Adam Roark remembers well his decision day — the day when he decided to become an attorney specializing in estate and business planning.
On that day, the recent Davidson College graduate was shadowing Jim Ashburn, a North Carolina attorney and a family friend.
He accompanied Ashburn in visiting a farming couple.
“They had a special-needs daughter who was about 40 and who had a knack for teaching kids to ride horses but no understanding of how to run a farm,” Roark said. “They wanted to plan their estate so she could continue to have their home and continue doing what she enjoyed after they were gone.”
Roark was hooked.
“I knew that was the kind of thing I wanted to do,” he said.
He went on to get a law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.
He’s been practicing law in his specialty since 2008, after receiving a master’s in taxation from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law — first with another law firm and then with his own firm since 2011.
Roark’s approach to potential clients is simple: “Life gets complicated in the absence of planning.”
He made his point using the example of estate planning.
“A young couple needs estate documents addressing who will be the guardian of their kids and how their assets will be handled,” he said. “If you haven’t planned your estate, you can create a tremendous mess that’s hard to deal with.”
Couples creating a blended family also need help with documents specifying inheritance, while business partnerships require a clear operating agreement, he noted.
“If you can’t agree now, it’s not going to be easy when acrimony sets in,” he said.
He also tries to deter people from falling prey to misconceptions, such as the following:
- A handshake deal fixes everything
- A non-compete clause is easy to enforce
- It’s easy to create an LLC on your own
“Many agreements that people put together themselves aren’t effective,” he said. “You generally need an attorney to help you.”
In 2014, he was named one of the top 40 under 40 leaders in the Gainesville area by Business in Greater Gainesville.
He has taught continuing education classes at Santa Fe College along with financial planner Larry Christian of Morgan Stanley. He is also available to speak to groups about estate planning.
Roark adjusts his fees to accommodate anyone who needs his service.
“I want people to have the documents they need,” he said.
An avid runner, Roark is on the board of directors of the Running Tabs running group. He has served on the Gala Host Committee of Equality Florida. He is married to Katie Roark, a local speech language pathologist who specializes in autism and behavior related disabilities.