Th!nkresolution provides our clients with a “partner and resources” to assist those individuals or families in life transitions. Often these transitions can result in conflict. That is why we have combined the expertise of a licensed Professional Fiduciary and a Credentialed Mediator to provide personalized services to help seniors, family members, or individuals navigate the complex situations of aging, aging in place, the family dynamics of executing a trust, and/or caring for parents, retirement, divorce, or illness.
Th!nkresolution is your trusted partner serving with compassion while working towards a more peaceful resolution to life’s transitions.
Th!nkresolution is about people; specifically, our clients that we serve as a licensed professional fiduciary since 2017, or, as a credentialed mediator since 1998. Both areas of expertise involve trust, compassion, advocacy, and resolution. Michelle Burkart has combined her 35 years of experience as an entrepreneur, corporate executive and business advisor with her professional fiduciary and mediation training to provide a unique set of skills to assist her clients in the various areas of fiduciary services. Whether you need a trustee, estate executor, agent under a power of attorney, or daily bill paying, fiduciary consulting, Th!nkresolution is your resource for trusted support, advocacy, and resolution.
Originally from Washington D.C., Michelle has lived and worked in four distinct areas of the United States, and in Europe. From this experience alone, she came to understand that people are much the same the world over with similar but individual needs and interests.
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a BA degree in Business, and moving to Germany, she earned a MBA in International Business, traveled, and worked for the largest “corporation” in the world, the Department of Defense. Looking back, she believes that from the experience of living among other cultures, the seeds of “being of service” were rooted.
Upon her return to the United States, she moved to the SF Bay Area where she built and sold several companies. Relocating to San Diego in 1993, she founded a business consulting firm TH!NKbusiness.
She also became a credentialed mediator in 1998 with the NCRC; and received professional certification from
San Diego State University in 1999. Since that time, she has served on the San Diego Superior Court Mediation panel; the NCRC Commercial Mediation, Hearing Officer, and Caregiver panels.
In 2016, two of her clients introduced her to the work of a Professional Fiduciary. She enrolled in UC Fullerton’s Professional Fiduciary program in which she graduated in 2017, passed the two required exams, and became licensed by the Professional Fiduciary Bureau (Lic # 1050). She renamed her business to Th!nkresolution which combined her mediation & fiduciary practices.
The Role of a Professional Fiduciary
Trust, Compassion, Advocacy, Resolution
Providing care as a Professional Fiduciary is as much a calling as it is a career. The honored roots of overseeing the finances or well-being or another person dates back thousands of years. Legally, a fiduciary is a person whom we place the utmost confidence to manage and protect the personal affairs, assets, or property of the client as well as to help ensure their overall wellness.Fiduciaries practicing in the state of California are required to be licensed by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. They may have had previous careers as attorneys, CPA’s, bankers, social workers, or healthcare providers. A fiduciary’s role is not merely that of business manager, decision-maker, or guardian but also one of a nurturing bond of trust, concern, and attentive care-giving. A fiduciary seeks, most importantly, to help each client, and their families, enjoy a fulfilling life.
Fiduciary Services May Include:
Daily Bill Paying and Money Management
Agent under a Power of Attorney
Executor for senior with no spouse or family
Conservator for those who are mentally or physically incapacitated
There may be many other roles a fiduciary can fulfill.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
A fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own, with a duty to preserve good faith and trust. Being a fiduciary thus requires being bound both legally and ethically to act in the other’s best interests.
The fiduciary as trustee is appointed by the maker of a trust and has the responsibility of carrying out the terms of the trust as set forth in a trust document. A trustee is needed only when there is a trust. A successor trustee assumes responsibility if and when the original trustee no longer manages the trust, for a variety of reasons. When there is a trust, the process is called Trust Administration. There are many kinds of trusts.
A personal representative is the generic term for an executor for the estate of a deceased person who left a will, or the administrator of an estate where there is no will. Conservators are also personal representatives. All personal representatives are under the supervision of the probate court.
