Planning and administration for estates and trusts can seem complicated and burdensome. With that in mind, Rachel Muñoz makes the process as simple, straightforward and painless for people as possible.
“I wanted to build something in my community that is positive, something that serves and protects families,” Muñoz said.
After graduating from Severna Park High School, Muñoz attended the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in psychology with a minor in philosophy. Inspired by the need for advocacy in her community, she studied at the University of Maryland School of Law during nights while raising three kids with her husband, Andrew, here in Severna Park.
Now a mother of five and a state delegate, Muñoz started her own law firm at the end of 2022. She works with families who come to her from “every corner of the state, which I did not expect.”
About two-thirds of the U.S. population dies without a will. Without directives, the state decides how assets will be distributed.
Muñoz feels blessed to help families plan for their futures, navigate difficult decisions and find common ground.
“Sometimes, people are embarrassed about finances or conflict within the family,” she said before emphasizing that it’s normal to have problems. “With a background in counseling, I already knew there is no such thing as a dysfunctional family because they all are,” she joked.
With the probate process, it can take a year to 18 months before a family can access funds. Planning can expedite the process.
“I like walking with families and bridging the gap,” she said. “When we’re done, I love to see them experience such a relief because they have done something to protect their family and finances, no matter what comes next in life.”
Muñoz wants clients to plan so that their wishes are honored. Although that task might seem overwhelming, her goal is to talk through options in a comfortable environment. For example, she does not sit behind a big desk or require long intake forms like some firms.
“When we sit together at a conference table, I want it to be a collaborative process,” Muñoz said. “You either do the hard work now or your family does it later.
“I try to make it a safe space,” she added. “Family members are stressed and burdened. It can be traumatizing for a person.”
Muñoz meets with families in her Riggs Avenue office, located in the LaBarge Financial building.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much from Jason and his team,” Muñoz said. “If (clients) have complex questions about financial planning, taxes, or retirement, they can help answer those questions right here in the office. I love having this space. I’ve been with firms that started local and ended up in those big gray corporate buildings.”
Jason LaBarge, financial advisor and president of LaBarge Financial, said the expertise offered by Muñoz Estates & Trusts gives his clients a more holistic, well-rounded approach in addition to his services.
“Rachel brings an acumen that is unique to our industry because she understands the full complement of what a client needs,” LaBarge said. “Our clients love that because most financial planners don’t have that service. I know Rachel has each client’s best interest at heart.”
Jessie Ringle, LaBarge Financial’s chief operations officer, holds a similar perspective.
“Instead of an isolated view of an estate plan, she has a peripheral view of how the plan works with everything else so that it goes hand in hand,” Ringle said.
When she is not in her Severna Park office, Muñoz offers concierge appointments and visits private homes, client offices, as well as nursing homes so she can bring her services to elderly clients.
“I’ve had grown adults crying in my office,” Muñoz said. “I think (the process) is scary for most people. If you can find someone compassionate and understanding, it can be pleasant. It’s an honor to be able to take some of that weight off people’s shoulders.”
Muñoz Estates & Trusts is located at 7 Riggs Avenue in Severna Park. To learn more about services for estates and trusts — planning and administration, call 410-541-0269.
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