[00:00:00] Taylor: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Tactical Startup. I’m your host, Taylor Darcy. Today we have on our podcast Viviana, Oropeza. She is the lead attorney for Attorney in Heels. She and I went to law school together. She does business and estate planning. We are excited to have her on because this is an area that many struggle as business owners. I wanted to have her on and help get an idea of what estate planning would mean for your business. Viviana, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Viviana: [00:00:40] Hello, I’m Viviana Oropeza, an attorney in heels, as Taylor just told you. And I do estate planning and business succession. Specifically, the business succession, I think, is what you’re talking about. What planning for businesses is, what it could do. And we do it [00:01:00] for anyone that has a business and wants to protect their legacies. And as far as our estate planning, we also do it for families. We’re here to serve.
Taylor: [00:01:09] What got you started?
Viviana: [00:01:12] What got me started. Okay. What got started was letting go of fear, right? That’s one of the biggest things when you’re going to launch for me right after passing the bar; I just knew it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to have a little bit of control over my life overall, and I knew I couldn’t afford to be sitting in an office for 60 hours a week with no access to my family and my kids. I just knew I needed a little more control, so I knew I had a launch on my own, so that’s how it got me started. There was an incubator program in our law school at California Western School of Law. The Access to Law Initiative was offering people who had just passed the bar the opportunity to launch. And that’s what I took advantage of.
Taylor: [00:01:57] So what was one of the things you struggled [00:02:00] with most when you started your law firm?
Viviana: [00:02:04] I think more than anything was finding my voice as far as how I wanted to promote myself. At first, you follow the template out there—the very corporate feeling, very conservative type of feel for a law firm. After a while, I realized that I needed a little bit of a twist. I needed something that helped people remember me and help people know what I do. And that I was different because after all, you want to help people if they don’t know who you are, and they don’t remember you can’t help them. I think finding my voice was a little bit of a; I guess a search.
Taylor: [00:02:45] I know the same feeling because when there’s a myriad of other voices out there, you must find not only your voice but a voice that resonates with others. why did you want to do estate planning? [00:03:00]
Viviana: [00:03:00] Estate planning felt natural. It was one of those areas of law that I had somewhat of a background on the finance side. I’ve had been an investment advisor in the past, and I had worked with families and businesses doing estate planning, but on the financial side, helping them fund their trust and set up their investments. Helping them set up the insurance is necessary to protect their legacies, and when I got into law, it just felt natural. It fit like a glove.
Moreover, I knew it gave me a little bit of an edge because I would see both sides of my clients’ entire transactions. I’d be able to see the numbers and the financials and the investments and the assets to go behind your legacy. But I would also be able to structure that legally for them, which was very natural for me.
Taylor: [00:03:51] It’s vital that you feel good in whatever capacity that you start. For me, it was my parents’ business. They were carpet cleaners. I resonate with [00:04:00] entrepreneurs in general. I resonate strongly with small businesses. Tell me a little bit about your background?
Viviana: [00:04:06] So my background’s a little bit similar to yours; we’re both numbers, people, and we’re lawyers. I do have an MBA in finance. My bachelor’s is in political science. I always envisioned going to law school. So that’s why I had my bachelor’s in political science. When I decided to go into finance, I put that on pause for a while but eventually got back to it. I was raised both in Mexico and here in the United States, I speak Spanish, and I can do that for my clients. I’m able to help Hispanic families set up their state planning and help them with their businesses. So is an added advantage of the multifaceted upbringing I had being raised in two countries.
Taylor: [00:04:46] Correct me if I’m wrong; estate planning, in general, is an issue because we’re talking about transitioning wealth from one generation to another. But how does the Hispanic community in relation to the non-Hispanic community with the estate [00:05:00] planning?
Viviana: [00:05:00] What would the estate planning? It’s a cultural thing. I would say the cultural limitations pushed people back away from trying to get into any estate planning. We’re brought up with a very restrictive mindset, that we’re just going to work, and try to see how we can get ahead from one day to the next, a lot of the time. And we don’t like to talk about death. It’s one of those things we avoid talking about. We don’t want to think about it. We don’t want to deal with it. And a lot of the times when you speak to Hispanic families, they joke, and they’re like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be dead anyway.” So, who cares? What happens? There’s a cultural barrier there to try to get the Hispanic community into estate planning. A lot of it also is that they don’t have access to the information they need to make educated decisions as far as their assets. So that’s one of the things I try to do; educate my community is what an asset is? What is probate? What is a steep on it? What’s the value of it? It’s not just me selling you expensive paperwork. It’s me saving you almost half of your [00:06:00] assets when you pass away.
