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Aug 1, 2017

Interview with Andrew Ayers

Hosted by Nate Pfaff 

Andrew Ayers is an attorney who has offices in Brooklyn and Minnesota. His practice is focused on small businesses and helping them get up and running, as well as estate planning associated with real estate ownership. Estate planning involves planning for the unexpected with respect to the ownership of real estate and who will own what in case there is a death in the family. Through his experience, Andrew sees adaptability and understanding your clients as the most important qualities of a successful attorney.

He loves the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill area. He loves Baba’s Pierogies on 3rd avenue for lunch, and often takes his wife out to La Avara on Clinton street and highly recommends the fried artichokes. He’s getting a lot of calls from the Gowanus and Red Hook area and sees those two neighborhoods as having huge upside moving forward. Andrew is big on technology as a means to streamline his work and he thinks one’s position on technology is an important consideration when finding a good match for an attorney. It’s essential that you feel comfortable with your attorney and trust that they have your best interest in mind.

Andrew is a huge reader. A judge told him that the most important thing you can do is read every day. His current goal is the read a book every week. He recommends Alex Ferguson’s Leading on leading in a business environment. For history, he recommends the Teddy Roosevelt trilogy by Edmund Morris and for fiction, he recommends A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.


[1:32-1:57] Intro: Andrew Ayers is an attorney in Brooklyn with offices in Brooklyn and Minnesota. His specialty is in estate planning and helping small businesses get up and running. He has a degree in political science a law degree from New York Law. Andrew is an avid reader and will share with us numerous book recommendations.

[1:57-3:14] Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you specialize in? I'm a lawyer with 3 small children. I grew up in the East Coast and moved to Minnesota when I was in high school, then moved back to the East Coast for law school, and now I've got offices in both Brooklyn and Minnesota because I'm always bouncing back and forth between the two places.

My practice is located around small businesses. Helping set them up and getting them up and running with negotiations of commercial leases and doing collection work for lenders in the customers they work with. I also do estate planning for younger couples when they come to me to buy a house and we realize it’s part of a real estate purchase. Sometimes there may be a divorce or child custody issues so I also do family law as well.

[3:14-3:43] What made you want to practice law? I really longed to be in the entertainment industry. In college, I worked at a radio station where I was a manager and music director. I then went to law school and realized entertainment wasn't really my thing and I concentrated on consumer focusing area of law with the stuff I'm doing these days.

[3:43-4:35] What specifically is involved in estate planning? Estate planning is conceptualizing what’s going to happen in the unfortunate event where a client is no longer with us. Estate planning puts together, especially with young couples with children, a definitive plan to protect the children and their assets. And as the children get older and they come back, we may set up a trust. We do tax planning and more advanced things.

[4:35-5:21] When would you recommend someone who owns a property to reach out to an Estate Planning Attorney? I recommend that everybody should have an estate plan. Strive to reach out to a lawyer if you’ve bought a property and make sure an estate plan is in place especially if you're married or have children. It takes away the uncertainty of what would happen when you’re gone. I don't recommend for anyone to do it themselves online, though. Find someone to help you with a basic estate plan to get going.

[5:21-5:59] How long does the process take and what are the costs? The process doesn't take long. Depending on your plans complexity, it can be turned around in a couple of weeks. The online forms are $99 or thereabouts but if you go with a lawyer, it ranges between $500 to $1500 on the low end, and $5000 - $10,000 when it gets complex.

[5:59-7:25] What are the two most important qualities of a successful attorney? The most important quality is to be able to understand your client and what their needs and motivations are. Another quality is adaptability. Situations, cases, and deals vary greatly and it's important to be able to change the situation.

[7:25-9:29] Whats the most unique or challenging deal you’ve done in the past few years? First, that came to mind has to deal with a litigation that I was in. it rose from a divorce action where the parties owned a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights and the wife wanted to sell the building, take the money, and go somewhere else. However, the building was set up as a 1031 exchange. We brought in professionals trying to explain why selling the building would lead to losing all the tax advantage of the 1031 exchange but the woman and her divorce attorney would not listen and it took forever for them to understand the tax basics.

[9:29-10:32] For the 1031 story, how much specifically is the tax difference for a 1031 exchange for something like a townhouse in Brooklyn Heights? I don't remember what the underlying cash basis was going to be and what they’d purchased it for but they’d purchased it years ago in the early 80s. It was a significant difference. I would say it would come up to at least $1million difference.

[10:32-10:45] What’s your favorite area of Brooklyn? I'm partial to Cobble Hill and Carroll Garden because I lived there for about 15 years.

[10:45-11:15] Do you have a favorite restaurant in that area? I do. If I'm going to lunch I always go to Baba’s Pierogies in Park Slope. If I'm doing happy hour I love Bar Bruno on Henry Street and my wife and I love to go to La Avara for dinner. La Avara has amazing fried artichokes.

[11:15-13:22] What are some of the biggest ways New York city has changed over the past 2 decades? The ride services like Uber. Years ago trying to get home from a night out would always be hectic with taxis refusing to go out to Brooklyn. This has changed the way we get around the city. Also, all the apps that can deliver anything to your door. Back in the day, we never had those options. But as a result of this, many retail stores are really struggling.

[13:22-14:11] Where’s the hottest place in Brooklyn right now in terms of activity and growth? For me, I’d still stay local and look at Gowanus and Red Hook. These are building out and they’ll be the next area to fully turn over. I heard Antonio Bolzano died and now it's only a matter of time before all old places are taken over and turned into developments.

[14:11-14:44] Does the lack of public transportation in Red Hook concern you at all? It doesn’t simply because it's actually a nice walk. I'm sure there will be more infrastructure put in future to help people get down there.

[14:44-15:15] If you were to buy in Brooklyn, where would you focus your search? It depends. Right now, I would stay in the family neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights. If I was single, I’d branch out a bit and find an older building in Dumbo or Bed Stuy and renovate it to make it my family home for the next few decades.

[15:15-16:04] Stay in touch with the podcast by subscribing to the mailing list. Text Brooklyn to 66866.

[16:04-17:40] If you could speak to the you of 10 years ago, what professional advice would you give? I would say leave and never look back. I was working for somebody and after I went out on my own, I had more freedom. The transition was scary because I wasn't certain when the next paycheck was going to come. Gladly, former clients started contacting me asking to work with me. It was a swift ride from there.

[17:40-19:08] What have you learned about cycles in your business and how do you weather the storm of recession? You have to take a long-term view. I have my goals for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years out but you need to realize there are going to be bad years among this. I've learned that cycles are never what you expect them to be especially in New York. A new infrastructure can completely change the market, so it's always advised to be on the lookout.

[19:08-20:47] What advice would you give to someone looking for an attorney? I have a passion for technology and I use it on my clients. One thing that’s important for me and my clients is that our technology matches us. It's important that a client and an attorney can work together because there are so many collaboration tools to use these days.

Another advice is to ask friends if they have a recommendation of an attorney. I'm often referred by people so it's essential for me to have a good rapport.


Contact Our Guest:

Give him a ring at 718-568-0221


Leading on leading in a business environment

Teddy Roosevelt trilogy

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles




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