About the Firm

Our Commitment to you as a Firm

I’m not just any lawyer.  I’m your lawyer and you deserve the best legal representation that you and your loved ones need, whether in a time of crisis or just planning for a future estate planning or long term care needs.

Once a new client has met with us for Elder Law or Estate Planning, they often comment on how much more thorough a job we do then their old lawyer.  Our motto is “WE BUILD PLANS THAT WORK”.   Whether it is and Elder Law plan to protect your hard earned assets or and Estate Plan to develop a comprehensive plan to transfer your wealth to your family and reduce estate taxes, our plans are at cutting edge of our profession.  We feel that we need to be ahead of our peer in legal knowledge and legal technology in order to provide the highest qualify of legal counsel in the area.

Once you work with our firm you will see a dramatic difference in the methods we utilize in discussing and analyzing your legal matter and the systems, technology and approach we utilize in solving that problem in the most efficient and practical manner.

Our Qualifications

What makes me uniquely qualified to serve your Elderlaw and Estate Planning legal counsel?  I believe my educational and work related background has given me the skills to be an exceptional Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney.  If you look at my biography, I graduated from college with an undergraduate degree in accounting and after attending law school I worked in the tax department of what then was the world’s largest accounting firm. The tax and accounting environment in which I worked prior to entering into the practice of law taught me how to approach a problem in a pragmatic and analytical manner, much different than the approach to problem solving taught in law school.  Having worked in a large firm environment I developed legal and tax skilled designed more for large high net worth clients. When dealing with high net worth clients as a tax lawyer you must develop highly technical skills in order to design and work with the trust and tax planning techniques which is more common to lager estates.  

In the mid to late 1980’s a new field of law was developing which was devoted to providing estate and long term care planning for seniors. This new field of law eventually became know as Elder Law and has developed into the specialized field of law we know today.  In particular this field of law was designed to protect the assets of senior because their assets and that of their spouse could be completely consumed if long term care in a nursing home became necessary.

I very quickly found that working with seniors and their families to preserve and protect assets while planning to get the best in long term care was personally a very rewarding experience.  I also discovered that the skills that I had developed as a CPA and tax lawyer became a valuable tool and a vital ingredient in this new practice of law which  a very few of my contemporaries possessed.

As the field of Elder Law became more and more sophisticated in response to the efforts of federal and state government to curtail asset protection efforts by senior who were trying to save homes and life savings, the “bar was raised” as to the technical skills and expertise that was needed by the attorneys who were counseling clients in this area of law.  As it has turned, out of necessity, the practice of Elder Law has been elevated to the point that the level of expertise need to counsel our senior clients has approached the same degree of sophistication needed to service my high net worth clients.  This is because many of the techniques used in asset protection planning for seniors, involves many of the trust and tax planning techniques used for high net worth clients with much larger estates.  As a CPA and Tax Lawyer trained in the area of trust and other sophisticated estate planning techniques, I felt that I could offer a much more sophisticated and cutting edge techniques to my senior clients that the majority of other Elder Law attorneys who did not possess the accounting and tax background that I had acquired earlier in my career.

Our Approach

When we first meet with a client or spouse or family member of the client, we know that often times the client or family member comes in with “excess baggage”.  By this we mean that the client has come in with pre-conceived notions or misinformation which was garnered from others as to their particular situation.  Often this information as been provided by other family members, friends and neighbors, their old lawyer who has no expertise in this area of law, bankers, financial advisors and accountants.  Typically the person who gave this information was well meaning, but really had no background or experience in advising seniors.  Consequently one of our tasks is to uneducated the client.  We need to give them a general ideal of the law which affect them without overwhelming them.  Trust me this is not easy.  We are not trying to prep a client for the bar exam but they do have to have a general ideal of the problem, the obstacles which fact them and the various techniques which may be part of the solution.

We don’t want to overwhelm a client on the first visit with technical information but inform them what the process is and how it will be approached at this and subsequent meeting. I personally spend a substantial amount of time with my client. I believe that personal contact is critical to this type of planning.

I also like to convince the client and family members that what seems to be an overwhelming problem often is just a cluster of smaller problems that have snowballed.  We try to brake the “big” problem down into its smaller multiple problems where each can be dealt with independently and more efficiently.  The client feels like he or she is making progress if small obstacles can be overcome as we proceed with the planning.

As and Elder Law attorney, I take an “eclectic” approach in advising my clients, because it embodies may different of sometime competing areas.  A single Elder Law engagement may involve estate planning, financial planning, tax law, health care decisions, Medicare, Medicaid and VA benefits planning. In addition to the above the attorney must understand the family dynamics.  I feel like I am the gatekeeper of all of this information

Donald W. Mustico, Attorney at Law assists clients with Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Asset Protection, Special Needs Planning, Incapacity Planning, Pet Trusts, Elder Law, Guardianships, Long Term Care Planning and Estate Administration in Elmira, NY as well as Wellsburg, Lowman, Horseheads, Pine City, Breesport, Big Flats, Gillett and Erin in Chemung County and throughout Steuben County, Schuyler County and Topkins County.

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221 W. Church Street, Elmira, NY 14901
| Phone: 607-271-9270

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