Mommers & Colombo is a boutique firm geared towards serving the legal needs of its individual and small business clients. The firm focuses on matters in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration, Guardianship and Elder Law, Probate and Trust Litigation, including Appeals, Real Estate, Construction Law, Business Law, Municipal Law, and Civil Litigation and Appeals.
I opened my own, solo practice in February of 1998 and continued that until August 2002, when Joseph Colombo joined my practice. Since then, we have been practicing as Mommers & Colombo, Attorneys-At-Law.
Estate Planning Example:
I am always surprised by the misconceptions the public has about basic tenets of Estate Planning. For example, many people believe that having a Will avoids Probate. That is not the case. Many older folks often add their adult children to their bank accounts. They should never do that, because those children then have an ownership interest in the accounts. That means if the child causes a car accident, or gets divorced, the child's creditors can come after half of mom or dad's bank account. Not good. And now there are those websites that let you buy a Will or even a Trust form for a low, low price (cheaper than an attorney!). Attorneys love those websites, because the documents almost always get signed incorrectly, which causes more problems when the person dies (and lots more legal fees). When it comes to Estate Planning, it's ALWAYS a good idea to at least meet with an attorney and receive some free advice. Having an attorney prepare your Estate Planning documents means that the documents will get done right, will protect the client's interests, and will carry out the client's wishes when he or she passes away.
Trust Administration Example:
With Trusts having become popular in recent years, many older clients are doing Trusts. And if the Trust is properly funded (that means retitling assets in the name of the Trust), that means avoiding probate. However, many attorneys that help children with administration of their parent's Trust upon death are NOT familiar with The Florida Trust Code. Simply because there is no probate does NOT mean that nothing must be done. The new Florida Trust Code has very specific requirements that a Successor Trustee must fulfill, including notice requirements to beneficiaries, filing a Notice with the Courts, etc. Unfortunately, I have had to file numerous lawsuits in the past few years against Successor Trustees because they and their attorneys were not complying with the Florida Trust Code and simply not telling their siblings, for example, anything about their mom or dad's Trust. I help clients avoid this. The Successor Trustees that I represent are in compliance with law, get Trust administration done quickly and with minimal legal fees, and avoid litigation. Conversely, I help beneficiaries (that are not Successor Trustees) receive the information (and inheritances) that they are entitled to. Trust Administration really requires an attorney that specializes in this area of the law.
With our elderly population living longer each year, many families are left to care for a parent with dementia. Unfortunately, this often results in the family having to file a Guardianship case, which is very expensive not only in terms of legal fees, but in terms of court costs. The costs alone for a standard Guardianship usually approach $2,000. Guardianship CAN be avoided, via Estate Planning while the elderly person has their faculties. Documents such as Powers of Attorney, and beneficiary designations for assets, can help avoid Guardianship. Of course, if a Guardianship has to be done, I have extensive experience in that arena. I represent not only family members petitioning for Guardianships, but often represent elderly folks with dementia who need an attorney to represent them in a Guardianship case. I am sensitive to not only the needs of the incapacitated person, but to the emotions and family dynamics involved in seeking a Guardianship for the mom or dad.
2351 West Eau Gallie Boulevard
Melbourne FL 32935
I always offer a free initial consultation for potential clients interested in: estate planning, probate of an estate, assistance with trust administration, establishment of a guardianship, for up to one hour. For consultations concerning litigation or my taking over representation on an existing court case, the consultation charge is $150 for one hour.
Yes, most of my estate planning services are provided on a flat fee basis. See the Schedule of Fees attached hereto. My fee for reviewing a "Nolo Document Review" participant's documents depends upon whether he/she wants an in person meeting. An office conference always leads to many questions not related to the documents themselves, i.e. much broader questions about estate planning, taxes, etc. I charge $150 for an office conference of up to one hour. However, if the participant simply wants to mail me copies of his or her documents, have me review them, and then discuss them by telephone, I charge a $75 flat fee for this service.
$200 until December 31, 2009; $225 beginning January 1, 2010.
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Appointments available after 5:00 p.m. upon request.
Yes, I speak German. Joseph Colombo speaks French and Italian.
I really enjoy working with families, especially the elderly. I loved my grandparents tremendously while they were alive, and doing estate planning allows me to meet lots more "grandparents." Also, I enjoy the analytical aspect of estate planning, probate and trust administration. And guardianship cases allows me to help elderly (and young disabled) folks that really need help; someone needs to look out for them, and I help make sure that gets done.
I enjoy working with clients that are informed. It allows the client to better understand the process, and to better understand the advice and service that I am providing. After all, attorneys are in the service industry. It is our job to properly advise our clients but, ultimately, it is the client's case or transaction. If a client has some legal knowledge that he or she gained on their own, that makes my job easier. An informed client is better able to consider my advice and make a decision that he or she will be happy with.
I am always willing to review documents prepared by clients, so long as the client understands that I will charge a fee for doing so. Of course, even a nominal fee will make it worthwhile for the client to have an experienced attorney make sure that the client properly prepared the documents.
I will only consider coaching clients at the outset of a legal matter, for example, when a client is preparing to file a case in Small Claims Court. I am always happy to assist a client with commencing a legal action. However, once they are into a case, they should hire an attorney or go it on their own. In my experience, I have found that coaching clients throughout a legal action is fraught with pitfalls that ultimately will damage the client's case. I would end up spending more time (and billing more fees) trying to figure out what the client has done, rather than having done it myself for the client. It would be like a client calling his or her CPA from time to time with a few questions about Audit the IRS is doing of the client's tax returns.
In September, 1990, I became employed by the New York City firm of Tuchman, Katz, Schwartz, Gelles & Korngold as a Law Clerk. I worked continuously for that firm until taking the New York Bar Exam in July, 1994, which I passed (results came back in December, 1994). I continued working for them after sitting for the Bar Exam, and passing the New York Bar Exam. I continued with that firm after being admitted to the New York Bar, and until February, 1996, when I relocated to Brevard County, Florida. I sat for the Florida Bar Exam in February, 1996, which I passed. In April 1996 I became employed by the Melbourne, Brevard County law firm of Trachtman & Henderson, as an associate attorney. I worked in the areas of Personal Injury and General Civil Litigation. I left the firm in December, 1997 and opened my own practice in February, 1998.
Everything does. There is simply no better experience than the actual experience of practicing law. "Doing is learning." But my other life experiences have contributed to my formation as a lawyer, such as living overseas, speaking a foreign language, being on the Board of Directors for Brevard County Legal Aid for nearly a decade now, playing sports as a youth, and being married and having a family. And reading; I read a great deal outside of the office, i.e. non-lawyer stuff; that helps me see the bigger picture, beyond statutes and cases.
I'm personable and professional, but am tough in Court when it's called for. I'm pleasant but unyielding when it comes to Court cases. And, most importantly, I see the "big picture." Clients come to me for a specific purpose. I always focus on, "what does the client want to accomplish here?" Practicing law is not about just doing some work and getting paid for it. Lawyers MUST accomplish the GOAL that the client set out to meet.Personal interests:
Reading (fiction and non-fiction); music of all genres, especially live music; sports on the weekends, including some basketball.
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