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Strazzeri Mancini LLP. Care to Know: An Innovative Business Model and Culture

“We believe traditional planning can inadvertently narrow planning conversations too quickly. It’s a slippery slope in which the formulation of the problem—the power of the questioning phase—has become a lost art,” says Joe Strazzeri, principal of the law firm of Strazzeri Mancini, LLP.

The firm has two principals, Joseph J. Strazzeri and Stephen J. Mancini, an associate attorney, Cody J. Parks, and attorney Ryan Alexeev, who is Of Counsel. Nathalie Fairfax acts as project coordinator, and Shelley Lightfoot is the executive director.
Strazzeri Mancini LLP is one of four companies in the Care to Know™ Family of Resources dedicated to serving specific niches in estate and business planning. California Estate and Elder Law LLP is a law firm focusing on planning for potential disability and estate planning, probate and trust settlement, based on the belief that legal documents should be the outcome of a great planning process that preserves family relationships as well as family assets. The Southern California Institute is a Thought Leader Community providing resources, education and advice via collaborative think tanks, events, programs, online content and introductions. The Founders Group leads business owners through all phases of transition, where increased clarity, net cash flow, and market value expands and solidifies choices for business transition: keep and grow, sell, or plan for succession.
This Family of Resources creates a truly innovative business model and culture, one that effectively meets clients’ many and varied needs over their lifetimes. Curiosity drives all the attorneys, advisors, clients and teams who work with the four companies to think creatively to solve problems, which leads to deep empathy for clients’ situations.

Care to Know™ Planning
Business owners and families too often attempt to focus their wealth strategy planning on a plan before conducting sufficient research and contemplation on the true nature of the challenges and opportunities that will arise in the future. This approach can narrow planning conversations and clients wind up with a solution that doesn’t solve their full and true problem, rather, a solution that Band-Aids a symptom. In both scenarios, the problem will present again in the future. That’s why the firm developed the model called Care to Know™. Families often come with a point of pain they want to address. However, the point of awareness rarely speaks to the full spectrum of the issue. To design the best outcome, attorneys need to learn what’s happening to the left and right of the symptoms.
“Families, individuals, and organizations come to us when they’re in pain—there’s something that not only must be addressed immediately, but properly, efficiently, and in a way that continues to work as designed over time. That’s where our Care to Know™ Planning excels,” says Mancini.
“A lot of wealth advisors stop when they have gathered 50 to 70 percent of the information they need to proceed with the case because at that point the clients generally start pushing back. The advisors give in because they know they can dip into their usual inventory of solutions. We aren’t satisfied with that. We go well past that line so that we have all the information we need to develop the very best solution to their challenges. We call it getting to the last ten percent,” says Lightfoot. One of the real benefits of the Strazzeri Mancini approach is that it allows clients a place to think rather than to act precipitously without planning and coordination of efforts. Creating that place allows clients to focus and then provide their advisory team with that essential last ten percent of crucial information.
By combining legal, financial, tax, philanthropic and business matters into a unified plan, Strazzeri Mancini can: increase control over affairs; assure the continuance of lifestyle and the protection of assets; pass values and work ethic to heirs; substantially reduce excise, gift, estate, income and generation-skipping taxes; manage the value of business interests; and keep affairs free from publicity and the costs and delay of probate.
Curiosity, however, is the driving force throughout the process of working with the client and the client’s advisors. And that curiosity fuels the drive toward Care to Know™ Planning.

Care to Know™ Planning Process—Review, Design, Implementation and Maintenance
The process is three separate levels of engagement: Review, Design, and Implementation. A fourth level of engagement is Maintenance.
The Review phase of the process involves initial contact from a potential client/advisor and an Introductory Meeting is scheduled. If all parties wish to proceed, the next step is the Review Engagement.
The Review Engagement includes:
• Gathering the Estate – collecting all the client’s personal, legal, tax and financial information;
• Evaluation – Evaluating all the information gathered; and
• A one- or two-day Initial Visit/Retreat to get to know the clients better, understand their concerns, hopes, and personal, family, and business goals.
The Design Engagement involves:
• The firm, and the client’s other advisors working together to formulate a Design Plan containing design fees, deadlines, and responsibilities of all parties; and
• Presentation of the Preliminary Plan to the clients for their input and approval. It is explained in detail, and, if necessary, revised and refined. Fees, realistic and measurable benchmarks, and timelines are discussed.

The Implementation Engagement:
• Implementation of the Plan specifics may involve work in multiple disciplines: legal, financial, tax, accounting, insurance, and so on. Appropriate advisors agree to carry out their part of the plan and the client gets status updates on the implementation progress.

