Women's Retirement Radio

Cherish De la Cruz of De la Cruz Law - Estate Planning, Elder Care, & Small Business Law in Support of Families - Episode 24

July 26, 2021 Russ Thornton Season 2 Episode 8
Women's Retirement Radio
Cherish De la Cruz of De la Cruz Law - Estate Planning, Elder Care, & Small Business Law in Support of Families - Episode 24
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Cherish De la Cruz of De la Cruz Law.

Cherish is an attorney who started her own law firm to provide seamless support to families and small business owners throughout Florida and Georgia

In our conversation, we discuss Cherish's background and personal family experience that really drives her passion to help families get the legal planning and advice they need.

For more on Cherish and De la Cruz Law, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Oh, hey everyone. It's Russ, and welcome to another episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today I'm really excited to be joined by a friend and local Atlanta attorney, Cherish De la Cruz. Hey, Cherish. How you doing today?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Good. I'm fantastic. How are you doing?

Russ Thornton:
I'm great. I'm glad we could jump on and have this conversation. For those listening that may not be familiar with... Why don't you start by just telling us a little bit about yourself?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Sure, sure. My name is Cherish De la Cruz. I own my own estate planning, business succession, and elder law planning firm in Atlanta, specifically in the Buckhead area. I'm licensed in both Florida and Georgia. Prior to me opening up my own law firm, I was in-house doing securities compliance and investment. So I know a little bit about Russ's world.

Russ Thornton:
I know you just crammed a lot in there, everything from estate planning to elder law. I know you do some other stuff with business and succession planning. Is there a particular type of client or clientele that you find yourself working with, or is it across the board, or across the spectrum?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Well, for me, I work a lot with small business owners and professionals. I would say, a lot of my clients are women, because they are the caregivers in the family. I would say, the ratio of women who are in my practice and who are my clients are probably about 65% to 70%. Some of them have families, some of them don't have families. But they are looking at their life from different lenses. Sometimes they're a mother, grandmother, business owner, and they have a multitude of needs. So I help them with all of their legal needs.

Russ Thornton:
Interesting. You mentioned a lot of the women are caregivers. So, does that mean that a lot of times you maybe start those engagements doing eldercare work, or is that experientially a role they fall into and you might be working with them on something else altogether?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I tend to surround myself with wonderful, fantastic, type A personality women, very driven, very successful in their careers, very passionate about their communities. In that role, they've always been the responsible person in their family. So a lot of their caregiving duties happens to fall on their shoulders. They may be the business owner who has children of their own and is thinking about caring for their parents. But they also want to make sure that they take care of their children as well too. But also, try to figure out how to manage all of this. If they have a busy career, if they're a physician, or if they're an attorney, or if they're a business owner, making sure that things are put in place, so that they can still do their day-to-day things that create their income, which is either their career or their business.

Russ Thornton:
Got it, got it. Before we continue talking about the work you do and the services you provide, what's something about you, Cherish, that you think is interesting that maybe most people wouldn't know or be aware of?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I think, when they first encounter, my clients first encounter me, they don't realize that I've had a very diverse background of experiences, not only geographically but also career-wise. I grew up in Toronto, Canada. So it was a very multicultural environment, very diverse environment. And then, my family moved down to Atlanta in 1994, so I've been here for, gosh, a long time. Let's just say 27 years. That informs the way that I interact with my clients.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Additionally, when I first started law school, I went to law school at University of Iowa, out in the Midwest. And then, I spent a year as a visiting student at the University of Miami. So, you go from the Midwest to Florida. Originally, when I first got out of law school, I was a public defender. And so, I would do a lot of jury trials, lots of time in the clerk [inaudible 00:05:14]. And so, that has helped me look at things from a litigator's perspective. How can we settle things or do things so that things don't go crazy when something happens? How can we prevent litigation? Those are the things that I think about when I do my estate planning.

