What Do Attorney, Business and Computer Science Have in Common?
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Barry E. Haimo. I help families plan for an protect their estates and businesses. It’s only fair. Everyone is getting sued because we live in a litigious society. It’s so expensive to defend yourself in court that it leads to unjustified and ridiculous settlements. In a perfect world, people should take more responsibility for themselves, and technically, attorneys are supposed to serve as the gatekeepers to keep out frivolous lawsuits. Sadly, we do not live in that world. Haimo Law’s slogan, “Strategic Planning With Purpose”, is appropriate considering one of our main objectives is to help you insulate and isolate your family and business assets to shield them from pestering creditors that are looking for [deep] pockets. To use a sports analogy, I call it playing defense, and every sports enthusiast knows that good defense leads to offense.
After a long introduction, let me tell you a little about myself. I have always been a techy even from a young age. I lived to discover how things worked. Electronics came easy to me, and I could always figure them out. In a world with a million attention distractors at any given moment, I’ve always focused my attention on computers and business. Naturally, I’ve consistently focused on the intricacies of how they work. They fascinate me so it’s unsurprising that I earned a bachelors of science in computer information science from the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida. I realized it was a no-brainer to become an attorney given how digital our world was becoming, my thirst for knowledge about how things work and my knack for argument. I’m one of the few people who actually enjoyed law school. I appreciated what I would call an extremely comprehensive introduction to the different areas of law. I studied every business law class possible and my hunger to learn led me to obtain a masters of law in taxation with a concentration in wealth transfer planning from New York Law School in Manhattan.
Along my journey, I worked at a securities arbitration firm where I was fortunate enough to contribute to a publication in the PIABA Bar Journal that was subsequently entered into the congressional record. I have also worked at two boutique estate and business planning firms in south Florida and the corporate tax department at Deutsche Bank on Wall Street.
I chose estate planning because it’s very intricate, deals with family and business and is extremely rewarding. My goal is to help families plan ahead before the problems and complications arise. Examples of these problems range from probate administration to dealing with mental incapacity via illness or injury (i.e. Alzheimer’s and dementia). I list probate as a problem because it’s largely unnecessary and wasteful. The same could be said for harm caused by failing to plan ahead for incapacity. In this regard, unfortunately, too often people are taken advantage of by other family members. It usually happens in the context of elderly parents or grandparents, and leads to claims to stop or repair the damage. I try to help prevent property being inherited by people that clients wouldn’t in a million years want inheriting; a result that occurs when the state chooses your heirs for you – usually because of failure to plan or defective planning documents. Even families on good terms can experience unnecessary conflict because of a failure to plan. Some families decided to leave property to their children to sort out later, and it often results in needless fighting.
Another problem deals with the heart of family. Critical to every parent is deciding on custody of minor children in that god-forbid unlikely event that both parents predecease the child. In addition, you want to protect the children’s interest in the property from themselves, if financially irresponsible, and from their existing and future creditors; a point that often gets overlooked. It goes almost without saying that asset protection fits nice into estate planning given creditor’s easy accessibility to beneficiaries interests in their inheritance if a careful plan is not crafted and drafted well. By this I mean a poor or defective plan or making gifts outright. Additionally, subsequent remarriages create huge uncertainty given the risk of assets being squandered and/or leaving the bloodline. Last but certainly not least, while progress is being made, the LGBT community unfortunately does not enjoy the same legal rights as others. Therefore, extra planning has to be done to level the playing field as much as possible. Essentially, estate planning touches just about everyone; if not you or your family, then certainly someone you know and care about.
Conversely, business planning would appear to be a different animal than estate planning, but there is in fact a huge overlap. In our capitalist society, it should be unsurprising how many people own their own businesses or possess an interest in a business. Business interests are part of your estate for a variety of reasons; mainly, in terms of how they are handled in the event of incapacity, pass to family upon death and can be protected from creditors via asset protection techniques. Your business entity likely will survive your death, but it’s still an interest that has to be passed on to someone just like your other assets do. That’s why business interests are commonly owned by trusts. They make the transition to the next generation smooth and seamless, both financially and emotionally.
It goes without saying that protecting your business interests ranks highly for most business owners. Most people erroneously assume this only means protecting the business from creditors of the business (aka inside creditors). This can be achieved by complying with state law, conducting legitimate operations and executing legal agreements with vendors and employees. Incidentally, inside creditors are not the only creditors to protect against. In fact, quite overlooked by nonattorneys and other professionals is the vulnerability of your business interest in some business formations. A creditor may emerge from your peripheral vision and swoop in and take your baby away from you – game over – leaving you without recourse and your partners with a stranger as their new business partner. If it’s a controlling interest then your business is as good as gone. This type of planning is not for everyone because it is accompanied by slightly higher income tax rates. However, as a fellow entrepreneur, there’s a significant emotional attachment to your business that’s worth sacrificing to enjoy a huge asset protection benefit.
Unfortunately, while our legal system is the best in the world, it’s not perfect. Sadly, all too often people are blindsided by unjust and surprising remedies of their creditors, scratching their wounded heads wondering how it could have been prevented. The laws exist to be fair and just, but lots of people don’t know the favorable ones. What can be done for you is not new, it’s just not widely known. It is for this reason that I derive great satisfaction from leveling the playing field by applying the nuances of asset protection and estate and business planning to protecting your business – and more importantly your family – from these problems and surprises.
To shift gears, on a personal level, I enjoy remaining physically fit and playing sports. I like basketball, football, tennis and sailing. My favorite athlete is LaBron James for two reasons: first, he is arguably one of the best, most versatile, well-rounded and intelligent basketball players to ever play the game, and possibly the best I’ll ever see in my life. He’s remarkably articulate and seemingly a phenomenal business man. I appreciate every minute I watch him play. He also seems like a genuinely good person, often doing benevolent and charitable things when no cameras are around. He’s one of the few famous people I’d really like to meet.
On a very different note, I also love finance and investing. Reading about Warren Buffet’s history and investing strategy is captivating. Naturally, I love entrepreneurship too, and I follow many successful entrepreneurs to hear their stories and learn as much as I can from their experiences.
I consider myself fairly well traveled, having explored Eastern and Western Europe on three occasions. My favorite place I have ever traveled is Italy, specifically Rome. I also enjoyed Paris and Prague. The most interesting and unusual place I visited was in L’viv, Ukraine.
A relevant personal characteristic of mine is that I keep up with technology and I am consistently enthralled with its advancements. I am especially interested in the corresponding advancements in estate an business planning practices, which unfortunately lag behind technology. The lagging creates deficiencies that have very real consequences to you and your family, which I am trying to help prevent. My background helps. I am diligent and dependable, compassionate and personable and innovative and professional.
Lastly, I am very blessed to have a close family. We see each other frequently, and I enjoy our time together. I especially enjoy watching my niece and nephew grow up.
There you have it. What do an attorney, business and computer science have in common? A techy estate and business planning attorney who’s primary goal is to help you plan and protect your family and business for generations and play excellent defense.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
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