Revealing Motivations

I am currently President of the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula.  With so many dedicated board members, employees, donors, and volunteers, who make the organization what it is, I’m always curious as to why people decide to dedicate so much time to the agency.  I am a firm believer that one’s motivations for dedicating a significant amount of time and energy to an endeavor reveal a insightful information about the endeavor itself.  In order to share new insights about Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula, I asked the Board members to provide a statement for the agency’s website ( about why they decided to serve on the board.  Their answers indeed taught me new aspects about the agency and role is in the community that I hadn’t previously considered. 

I started to think that the motivations for pursuing a particular career similarly reveal a great deal of insight about various vocations.  I started to think about my own motivations for becoming an estate planning attorney and thought by sharing them in this article, it might reveal unique aspects of the practice that the general public might not have considered. 

When I started college, I didn’t know what I wanted for a career.  I was very idealistic – I simply wanted to be an English major for four years and I figured I’d worry about a vocation later.  I viewed the common utilitarian approach to higher education as merely a stepping stone to a “good job” with disdain.  I felt that college should be about expanding horizons and developing the self. 

My father was a school principal and my mother was an elementary school teacher so education was always important to me.  I loved college so much that I seriously contemplated obtaining a Ph.D. in English and becoming an English professor.  I liked the idea of continuing my parents’ legacy of teaching.

At the same time, my father always had an interest in the law and he would encourage me to think about becoming an attorney.  Although the reading, writing, and analytical skills of an English major are transferable to the practice of law, I was hesitant as I knew that I wasn’t interested in being adversarial in a courtroom.  

My grandmother and I were very close.  In high school, as soon as I got my learner’s permit, I would chauffeur her around all the time as she didn’t like to drive.  I took her to the grocery store, the bank, and doctor appointments.  Years later, while on a break from college, one day she asked me to drive her to her estate planning attorney because she wanted to make some updates to her estate plan. 

At that meeting, I had the opportunity to observe my grandmother’s estate planning attorney and I got the sense of what his daily routine was like.  I discovered that law wasn’t necessarily how it was portrayed in the media.  Naturally, television shows and movies focus on areas of the law that involve a lot of conflict such as civil litigation and criminal law in order to produce drama.  There aren’t too many shows about estate planning attorneys!  But, from my observations during that meeting, I realized that the legal profession could be a good fit for me if I found the right practice area.  I later decided to go to law school and to focus upon estate planning.

After more than nine years in practice focusing on estate planning, I can’t think of a better profession (other than perhaps a game show host!) than being an estate planning attorney.  I’m a trusted advisor who finds solutions for my clients.  In addition to the reading, writing, and analytical skills, my English degree also helps me understand how to relate to a wide variety of people which allows me to identify their wishes and concerns and develop a plan that suites their needs.  An unexpected bonus is that I am indeed continuing my parents’ legacy of teaching as a large part of my job is giving presentations to my clients and at various public and private seminars about estate planning.  You can see this “teaching aspect” in action by going to my website,, and clicking on “Kyle’s Legal Lessons.”