Cindy Clark, JD, CFP®
Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney
Hi there! I’m so glad you stopped by.
This will be the only place on the website where I’ll talk about myself. I don’t know about you, but my eyes glaze over when reading the typical lawyer bio.
Blah, blah, blah…Yawn.
Yes, my professional background and qualifications are important, but not because they’ll dazzle you or other lawyers. They’re important because they’re what allows me to help you. So I’ll get to them in a bit.
By now, you’ve probably realized that I’m a bit more informal and unconventional than most estate & elder law attorneys. But I’m very passionate about what I do…
I help families get through some of the worst times of their lives.
Why I Became an Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney
I’ve been a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professional for over fourteen years. As a financial advisor, I often watched families implode due to the death or incapacity of a loved one. Basic legal documents were never created – or were out-of-date, lost, or ineffective.
Families had no plan to follow and were left to their own devices – which rarely resulted in good choices or family harmony.
I stood by helplessly as guardianship proceedings, lawsuits, nursing home costs, and taxes ate up the money that was supposed to go to a spouse, children, or grandchildren. I watched as family members with special needs lost valuable government benefits because they directly inherited a small amount of money. And I witnessed families being torn apart due to greedy spouses or differing opinions regarding Dad’s medical care.
Over the years, I discovered that most of my clients had no relationship with their estate planning lawyer. Estate planning was treated as if it were an item on a bucket list – been there, done that, on to the next.
Clients tucked their estate planning documents in a drawer or safe deposit box and forgot about them.
The estate planning & elder law attorney never called, and the lawyer’s business model (billing for every call, letter or email) discouraged the client from contacting the lawyer when things changed.
I knew there had to be a better way.
So I left the investment world, went to law school, and began practicing relationship-based estate planning and elder law in sunny Sarasota, Florida.
I’m a real person with real experiences – many probably similar to yours. The experiences I had prior to going to law school and becoming an estate planning & elder law attorney help me understand how life really works – not how some book says it should work.
I’m a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professional, so I thoroughly understand your investments, insurance, and retirement plans. I can explain them to you and talk to your financial advisor or insurance agent in his or her own language.
I worked in banks, so I understand how your banker thinks and works.
I’ve owned my own businesses, so I understand your concerns as a small business owner.
I have an accounting background, so I understand your tax issues.
I’m a military veteran, as well as the wife and mother of military veterans, so I understand what active duty military, veterans, and their families go through. I’m also a VA-Accredited attorney, so I can legally provide veterans and their families with advice about VA benefits.
I’m a mother, so I know that you worry about your kids – of any age. All the time.
I’m a daughter, so I understand your concerns about your aging parents.
My life in a nutshell
- Grew up in Franklin, MA.
- Enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school.
- Married Tim – now a retired Navy Chief.
- Raised three great kids: Michael, Shawn, and Leah.
- Moved up and down the east coast. A lot.
- Worked as necessary to make ends meet: waited on tables, worked retail, did some bookkeeping, sold Avon door-to-door, sold Fords on commission, and owned a licensed in-home day care center.
- Graduated from college. Worked, studied, and took care of the house and 3 kids while hubby was off bombing Saddam Hussein.
- Worked fifteen years in the investments industry – obtained the CFP®designation as well as several FINRA registrations and Life/Health/Variable Annuity insurance licenses.
- Graduated from law school. Recipient of an award for academic excellence in Trusts.
- Started my own law firm
Education and Credentials
(in case you’re pining for a more traditional lawyer bio)
- Stetson University College of Law
- Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, 2014
- Founder and Past President of the Stetson Law Solo & Small Firm Society
- Recipient of the Melvyn Trute, P.A. Trust Award
- Certified Financial Planner™ certification, 2004 (What does it mean to be a CFP® professional?)
- Old Dominion University, College of Business Administration and Management,
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting Major, Summa Cum Laude, 1995
- Tidewater Community College,
- Associate of Science in Business Administration and Management, Summa Cum Laude, 1992
- VA Accreditation, 2015
My husband, Tim, and I currently share our Bradenton home with 2 rescued black and white cats: Moose and Mouse, who are brother and sister.
I come from a big Italian/Irish family, I golf (very, very badly), scuba dive only in Bonaire, hunt for shark teeth in Englewood, and am suffering from Harley-Davidson withdrawal.
I enjoy collecting guns and killing paper targets at the range. I also recently discovered how much fun it is to throw sharp axes at wooden targets; we enjoy it so much that Tim built a target in our backyard!
Our family has grown and now includes our wonderful daughter-in-law, Katrina, and our adorable grandsons, Archer and Corbyn.
I love animals and always have at least one pet in my home. I’ve owned cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, turtles, a bunny, and birds/parrots.
One of my bucket list items? Visit Italy for at least 2 weeks. I’ve never been and we still have family in Avellino, near Naples.
Let’s get to know each other
It’s easy – it just starts with a friendly chat. Then we work together to help you create a roadmap for your loved ones so they won’t be wandering in the wilderness during one of the most difficult times of their lives. You – through the plan you provided for them – will be there to guide them.