Taylor: [00:06:01] It’s really about peace of mind.
Viviana: [00:06:03] Yeah, it’s also an emotional thing that people have to. Think about it. Which is one of the reasons why a lot of Hispanics they push off talking about it. They don’t want it to seem vulnerable. They don’t want to get to that place where they show their vulnerability when they’re trying to set it all up. it’s struggled
Taylor: [00:06:21] How have you been doing with COVID-19?
Viviana: [00:06:26] How I have been doing with COVID-19? My business has been fine. I often talk to people about sending up their estate plan is with COVID-19 looming over us. It’s a discussion I’ve had more with more and more people. And it’s also one that I have to tell them that yes, I could do everything remotely, but the notarization of their documents, mostly because I’m trying to keep them protected as far as the electronic notarizations.
Can they, and will they be disputed created area? I want them to execute their [00:07:00] documents properly, giving people peace of mind that yes, we’ll take care of everything else, remote, and then just do a very safe execution of their estate plan is a discussion I have with people.
Taylor: [00:07:10] Is electronic notarization valid in California?
Viviana: [00:07:14] It is, and they passed an emergency bill where they said that electronic notarizations were valid due to COVID. But when the dust settles, I don’t want it to be an issue, which is why I’ve had everything up until execution is remote. Then I bring in A notary and do everything in a large space with enough space between people, lots of some masks, and hand sanitize it, everything just to keep everybody safe. But it’s just one of those hoops you have that I want to jump through so that I don’t have to end up in court trying to justify an electronic notarization.
Taylor: [00:07:53] What are some tips that you can give listeners regarding estate planning? What’s the wisdom that you can share.
[00:08:00] Viviana: [00:08:00] The wisdom. So, I would say start somewhere. When you start a state planning, a lot of people are overwhelming because my intake when I do estate planning is 15 pages. It’s a lot of information, but it’s also an excellent way to get organized. Put down on paper, everything you own, where it is, what it is. You know how it’s owned, how it’s titled, but start somewhere. If you have kids start, there is that’s all you can do is just one small step at a time. Just take that small step. Do your guardianship? and then if you later decide you want to do more, move into having your financial power of attorney. And your best health care directive and small steps are okay. It doesn’t have to be all at once to where you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can do this successively and in small steps. So, you don’t feel overwhelmed, but having some protection is better than none.
Taylor: [00:08:56] What about the online forms for [00:09:00] estate planning?
Viviana: [00:09:02] The online forms for estate planning or crate only to a certain point. But it just depends. On where you are as far as how many assets you have, the types of investments you own, all of those things matter. And I hate to be yet the 1 million, 50 billion lawyers to say it depends, but it does count. It depends on what you own, how it’s titled, what it is. And. Yeah, the forms are great so that you have something, but as far as an effective estate plan, it’s always best to discuss it with your attorney and get the best estate plan in place for you.
Taylor: [00:09:42] What unique factors play into small business and estate planning?
Viviana: [00:09:50] As far as the people involved with your businesses and estate planning is that
Taylor: [00:09:54] Yeah. If there was something that was, is there anything unique, first of all, that a small [00:10:00] business owners face that normal say employees don’t face in estate planning?
Viviana: [00:10:05] Yeah, for one, a lot of small business owners don’t protect their businesses. It’s they pass away, and they are the business. The business is gone. So in essence, if you didn’t protect your business with some form of you know buy, sell, a transfer of your business for value, that sometimes a lot just gets lost and a lot of the times what business owners do is they neglect to put their businesses and their estate plans as well. That’s one of the things I’ve faced with business owners. It’s, even for those who have taken care of the personal side, it’s what happens to your business?
