elder Law Firms in Denver
I often have children of my estate planning clients who will call me when the client has died. The children will ask me what they need to do next. I am happy to point them in the right direction and give them guidance on what to do with submitting a will to the probate court, or distributing assets out of a trust, but I also remind the children that I do not legally represent them in that matter and that I am not willing to take on the responsibility of being their legal representative in that capacity.
Mostly people understand what I am saying, and appreciate that I will give them guidance and send them on their way, but occasionally I have a child who is sure I owe them something more that what I was hired to do. Several years ago, I had the daughter of my client tell me that I had to to the probate because her father would not have hired me to write a will if I did not agree to do the full probate proceedings for him after his death. Even after I showed her the contract that described how I was his attorney for the “preparation and signing” of the will only, she was still angry that I would not just do everything for her. In addition to the unpleasant nature of her demands, she was unwilling to listen to me in my attempts to explain what she could for herself. Instead of wanting to work with me, she wanted me to do everything for her. I might have considered helping her if she had not been so angry and unpleasant, but she made it easy for me to end any relationship we might have had by insisting I owed her something.
Stewart And Gordon
Several of my friends handle probate administration, or the process of distributing assets after someone’s death, and going through that process with the courts, are also on my referral list. Generally I will refer people to Christopher Gordon, or Rosemary Zapor, who have small legal practices, but handle this part of a probate case that I do not. Christopher Gordon recently took over an estate planning and elder law practice from my mentor, Wayne Stewart. Both Wayne Stewart and Christopher Gordon have helped my clients navigate through probate and through probate disputes that could have turned ugly.
By working with my clients to guide them through the probate process, or through a probate dispute, Christopher Gordon has helped implement the estate plans I prepared, and arrived at optimal outcomes for the clients. Christopher Gordon has also helped guide my clients through emergency guardianship proceedings. When things reach that point, I am glad to have Christopher Gordon available to help, as he knows what he is doing!
Zapor Law Office, PC
Rosemary Zapor has helped my clients in a similar manner. She took on a case where the surviving spouse of a client of mine fought every bit of planning his deceased spouse had done, despite the fact that the surviving spouse agreed with the planning when the plan was set up. In doing so, she saved the daughter untold amounts of time, money, and headache. She truly helped my client’s wishes to be carried out, and saved a family from destroying itself. Either one of them is an excellent attorney, and they are quite helpful in assisting my clients who need help once I have reached the end of my ability, or desire, to help and represent a client.
Christopher Gordon and Rosemary Zapor are two of the best estate administration and elder law attorneys in Denver. I refer to them because they are not only good attorneys, but I know they will treat my clients right.
Probate or Trust Litigation
The Best Probate Litigation Law Firm in Denver
Chayet & Danzo, LLC
If there is a fight over something, I will refer my clients to my friends who handle probate of trust litigation. I can refer to the two attorneys listed above, but for more complex litigation I usually refer to my friend and fellow attorney Marco Chayet, of Chayet and Danzo. He is an excellent probate litigator, and referring clients who need his help to him ensures the best outcome for a client. I will be available to testify concerning the estate planning process and how the documents were set up, but I leave the litigation up to the litigation experts.
In one case Marco Chayet helped me on, I had a client who had rewarded his daughter for her work in caring for him in his later years by leaving all of his assets to her, and none to his sons. The sons objected, and raised an issue that I was not able to properly defend because I lacked experience in navigating litigation. I referred my client to Marco Chayet and he handled the litigation. I provided testimony as to what happened in setting up the estate plan and the intentions and medical state of the client, which were invaluable, but without Marco Chayet’s handling of the litigation, I think the daughter would have ended up with a terrible outcome. Instead, the case resolved in a positive manner for the daughter. Marco Chayet is not the only litigator I know, but unless he has a conflict, I know he will do an excellent job. Marco Chayet is one of the best probate litigators in Denver, and I am glad to know him and even happier that I can refer to him!
I Can Help With Estate Planning, or by Sending You in the Right Direction
If you have read this far, you can tell you are almost to the end! Thank for sticking with me in this blog. Hopefully you can see where I can help you directly, or how I can get you to the right place. Even if I am not the right attorney to help you, I will send you to the best attorney who can!
Marco Chayet says
Thank you Michael for the kind words. I will always work hard for the clients you refer to us and I appreciate your confidence in our firm.