The world of estate-planning professionals was saddened to learn of the death of Roy M. Adams on Aug. 11, 2014.
Roy was, without doubt, one of the most dedicated, accomplished and well-respected trusts and estates lawyers of his time. Among his numerous achievements and honors were that he was a Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a member of the distinguished teaching faculty of Cannon Financial Institute, a frequent speaker at the prestigious Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning and Hawaii Tax Institute, Chair of the editorial advisory board of Trusts & Estates magazine, adjunct professor of law in estate planning at Northwestern University School of Law, nationally ranked by Chambers USA, listed in The Best Lawyers in America and the author of several articles, treatises and books, among the most popular of which is Wit & Wisdom – the Best of Roy Adams.
At the peak of his career, Roy was a highly successful estate planner. He was a superb legal technician, representing significant clients across the country, as well as internationally, and was a very dynamic and greatly sought-after speaker from coast to coast. Roy had a unique ability, both with his clients as well as in his seminar presentations, to connect with people. He could explain complicated concepts in a way that made them understandable, and he often skillfully included humorous anecdotes and stories that were elucidating and endeared him to his hearers.
Beyond estate planning and giving seminar presentations, Roy often served as an expert witness and regularly represented the nation's most respected corporate fiduciaries, giving them invaluable advice on how best to avoid liability and to extricate themselves from difficult situations.
On a personal note, I had the privilege of being Roy's partner for a few years. In 2002, Roy joined the firm in which I was then a partner, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP. He was immediately named Senior Chairman of our Trusts & Estates Practice Group. Upon joining Sonnenschein, Roy gave me two beautiful oil paintings, which hang in my office to this day. Roy generously involved me in several of his client relationships and professional activities. Through Roy, I was able to work on some exciting planning projects for some of the nation's wealthiest and well-known individuals and families. In addition, Roy invited me to join him and participate in giving seminar presentations around the nation – as well as to be his co-presenter in the very popular Cannon Financial Institute monthly estate planning teleconference series. I freely admit that I have greatly benefitted from the relationship I had with Roy. He opened many doors for me that would have taken years for me to open myself. To this day, many successful aspects of my professional life are directly traceable to Roy's insightful suggestions, influence and introductions of me to others. There are few individuals who have touched my career to whom I owe more than Roy Adams.
I last saw Roy at the Hawaii Tax Institute in December of 2013. Sadly, he was physically frail, but his wit was as sharp as ever. A few of us wondered whether that would be our last opportunity to be with Roy. That turned out to be true.
Roy left an indelible mark on many of his clients and colleagues – including me. It is no hyperbole to say that Roy was a legend in our industry. He will be missed.