If you pass away and for those who have spouses, if, I don’t know, let’s say I’m a mechanic and pass away. my spouse doesn’t know how to repair cars. Now they’re left with a mechanic business that they don’t know what to do with, so you would put the proper estate planning in place. You could do a transfer [00:11:00] wealth—a very seamless one. There’s a strategy where you could buy life insurance on yourself, paid for by the business. And, have, for example, we have partners in a business. You have life insurance on each other; one passes away. The life insurance pays out the spouse, and then the other partner keeps the whole of the business that way. It’s a seamless process. The spouse gets what would have been her half of the community asset, which of the business. The now single partner doesn’t have to worry about dealing with someone who doesn’t know the business’s ins and outs; they’re a now-deceased spouse.
Taylor: [00:11:37] Good. There is a mechanism to prevent that. Now I haven’t mentioned to my listeners yet. About what a buy-sell agreement is. Can you tell us more about that? What is in the context of not only the business but also the estate planning?
Viviana: [00:11:55] So buy, sell agreement is an agreement between partners. It could be, [00:12:00] shareholders or whatever, it’s restrictions on transfer it per se, that you can agree to so if you have various people in a partnership and whatever type of business, where you can set up where a person will buy the other person out, if at the moment that they want to get out of the business. Either it could be upon retirement. It could be, upon death, funded by insurance. It could be many different ways. It’s just about protecting the business by preventing other people come in and disrupt the business by setting up the formal structure of how it’s, how the business is going to flow, who is going to flow to and knowing exactly how that’s going to look like it can all be set up in an agreement and so that it doesn’t become, an unknown or that portion of the business goes into probate. The person passes away nothing’s. It is taking care of.
Taylor: [00:12:53] Yeah. I usually tell people that a buy-sell agreement is a business prenup.
Viviana: [00:12:58] Yeah, it is.
Taylor: [00:12:59] They [00:13:00] need to do it when it’s in the honeymoon phase. Because nobody’s going to agree to something at the end of it or if there’s a conflict.
You have a unique family situation. And I would love to share it with my listeners. What is that? Would you feel comfortable sharing that?
Viviana: [00:13:19] Oh, so unique family situation, as far as how crazy we all are. Is that what you mean?
Taylor: [00:13:25] Yeah, a little bit, but that’s okay. That’s what makes people love you?
Viviana: [00:13:28] So my as far, you mean like my kids?
Taylor: [00:13:32] Your kids, your husband.
Viviana: [00:13:34] My husband’s a teacher, and he’s amazing. He is very involved, our kids because he has summers off and all the vacations, so he’s very engaged with the kids. And, I have a 10-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son with autism. We’re in COVID now. And my son, who has autism and ADHD, is jumping off the walls, [00:14:00] 24 seven. My husband is now teaching remotely. He’s trying to teach a class while our kids are running around, fighting with each other, and screaming their heads off. And I’m trying to run a law firm so much fun.
Taylor: [00:14:16] Yeah. And you have a unique name for your son. Bubba corn or Bubba
Viviana: [00:14:22] Yeah. I call him Bubba corn. Cause when I found out when we suspected that he had autism. He was. I don’t know, let’s call it one and a half because he started to like reading and we were like, Oh, he gets that right. and by the time he was two, we realized he had taught himself to read, and we’re like, there’s something off about him in it. But he wasn’t talking like he wouldn’t say any sentences or he wouldn’t speak to us, but he would go around reading random things from the grocery store, he’d read boxes, he’d read buildings, so we got them to assess, and it turns out he has ASD [00:15:00] autism spectrum disorder. And he has ADHD as well. When the first psychologist first diagnosed him, I was like on the devastation side, oh my God, if he has autism, what will we do? It’s going to make his life hard. We were completely thrown off, but then we got him assessed by a second psychology by the time it’s a psychologist or a psychiatrist. It was a little bit of a change of perspective. It was, my son has a unique gift. He has a way of absorbing information that no one else does. He taught himself to read before he was two.
Taylor: [00:15:36] Wow.
Viviana: [00:15:37] So I was like, he’s, he’s fine. He’s a unicorn. And since we call him Bubba, he doesn’t even know his name is Julian, probably. I started calling him Bubba corn. It’s hashtag bubba corn. What did the bubba corn do next?
