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Breaking the Ice: Estate work balances legal, emotional issues

Name: Diana Marianetti

Title: Associate, Maslon

Education: B.A., communications and media studies, music, Macalester College; J.D., Hamline University School of Law

Diana Marianetti, associate at Maslon, understands the stress and emotions that clients experience when dealing with estate planning and administration.

“You have to walk the line of dealing with something from a legal standpoint and also from an emotional standpoint,” Marianetti said. “I become both their lawyer and almost a therapist sometimes dealing with these issues.”

Wills, trusts, probate and trust administration and trust and estate litigation make up most of Marianetti’s practice.

Marianetti is active in a local chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization, a nonprofit peer advisory group for women owners of multimillion-dollar companies.

“Women business owners often have so much on their plate that they neglect important things like making sure they have proper business succession planning documents in place,” Marianetti said.

She also volunteers with Minnesota Wills for Heroes, a nonprofit offering pro bono assistance in preparing wills and estate planning documents for police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Any way you want. One thing I love most about being an estate-planning attorney is that I get to know people on a very deep level. Also, if you mention dogs we’re probably going to be friends. I have a corgi and pit bull dachshund mix, which is basically a pit bull on little legs.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. My mother would say that I love to argue. I really love solving puzzles and I love working with people. As an estate-planning attorney I get to do both. I get to help people plan for the unexpected in a really meaningful way so that serves both my heart and my mind.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. Bad grammar and when people don’t follow through with their commits.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. I love helping people navigate the stressful topic of estate planning and, more importantly, helping a family administer an estate when someone has died, taking that stress off their plates.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Billing my time. If I could do what I do without billing my time, I would be the happiest person in the whole world. But I think that’s every lawyer’s point.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. Pilates gets me out of my head. It’s a good workout and I really love my studio, Studio 6 in Hopkins.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so I would take them to the crest of the Sandia Mountains and we would go eat some green chile.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. I introduce myself as, “I’m an attorney, but I’m a nice attorney. I don’t sue anyone.” The most common misconception about people working with an estate-planning attorney is that, “I don’t need to do that. We don’t have a lot of money, so I would never need to work with you.” And really it couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone over 18 should have a health care directive. People with minor kids absolutely have to have a will.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her quiet strength and persistence are incredibly admirable. I read that before the nickname RBG became widely known her long-time personal trainer gave her the nickname of TAN — for tough as nails.

Q. What if any is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture?

A. I am a “Law and Order” junkie. If I catch the first two minutes of an episode I have to watch the rest. It might be unrealistic, but it’s good TV. There’s not a whole lot of estate planning in popular culture so I’m satisfied with my “Law and Order.”

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