The following interview was conducted upon learning of this award.
QUESTION: You’ve been named as the “Lawyer of the Year” for Trusts and Estates in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Congratulations! How do you feel about this title?
“I’m honored to be selected out of a group of very distinguished lawyers, who I have always felt a certain humility and awe regarding.”
QUESTION: You’ve been a practicing attorney at Nauman Smith for 61 years. As the Senior Partner here at the firm, your career has spanned several practice areas. How long have you been specifically doing Trusts and Estates work?
“I started working on Trusts and Estates from the beginning, when Spencer Hall, who was a partner, was doing Trusts and Estates. I really wanted to be a Tax Lawyer, but at the time, there was more work in the Trusts and Estates area, therefore, I migrated into Trusts and Estates work because that’s where the tax work at the time was, along with a splattering of corporate taxation.”
QUESTION: What have you learned over time?
“It’s a pleasure to help people, and to a certain extent a duty, that when you do Estates and Trusts, you get it right. Unfortunately, the client who you’re working with is probably deceased when the result is going to be used. That is to a greater or lesser extent the way most law is, but it’s a little more final with Estates and Trusts.”
QUESTION: You’ve shared with us before the importance of being efficient not only when handling your clients’ needs at the time of doing the Trusts and Estates work, but more importantly, setting things up to be efficient when those results are needed.
“That’s definitely true with both Trusts and Estates. Trusts, maybe for minor children, who will have the Trust govern their financial activities 10 or 20 years from when we wrote the Trust or will. You have to anticipate that the laws may have changed, and most importantly, you have to write with some flexibility and understanding of what assets they will seem to have when they pass as opposed to what they have when writing the will.”
QUESTION: What do you believe makes a good Trusts and Estates attorney?
“I think a good Trusts and Estates attorney must know what the descendance law is at the moment, and what the tax law is at the moment which will govern such documents as wills and powers of attorney. And also, some anticipation of how it might change, and how you can keep the documents alive. An understanding of the potential range of emotions surrounding these types of situations is also helpful to me and to the client.”