We started working together after Loren obtained her M.B.A. from U.S.C. and left investment banking. Frank’s estate planning practice was growing and he needed help with probate cases and business systems planning. We both thought it would only be for a short time. The office was near Las Lomas High School where our kids would eventually land. Working together seemed like a good way for both of us to balance careers and parenting.
Combining the excitement of a start-up and the anxiety of what it might mean to work together, we sketched out a plan for Loren to have her own role in the law firm, using her skills and background to best use.
Loren: I started out trying to bring the “Big Business” ideas I had studied in business school to Frank’s boutique, personal-service firm. Wrong approach. Eventually, I learned to embrace the joy in helping individuals with the wide variety of issues that surround planning for the transition of wealth to the next generation. After learning the craft, I was better able to build processes that worked in that firm’s culture.
Frank: As the business changed and grew, so did Loren’s role. At first, she worked on discrete projects and probate cases; then she took on the role of senior paralegal for probate, conservatorship, and trust administration practice. Then, as growth exploded, her role expanded to include managing cash flow and system improvements needed for a growing law firm.
Loren: Frank is a wonderful strategic thinker and he loves marketing (I used to tell him that discussing marketing was like having dessert; it was always added as the last item on any firm meeting agenda). When meeting with clients, he can quickly analyze legal situations and explain concepts so his clients can easily grasp them. Because Frank spends many hours speaking to various professional groups, we developed a system that enabled him to supervise, delegate, and keep doing what he enjoys most.
Frank: Loren’s skills are more focused on digging into a subject until she understands it completely and thoroughly. I tease her about being like “a racoon with a rock”, researching and examining a problem from all sides until she can develop a series of steps; a spreadsheet; a database; or, other tools to make the work more effective. I loved it because it gave me time to work on cases and to look for new opportunities.
Loren: Frank helped me develop an expertise in estates and trust by encouraging me to research and by allowing me to build an approach to this practice area. I helped him build his business by setting up systems that could be transferred to new staff and reduce costs. Together, we developed a set of values to build our business upon: Empathy, Expertise, and Effectiveness. Our entire team dedicated themselves to making sure that our clients would experience these values on every matter we touched. This legacy continues in his law practice and in my professional fiduciary firm.
Frank: As our children graduated from high school, Loren had a dream of starting her own business. She obtained her license as a professional fiduciary and now serves clients directly and with a team of professionals. I continue to practice as an estate planning, probate, and trust specialist with Acuña, Regli & Klein, LLP.
Loren: The children have moved on to college and careers and we are in a new season together. I am excited about the opportunity to explore my own directions; spread my wings and to use my education, financial background, and my years of experience working in my husband’s law firm. When we worked together in the same office, we would occasionally feel a little too close for comfort. However, we now miss the closeness and camaraderie we shared every day for ten years.
Frank: There is nothing like the level of trust you have in working with someone whose life, love and future are so intimately tied with your own.
Final Thoughts: We respect each other’s skills and abilities in a way that would not be possible if we had not worked together. We continue to support and encourage each other, but we also respect conflict of interest rules as well as a fiduciary’s duty of independent oversight as to professionals hired. Therefore, we each have our own office and find few, if any, opportunities to work together these days.
Loren R. Acuña, is a private fiduciary with The ACE Fiduciary Group. You can obtain more information about her skills and background at www.ACEfidcuiary.com or by contacting her at (925) 906- 1882, or by email at Loren@ACEfiduciary.com.
Frank R. Acuña, a partner with Acuña, Regli & Klein, LLP, is a State Bar of California certified specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration. He can be contacted at www.AcunaRegliKlein.com (925) 906-1880 or ohc@AcunaRegliKlein.com.
Filed Under: Spotlight