March 1, 2021
Director Joe Price, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley Law, joined Dysart Taylor in 2015. More than 40 years into his practice, Joe draws on decades of experience helping businesses and individuals plan for their future through estate planning, tax planning, business succession planning and wealth preservation.
Joe occupies a unique position in the Kansas City estate planning community. He is one of only five individuals who have been elected as Fellows of the American College of Tax and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and inducted into the Kansas City Estate Planning Society Hall of Fame.
Read on to learn more about Joe in our Attorney Spotlight:
Why did you want to become an attorney?
“I can’t say that I remember an ‘aha’ moment when I decided to become an attorney. It probably happened in 100 little steps during middle school and high school. I barely knew any attorneys growing up, and I had no idea what any of them did day to day. There were no TV shows that portrayed what law firm life was like when I was growing up, so I was making my career decision on very little actual knowledge.”
What is your most significant memory or case in your career?
“If there is one book that describes the daily life of an estate planner, it is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. By that, I mean that our job is to anticipate problems and opportunities that our clients and their families could face over a couple of generations. If we do our job well, most clients will never realize all of the problems they were spared because of choices that we made for them or the directions that we steered them in. If we don’t do our jobs well or if we are unlucky, all sorts of problems will likely develop.
As an example, if a client’s child has a substance abuse problem and we arrange things so that the child does not receive a large sum of money without restrictions at a time when his/her habit is out of control, perhaps we have prevented a tragedy. However, estate planners tend not to be grandstanders (think: Michael Avenatti) so we don’t contact the child’s parents on a quarterly basis and ask something like, ‘Is Buddy still clean? He is? Well, high-five, man!’
It is difficult to point to a most significant memory because so many of my accomplishments were preventing bad things (poor choices) from happening. I recall one occasion where a young client who was named as an executor of his father’s estate asked me whether he should commit fraud in order to benefit a creditor who had lost money because of his father’s business deal. I was able to convince the client to not put his own head on the chopping block to cover for his father’s sins because it would have ruined his life, and the creditor did not have “clean hands.” Decades later, the (now middle-aged) client thanked me and told me that my advice that day was all that kept him from doing something very stupid. I had forgotten all about the matter, but the client’s phone call made me realize, “OMG, he was seriously thinking about destroying his life, and it was my commonsense advice (‘Are you out of your mind?’) that prevented that from happening.”
What is the best thing about being an attorney?
“The relationships we are able to develop with clients. Clients confide in us, their estate planners, about the relationships they have with their spouses, children, business partners and employees. It is unfiltered human drama taking place over decades that we are sometimes able to influence in a positive way.”
What is the best advice you can give to an up-and-coming attorney?
“First, you have to be a “true friend” to the client. You must be available when needed; always blunt and honest, never rushed or showing time constraints and rock solid when tested.
Second, in your early years, you should strive to either make – and save – decent money or learn things that will set you up for success in the future. In other words, the only justification for working in a dead-end arrangement for any period of time is making a lot of money.
Third, envision what you will be doing five years from now. If you don’t think that the law firm you are with will exist in five years, or that you won’t want to be a part of it at that time if it still does exist, you should be pondering your next move already.”
What KC experience would you recommend to everyone?
“The best Kansas City experiences are intermittent, such as attending a concert at Starlight or Knuckleheads on a perfect spring or autumn night.
So, if I was recommending a KC experience to an out-of-town visitor on a day that lacked a concert or great sporting event, I would recommend either barbecue or a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum. I recommend the Nelson because my difficult-to-impress friends from law school have been dazzled (and surprised) by the Nelson. It’s not just the art exhibits, it’s the setting; it’s the building; it’s the part of town. We are very fortunate to have the Nelson and Kemper Arena in this area.”
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
“For the last 23 years, I have taught classes in the evening at the UMKC Law School in the LL.M. (Master of Laws) Program. For the last seven years, I have helped write and edit the Inside Scoop newsletter with Jeff Gueldner, who played for both Larry Brown and Roy Williams at KU. For the last five years, I have organized and helped coordinate the Estate Planning Internship Program at UMKC Law School. Since the pandemic has started, I have spent most of my stay-at-home time Zooming with my 2-year-old grandson, listening to music, reading, and watching college and professional sports.
My college major was political science, so I have also been fascinated by the domestic politics of the last four years. I believe that we are definitely living through a critical time in our nation’s development (what the celebrated historian Thomas Cahill would call one of the ‘Hinges of History’). It will be fascinating (and probably harrowing) to see how it all plays out. Interesting times, indeed.”