Former teacher specializes in probate, estate planning

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
 
One of attorney Trevor Weston’s most memorable cases involved a $10 million trust “revoked” by a will serendipitously “found” by a distant cousin, not surprisingly to that cousin’s benefit.

Other cases include a probate related divorce sought by a stepchild against his stepmother on behalf of his incompetent father; engaging the police to evict “tenants” who had moved into an incompetent women's house to take advantage of her financially; and many clients who were duped into giving away money.   

Just par for the course for Weston, an attorney in Foster Swift’s Southfield office who focuses on estate planning, probate, and corporate matters.   

Weston, who has spent five years on the list of Michigan Super Lawyers “Rising Stars,” notes the biggest mistake people make regarding their estate planning is not doing it before they need it.    

“The issue that arises time and again in a probate setting is ‘Who has the authority to do something on behalf of a loved one,’” he explains. “The action might be something as simple as accessing a bank account to pay someone’s bills or something as complicated as terminating life support. The question is always, who can act for this person and when there is no planning, the answer is always, we have to go to court to get that authority. This is expensive, time consuming, and slow. Even simple planning can usually alleviate many of these issues.”

Weston’s original career path was to be a teacher or coach, and he draws on that background in helping clients.

“Much of my estate planning work involves teaching clients about somewhat complex or emotional decisions they need to make for their family,” he says. “I rely heavily on my teaching background to communicate the information they need in order to make these decisions in an efficient and effective manner.”   

After earning his undergraduate degree in political science from Hope College, Weston taught government at East Grand Rapids High School.

“While I enjoyed teaching, my curiosity got the best of me and I made the decision to go back to law school,” he says.

“MSU Law was great because the professors were so approachable and the courses were taught with an eye towards practicing law. In addition, it provided me the opportunity to meet my wife and live in East Lansing for a few years, which was a great experience.”

During law school, he clerked at a law firm in Troy.

“I drove a lot of miles back and forth over the last two years of school, but I was hopeful the experience I was getting and the relationships I was making would land me a job, which ultimately it did,” he says.

Weston launched his career with a firm specializing in civil litigation before hanging out his own shingle in Bloomfield Hills.   

“Solo practice was a great experience because it allowed me to practice in many areas of law initially and to help people who needed assistance, including friends and family and neighbors,” he says.
“That said, it was challenging at times to be on an island with only your own business flow to support yourself financially.”

In 2011, Weston teamed with Matt Fedor and Nic Camargo to form Fedor, Camargo & Weston PLC. The three are now colleagues at Foster Swift, where last year they launched an Elder Law blog, mielderlawblog.com, covering such topics as “Estate Planning Potholes,” and “How to Have ‘The Talk’ with Your Aging Parents.”

“We’re always looking for new ways to connect with clients,” Weston says. “We try to offer them valuable information which will make them think about some of the challenges they’re likely to face as they age. We want them to know we’re experts in the area of probate and estate planning and elder law and that we can help.”   

Although all three are graduates of Michigan State University College of Law, the trio didn’t meet until after law school.   

“Matt and I had a case we were both involved in and both being young attorneys with our own practices we would meet for lunch on occasion and compare notes,” he says. “We were at MSU over the course of nine consecutive years with no crossover. Stranger yet, all three of our wives are MSU law grads whom we met while at school in East Lansing.”

A member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Association, and Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, Weston was drawn to probate and estate planning by realizing this area of law will grow throughout the duration of his career.

“When I first started to practice I was doing insurance work and I saw how tight that market was—and didn't want to have to worry about whether there would be work available,” he explains.

“Based on the Baby Boomers’ ages and the transfer of wealth that will happen over the next 25 years, either through trusts or the probate process, I’m certain there will always be work to do.”   

Another facet of his practice is helping small business owners.

“I get to see and understand how they view their business through their own eyes,” he says. “I enjoy working with people who trust their counsel and are ready to make decisions that are right for both them and their family.”

Weston makes his home in West Bloomfield with his wife Sarah and daughters Lucy, 6, and Rosie, 4. He enjoys cooking BBQ, playing guitar, and playing golf. He also serves as an adjunct professor for Lawrence Technical University, and as a lecturer on probate issues for the National Business Institute.

"Teaching motivates me to stay on top of my game,” he says. “It requires me to re-learn the basics of what I do every day and revisit the law we apply in our practice, which I know benefits my overall practice.”

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