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Estate Planning Attorney Barbara Heen

Barbara Heen

Attorney at Law

As a child growing up, my mom would take every Thursday night after supper and distribute her or dad’s paycheck. She budgeted, paid bills, allocated money to savings for future goals. She did all of it with a green wire-bound notebook and a 10-key calculator. I watched her plan our family’s finances my whole life. My parents were both blue-collar union employees and our family had all of our needs met, went on vacations, bought cars, and so on. It all came from those Thursday night budgeting sessions.

My work with people began with a college internship working with an investment advisor in 1988. Just think, I thought my mom’s budgeting was really smart, and here I was introduced to an entire industry devoted to the notion of the planned financial transaction on the large scale. After seeing the possibilities, I knew the direction of my career path. Considering graduate school, I didn’t want to do the two years of accounting to get an MBA, so I went to law school. I studied estate and business planning, took every tax class I could find, and eventually graduated. I spent 17 years working downtown Minneapolis with various financial services companies. In 2003, Corporate America and I effected a very amicable divorce – I got the kids. I’ve been practicing law ever since.

It’s taken these past 20+ years for me to develop my own approach to lawyering and client service. Telling people I’m a lawyer has never sounded quite right to my own ear. Yes, I’m an attorney, but what I seek to do for people, the services I attempt to provide encompass so much more than what folks traditionally think lawyers do.

So what do I do? How do I do it? What makes me different? I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients up front. That initial time spent learning about people, who they are, what goals they might have for their lives, their family members, their assets, is where my work comes from. A more intimate understanding of who my clients are and what they want informs all the rest of my work for them. It helps me give better, more appropriate advice. It helps me craft better, tighter, more well thought-out plans. It guides my selection of the legal tools in my lawyer toolbox to assist my clients in achieving goals we’ve identified together.

What makes me different is that when I write a group of documents within a plan, I always keep in mind that while yes, I am writing for the client, I am also writing for the unknown, unschooled, unbriefed reader who will need to pick up that plan at some future point, three or maybe more years into the future, and implement the plan on the client’s behalf. I am writing for the client who may not read the documents for several years. My writing needs to be clear in today’s moment, while all of our goals and intentions are clear in our present minds. Also, my writing needs to be clear for that future reader, even if it’s the client who may have forgotten the tiny details that informed terms within the plan.

My goal is to leave my clients in better condition than I found them. My wish is to have taught them a few things about transitions, whether in life or in business. My hope is to have listened and written well enough that when our work together is complete, I send that client back into their own world confident that the work we did will sustain and propel them toward and beyond the goals we identified in our work together.

My name is Barbara Heen. I am a transition attorney. I help people plan and execute change. My focus is in the areas of estate planning and business succession and transition planning. What change is on your horizon that we could provide you with an assist?

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