“Estate planning is death planning – what happens to my assets, who gets them when I die. I’m the life planner. I’m the one who protects those assets during your life,” says Ike Devji.
According to Devji, he is a legal and financial bodyguard who helps protect a national client base of more than 4,500 clients representing nearly $6 billion in personal assets. Half of his clients are medical professionals and physicians. The other half are successful private business owners of every type and a subgroup of C-level executives and professional athletes.
“We have millionaires calling from out of state or coming into my office every week who have spent small fortunes on estate planning for when they’re dead, but have spent no thought, money, planning or time making sure that their estate plan gets funded by protecting the assets they’ve so carefully planned to pass on. I am the other side of that coin. I make sure those assets actually survive through the client’s life,” he says.
A Background in Business.
A Future in the Law.
Devji grew up working behind the counter of his family business and by the age of 16 was managing the family’s high-end retail store.
“That was some of the best legal and business training I could have ever had. I saw the abuse of the law and how it was used by others and how it cost some people everything they’d ever worked for. That really solidified what I wanted to do,” Devji says. A career in the law is a tradition in Devji’s family. He was born in the United States, but his grandfather and great-grandfather were Supreme Court justices in India.
“I grew up in family businesses and saw people in my family make and lose millions of dollars in business,” he says. “In many cases the wins and losses were due to how the law treated them, their businesses and the facts surrounding the controversy. I saw how powerful the legal system could be in preserving the success of hardworking American business owners and how dangerous it could be if those people didn’t have the right counsel or didn’t take the right steps to use the law to preserve what they had worked their whole lives to build.”
Devji knew he wanted to become a lawyer by the time he graduated high school. He earned his Bachelor of Science in political science from Arizona State University and his Juris Doctor from the Arizona State University college of law.
Working With the Working Wealthy
Despite their high net-worth, most of Devji’s clients do not think of themselves as wealthy. He describes them as the working wealthy. “They have nice homes with substantial equity. They have money in the bank. They have wealth in many forms they’ve invested decades of education and hard work in building. They deserve to have the maximum protection of the law, but often don’t know how to obtain that protection,” he says.
His business philosophy is that everyone’s solvency is time sensitive. Too many people put off planning until they face an emergency, such as a lawsuit. “We try to do the right work for the right people at the right time,” he says. “This means treating everyone’s wealth as important and time sensitive. We have to think outside the box as lawyers and look at other issues. This job extends to risk management – preventing exposures proactively and advising clients on recurring risks. We can’t work in a vacuum.”
The responsibility of protecting the assets of a business or family is essential to the well-being and success of that business or family. Devji says, “We don’t leave our cars unlocked. We insure our homes, our cars, our health and even our lives. Why wouldn’t we insure our net worth?”
Sharing the Wealth
Devji writes extensively for numerous publications. He is also an in-demand educator and speaker. He teaches continuing medical education and continuing legal education in programs, lectures and seminars throughout the nation. He also provides video lectures for the American Education Institute and has taught asset protection for the Arizona Society of CPAs and the Financial Planning Association of Arizona among dozens of other professional organizations across the United States. He has written more than 200 published articles on asset protection, wealth preservation and business law for publication in numerous national legal, financial and medical magazines and trade journals.
“I have the information, I think it helps people and I don’t mind sharing it. I don’t write for lawyers, I write for the public. My material covers complex legal concepts, but I try to cover it in lay language so that any doctor, any business owner whether or not he or she has a sophisticated legal or financial background can get the general idea,” he says.
Life Outside the Lawyer’s Office
Devji enjoys a well-rounded life outside of the legal environment.
Not only is he a fan and casual collector of art, primarily contemporary, he is also an artist. “I paint when I have time. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of my artwork because I end up giving it away to friends. For me the fun is more in the doing than the having. Pretty much every piece I’ve ever done is with a friend. I don’t know that I have more than a single piece of my own work,” he says.
He travels nationally for business, but he also loves to travel for pleasure. “I love Hawaii. I love Arizona. I enjoy going to San Diego, San Francisco. I spend time in Atlanta where I have family. I have been to Europe, Asia and Morocco. I have been to India, of course, many times. We have family there.”
When not in the office, teaching, or in a client’s boardroom, he can often be found in his kitchen. He cooks almost every night and enjoys dining with friends at get-togethers and dinner parties.
Devji enjoys a mix of high-brow and low-brow film and television. “I will be the first to admit that after working all day and dealing with these things, sometimes to go home, put your feet up and watch something stupid is entertaining. I watch all kinds of shows. I’m a big fan of “Real Time With Bill Maher,” even though I shout at the TV a lot when he’s on. I love “The Daily Show.” I’ve just seen the first two seasons of “Orange is the New Black.” I like action shows like “Strike Back” or “24.” I watch local and national news every day and read dozens of business, medical and legal updates. I think it’s important to be informed both personally and professionally.”
Whether he’s taking his rescue dog for a walk – he’s a dog person – or presenting a seminar on asset protection, Devji strives to live life to the fullest for himself and for his clients.