Cherish De la Cruz:
And then, I moved up to Atlanta, and I worked in-house, which means I worked for a corporation that focused on insurance, investments. I was on the compliance side. I did that for about seven years. Then, my aunt, who passed away, was like a second mother to me, I helped her with the estate planning process. That shaped and motivated me to open up my own law firm. So, all of these different and unique perspectives informs how I treat clients, how I care for them, and how I really want to develop a long term relationship with them.

Russ Thornton:
Thanks for sharing all that, Cherish. How would you describe what you enjoy most about your work with your clients?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I think the thing that I love most about working with clients is really getting to know everybody's story. Just like you, Russ, we do a deep dive into the family dynamics, the financial aspects, and how all of that works together and is interrelated. Our estate planning firm is a boutique firm in the sense that we try to spend a lot of time with our clients to really figure out what their goals are and how we can make sure that family harmony is preserved, that the clients don't have a lot of stress when something happens in their lives. Inevitably, we're all going to pass away. But how can we make it easier for our loved ones, so that they don't have the stress and heartache that I know some people experience when they don't have a plan in place?

Russ Thornton:
I think you may have answered this, but from your perspective, what would you say the biggest challenge is that you help people address or solve through your work?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I think it's starting to have those conversations and making it in a way that they feel comfortable that they can speak with me. Talking about death and disability is never a fun topic. This is not something that's fun and exciting. But how we can facilitate... I try to plant the seeds with them. It's never going to be an overnight process. The more we have those continuing conversations with the clients, and then also encouraging the clients to have those conversations with their loved ones, with their family members, it provides peace of mind for the people they are leaving behind. This is just my compliance background, but if everything is ticked and tight, when you have a plan in place, it's just less stressful for them. The last thing that people want to worry about, especially if somebody's sick or after they've passed away, is trying to figure out what the next steps are when everything's in disarray.

Cherish De la Cruz:
We help clients organize their thoughts regarding their goals and their wishes. We help them organize their documents and prepare documents, and plans, that help them achieve their goals, whether it's things like family harmony, if it's a business, making sure that the business still retains its value, if they become sick or if they pass away, and then making sure, ultimately, that the people that they worked so hard for, that they get the assets when they should be getting those assets. And so, it's a timing thing. And how they should be getting their assets, making sure that everything is tax sufficient, and that it's the best way to do that. We always coordinate with wonderful people like you, their financial advisors, and their CPAs to make sure that everything is ticked and tied.

Russ Thornton:
I'm struck by a comment you made. I mean, clearly, no one likes to think about their mortality or think about their own death. I think your role in the estate planning process is particularly interesting, because not only are you discussing or helping clients confront their mortality, but we're also talking about money, which I think we can all agree is largely considered a taboo subject by most folks. I'd be interested to get your thoughts, but I think not only is it interesting to facilitate and help guide these conversations around the estate planning process as it relates to death, but also as it relates to your assets and financial situation, things like that. Clearly, estate planning is more than just the money. You need to appoint guardians for minor children and address other wishes and things that need to be addressed inside different family structures.

Russ Thornton:
Have you ever found, in your experience, that the combination of both the, "Let's talk about what happens after I die," combined with no one likes to talk about money, generally speaking, have you found that, that's made it even more challenging? Or have you found some particular hurdles around that, or maybe even found some tactful ways to break through those obstacles to get people to open up?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Oh, yes, definitely, definitely. I think having those conversations is an art. Just with my varied background, you'd think that my undergraduate degree would've been pre-law or something like that. But actually, my undergraduate degree was part in psychology for the first couple of years, and then sociology. I didn't realize how helpful those things are in applying it to these situations. And so, what I always tell my clients is, we're going to talk about difficult and challenging things. I want to mentally prepare them for those challenges, because you're right, nobody likes to talk about money, or death, or disability. But how can I approach it so that they feel comfortable speaking candidly to me about that? Because, I need, like you do, need to know all of the information, because it helps me come up with a better plan.

Cherish De la Cruz:
And so, first and foremost, I try to make them feel comfortable about that process. But let them know that we will be tackling these tough topics. If it's a couple or if it's a parent, or a mother, I want this to be over a series of meetings. First, we meet with one another, make sure that you feel comfortable with how I approach things, and that you feel comfortable candidly talking to me about these challenging topics. I have a wonderful network. I can always refer you out if you don't feel comfortable. That's first and foremost.

