Michael Jenkins is a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney. As a result of his own personal experiences, he understands the tremendous benefits of guiding his clients through the estate planning process as well as the probate process when necessary. In this interview, you will learn more about why Michael Jenkins is one of the best estate planning attorneys in the San Diego area.
What inspired you to become an estate planning attorney?
I actually never thought I would be an estate planning attorney. My grandmother and mother were both nurses, so naturally, I became a registered nurse as well! I loved helping people and the profession, but a different passion sparked at a difficult time in my life. I got that phone call that no one wants to get: “Your dad is in the ICU and you need to get here now”.
The following days were filled with the loss of my father unexpectedly, and unfortunately, without any sort of estate plan in place. I felt first-hand the effects on family when someone is ill and passes without a plan in place, and then compared that with how things could have been if a plan had been in place. That was the spark I needed to go down this route.
From that day I set out to open an Estate Planning Law Firm to help educate everyone on the need for a plan and try to ensure that no other family has to endure that legal heartache while grieving the loss of a loved one.
What makes you different from the other estate planning attorneys in the San Diego area?
While nursing and law are two very different professions, I’ve actually found that in both we help people through some of their most vulnerable times, so there have been some surprising cross over skills that I did not expect.
I may be an attorney now, but I look at every client like I did my patients and try to find a way to make their lives just a little easier while they’re under my care. Compassion doesn’t have to be unique to one profession, and bringing it to the practice of law has been extremely rewarding.
Combining compassion, humility, and a client-centered approach into our practice seems to have really set us apart from other attorneys.
What would you recommend to clients that are nervous or feel uncomfortable talking about estate planning?
I know talking about these concepts can be anxiety-producing for some. When you’re thinking about the overall concepts without guidance, it can certainly be overwhelming. We’ve found that when we guide our clients through the process, we help shoulder some of the nerves and make it as easy as possible.
You’d be surprised how many times we hear, “well that was easier than I thought” throughout the day. When you have a professional that can help guide you through piece by piece, focus on what really matters, and answer any questions that come up along the way, the estate planning process does not have to feel overwhelming at all.
What do you like to do when you aren’t in the office?
We have three little girls at home, so anytime we’re not in the office we’re with them taking on whatever adventure comes up that day. Living in San Diego, our options seem to be endless, but beach days and pool days seem to bring the most joy to our girls at the moment.
What is your favorite thing about being an estate planning attorney?
The most rewarding thing for me is knowing that we’re putting together a plan that’s going to remove so much turmoil from the lives of our client’s children when the time comes. Knowing first-hand what the process can be when a plan isn’t in place, it’s nice to know that when we get that dreaded phone call from the kids, we can at very least tell them to focus on grieving and being with family and not to worry about the estate.
Did you have a favorite subject when you were in school? If so, what was it?
Funny enough, I was always a science mind going through school. Biology and A&P were probably some of my favorites up through undergrad when I had my nursing hat on. In law school I knew I wanted to be an estate planning attorney in San Diego, so I probably paid the most attention in those classes and electives, but criminal law was probably one of my overall favorites. I don’t think I could practice in the area personally, but it was interesting learning about it nonetheless!
What was your most memorable estate planning case?
We had a client referred over to us by another estate planning firm in San Diego because they couldn’t meet the client’s timeline. The client was terminally ill and not doing well, but wanted to get a plan in place. If they couldn’t get help they were just going to put the kids on the title of everything to avoid probate.
We took the case on last minute heading into the weekend, and counseled the client that placing kids on title while alive would be a suboptimal solution as the kids would be forced to pay massive capital gains taxes with that plan. We were able to meet the client on the weekend, get an entire estate plan drafted and over for review, and then actually sign the finalized documents Monday morning – including funding the trust.
The client passed away within a couple of days of signing, and the entire estate administration went as smoothly as could possibly be. The whole case went from chaos and fear and a plan that would inadvertently force the kids to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital gains taxes, to calm, order, and an optimized plan that avoided all taxes for the kids upon inheritance. In truth this is how most of our cases go, this one just stands out because of how compressed everything was. We were honored to be able to set up a plan for the client and give them some final peace of mind, and then assist the kids with a smooth administration when the time was right for them.
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Testimonial from Karen, Satisfied Estate Planning Client of Michael Jenkins
We worked with Michael Jenkins on an amendment to our Trust. Michael reviewed the trust, worked with us on the items we needed to change and then created the amendment. He patiently answered our questions and explained some of the complicated legalese. If you are looking for a firm to handle your trust, we highly recommend them. We have already recommended Jenkins & Jenkins to other family members and will definitely tell our friends.