After Hours with Sarah Gohl Isabel

/ January 26, 2011


  • Employer:  Law Office of Sarah Gohl Isabel
  • Position:     Attorney
  • Location:    St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Education: JD & LLM, Duke University; BA, Eureka College


  • How long have you been practicing?

I am entering into my tenth year of practice.  This is my first year of solo practice.  I previously worked for two large law firms in Atlanta, Georgia.  When we moved to Minnesota to be closer to family, I decided to open my own practice.  I practice in the areas of estate planning, probate, fiduciary litigation, and tax exempt organizations.

  • What led you to practice in the area of estate planning?

I enjoy the counseling aspect of this area of law.  I am able to find solutions to family problems and give clients peace of mind.

  • What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about estate planning?

One major misconception is that estate planning is simple and that a Will can be prepared via a form found on the Internet.  Unfortunately, many of those “simple” forms create more problems.  Estate planning can be quite complex for a number of reasons, including taxes and family dynamics.

  • What is your favorite aspect of helping individuals create their estate plan?

I most enjoy listening to clients, hearing their stories, and finding creative solutions to meet their needs.

  • When do you recommend that an individual start thinking about his or her estate plan?

Now.  It is never too early to have a Will.  With that said, some common life events that trigger the need for a Will include the birth of a child, a change in marital status, a death in the family, and increases in wealth (even if they are incremental).

Also, it is advisable to have a financial power of attorney and a healthcare directive in place, regardless of age.

  • What is a best piece of advice that you share with clients as they think about their estate plan?

Try not to put off preparing an estate plan.  It is something that often falls to the bottom of a person’s “to do” list.  It is important to have an estate plan because if the unthinkable happens, it provides guidance and direction for your loved ones and can help preserve your wealth.

  • Any interesting anecdotes?

I once had a client sign a Will and then die two hours later.  It was a tragic situation.  We were fortunate to get the Will signed in time.  That situation confirmed that it is better to plan for the future before it is too late.