Many lawyers have multiple specialties that seem to go hand in hand. People often think of lawyers with dual specialties as having only one. Tax AND estate planning, medical malpractice AND personal injury, corporate AND securities are but a few examples that come immediately to mind. Let me add another natural combination of which I am one of a very few members; real estate AND probate.
When I mention this to people, I am often met with blank stares. Real estate law and probate law seem to go together like ice cream and bacon. But those who are lucky enough to accumulate capital and invest it generally invest in two types of assets, financial (stocks bonds etc.) and real estate. Those who don't understand real estate law, including how interests are commonly held and disposed of, are at a dramatic disadvantage when asserting claims over these types of assets in probate.
I know this from years of personal experience. For over thirty years I have helped clients buy, sell, develop, lease and finance commercial real estate. These activities naturally include analyzing, negotiating and structuring deals.
For the same period of time, largely due to my mother who was a probate judge, I have become involved in the administration and litigation of trust and estate matters (i.e. probate). The number of times in probate cases that I have used my real estate experience to my advantage is too large for me to count.
At the same time, I have also used my probate experience for the benefit of clients in the context of addressing real estate issues. Knowing how assets are dealt with in probate is often an important issue in advising clients how to structure their real estate interests.
So do you still think probate law and real estate law go hand in hand like ice cream and bacon? As a matter of fact, I was just in an ice cream shop that was promoting its bacon-flavored ice cream. The sample tasted great! Real Probate anyone?