Leading With Passion: Hsaio Law
As a lawyer with a firm that specializes in family estate planning, Amy Hsiao believes in building relationships. “I used to work in a big law firm, where the traditional way of estate planning is providing a standard set of documents to clients,” says Hsiao. “I started my own firm because I wanted to give a personal touch. I want it to be about the client and their family.”
And her achievements since opening her own firm, Hsiao Law, show that her method works. Hsiao has been named Best of the Bar by San Diego Business Journal every year since 2015, is featured as a 2017 Super Lawyers Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine, and named to the list of Top Young Attorneys in 2015 and 2014 by the San Diego Daily Transcript.
What sets Hsiao’s firm apart from others is that personal touch, including family interview, an option provided in her most popular wealth-planning package. The family interview provides Hsiao insight on the family’s value system, expectations, what they want to leave for their children and more. This interview is the foundation of a long-term relationship between a client’s family members and Hsiao. “It’s that family and personal relationship that I really focus on,” she says. “Clients don’t have to jump through hoops to see me and get the assistance they need.”
Hsiao says a shocking 70 percent of people don’t do any estate planning. As an attorney, she has witnessed the debilitating effects that a lack of planning can have, which is why she works hard to help her clients avoid legal battles through proper estate planning, including a free, three-year review to ensure the plan is up-to-date. The review also helps Hsiao ensure that clients are continuing to put assets into their trusts correctly, noting that 80 percent of trusts fail because people do not realize they need to keep their trust updated.
A correctly executed trust can avoid probate, which is a legal process to move assets from a client’s name to an heir. Hsiao says there are three main reasons to avoid probate. The first is that it takes a minimum of 16-18 months, and assets are frozen during probate. Secondly, it is expensive. Transferring the deed for a house in probate accrues a 5 percent probate fee from the state. That means a $500,000 home would carry a $25,000 probate fee. And third, probate documents are public, which can be dangerous for minor children who will receive the assets when they turn 18. “There are people who wait outside courthouses and approach these youngsters in order to scam them out of their inheritance,” warns Hsiao. “Only a properly funded revocable living trust can avoid probate.”
As a mother of a young child, Hsiao knows first-hand many of the issues her clients face. A staggering 69 percent of parents have not named guardians for their minor children. Of the parents that have, she often sees mistakes in their existing plans, such as naming a couple instead of an individual. Additionally, many people simply name a guardian in their will not realizing that a will is only effective upon passing. But what happens if a child’s parents are in the hospital? Hsiao offers a Kid’s Protection Plan, comprising ten documents, including an emergency contact identity card that parents can put in their wallet with emergency instructions for caregivers or police.
From her yoga studio to area schools, Hsiao has become known in her communities as the go-to lawyer for young families because she is personable and passionate about her expertise. She hosts workshops all over San Diego to help educate others. “I went to law school because I wanted to help the community and make a difference,” says Hsiao. “This is the way I make a difference.”