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE
The fiduciary as the Administrator of the Estate is a person appointed to act on behalf of the estate when a person dies without a will or living trust, or when a person dies with a will, but the named executor is unable to execute their duties, declines the appointment as executor, or is removed by the court.
EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE
The fiduciary as the Executor of the Estate is a person who is nominated by the deceased person in their will to act on behalf of the estate.
The fiduciary as the Attorney-In-Fact is appointed by an individual through a Durable Power of Attorney to handle financial matters on ones behalf.
CONSERVATOR OF THE ESTATE
A Conservator is appointed by the probate financial matters on one’s behalf. Court to handle the financial affairs of a person who can no longer do so.
MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Medical Power of Attorney grants the fiduciary legal authority to make important decisions about medical care.
In conflict resolution, the difference between a good outcome and a great one is a matter of resilience and spirit, not just intellect and power. Our goal is to work with individuals and groups who share our conviction that people deserve to resolve their client’s conflicts in the best possible way.
When mediating, we provide a safe environment where all parties involved may face each other in order to break through impasses. Whether it be a family conflict, a care giver team interaction, we will help to facilitate constructive conversation which can lead to a resolution acceptable to all parties.
Th!nkresolution provides mediation services in several areas of dispute resolution. The fees for service begin at $250.00 per hour and the total cost of the mediation can vary depending on the complexity of the case. Normally, most mediations are performed by a single mediator. In the areas of family business, care giver; or Eldercare disputes there may be a need for more collaborative team effort. At which case, the parties will be given the fee structure of additional team members before agreeing to mediate.
BUSINESS TRUSTS & COMMERCIAL
Contracts, and contract breach
Commercial contract disputes
Banking, and Fiduciary issues
Commercial Lease Disputes
ELDERCARE & PROBATE MEDIATION
Disputes among family and/or beneficiaries
Disputes between beneficiaries and professional fiduciaries
Trust and will disputes
Probate and Trust Distribution
DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP TRUST DISSOLUTION
Property division, debt repayment
Children: Visitation and Custody
Spousal & Child Support
PROFESSIONAL FIDUCIARY FAQ’s
Q: What is a Professional Fiduciary?
A:Professional Fiduciaries serve as an independent third party who can provide financial and healthcare options, resources, and knowledge to oversee services like trust administration, paying bills, powers of attorney, investment management, medical care, housing, or nutrition with the goal of promoting a client’s dignity and peace of mind.
Q: Is a Professional Fiduciary required to be licensed?
A:Professional Fiduciaries are licensed and regulated by the State of California and must follow a strict code of ethics. Additionally, they are strictly bound by the California Probate Code and ultimately answer to the Court.
Q: Who do Professional Fiduciaries serve?
A:Professional Fiduciaries serve seniors, people with mental and physical disabilities, or children with special needs; and seniors who do not have a family member to assist them; or persons who do not have the knowledge or ability to manage these affairs themselves.
Q: Why would you use a Professional Fiduciary?
A:There are several common situations when someone may choose to hire a Professional Fiduciary:
When doing advanced estate planning, a person with full mental capacity may name aProfessional Fiduciary to oversee health care or manage finances in the event of future incapacity.
A Professional Fiduciary can oversee the health care and/or finances of someone with impaired mental capacity that did not do advanced estate planning.
Family members may agree on a Professional Fiduciary to act as a court appointed conservator over their elder’s person and estate.
In the case where the elder named children as co-trustees and the children disagree over care and financial matters.
In blended families with children from different marriages, an elder may choose to name a Professional Fiduciary to ensure their wishes will be fulfilled.
A Professional Fiduciary may be needed in situations of what is called “undue influence” where someone with significant financial resources needs the impartiality of a third party neutral to make decisions.
Q: How does mediation work?
Mediation is a process for resolving conflicts, in which a third party neutral, a skilled mediator assists the disputing parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Participation is voluntary and the agreement is usually a non -binding one unless the parties mutually stipulate it to be binding. The parties, not the mediator, create the final resolution based on what they consider to be a fair and workable agreement.
