In an exclusive interview with Our Community Now, lawyer Naz Barouti talks leading the charge on estate and financial planning.
Naz Barouti is a force to be reckoned with. As an author, entrepreneur, public speaker, media commentator, and a lawyer who specializes in standing up for women when it comes to estate planning, there are few people out there with her tenacity.
In her book, Love, Death, and Money: A Woman's Guide to Legally Protecting Yourself, she details how women can go about safeguarding themselves from financial ruin by offering readers detailed information about how to go about planning, as well as what to avoid.
Barouti is also a radio personality for the professional business hour in Los Angeles on 670 AM.
Here's what she had to say to OCN.
OUR COMMUNITY NOW'S RYAN MEKKES: You specialize in empowering women to be legally prepared for life's unexpected turns. If you could instill one piece of knowledge into everyone, what would it be?
NAZ BAROUTI: When it comes to the law, go to a professional who specializes in the area of law you need help with. I can’t tell you how many times I see clients who went to non-attorneys for legal advice or used online resources as tools. Unfortunately, these cases always end poorly.
OCN: What types of cases do you most often deal with in your line of work?
NAZ BAROUTI: I help clients transfer their wealth to their children and loved ones in the event they pass away. I practice estate planning, which means I mostly draft documents such as revocable trusts and wills. In addition, I ensure that if a client is incapacitated, they have the proper legal documents to name an agent to act on their behalf for financial and medical decisions. I also draft prenuptial/postnuptial agreements.
OCN: In your book, Love, Death, and Money, you focus on storytelling -- on allowing people's past experiences to do the heavy-lifting as far as convincing readers to pay attention. What kind of feedback have you received on the book?
NAZ BAROUTI: Lots and lots of fear! I know that may not sound like a good thing, but in my profession, that means the book had an impact. It opened the reader’s eyes to the possible serious legal consequences of not planning for the unexpected.
OCN: What do you hope people take away from reading it?
NAZ BAROUTI: My hope is that the reader realizes if you don’t have a plan in place for the day you are not around, the government has one for you. I’m certain that most people don’t want a complete stranger to come into their lives to decide how their assets will be divided.
OCN: Do you plan on continuing to write more in the future?
NAZ BAROUTI: Yes, definitely! My first book was a legal bible for women on how to protect themselves during different stages of life, but each chapter can turn into a whole book on its own. There are so many different layers to cover and I’m excited to go into more detail for the reader.
OCN: Do you ever feel like there is a scenario in which a couple could move forward in their relationship without a prenup? Or not?
NAZ BAROUTI: The only scenario in which I would feel comfortable advising a client that a prenuptial agreement would not be required is if both parties have no assets and are on the same playing field. However, even then I am wary of doing so simply for the reason that a spouse can become extremely successful in their business resulting in a high income. People can get funny when it comes to money. As the famous saying goes, “more money, more problems.”
OCN: Do you believe that women, in general, receive fair treatment at the hands of the law? Or are they often the ones on the losing end?
NAZ BAROUTI: I wouldn’t necessarily say that women don’t receive fair treatment at the “hands of the law” when discussing estate planning; however, the legal profession is a very male-dominated profession. It is not uncommon to come across male estate planning attorneys who are more conservative and old-fashioned. This, in turn, makes it difficult for women to feel comfortable and open with their attorney. In order to avoid this awkward interaction, women either put off getting the legal documents they need or use online resources, which can have devastating consequences.
OCN: How rewarding has it been helping women to find power in the law?
NAZ BAROUTI: The greatest reward for me is to be able to help a woman who is having difficulty navigating the legal world. Helping women has become my mission, my purpose -- and without that, I wouldn’t have the enthusiasm to wake up every morning and do what I do.
OCN: Are there any particular stories you can share about times when you helped women overcome the odds and get fair treatment in a legal agreement?
NAZ BAROUTI: While I can’t go into much detail about individual cases, I can say that a majority of the women I help are victims of financial abuse. While many are not aware of the complexities of this form of abuse, many couples get stuck in relationships where one partner controls the other through finances. I’ve either helped these women identify this abusive tactic, or I’ve encouraged them to avoid entering into these romantic partnerships.
OCN: What kind of advice would you give to young aspiring lawyers who want to follow in your footsteps?
NAZ BAROUTI: Don’t chase the money. If you chase the money you will fail miserably. You have to have a purpose. What drives you? What makes you happy? For me, it has always been helping others. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have helped protect a client’s family for the day they are no longer around.
OCN: If someone wants to attain your services, how can they go about contacting you?
NAZ BAROUTI: You can visit my website at nazbarouti.com or Instagram/Twitter @nazbarouti.