“Being a competent lawyer requires you to observe what others can certainly see. However, being a valued and trusted family advisor requires you help families think about issues that are beyond the boundaries of traditional legal services.”
Roy Kozupsky, a widely respected practitioner, lecturer and generally acknowledged in the field as a thought leader, is a man on a mission. He believes it is time for change, time for the legal profession to embrace its principal responsibility of providing clients with comprehensive services more aligned with what a family needs.
After working in the trust and estate field for thirty years, his professional focus turned to legacy families ten years ago. These are families who are focused on their business enterprises and philanthropic passions, who want these to endure through the next generation of family members. As a trusted advisor for such legacy families, he provides legal services that are focused on their most cherished asset – the family itself.
“The families I represent derive much of their family identity from their business and charitable thinking. It has shaped them, and as such, aspects of their behavior, attitudes, values are factors that must be considered and weighed. These families need someone who can help them align their beliefs and values and then navigate the legal system. You could say that my role is similar to the rudder of the ship.
“There are certainly competent technical lawyers who work with families as estate planning counsel – mostly focused on tax planning. But the profession itself is not geared to focus on the non-tax and human aspects of wealth and how it impacts an entire family.”
How is your approach different?
“You simply cannot provide these families with the services they need if you do not take all aspects of these families into consideration. They want and deserve a service provider who deeply understands their values and goals, someone who is very familiar with family systems. Being a valued and trusted advisor requires you to help families think about issues that are beyond the boundaries of traditional legal services.”
This is a departure from the dominant practices in the field.
“My approach is born out of a deeper appreciation of what families need instead of what lawyers are selling.”
What are the principle lessons you have learned working so closely with these families? What are their main concerns?
“These families attribute very high value to transferring their business and financial assets in a way that does not cause conflict. Giving back to their community as part of their charitable planning is of great significance to them. They want to make a difference. In a nutshell, they want to ensure that they transfer their family’s values surrounding their wealth to their heirs.
“Legacy families seek to perpetuate their business enterprise, their philanthropic missions and their family values into future generations. Unfortunately, traditional legal estate planning does not address the critical needs and questions that can help them achieve these goals.”
You are deeply committed to improving the skill set of lawyers so that they can provide the holistic service these families need. You pass on your knowledge and inspire debate and continued development and insight.
“I have learned that it is time for me to give back to the legal profession to help other professionals understand this area of practice.”
He has devoted his work, writings and teaching to this new path in the legal industry. It has earned him enormous respect and recognition in the field. He has started a movement in a sector that is infamously slow to accept change, yet his passionate and intelligent approach has set the wheels into motion.
“You have to want to care.”
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