Attorney Molly Sullivan is a graduate of Newcomb College, the University of New Orleans, and Tulane Law School. She serves on the Board of Families Helping Families of Southeast Louisiana. She is a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners and a 2008 graduate of Louisiana Partners in Policymaking.
Who We Are
My clients are families with a lot going on. They’re juggling work along with their kids’ swim team practice, doctor’s appointments, ABA and art therapy. They might have three kids enrolled in three different schools, and a fourth being homeschooled because they haven’t found one that met his needs. Some of my clients also have aging parents with another set of issues. All of my clients have different family and financial situations. The common element I see from everyone is that they want to make sure their kids – and other loved ones – will be taken care of, no matter what.
What We Do
I can’t talk about who I am as a lawyer without talking about who I am as a parent. My daughter was born very early and very small. She spent many months in the NICU, where my husband and I visited every day and wondered how our previously normal lives had taken this dramatic turn. When she was finally discharged from the hospital, she came home with enough gear and equipment to stock a small infirmary.
The first time we left the house as a family was to take the baby to a doctor’s appointment at a big hospital downtown. Going anywhere with her was like preparing for the invasion at Normandy. In addition to the baby in the stroller, we had a heart monitor, oxygen tank, pulse ox, feeding tube, diaper bag and God only knows else packed into bags, cart and stroller.
I remember clearly maneuvering all this gear from the parking garage into the hospital and standing in front the elevators waiting for one that we could fit into. Every time the doors opened, people around us would rush in, leaving no room for a small family with a lot of equipment and anxiety carried between us. They meant us no ill, of course. They were at the hospital with their own places to go and just weren’t looking out for a very small baby and her entourage.
We probably spent ten minutes in that lobby, watching elevator after elevator come and go and realizing – nobody else is going to look out for us. We were going to have to figure this out ourselves. As parents, it was our job to make sure there would be a space for our child – in the elevator, in the school, in the community.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to go into law so that I could advocate for my daughter and for other families like ours. I studied estate planning and learned that rather than being dry and depressing, it is actually a fascinating area of law that allows me to build great relationships with my clients. I’ve learned that many families don’t know how important it is to have a plan in place for their kids and their future. I want to help them feel confident and empowered by their plans.
Traditionally, the job of the estate planning attorney was to minimize that tax burden of passing wealth from one generation to the next. In the past, taxes on inherited wealth could be a burden on survivors. Part of my job is to stay up to date on those laws, and on legal techniques that can minimize an individual’s estate tax burden. That is not, however, what I consider to be the most important part of estate planning.
Generally, I don’t find most people are all that concerned with dividing up their assets – saying who should get the car and who should get the china. What people care the most about is who is going to get the KIDS, and how will they be taken care of. Even if the kids are grown, parents worry whether are they ready for financial independence, or if they might need some extra help.
Special Needs Planning
Many of the families I work with have someone they care for who might always need extra help. As a parent of a child with disabilities, I know how scary it is to think about what would happen if I were gone. I can’t live forever. What I CAN do is put a plan in place to make sure the resources are there to meet her needs, and I can put the right people in charge of her care.
Where We’re Going
My goal as an attorney is to make plans to fit the family, not the other way around. First, I don’t charge an hourly rate to discourage my clients from emailing me questions. Second, I work on a flat fee basis so everybody knows what to expect. That fee will include drafts, revisions, and notarization of all your documents while we set up your estate plan. Third, I review your plan every three years to make sure your it still meets your needs.
Call or send a message to schedule a consultation today.