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Q&A With Clayton Chan

Clayton shares his views on charitable giving, community foundations and helping clients achieve their goals.

Clayton Chan
Clayton Chan

Recently, we met with Clayton Chan, principal at Chan, PLLC, Law Offices, and Carlson Estate Planning, to get his take on why he partners with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation to help his clients achieve their charitable giving goals.

How long have you worked in your field? What do you love most about what you do?

I've been at this for 20 years now. I have practiced estate planning, business succession planning, and probate and trust administration law my entire career, and really enjoy it. It draws from a wide variety of legal fields, of course, trust and estate law, but also including corporate, business and real estate law. It provides a lot of intellectual stimulation.

That said, it's also very much a hands-on kind of practice, with most of my days spent meeting my clients and their families. It’s probably the opportunity to interact closely with my clients, and to counsel them on important personal and financial matters that I find the most gratifying.

Why do you think it's important to partner with a community foundation?

It’s because of all the resources, grassroots knowledge and technical information that community foundations have. My clients appreciate that. I’ve been working with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation for the past four years, and my clients appreciate the guidance, information and professional, hands-on relationships that they form with people at the Foundation. It makes their charitable giving more effective and more fulfilling for them.

So for me, it's a real asset and resource to be able to lean on the Foundation and introduce my clients, because I know they will be getting an incredible experience while maximizing and optimizing their charitable giving desires.

Why do you think it’s important for people in your field to talk to their clients about philanthropy?

I think it's important to talk to clients about philanthropy because, quite frankly, a lot of clients may not have thought about it and when asked whether they want to give charitably, many of them are very intrigued by the possibility of utilizing their wealth for charitable purposes.

I also think it’s a social responsibility to put that on the radar for clients to consider— if it's something they have a passion or interest toward. That's a really positive thing to be introducing to your clients.

Why do you think charitable giving is so important?

It's something that is near and dear to my heart. For my clients who want to give, to be able to assist them with their estate planning, to effectuate and to accomplish their charitable goals is extremely fulfilling.

Clients that get back to me after they’ve done their charitable giving let me know they feel so fulfilled and happy to have the opportunity to give back to the community and do something extremely positive with their wealth.

What’s next for you and your firm?

Just continuing to serve clients as best as we can, including introducing them to our firm’s deep connections in the community with professional advisors such as the Foundation. We’re also continuing to grow, and to add resources to the firm that our clients can count on.

Also, for me, the “practice” of law means continuing to learn, and continuing to find more and better ways to serve my clients and provide them with the estate planning options that are effective and tailor-made to their situations. At the end of the day, what we want to do is to give our clients peace of mind.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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