Cherish De la Cruz:
And then, we try to talk about these things through a process of education. Some people may not know that you can't leave assets to a minor child, that it should be left in trust. What does that actually mean? We also use a lot of visual diagrams and depictions, so that our client can walk away with a clear understanding conceptually of how things work. And then, we make sure that everything that their goals, [inaudible 00:14:32], are embodied in this visual depiction, which is usually some type of diagram. And then, we go over everything with them.

Cherish De la Cruz:
I've encountered a lot of clients who come from other estate planning firms, and they don't know why they set up what they set up. It was just the suggestion of another attorney or somebody else, but they don't understand how it administratively and how it works process-wise. I find that, that can be a challenge, because when it actually comes down to it, if they don't have someone guiding them, then they get confused and overwhelmed. We want to take those pieces of stress away from them.

Russ Thornton:
That's interesting that you said that about working with people that maybe have estate planning documents or structures in place that they've set up with other attorneys, and they don't really have a thorough understanding of the how and the why. Sadly, I experience that a lot on my side of the table with people that have worked with other advisors. They have a financial planner, a portfolio, or both, and they're not really sure why it's set the way that it is. I like that you go really go to great lengths to explain and educate people, use visuals, to help them see and connect the dots mentally about not just what we're going to do, but more importantly, I think, why we're doing it.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Right.

Russ Thornton:
I'm really glad you shared about your undergrad study in psychology and sociology. You and I, think, might've discussed this in the past, but I'm endlessly fascinated by the psychology of how people make decisions, and perhaps, just as importantly, how they don't make decisions. I think you're right. I can only imagine how well that must serve you in facilitating these often, probably, difficult or challenging conversations with families, but important conversations that need to happen. I think that's an interesting background that probably rounds out your skillset really nicely, given the work you're doing.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Yeah. I think it's not a static thing as well too. I feel like I'm on my own path of my own personal journey as well too. The more I read about personal development, and I know that you and I have had this conversation, and the more I learn about business dynamics, and the more I learn about different facets, they all interrelate. As I continually grow, I bring those informed perspectives and share unique stories or things that I've learned with my clients, so that they can better make those decisions. We, at our firm, we continually encourage each other to grow and learn about that and how we can best service our clients. I think it's also by looking really at ourselves and how we interpret and act on our own values, traditions, and everything, and how we can apply that to the client situation.

Russ Thornton:
I agree. I think you said it earlier in the conversation that it's really an art, and I couldn't agree more. I think that really just being human and talking to people as a human, I think it really transcends all the nuts and bolts of this is an estate plan, this is a will, this is a power of attorney, et cetera, et cetera, and really help me meet people where they are, which I think is tremendously important. Again, I think it just is a credit to the person you are and the care and passion that you put into the work you do. I appreciate you sharing all that with us.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Thanks.

Russ Thornton:
I can only imagine, Cherish, over the years, you've probably worked with I can't even imagine how many clients. Is there a favorite client success story that comes to mind for you as you look back and think about the work you've done?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Well, yes, definitely. I mean, I think one of my favorite clients that I've worked with was a physician couple. They had owned several practices in Georgia. They first came to me through a referral from a judge that we both mutually knew. I really got to meet the family, develop relationships with both spouses. They were both wonderful people, very community oriented. Then, I got to meet their children as well too, and then help them. That was a long term client relationship. Whenever they had a need, they always called me to pick my brain. And then, most recently I helped them put together some charitable work, plans, together so that they could... They've been working so hard, but putting together a plan how they could help and give back to the community. That was one of my favorite success stories.