Taylor: [00:15:49] That’s awesome. I’m going to switch to some personal questions. That, to help listeners get to know you. What is something [00:16:00] that you like that most people don’t?
Viviana: [00:16:04] The Vienna sausages from the can. They’re disgusting. Most people say I can sit and eat eight cans and cans of those little tiny Vienna sausages.
Taylor: [00:16:13] Nice.
Viviana: [00:16:14] I don’t know why I love them. And people think they’re gross, but it’s like one of those things that you don’t tell people about.
Taylor: [00:16:19] I like chocolate Twizzlers. That’s something that most people don’t like that; my wife can’t stand them. She’s like they’re nasty. For some
Viviana: [00:16:28] I didn’t even know that it existed, to be honest.
Taylor: [00:16:30] Yep. They have cherry and chocolate and strawberry. Yeah. I love Twizzlers, and most people love red vines. But, yeah, the other thing I love is, have you ever heard of a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Viviana: [00:16:43] Yeah.
Taylor: [00:16:45] Elvis. That was one of Elvis’s. I used to love peanut butter and banana sandwiches. You get them a little bit of miracle whip. Those were good stuff.
Viviana: [00:16:55] Man that sounds like a lot.
Taylor: [00:16:56] It’s not actually, because it’s got a sweet and savory thing [00:17:00] going on and then a little bit of tartness of the miracle whip. So, it’s got a lot of flavors. It sounds grosser than it is, but, So one more question for you on that one. You’ve accomplished so much, what’s left on your bucket list. What are what do you want to achieve with the rest of your time?
Viviana: [00:17:18] I think I want to grow attorney and heels to attorneys and heels. It’s something I have in the back burner that I am working on, as well. I have been using COVID to start writing my book. I have a book that will most likely come out next year. Yeah, I’m excited. I shall come up with something next to my mind always. It’s not resting. It’s always like, where can I go next?
Taylor: [00:17:44] Yeah, I’m the same way; there’s always another mountain to climb no matter where you are.
Viviana: [00:17:49] know we’re overachievers, right? And that’s why you have all those degrees on the wall. I do too.
Taylor: [00:17:54] I realized that I never wanted to lose a job because I was under-qualified for something. [00:18:00] I guess I went past the mark on that one and did something that most people would never do.
Viviana: [00:18:05] Yeah, for me, it was, I was trying to compensate for the fact that no one ever expected anything from us. We grew up impoverished and in a family where there wasn’t much education. I don’t think my dad finished. I think he finished elementary school. My mom may be finished high school. It was one of those things where nothing was expected. It was survival mode. Trying to break that cycle.
Taylor: [00:18:31] Yeah, that was me too. Neither one of my parents graduated from. Or they graduated from high school, and my father had some college, but, for the most part, none of them, they didn’t have much education. I saw that as a pretty big thing. Especially when it came to business, my parents didn’t know what they didn’t know and, they made mistakes along the way. We all do that. Isn’t a judgment on them.
We all make mistakes along the way, but they didn’t work on improving. They didn’t work on past what they were doing. I really [00:19:00] wanted to provide businesses with the opportunity to access legal services that don’t fit into the traditional mold.
Viviana: [00:19:08] Sometimes we look at our past, and we think about the things we didn’t have or the things that went wrong, or the tough lessons because our family didn’t have access to resources or information. That’s really where all the magic is for us. The next generation is we pick up on those things of where, what was missing, and we use that to drive us forward. It’s a blessing to a certain extent. If you want to look at it that way, you pick up on the lessons of your past push. You forward.
Taylor: [00:19:36] Yeah, definitely. And you’ve done an amazing job of pushing forward and overcoming. Raising your cast is one way of saying it or changing your stars or improving your circumstance. Many cliches are out there, but so many people get stuck in accepting what life gives them and not trying to move forward. You’ve done an amazing job, and I admire you for that for not [00:20:00] letting your circumstance dictate your outcome. And, So I was one of the reasons why you’re my first guest on the show. Because I wanted to get you on early and help because I do business planning and business entity formation, all that stuff, but estate planning was something that I dipped my toe in the water of and realized that wasn’t where I wanted to go. And, because I love the other stuff more. I wanted you to come on because I know that people worked hard for their wealth. They work hard for their businesses. And the last thing you want to have happened is that it ended up in probate unnecessarily or if it ends up hurting the people that you love. What’s, what’s the point of working that hard for all those years. If, just ends up hurting more than it helps.
