Every time Susanna P. Starcevic takes on a new client, she starts a new journey.
"Every case is different and unique. Each one stems from an individual life. You get to slowly discover that person and how their life unfolded," said Starcevic, a licensed professional fiduciary practicing in the greater San Diego region. "I run the gamut. I've had cases that involved buried treasure and one trust that owned racehorses. There's always something new."
A San Diego native, Starcevic's personal journey included several byways that prepared her for her current career. She was a practicing attorney, a Wall Street stockbroker and an East Village bakery owner until getting involved in her own family's trust several years ago.
She discovered that the work suited her. Word about her good work reached a friend's relative with a large trust, who then hired her. More clients soon followed.
"I realized that handling trusts and estates was a perfect confluence of my education, skills and experience," she said. "My legal, financial and business backgrounds are a big part of it. I've started a small business. I've done real estate development and property management. And I'm very comfortable in the realm of litigation. A lot of fiduciaries want nothing to do with litigation, but I don't have any problem with taking on cases that may be headed to court. While I no longer practice law, I still relish the give and take of litigation."
Starcevic earned a bachelor's degree in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego, and then a Juris Doctor at University of San Diego School of Law, where she was a member of the Law Review. After spending her final law school semester on an internship at the U. S. Attorney's office in New York City, she fell in love with New York and stayed, working in the stock and municipal bonds markets on Wall Street. After 10 years on the East Coast, she was ready to make a change. She returned to San Diego, eventually opening Bread on Market, an artisan bakery near Petco Park that she eventually sold, to the dismay of her regular customers.
She believes the combination of her wide-ranging experiences helps set her apart from other private fiduciaries, who by law are solo practitioners. "I have an assistant/office manager, but it's just me," she said. "I think that's why people hire a fiduciary. It's a personal, people business. They hire one person to be responsible, and I am the responsible party.
Because so many cases involve families, she likes that she can often help mend fences. "A lot of times, the reason a fiduciary is called in is because there is discord among the family. My most satisfying cases involve when I can navigate that kind of situation, keep the family intact and reach a satisfying resolution."
But she also relishes non-family assignments around the region. "I love complicated cases. I like one that's got a lot of different moving parts. Business-oriented, litigation, real estate — I enjoy all of that."
Starcevic credits several women who have made an impact on her personally and professionally.
"I come from a long line of independent, strong-willed and smart women," she said. "My mother, grandmother, aunt and sisters have all been a wonderful influence on me. But the person who probably influences me most is my 22-year-old daughter, Paloma. She's a real inspiration to me. I'm very heartened about the next generation and how women are creating their own lives from a very young age.
"I think this is a career that is well-suited to women," she said. "My advice to other women is: Do what you love. I love what I do. I've worked as an attorney, in the brokerage field, in real estate, business, and it's all come together in this perfect job for me. If you do something you like to do, you're going to be good at it and you're going to be successful."
2801 B Street #137 | San Diego, CA 92102 | (619) 840-2617 | www.StarTrustee.com