Cherish De la Cruz:
But really, I believe in giving back to the community. And I love it when my clients have the ability to do the same, and that I was involved in that entire process. And seeing their success both in their business and their personal life is great, because I get to deepen these relationships with these wonderful people.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, that sounds like a wonderful example of how you were able to help a successful couple and family just magnify the impact of their work and their success into their community through a charitable giving plan and some other things like that. That's a great story. Thanks for sharing that with us. Clearly, between your work as a public defender, and then as an in-house corporate attorney, and now owning and running your own law practice, what surprised you most about your work over the years, Cherish?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I think, for me, it is just the genuine desire and willingness of people to help one another. When I first started out as a public defender, it was great. I formed a strong relationship with a class. There was several of us who went through that public defender program, and we developed long-lasting relationships. So just the idea of helping the community with that. And then, when I was in-house, people who were showing me and teaching different things. I had no idea about securities, or investments, or insurance, or compliance, and people would be helping me in that respect.

Cherish De la Cruz:
And then, now with owning my own law firm, you shift from technician to entrepreneur. I have a wonderful network of individuals in which whom I can rely on, you included, that ultimately people will bring you up. I've been blessed enough to encounter all of those wonderful people. Because, it is tough being an entrepreneur. Sometimes things don't go your way. But to be able to have these wonderful relationships, have these relationships help you grow both personally and professionally. And then, ultimately, that impacts how you give back to your clients.

Russ Thornton:
It all comes back to people, doesn't it?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Yes, it does, it does.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Cherish De la Cruz:
It does.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, again, I agree. I think that's why you and I see eye-to-eye on so many things. I appreciate you sharing that both in a broad stroke but also in the context of the three major phases or segments of your career. I think that's very interesting, and it's cool to see that common thread of people relationships, conversations, helping, serving, giving, which are all just fantastic. I don't have to tell you, attorneys are often the butt of jokes and generally have maybe not the-

Cherish De la Cruz:
Best reputation.

Russ Thornton:
I'll take your word for it. What's a common misconception about your work that you'd maybe like to address or dispel?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Okay. Yes, I totally agree with you that there are attorneys that, just like anything, there are a few bad apples that ruin it of the rest of the attorneys. The reason why I love the work that I do is because ultimately I feel like I'm helping someone in the end, and I'm putting their needs first. I do find it a compliment when people tell me, "You're not like any other attorney I've encountered." And so, I do view that as a compliment. Not all attorneys are bad. I know wonderful, wonderful, wonderful attorneys.

Cherish De la Cruz:
There is this misconception out there that we don't truly care or that we only want the money. In the situations where I serve, where somebody's passed away, or we're looking at a business partnership, or we're looking at elderly parents, I think you need to have a heart for it, and you need to have the ability to be compassionate. In my particular field, even though there's a lot of estate planning attorneys out there, some of my greatest friends are people in the community who help support each other in the growth of our firms. That is a misconception, but there are good attorneys out there.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and I want to underline that. I know a ton of really wonderful attorneys, yourself included, in different aspects of the legal profession that have different types of practices or different practice areas. What I think about when I think of you, Cherish, and our conversation today just reinforces this, is that you... I think you seem to look at things from a very relationship orientation or a relationship basis, whereas I think a lot of attorneys... Some of this, frankly, might be in part due to the type of law they practice, but I think some attorneys are maybe more transactional in nature and are less concerned about the person and more concerned about the actual deal, or transaction, or work they're doing. I'm painting with a broad brush here, because there are great professionals in every slice of the legal community. I agree, I think, again, I think we could apply a common theme to our conversation so far, I think it's just people and relationships. That's what I took away from your explanation. I think that's hugely important in doing good work and building relationships, and doing it for the right reasons.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Oh, yes, yes. Thank you for that compliment. Yeah, I mean, relationships are the most important to me. Because, what I've learned over the years, that is something that you have to work on and that you have to grow over time. It just doesn't happen overnight. But those relationships are enduring, whether it's with your clients or just your professional network. And then, once cultivated, the facts, especially in light of COVID, the fact that I can reach out to these wonderful people who are in my network and to my clients to make sure that they were okay. Because, at the end of it all, it doesn't matter what you have, because you can't necessarily take it with you. I mean, it's important to have the stability, but why do you do it? We do it because you want to support your family, to have a wonderful relationship, to have the safety and security. It all goes back to that.

