Israel Sands, Esq.
Wills, Trusts, and Probate Attorney
This month I am honored to feature Wills, Trusts, and Probate attorney, Israel Sands for our SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW.
Israel, thank you for taking the time to sit with us. What is it you like most about your practice? Thanks for having me. I love to help people, to explain things to them, and to solve their issues. I am an older sibling. Studies have shown a strong correlation between being an estate planning practitioner and being an older sibling, because we are the “responsible ones”, we are used to looking after everybody. I remember my joy when an older Cuban lady who on her way out sighed and said, “One walks out of here feeling so much better than when one arrives!”
Don’t you get tired of doing the same thing every day? In spite of the fact that my practice is limited to wills, trusts, and probate, my work is not repetitious. Most days I work in English, Spanish, and French, even if it’s a few calls or emails in each language. I have clients of varying ages and economic situations. The art of what I do is designing estate plans that respond to the singular situation of each client.
Where is your office? My office is in South Beach, with easy parking, but I usually meet clients in my home in Coconut Grove, which is more central for most people. I am also happy to meet clients at their home or office, or the office of a referring attorney: wherever the clients feel most comfortable.
Is there a part of your job that you dislike? I dislike keeping track of my time. Keeping track of my time has zero creativity and zero human element. Most of my work is done on a flat fee basis, which avoids my keeping track of time, and encourages a client to communicate with me as often as necessary to arrive at an optimal result.
Is there any relationship between immigration law and your practice? Absolutely, if the client is high net worth. A US resident or citizen must pay gift and estate taxes on transfers of all worldwide assets, so there is the opportunity to avoid this by transferring non-US assets before establishing US residency. Also, if there are some future heirs who are US residents and some who aren’t, a good estate plan gives foreign assets to the non-US residents to avoid future gift and estate taxes. Also, there are strategies to avoid estate and gift taxes (which are 40%) on US property for non-residents.
What is probate and why do people always want to avoid it? Probate is the judicially supervised transfer of assets that a person owns at their death. It costs upward of $5,000 in Florida and takes upward of 6 months. It can be avoided by doing an estate plan which structures assets so that everything passes outside of probate: that is to say, everything the person owns passes to the heirs automatically at death, or through a trust. In the international arena with assets and heirs in more than one country, probate becomes more expensive and complicated.
Do you like probate better, or estate planning? Estate planning is more creative and process-driven, like writing a short story. Probate is more formulaic and results-driven, like solving a puzzle. For me a good day includes both.
If you won the lottery would you keep working if you didn’t have to? Yes, but it would be an even more focused practice. I would buy a stateroom on The World, the exclusive cruise ship that constantly navigates the entire globe, and I would do estate planning just for fellow passengers.
ISRAEL SANDS, J.D. LL.M.
Wills, Trusts, and Probate Law
Rated AV Martindale Hubbell (highest rating)
1210 Washington Avenue, #245
Miami Beach, FL 33133 (305) 951.3333
Thank you, Israel, for sharing your knowledge with our subscribers. This is Elina signing off until next month’s spotlight interview. Have a great month!