Robert Hobkirk is a partner at the law office of Brown & Hobkirk, PLLC. He represents clients in legal matters involving trusts and estates, wills, probate law, and estate litigation, among other areas.
Robert has devoted his entire legal career to estate planning issues. His conversational and educational approach helps clients feel comfortable about the legal process while gaining an understanding of the various estate documents and how they work.
A native of New York, Robert received his undergraduate degree in 2001 from Siena College in Loudonville, NY. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 2004 from Albany Law School of Union University, in Albany, NY.
Robert is licensed to practice law in Arizona, New York and Connecticut. His practice areas include trusts and estates, estate planning, probate, estate litigation, will/trust contests, business law and real estate.
Robert is a member of the Maricopa County Bar Association and the Trusts and Estates section. He has also participated in Mediation Programs. In his work with the community, he has served on various nonprofit organizations and is a member of various Chambers of Commerce.
Robert is a frequent speaker and presenter of Continuing Legal Education courses, where he teaches fellow lawyers in the field. He has also been a Seminar Host for an Estate Planning and Real Estate program offered to individuals, real estate agents, financial institutions and other companies.
Outside of work, Robert loves spending time with his family. His hobbies include mountain biking, golfing, hiking, traveling, and pretty much anything his daughter enjoys, which includes a lot of crafting.
About my practice area:
Trusts and estates encompasses a large practice area. It includes drafting documents and setting up various types of trusts, last wills and testaments, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney. It also includes handling estate administration, which encompasses both probate and trust administration.
My practice area also includes litigation related to estates. Litigation can involve contested wills, contested trusts, undue influence claims, or lack of capacity issues. It also includes issues relating to financial exploitation of vulnerable adults under Arizona’s Adult Protective Services Act (APSA). Unfortunately, we see many cases involving individuals, usually adult children, wrongly benefiting financially from an elderly person or parent.
My approach when first meeting with a client:
If a client comes in to update his or her estate plan, the first thing I do is ensure that the current plan is valid. If a client has an existing trust, I also verify that the trust was properly funded (that all of the person’s assets are in the trust). I pull up the deed to the client’s house to ensure it’s properly titled and review the person’s list of assets.
When I am setting up estates or reviewing existing estates, I first try to clean up any loose ends. I believe the biggest part of my role is educating the client. Many attorneys can put together form documents, but setting up a proper estate plan involves providing education on how it works, and walking the clients through the process to ensure that their plan is properly implemented.
I have clients complete a detailed questionnaire, so I can understand their goals, identify potential issues, and understand the family dynamics. I go through and identify problems or issues that need to be addressed in their documents. My goal is to help clients through education – for example, explaining the difference between the various documents, such as a will versus a trust. I explain how the estate documents work, why they are important, and how they can minimize future costs. I want to give clients as many options as I can so that they feel comfortable with their estate planning choices.
What I want clients to know after our first meeting:
I want my clients to have a clear understanding of the process and the plan that we will be implementing. But most importantly, I want my clients to feel comfortable. I try to make things easy to understand. I want my clients to come out of our first meeting feeling more knowledgeable and comfortable about the process and confident that they have chosen the right attorney to help them.
The most satisfying aspect of being an estate planning lawyer:
I enjoy helping clients accomplish their goals. It is very satisfying when a client comes in with a complex scenario, and I am able to give them peace of mind by providing a clear and straightforward path to address their issues. It is gratifying when my clients leave feeling comfortable and confident that we have implemented the right plan for them. I like having a happy client. It is a win-win for everyone.
What I have learned from my clients:
I’ve worked with thousands of clients over the past 18 years. This has given me the ability to be able to spot and identify both common and complex issues. By being able to identify all of my clients’ issues, I’m able to provide and implement comprehensive strategies and plans that can help address and simplify almost any scenario. I’ve learned that we all have different goals and unique situations, but we are not all that different. At the end of the day, we all just want peace of mind.