Russ Thornton:
You mentioned COVID. We're having this conversation, recording it on what I hope is the start of a steady climb-

Cherish De la Cruz:
Me too.

Russ Thornton:
... back to normal days and times. Looking back over the last year plus, have you... Because of COVID, just because of the state of the world that we've been living in, have you found yourself working on anything different, or have you been working more in certain areas that you would maybe attribute to the pandemic or attribute to just how people are going about their lives a little bit differently here over the last 12 plus months or so?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Yes. No. I mean, yes, definitely. I mean, things have fundamentally shifted. Just before we were on, just how people approach things. Before, I had clients who always wanted to meet in person. And now, because they have used Zoom to communicate with their children and grandchildren, there's a certain comfort level in doing online meetings, which wasn't there before. And then, unfortunately, because people have experienced or seen other individuals who are their friends or their family members experience loss, people start to think about their own mortality. And so, I have received a lot of inquiries as to, how do I start this process? People are more quickly to act as before. I think people understand the importance of it as we've seen people who maybe didn't have a plan in place, and they were impacted by COVID, and the stress that they experienced, and the heartache that they had to experience, because they didn't have those plans in place. That's what this past year has happened and evolved in my practice.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, yeah, interesting. Before we hit record, I think we were chatting about how it's just been a shift for everyone. Professional service providers, like yourself and myself, as well as our clients, and everything in between about how work is just evolved into something different. It'll be interesting to see what it looks like in another 12 months from now, I guess.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Right.

Russ Thornton:
Based on what you shared earlier about your undergrad in psychology and sociology, I'm really interested to get your thoughts on this.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Sure.

Russ Thornton:
Let's say a college student approached you about getting into the practice of law, whether that's estate planning, or eldercare law, or helping small business owners, what advice or guidance would you give to them?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I think one thing, when I was going to law school, that I didn't realize until I started having to own my own business was the fact that you got to build relationships, and that relationships can help you in any aspect. So now, I have two interns that are starting with me this summer. I always say, the more people that I can introduce them to, the quality introductions, that it's important to have that network that supports you, and then to have mentorship around that, people who are willing to offer their help to guide you in that respect. I like to mentor a lot of law students in that way.

Cherish De la Cruz:
And then, also, one thing is, when I first started law school, and there's this philosophy of other lawyers that, when you start something, that that's the only thing that you can do. But really, if you are willing to reinvent yourself, to learn about another aspect of the law, or to do something completely different, like corporate, to go on the business side, that just because you made one choice the first year of law school doesn't mean that you're set in stone. If you're willing to do the hard work to change that and to explore other areas, then you can do that. Because, I think there's this fallacy or misnomer that, once you pick something, you have to do it for the rest of your life. That's not true, especially in the legal field.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and I can't speak personally having never been to law school or anything like that, but I think that's great advice. Because, my understanding, and maybe you can comment on this, is law school seems to be this uber competitive arena where you've got these students that are often competing for these top-tier jobs at these top-tier law firms. And so, I think, just based on talking to other attorneys, I've gotten the impression that it can be very easy to put your head down, and put on blinders, and just focus on a singular goal. I think it's great that you introduce the idea of being flexible, and being open to change, and open to different directions, if that's what you're called to do. Yeah, I think that's interesting and wonderful advice, so thanks for sharing that.

Cherish De la Cruz:
You're welcome.

Russ Thornton:
This podcast is Women's Retirement Radio. It ultimately comes down to retirement and related topics, like estate planning and the other legal work that you provide to clients, for women and their families in the 50 to the 55-plus age range. I'd be interested, Cherish, and I know you're not in this age range, but I'd be interested to know, when you think of the word retirement, what comes to mind for you personally?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Well, so it's changed over time. Retirement before used to mean you're closing a chapter of your life and you're just entering into easy street. What I've seen lately in my clients who are in that retirement phase is it's just the beginning of a new chapter in their life. Like we've seen in the past year with executive compensation packages, and other people who might have lost their jobs, there's a lot of women I know who started businesses, who are reinventing themselves for the second phase. Because, people in that age range might not necessarily want to completely retire from work, that they still want to explore, and try, and learn new things.

