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Home / people / Trusts & Estates honoree profile Karen Schaefer

Karen SchaeferKaren Schaefer

Partner and Co-Chair of Trusts & Estates practice area, Barclay Damon LLP

Years in current role: 35 years

What are your expectations for the rest of this year?

As has been true for most of my years of practice, starting during the early fall, clients gear up to address their business succession and estate plans. It’s typical during the bustle of the everyday, to address short-term matters and put aside the more strategic planning issues. Ignoring long-term planning matters, in the end, will haunt you with worry and can cost enormous amounts of money (taxes, dispute costs, lost opportunities) as well as result in languishing relationships. By addressing these planning issues upfront, we develop a long-term foundation for the daily tasks that will make you the most productive and provide the most reward, whether in growing and nurturing your businesses and financial resources, as well as your families and relationships.

What advice would you give someone starting a trusts and estates practice right now?

In addition to mastering foundational technical skills including drafting, quantitative reasoning, trusts and estates, tax and business law, it is critical to set up systems to gather the necessary financial and personal information, and to efficiently produce documents and other action items, so that the bulk of your time can be spent listening to your clients and creatively developing customized solutions to meet your clients’ goals and objectives. The real value that we bring to our clients lies in our thinking through their goals and perceived obstacles and working closely with them and their team of advisors to provide effective solutions that truly make a difference.

What is one personal goal you have for the next year?

To continue to build our Barclay Damon team of lawyers across our platform to provide exceptional estate, trust and business succession planning services in the numerous niche practice areas our clients need: Estate and wealth planning with tax focus for high net worth families; business exit strategies and other business succession planning for business owners or successors; Medicaid and elder care planning; asset protection planning; special needs and disability planning; administration of trusts and estates; and litigation of trust and estate disputes. Our success is routed in the breadth of our T&E practice, but most importantly, in our relentless commitment to deepening each niche practice and providing practical and constructive solutions to our clients.

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