Preserving Legacies: Attorney West Hunsaker helps clients protect themselves and loved ones
By Kamala Kirk
Estate planning is important because it helps people — no matter their age or wealth — protect their legacy and their family’s future by deciding how their assets and end-of-life wishes should be carried out.
West Hunsaker is a longtime attorney at Morris Hall PLLC who specializes in estate planning and trust administration. Throughout his career, he has helped countless families and individuals protect themselves and their loved ones.
“I work with clients on anything that has to do with their assets,” Hunsaker says.
“We focus on protecting and preserving a person’s legacy so that things go to who they want, when they want, and how they want. Aside from helping others, I enjoy solving problems, taking complicated matters and simplifying them for clients. They’re trusting our firm and me to carry out the plans they’ve made for their children when they’re not here. I get to make a difference in their lives, especially when they go through challenging things like suddenly losing their spouse of 50 years.”
Prior to becoming an attorney, Hunsaker had a successful career in the banking industry. He worked for over 12 years as a vice president for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, where he managed an $8 billion portfolio and was part of an industrywide team focused on legislative issues that affected banking customers.
“While it was a great career, it wasn’t very fulfilling,” Hunsaker says. “I really wanted to do something where I felt that at the end of the day, I was able to make a difference in the lives of others. Being an attorney has definitely afforded me that.”
After leaving finance, Hunsaker earned his JD from the Phoenix School of Law and was admitted to the Arizona Bar Association. In 2005, he joined Morris Hall and has become a key member of the team.
“West is a remarkable partner,” says Tim Hall, senior partner at Morris Hall.
“He possesses a unique combination of legal skills, compassion and a desire to improve his ability to help make a real difference in clients’ lives. He gives selflessly as a prominent community and church leader, and he makes time to be a mentor and advocate for every team member at Morris Hall. I am grateful for and indebted to him and honored to be his law partner and friend.”
Hunsaker has helped Morris Hall grow to 13 offices throughout Arizona and New Mexico, solidifying its position as a premier estate planning law firm in the Southwest. Recently, the firm celebrated its 51st anniversary, a major industry milestone.
“Not many firms, especially in estate planning, have been around for that long,” Hunsaker says. “We’ve helped tens of thousands of clients and their families. Not only do we create plans, but we help administer them. When we do that we’ll see problems that occur and we help make sure that those issues don’t occur in the future for our clients. We’re also one of only three members of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys in Arizona and one of two members in New Mexico.”
Hunsaker says clients also enjoy Morris Hall’s policy of charging a flat fee, which makes them regularly accessible.
“Our clients don’t have to worry about all of these extra charges,” he says. “We have a membership program and they can call in with questions whenever they want. When I talk to clients, it’s more so because I want to know how their family is doing.”
Also passionate about giving back, Hunsaker is an active community member who’s involved in various nonprofits.
He was previously president-elect of Carefree Kiwanis Club and is on the advisory board for the Phoenix Art Museum, and is a board member for Black Canyon Community Health Center. He has also been on the National Advisory Board for Make-A-Wish in addition to being co-chairman of Make-A-Wish Arizona Planned Giving Advisory Committees and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“I’ve worked extensively with Make-A-Wish for a long time, volunteering and helping to grant wishes,” Hunsaker says. “It’s one of the most incredible organizations I could ever be a part of.”
For those debating whether they need to start planning for their family’s future, Hunsaker says that it’s never too early to do so.
“I hear people say all the time that they don’t think they need a trust if they have less than $5 million, which is wrong,” he says.
“At the bare minimum, young people should have a will, power of attorney and health care documents. When someone has young children, they should at least consider having a will, because that’s where they can identify who the guardians of their children will be if something happens to them. As people get older and their assets grow, that’s when they need to look into other types of estate plans. It’s also important to keep your estate plan current, as laws and situations constantly change.”
Hunsaker says that aside from helping people, learning each person’s unique story is another favorite aspect to his job.
“Everyone has a different story; no two people are identical,” he shares. “Every day people trust me with the most sacred things in their lives and that’s their family. As I meet with clients and get to know them, it’s fascinating for me to learn every person’s background and unique journey. Not very many people get to have the opportunity to learn from so many different people and I think that’s pretty amazing.”
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