Cherish De la Cruz:
I know of this teacher who went to go back and get her master's and is now getting her PhD. Because, in Georgia, I think she was telling me she was eligible for free tuition if you are, I think, 65 or 60 and over, if your in Georgia. And so, I was like, "Oh, that's amazing." Retirement doesn't mean that things are over, but really just starting a next phase in their life.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, thanks for that. I agree. I think that historically, I mean, if we go back just a few decades, I think retirement was generally like you retire, you get a pension, and you hopefully live another 15 or 20 years, and that's it. Now, people are potentially spending as long in retirement as they did working. It's an interesting dynamic and something... I think you mentioned the word evolve a couple of times in our conversation. It's something that'll continue to evolve and can mean very different things to very different people. So I appreciate you sharing that perspective. Specifically, when it comes to women, what do you think is the biggest challenge women face when they're planning for their retirement?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I think it's the lack of financial education or stories about money. I think the way that you handle this with your clients and potential clients in terms of educating them is key. There are a lot of successful women that I surround myself with. I'm just blessed to be around them. One of the challenges that I do see are the money stories in their head. This might've been something that they had as a child. Maybe their parents were super conservative, or maybe they didn't have a lot growing up, but now they've developed this new wealth, and they don't know what to do with it. So, it's important that they reach out to you, Russ, to figure that out. And then, this intimidation factor of, "Well, what do I do? I'd rather bury my head in the sand," even though they're quite successful about certain aspects, because it can be overwhelming, and just, like you said, taboo. I think once they feel empowered, through education and through contacting you, then they can make better informed decisions.

Russ Thornton:
I don't know that I could've said that better myself. You touched on a couple of things that I've written about and talked about a lot. We all have our own internal money stories or dialogue. I've often seen them referred to as money scripts. You mentioned it very succinctly that often these beliefs that we associate with money come from early childhood experiences and we carry them through our lives, for better or worse. I think most of our money habits are neutral. But depending on how we let them influence our decisions, they can have a positive or a negative impact on our financial futures, especially as it relates to retirement. Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. I think, again, I couldn't agree more. That's something I think is really important. It goes back to something you and I both touched on, which is the psychology around confronting these important, but not always easy, discussion or conversations around money or around estate planning and things of that nature. They're important, but that doesn't always mean they're easy to have. I think that does not diminish their importance despite that.

Cherish De la Cruz:
The great thing about you, Russ, that I like is you do it from a nonjudgmental way. I think that's what people need and that they want. There is no judgment in the actions that you've taken before. What can we do to remedy them correct them or improve? And so, because they might have issues around shame or their own money scripts that it can be challenging. But if somebody is, like you, is willing to listen to them and really hear them out, it makes a world of difference.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and thank you for saying that. I agree that, at the end of the day, what's led you to this point is water under the bridge. We can use our past to inform our future, but it's not something that I... I mean, clearly, I'm not a therapist. I'm not someone that once to dig into anyone's past and analyze and try to make sense of it. I think it can be instructive to look at our past decisions to maybe help us make better, more informed, decisions in the future. But you're right, I think, whether it's financial planning, or estate planning, or anything relating to money and wealth, I think it's helpful to all parties involved not to bring a judgmental perspective or a particular bias to the table. Because, I don't that really serves anyone.

Russ Thornton:
Cherish, as we start to wrap up our conversation today, we've talked about a ton. I really appreciate you taking the time to have this conversation with us and share with our listeners. How would you say that your work impacts women and their families as they plan for or transition into their own retirements?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Fundamentally, for women who are approaching retirement, if they don't have the necessary legal documents in place, so I'm talking about, let's say, a financial power of attorney, which something that helps you pay your bills when you're unable to, then it results in a conservatorship, and the court gets involved. You have the court making financials decisions on your behalf when a court, or a judge, doesn't even know you. Something that it seems difficult in the beginning can become even more of a bigger problem. The more likelihood of you getting sick, or needing some help, or needing someone to do things for you temporarily, that can be a big thing. And then, God forbid, if you pass away just not having those things thought out with someone can lead your family to maybe relying on you financially to not have all of the assets that they need when they do need them.

