Anthony Schmoldt is not a suit-and-tie kind of attorney. You’re more likely to find him in a tractor cab than a courtroom. In fact, he’s taken Zoom calls with clients from his hay field.
His down-to-earth personality and approach means Schmoldt Law Office in Chippewa Falls is prepared to help all kinds of clients with estate planning as well as business, real estate, probate, and trust law.
“It makes no difference what level of assets you have or where you came from,” Schmoldt says. “We want to make sure that people are taken care of.”
The son of a Harley-Davidson machinist and a Kmart cashier, Schmoldt grew up admiring a relative who was an attorney. From an early age, he was determined to follow a similar path. He graduated from UW-Eau Claire — where he met his wife, Grace — then studied law at Regent University in Virginia. After receiving his law degree in 2006, Schmoldt worked with a firm in Mosinee.
Five years later, the Schmoldts moved to Chippewa Falls to help Grace’s parents with their family dental practice and farm. At the same time, Schmoldt opened a solo law practice. Schmoldt gained firsthand experience in succession planning, something he handles frequently in his legal practice, when the family decided to sell the dental practice after its existence in Chippewa Falls for three generations.
Schmoldt’s client base includes families from across the state, many of whom are farmers like the Schmoldt family, who raise grass-fed beef. “Because we have our own farm, I understand the goals of preserving the family farm,” he explained. “People say, ‘Oh, so you actually know what it’s like.’ ”
But it isn’t just farms: Schmoldt works with a variety of businesses in transition, from startups to firms worth tens of millions of dollars. When it comes to business succession planning and changes in ownership, Schmoldt works hard to make sure the process moves smoothly and that issues are settled ahead of time so things don’t end up in court.
Schmoldt’s approach to estate planning for families is similar: He wants to make sure they have the necessary documents in place that allow them to enjoy their lives now and make sure their assets and loved ones are protected in the future.
Just because you don’t have a big estate or a lot of assets doesn’t mean you don’t need an estate plan, Schmoldt explains.
“An estate plan isn’t necessarily about having large assets,” he says. “It’s really the concept of making sure you have what you need if you become incapacitated or pass away. For some people, they just need a financial and healthcare power of attorney. Some people have a blended family and need to have an estate plan. Others wish to designate guardians for minor children. And then we get to larger estates, business owners, and people who wish to have a structured distribution plan for beneficiaries that should have a trust to keep things transitioning smoothly and out of probate.”
Schmoldt and the rest of his office — which includes two paralegals and four administrative staff — are dedicated to making sure everyone, regardless of wealth, age, or family circumstance, have peace of mind. At the very least, he said, everyone over 18 should have healthcare and financial power of attorney documents properly completed. You can either work with an attorney to complete these or download them for free from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
With clients from different walks of life — from teens leaving for college who are signing power of attorneys to older folks working to preserve their assets in anticipation of the costs of long-term care — personalization is key. “Let’s figure out what you need,” Schmoldt says. “Don’t just let people tell you that you have to have something. Let’s really figure out what you should have. We’re focused on keeping it simple for people and doing what they need to do instead of just saying ‘Everyone needs a trust’ or ‘Everyone needs a will.’ ”
“I would rather see you enjoy life than see you spend money on unnecessary fees,” he says. This low-pressure approach, he adds, actually helps bring in business, with clients often referring friends to Schmoldt Law Office.
At the end of the day, Schmoldt is happy to be able to go home and know that his office has helped people accomplish their goals.
“It’s fun because it’s constantly different,” he says. “Every situation is so unique.”