Napa Valley’s new law firm opened its doors at the beginning of New Year with the partnership of attorneys, Mike Manfred and Lori Hunt.
Manfred & Hunt, LLP is solely dedicated to estate planning, trust administration and probate, said a news release.
The firm offers estate planning services, from basic wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney for finance, advance health care directives, trust and probate administration, and other advanced trusts.
Manfred explained his path to small business ownership.
“I knew I didn’t want to work for a big law firm when I graduated from law school and work the required billable hours,” he said. “If I took that route I thought the practice of law would be more about billing hours than helping the client. Instead, I took a job Deloitte and Touche in Los Angeles to greater enhance my knowledge of taxation.”
Manfred is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law as designated by the State Bar of California board of legal specialization and holds an undergraduate degree in Economics and Fine Arts from Vanderbilt University. He attended the University of Southern California, graduating with both a Juris Doctor and a Master of Business Taxation in 2001.
“After nearly a year at Deloitte, I saw an ad for an estate planning (a practice area typically hard for a new attorney to break into) position at Gaw Van Male in Napa and came north,” said Manfred. He was there for 12 years.
While at Gaw Van Male, he became a member of the board of directors and the head of the trust administration department.
Unlike Manfred, Lori Hunt began her legal career at Gaw Van Male in 1985 as a legal secretary specializing in estate planning.
After 13 years, Hunt went to night school to earn her degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. While continuing to work full-time as an estate planning legal secretary, she attended law school part-time at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law where she earned her Juris Doctor in 2004, graduating with honors.
“When I started practicing law, the attorney I worked with commented that I had more experience than any beginning practitioner because I had already been doing estate planning for nearly 20 years,” Hunt said.
“And because of that extended experience at a multi-practice firm, I had already done work for thousands of clients—that’s an invaluable asset in an area of law that changes so much and so often.”
While at Gaw Van Male, she became a member of the board of directors and the head of the estate planning department.
“The philosophy at our firm stems from our desire to be of help,” said Manfred. “We want to help individuals and families accomplish their estate planning goals by providing clear explanations, professional insight and detailed knowledge of federal and state tax laws,” she said.
“Our goal is to make the complex nuances of estate planning, trust administration, and probate simple to understand. We understand that this process is often brand new to clients and we strive to explain it in a way that is clear and concise.”
Always a “numbers guy,” Manfred said he was inspired to pursue a legal career in estate planning and business taxation after witnessing the devastating effects surrounding the death of his grandfather.
After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, the family had to scramble to help him put an estate plan in place. Manfred said he hopes to help other families plan their estates prior to being faced with the need to do so in a rush while facing a family emergency.
“I became an attorney because I wanted to help people,” said Hunt. “My mission has always been to help my clients in achieving their goals. Whether that means working until midnight to get an estate plan done for someone very ill and rushing to the hospital the next day, or helping families settle their parents’ estate with the least amount of squabbling, my job is to give my clients peace of mind and I try my very best to do that on a daily basis.”