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January 2019

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Katie Charleston lawWhile these words of wisdom by Benjamin Franklin are nearly 300 years old, they are as true to today as they were when spoken by Franklin. However, many of us think we are simply too busy with our lives to do any planning until it’s simply too late. One of the most common reasons people fail to plan is because they either don’t know where to start or how to begin. If you fall into either of these categories, you should simply contact Katie Charleston, a local attorney with experience in helping people plan for the needs of their family or business.

Charleston was born and raised in Orange County, California. She and her family recently moved to Carmel after falling in love with the area while she accompanied her husband on a business trip to the area. Charleston is licensed to practice law in Nevada, California, Texas and Indiana.

Professionally, Charleston excelled in law school and received a law degree from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. After a short stint in the Ventura County District Attorney’s office, Charleston went in-house to be General Counsel for a construction-related business for eight years. As General Counsel, she stepped into a position where much of her time was spent managing the many lawsuits in which the company was unfortunately involved. In that position, Charleston saw firsthand what can happen if a business fails to plan properly.

While Charleston enjoyed working with the executives in the role of General Counsel, she always wanted to be the kind of lawyer that helped people. With that in mind, Charleston began concentrating her practice within the Wealth Management area that includes both business and estate planning.

As Charleston began doing more work in the area of estate planning, she discovered a book written by Alexis Martin Neely, “Wear Clean Underwear!” Neely’s book is described as an essential guide to legal planning for busy parents, and it has catapulted Neely into becoming one of the nation’s top advisors in the area of family financial planning. Neely’s book had a significant impact on Charleston, and as a result, she reached out to Neely. The two have become friends, and Neely has even become a mentor to help Charleston to develop her practice to a more relationship-based model as opposed to the traditional transactional model. Charleston feels so strongly in the importance of the message on family financial planning in Neely’s book that she offers a free copy to prospective clients through her website.

Most typical estate planners use a transactional-based relationship where the client contacts and then consults with the attorney who prepares the documents for a plan and charges an hourly rate for the services. In this scenario, chances are the client may never actually fund the plan or ever make any changes to the plan as laws change and life circumstances change.

In Charleston’s relationship-based practice, the contact between her and the client is not just a one-time experience. Charleston works hard to make it an ongoing relationship where the client is receiving regular communications from Charleston in the form of a regular newsletter and is also offered a complimentary review of their plan every three years. Charleston offers three different packages that each have a single flat fee rate from which a client can choose, depending on the level of planning that fits the needs of the client. In addition to the various legal documents, Charleston provides her clients an easy-to-understand color-coded chart to help them understand the structure behind the planning. Charleston offers plans that allow the client to reach out to her as many times as they like with questions at no additional charge.

In addition to family financial planning, Charleston also utilizes her knowledge and experience gained as former General Counsel to offer business planning services. While business planning and family financial planning might seem quite different, in most instances where the bulk of the family income and assets are derived from a family-owned business, the two are inextricably intertwined. Proper business planning helps assure that there are ample assets and sufficient cash to fund the family financial plan. Charleston is uniquely qualified to provide both the family and business plan advice.

For small and medium-sized businesses, Charleston offers companies a maintenance plan that provides an audit of the business’ legal, insurance, financial and tax systems. Where she sees holes in any of the areas of the business that need particular expertise, she can bring in other highly qualified professionals to advise the client. Just as in the area of family financial planning, Charleston works to provide a relationship-based connection with the business client. Depending on the stage of the business, start-up compared to mature, Charleston offers a package of planning services that match the needs of the business.

As we begin a new year, we naturally begin to think about the future and what it will bring. Without proper planning, thinking about that future can be, unnecessarily, pretty scary. As Charleston advises her clients, “Live for today, but plan for the future.” Contact Katie Charleston and together you can develop a plan that will let you look to the future, knowing you have done all you can do to protect your family or business.