Maintenance—The FamilyCounselor™ Program
Most families aren’t aware that planning strategies are dynamic in their own right. In fact, most estate and business planning messes arise from a lack of methodology and accountability for continuous management.
Obvious changes, such as family events and dynamics, will impact the existing planning. Also, changes in the financial markets, legal landscape, and tax code will cause the planning to shift. With a careful eye, these shifts can be tended to without devastating the planning.
The FamilyCounselor™ Program is a formal annual program that provides substance and process to maintaining a wealth strategies plan. Every year there are four meetings:
The Initial Visit Retreat:
• Meeting to listen, ask questions, and gain a current understanding of current concerns and desired outcomes. Chart the preliminary course of the FamilyCounselor™ Program meetings for the coming year. Family or Team Tactical Planning Session
• A tactical planning session, utilizing the “Nine Key Business or Family Questions” exploring legal, financial, tax, and family developments. Identification of areas of misalignment and alignment.
• Where concerns exist, we seek clarity of the problem and possible solutions that may not have been obvious before and allow for recalibration as things may change.
• Development of current year’s potential Enhancement Initiatives (specific projects to address concerns or create new methods) to be assigned to the appropriate advisors and team members with timelines and responsibilities.
Advisor Update Meeting
• Benchmarking and monitoring the plan and goals, keeping in mind end-of-year tax planning and current asset and estate values. Meeting with client and collaborative advisor team to discuss and understand the status and progress regarding client’s legal, financial, and tax situation, organized by advisor and associated enhancement initiatives.
Confirmation/Family Meeting
• To review and address the Implementation Details, Exception Reports, and Remaining Questions. Where appropriate we discuss the upcoming year.
Care to Know™ Planning and Maintenance serves families and business owners at two layers. First, it helps their existing trusted advisors expand the landscape of perspective to include disciplines and strategies outside of their core practice areas. Secondly, it allows families to see the complete breadth of their opportunities and challenges, thereby finding the magic and nuance in “The Last Ten Percent.”

Care to Know™ Coaching and Partnering
Through Strazzeri and Mancini’s teaching and leadership at the Southern California Institute, The Laureate Center for Wealth Advisors, WealthCounsel®, and other national collaborative wealth planning platforms, the attorneys at Strazzeri Mancini LLP have not only practiced collaborative planning, implementation, and maintenance at these levels, but are also instructors on how-the-rubber-meets-the-road to attorneys, financial advisors, accountants, insurance professionals, bankers, and other wealth advisory professionals.
The Business and Wealth Planning Strategies taught through the above mentioned organizations may be used to plan for successful families and business owners to help them: maintain control over their affairs; assure lifestyle/ tax-free conversion of paper profits; add protection from lawsuits and judgements; employ income tax reductions; manage the value of the family business; pass value and responsibility to family members; benefit from federal gift and estate tax reductions; and protect from administrative expense and delay.
In accordance with the We-Driven Mindset (the art and science of how people work together to ask broader questions and create better outcomes) mentored at the Southern California Institute, Strazzeri Mancini often formally engages other advisors to collaboratively serve clients. Where appropriate, the client engages Strazzeri Mancini directly and in turn, with disclosure, the law firm engages the attorney, advisor, or consultant collaborative advisor. In doing so, the firm creates a completely open exchange of information among the family and all advisors; protects the other collaborative advisors’ work product as attorney client privileged; and compensates the collaborative advisors.

Partners and Best Friends
Care to Know™ Planning was developed from experiences gathered not only in the legal arena, but also from the corporate world at large.
Before becoming an attorney for affluent clients, Joseph J. Strazzeri developed an in-depth awareness of the business world as a general contractor, land developer, and business owner—a rare combination of skill and experience. While he takes on numerous roles in his everyday work, the common denominator that underlies all his efforts is this ‘We-Driven’ mindset, in which collaboration itself is a craft. This drives how he works with others—courageously arming clients with the right questions and resources. Strazzeri brings an exceptional ability to shed clarity on the issues at hand and reach insights that offer illuminating resolutions.
Stephen J. Mancini is a Certified Specialist in wills, trusts, and probate by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He is a former retail business owner. He has more than 37 years of experience as an attorney, and provides a unique perspective for advising business owners, families, and their wealth advisors. Mancini’s practice focuses on educating families, business owners and wealth advisors to find the answer to “what is next” for their future wealth needs. A guiding principle of his approach is to ensure that the clients’ assets are fully protected throughout the processes implemented by the firm.
Strazzeri and Mancini are not only business partners but also best friends. When they are not working, you’ll find them spending precious time with their families in Hawaii, hosting gatherings, engaging in spirited conversations, and tooling around the azure waters of Mission Bay. Or they may be deep in the wild Wyoming back country, fly fishing hip deep in swirling river waters. Strazzeri Mancini and the three other companies in their Family of Resources are dedicated practitioners of collaborative planning and implementation, and maintenance of estate planning programs designed to meet the most complex needs of affluent clients. The relationships built are true partnerships with the business or family, family members, and the attorneys, financial advisors, accountants, insurance professionals, bankers and other wealth advisory professionals. “At the end of the day, we protect families, assets and relationships. Our Care to Know™ model celebrates the inherent magic of nuance that exists between individuals as they navigate life and business. We design plans that are simple, elegant and understandable. Then, we help you implement. Your plan will be reflective of you and your important life principles; an imprint of your greatest clarity and most authentic self,” says Strazzeri.

Strazzeri Mancini, LLP
3636 Nobel Drive, Suite 450
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 200-1900

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