Being in the right place at the right time altered Joan Klimpel’s career path.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting, Klimpel went to law school with the plan of becoming a corporate tax attorney. However, during a summer internship at Godfrey & Kahn SC in Milwaukee, she was seated near the estate planning team and frequently worked on their projects.
“One of the partners had hand surgery and needed someone to take notes so I was asked to help with that,” she said. “After being in those meetings, I saw how estate law combined some of the tax side of things along with that personal side. I became very interested and realized that just as every family is different, so is every estate plan.”
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Klimpel joined Godfrey & Kahn’s estate planning team and hasn’t looked back. She works with clients helping them draft wills, trusts and related estate planning documents, along with probate and trust administration.
Since she started working with clients in the mid-1990s, Klimpel said she has seen many changes in the industry, such as a massive increase in the exemption limit: from $600,000 at the start of her career to more than $5 million today.
“Estate plans have really gone from ‘How can I save on my taxes?’ to ‘What’s the best way for my family to inherit my wealth?’” she said. “It’s also become more of a team effort. We try to work with financial advisors and accountants, too, so we’re all on the same page when working with our clients.”
While she works with clients on their own charitable giving, Klimpel also is a big proponent of giving her time to helping charitable organizations. She’s used her experience to help groups including Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Planned Giving Council, the Elm Grove Community Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Development Committee.
“When there’s an organization that I really believe in, I’m not shy in helping,” she said.
Kelly Sachse, senior planned giving director with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation, said Klimpel’s passion for helping others is evident.
“She’ll share her expertise with donors and also is willing to speak at education events,” Sachse said. “Joan gets out there and advocates for us in the community. I’ve also heard from donors who work professionally with her and they always have so many wonderful things to say about Joan.”