Q: Why would you try mediation?
Mediation is 90% effective in resolving conflict.
It provides the parties control of the outcome of their dispute.
It creates a win-win situation by exploring all options.
It is faster, more flexible, and more cost effective than going to court.
It is confidential which is protected under California law.
It creates a safe, and relaxed environment in which to resolve the dispute.
It is more cost effective, both in time, energy, and money than litigation.
Q: How much does Mediation services cost?
Mediation fees can range from $350 per hour to $1950 per day for a professional, credentialed, and experienced mediator. The fees are evenly divided by the parties involved in the dispute.
Q: What if the disputing parties are in the litigation process, can they still mediate the dispute?
Mediation is often used by the California Courts in a “court ordered” mediation to help parties arrive at a settlement. Mediators who serve on the San Diego Superior Court Panel provide two hours initially at a reduced rate to assist in resolving cases that are in litigation. The parties may have their legal counsel present and the rules of confidentiality still apply to those cases as well.
Th!nkresolution has instituted a tiered fee schedule to differentiate between the tasks completed by licensed professionals utilizing their fiduciary expertise and those completed at an administrative level. In accordance with the California Probate Code for the Professional Fiduciary, the tasks are billed incrementally at quarter of the hour and reflect the actual time spent. Staff bills at the hourly rates listed in the tables below.
All appointments (excluding Agency Agreements) are charged an initial minimum file setup fee of $375.00, which includes the initial visit and interview with the client, obtaining the case history and client demographic information, and the initial interview of interested parties. Inclusive of this fee are the costs associated with the physical and database client file creation.
Licensed Staff:$ 195.00-$325.00/hr.
Non-Licensed Staff:$ 105.00-$175.00/hr.
Court appearances, Meetings with Third-Party Agencies, Corresponding with Interested Parties, Inventory and Appraisement of Assets, Marshaling Assets, Forensic Accounting Services, Annual Accounting Services, Client Visits, Attendance to Medical Appointments, Account Reconciliation, Benefit Procurement and Maintenance, Communication with Interested Parties
Licensed Staff:$ 150.00- $195.00/hr.
Non-Licensed Staff$ 100.00- $ 150.00/hr.
Includes Consultant, Agent, and Stand-Alone Power of Attorney designations per contract.
Agency agreements are charged a retainer in the amount of $450.00, the equivalent of three (3) hours of work performed. Once the retainer has been exhausted, additional fees may apply at the above specified hourly rate.
Licensed Staff:$ 75.00/hr.
Non-Licensed Staff: $ 60.00/hr.
Receipt, Review, and Payment of Bills, Client Banking Transactions, Client File Maintenance, Administrative Phone Inquiries, 2nd Person Dual Control Activities, and Other administrative tasks.
Licensed Staff:$ 50.00/hr.
Non-Licensed Staff $ 40.00/hr.
Shopping with or for the client to include personal and medically necessary items
Mileage– billed at the current rate approved by the Internal Revenue Service
Postage and Delivery– billed at the current postal and private delivery rates
Other expensesincurred and advanced by Th!nkresolutionon behalf of the
Address: Th!nkresolution ~2534 State Street Suite 302~ San Diego, CA 92101
“Michelle is caring, meticulous, and supportive as a professional fiduciary.She has helped several clients who needed someone to address financial issues while listening to their concerns. Her experience put my mind at ease that those who I cared about were in the best of hands.”
- E Brown CFP
“My wife and I have worked with Michelle to assist us in managing our monthly finances since we moved into assisted living facility. I can enjoy my new living space more now without worrying about my daily finances since she took over our financial management.”
- J Lindstrom
Assisted Living Resident
“Michelle was named our successor trustee and has provided consultation support, financial management support, and personal visits to help my husband and I through several life transitions.
I would highly recommend her services as she is professional, and compassionate. “