Russ Thornton:
I think those couple of examples are really interesting, because women typically live longer, so they need to be prepared for if they are on their own, or if they do encounter disability, or health issues, and aren't in a position to make decisions, financial or otherwise, on their own. Clearly, that speaks to the need to have a durable power of attorney in place. You're right, just because statistically women live longer, that doesn't mean that you, if you're listening to this, will. And so, you need to also make sure that you're prepared for the worst, in the event that you don't live out a full life and get to enjoy all the things you planned on, make sure that the people that you leave behind are well cared for and prepared.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Yeah. Just one thing I want say, as a woman myself, there's a lot of people that I know that are women that are mothers that we are worriers. We tend to worry about things. It really does give you peace of mind to close that open loop. And so, I like to think of estate planning as closing one of your open loops, so at night you can fall asleep and know that, God forbid, if anything happens, if you get sick or if you pass away, that things are done and you can just sleep better at night.

Russ Thornton:
I'm glad you mentioned that, because I've gotten that feedback from my clients that have actually gone through the process, some of whom have worked with you, you personally, that have said they just feel such burden lifted or a sense of peace of mind just having that big piece of their financial life checked off. I'm glad you mentioned that. I think that's important, in addition to making sure your wishes will be carried out once you're no longer around.

Russ Thornton:
Cherish, I know you're busy. You own and run a law practice, or law firm. You've got relatively young kids at home. When you've got an hour or two yourself, assuming you do have an hour or two yourself from time to time, how do you most enjoy spending it?

Cherish De la Cruz:
I like being outside. I think COVID and last year has really developed the secret gardener within. And so, I love gardening now. And so, it brings me joy to raise tomatoes and have fresh cut... Because, I love cooking as well too. So, just having fresh vegetables on the table, especially at this time. I'm going to spend this Memorial Day weekend really prepping my garden and getting everything set for the summer.

Russ Thornton:
What's something you've grown in your garden and have taken to the dining table that you've been most proud of?

Cherish De la Cruz:
We have some amazing tomatoes.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Yes, yes. I'll have to bring you some the next time I see you. I think they start bearing fruit in 30 days, so we'll have to get together then. Just fresh tomatoes are the best.

Russ Thornton:
That's awesome. Listen, this has been a great conversation. We could probably talk easily for another hour or two. In the interest of time, if there were one thing that our listeners could take away from our conversation today, Cherish, what would you want that one thing to be?

Cherish De la Cruz:
If you don't have plan in place, please feel free to reach out to me or another estate planning attorney. Just start the conversation. It doesn't have to happen overnight. But really I believe in protecting yourself and your loved ones, because it's just important. And so, reach out, ask a question, and just start the process.

Russ Thornton:
I think that's a great piece of advice and a good place to wrap things up. Cherish, what's the best way for people to get in touch with you, if they'd like to reach out and discuss their situation or if they'd just like to learn more about you and the work you do?

Cherish De la Cruz:
Sure, sure. My phone number is 770-637-8813. That is our office line. You can reach me at Cherish, C-H-E-R-I-S-H, @ D-E-L-A-C-R-U-Z, delacruz-law.com. My website is www.delacruz-law.com.

Russ Thornton:
We'll be sure to include all of those links and your number in the show notes for this episode, so people can find you and get in touch. Cherish, this has been fun. I always enjoy speaking to you, and catching up, and hearing what you've been working on. I thank you so much for joining us and sharing your expertise and your wisdom with our listeners today.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Thank you so much, I appreciate it. We'll have to plan a date where I'm getting you those tomatoes.

Russ Thornton:
I will take you up on that.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Okay.

Russ Thornton:
For everyone out there, again, it's Russ Thornton. Thanks again for listening and stay tuned for the next episode of Women's Retirement Radio.

Cherish De la Cruz:
Thank.