Viviana: [00:20:47] Yeah, and with business owners, it’s super important because it involves multiple families. Suppose you have multiple partners in a business. In that case, if there’s, somebody passes away, it won’t just affect the person, the family of the person who [00:21:00] passed away it’ll affect the family of the other people involved in the business because now they’re one man short and half of the businesses in probate. It disrupts their business, their viability. Yeah, it can turn into a myriad of different. Problems. If the estate planning side isn’t handled correctly in the business.
Taylor: [00:21:20] So one more personal question, would you rather appear as a guest on your favorite TV show or have lifetime backstage passes for any concert you attend?
Viviana: [00:21:33] Definitely lifetime backstage concerts. Sadly, we have to sit at home due to COVID.
Taylor: [00:21:39] Yeah. I would appear on it as a guest only because then I could memorialize, in film, and I think of the people we’ve lost this year. Some fairly notable people and I’ve watched their movies or, whatnot and I’d go back and go awwww and to remember them like that. I think that [00:22:00] would be my thing.
Viviana: [00:22:01] Which is your favorite show?
Taylor: [00:22:02] I have so many favorite shows. I can’t narrow it down. There’s a lot of lawyer shows. And mostly because I like telling my wife what is wrong with the show.
Viviana: [00:22:12] Like
Taylor: [00:22:12] you
I know. I like Suits. I like The Good Wife. We’re currently watching mom, and that one’s rather interesting—the daughter. Christy is going to law school, so it’s funny to watch the media’s portrayal of how she got into law school.
Viviana: [00:22:27] I watched ally McBeal growing up.
Taylor: [00:22:30] Oh, yeah, I remember that.
Viviana: [00:22:31] my initial little spark. It’s
Taylor: [00:22:33] was a weird show.
Viviana: [00:22:35] I could dance around in the courtroom
Taylor: [00:22:37] Yeah. If only that’s how it was. Legally Blonde, I know funny enough, is one of my favorite legal shows. Not because it’s anywhere close to accurate, but because she did something more than what people expected of her.
Viviana: [00:22:50] That’s why I love that I did attorney and heals it. I got a little bit of inspiration from Legally Blonde.
Taylor: [00:22:55] Sure.
Viviana: [00:22:55] Where it was like being a professional attorney and being [00:23:00] feminine. Aren’t mutually exclusive
Taylor: [00:23:01] It’s interesting. Cause she had plenty of wealth, right? But she wasn’t getting the fulfillment from the wealth. She was getting her fulfillment from pursuing her dream and pursuing what she wanted to do. And. Yes, it was a lot of, of tongue and cheek and not realistic, but it’s interesting is that show spurred a lot of women going to law school. Because they saw a strong female lead, she was doing something more than becoming a bikini model.
Viviana: [00:23:30] Yeah, I do. I love it. Any chance I get, I’ll watch
Taylor: [00:23:34] Yeah, it’s a good movie. we’re about up for a time, but I wanted just to find out how can people get ahold of you if they’re interested in estate planning for their business
Viviana: [00:23:46] I can be firstname.lastname@example.org. I have links there to get on my calendar, or it could be reached by phone. Six one nine eight three six zero five.
Taylor: [00:23:59] Awesome. are you [00:24:00] on Facebook or Twitter?
Viviana: [00:24:01] All or social media? I’m on all platforms at attorney in heels.
Taylor: [00:24:06] Nice. All right. It’s been great catching up with you. I know it’s been forever. I still actually have the fish from Clio con last year. That’s sitting on my desk right here that you asked me to get so that I will get that to you sometime, but my eye, you’re lucky. I rescued it from my kids. A couple of times they were like, I wanted them, it’s not mine to give you. thank you so much for coming on. I sincerely appreciate it. Well, I’m sure that I’ll ask you again, but I hope that this has helped my listeners and call you if they need any estate planning.
Viviana: [00:24:43] Yeah. I’m glad to be here.
Taylor: [00:24:45] Thank you