Leadership Profile: Anthony Cusumano on Modernizing Estate Settlement

Why ClearEstate’s Lead Attorney in California feels like “this is my calling”

Posted on November 4, 2021
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The grandson of a funeral home director, ClearEstate's head of legal operations in California is no stranger to the complex realities of the bereavement space, informed by both formative professional and deeply personal experiences.

Based near Los Angeles, Anthony Cusumano's career as an estate attorney was disrupted, so to speak, by Canadian fintech at the height of the pandemic, and he said he is grateful that ClearEstate allows him to draw on his passions and compassion to streamline estate settlement in the US, Canada and beyond.

Like the company’s founders, Anthony wants nothing more than to provide financial closure for families in grief with 21st century efficiency, and like the company’s founders, it was an idea he had considered well before the platform was launched.

LIFELONG LEARNING ON ESTATE SETTLEMENT

Anthony attended law school in his hometown of San Diego, California and upon graduating, naturally gravitated toward estate planning, probate and trust administration, practicing with two regional firms. But even before law was a consideration and ClearEstate was conceived, Anthony had fostered an early understanding of death and dying, and the problems with bureaucracies that most citizens cannot avoid.

“My journey into this goes way back,” he began. “Before I was born, my grandfather opened up a funeral home here in California. My mom grew up in a funeral home, and several of my uncles are still in the industry. This area of law has been in my blood since the beginning.”

For Anthony, estate planning and settlement represents an area of critical importance as worldwide financial systems modernize. The transfer of assets will be much less cumbersome in the years to come and the time of key professionals participating in the process, he observed as a litigator, should also be drastically reduced with the help of some automation.

“When someone dies, the survivors have to carry this enormous burden of closing the estate — especially if they haven't put a plan in place. And while they're going through the grieving process, they have to navigate the complicated and convoluted nature of estate law. And it's really a time that they should be grieving a loss, or celebrating a life.”

The ClearEstate team was thrilled to have found such a natural fit in Anthony.

“Anthony brings a wealth of knowledge as well as calm assurance,” said ClearEstate CEO Davide Pisanu. “We wouldn’t have made the progress we have made in the US without his support.”

AN OVERDUE SOLUTION

While he says he sort of fell into it, Anthony quickly grew to love estate law because of how much this type of specialized support was needed. In ClearEstate, he sees a path to helping exponentially more families cope with bereavement bureaucracies.

In practicing estate law, he kept seeing the same problems over and over again as families grappled with the consequences of having avoided estate planning. Even with clear instructions in a will, it can take up to 18 months or longer in some cases to close an estate. Then there are probate fees, attorney fees, and myriad other details that compound the emotional toll of death.

“I enjoy my work for ClearEstate so much because it's trying to get rid of the anxiety of settling the estate. It offers a simple flat rate, is easier to digest as a consumer, and you get a trusted advisor to give you advice throughout the process. What you get is a roadmap so you know what to expect. It’s an important product the public deserves.”

Anthony admits he fell in love with ClearEstate because he knew some time ago that such a technological disruption was inevitable.

"Before I joined the company, I was camping with my fiancé, going through the motions of an estate settlement," he recalled, "and we saw how antiquated this area of law was. We asked ourselves — she worked in tech — why these processes haven't been automated yet. A few months later, I was recruited."

EMPATHETIC FINTECH

Anthony noted the importance of empathy and communication throughout the settlement process, since family members are often nervous about going into a lawyer's office. ClearEstate provides access to real human professionals and peace of mind, with the click of a mouse.

“You can go online, chat with an estate representative or an estate administrator, even get advice from a licensed attorney. You have that roadmap, which eases tension while giving users the tools they need to get through it intact.”

Empathy and efficiency are the pillars of ClearEstate's user experience, and Anthony is committed to helping to push forward the 21st century vision behind the company. It's no exaggeration to point out that this is a role tailored to his unique professional background.

“It's kind of cheesy," Anthony admitted, "but I feel like this is my calling. I genuinely believe I can help this industry make some much-needed changes.”

You can reach Anthony Cusumano at anthony.cusumano@clearestate.com