By Dale Madison
When you sit across from George Castrataro, you can tell immediately that he is a man possessed of a welldefined vision.
“When I started to practice law, I had a definite business plan,” recalls Castrataro, as we take our seats in the new downtown Fort Lauderdale location of the Law Offices of George Castrataro. “Here at our practice, we have a four-layer plan,” explains Castrataro, who graduated from Florida International University College of Law in 2005. First on the list of practice specialties is helping individuals who are at the end of their financial rope. “With the economy in shambles, we have orchestrated our plan this way: Bankruptcy protection for those in peril, and let’s face it, there are a lot of people in trouble out there,” Castrataro notes, with emphasis.
The practice likewise helps those who are drowning in debt by their own hands. “Secondly, we focus on consumer issues. Many times, people get into trouble with home equity lines, credit cards, and other loans.” In these cases, the firm takes on the part of vigorous consumer advocate.
“We are able to get between the lender and the borrower, and negotiate a better situation for both,” Castrataro explains. This benefits the firm’s clients through negotiated “reduced interest rates, and keeping the borrower from having to file for bankruptcy,” he adds.
“Our third layer is unique home issues. So many people are ‘upside down’ in their home loans,” says Castrataro. “We work to help re-structure those loans, to help people save their homes. We also work with businesses that are struggling, working with their lenders to help them restructure.”
With the Stonewall Generation already collecting Social Security, Castrataro notes that South Florida is Ground Zero for many of the nation’s aging gay population. “Our fourth area is estate planning.
So many young people, and even more among older people, don’t realize how important it is to plan your estate, along with the civil rights that go along with that. It makes it very important to advise them how to structure insurance, property, and other aspects of their estates,” Castrataro explains, adding that “It is vital that they get advice from professionals.”
The team at the Law Offices of George Castrataro currently has 400 cases they are working, including that of former Hollywood Police Officer and HGTV Design Star Mike Verdugo, as well as civil rights issues for individuals connected with “Occupy Fort Lauderdale,” which the firm takes on a pro-bono basis. The firm also works closely with the Broward County Legal Aid Service, and the Broward Human Rights Initiative, which Castrataro was instrumental in founding. Before receiving his law degree, Castrataro worked in senior management positions for the Florida Department of Health, as well as in Washington, D.C. for the National American Red Cross.
A native of New York, the wellknown advocate for LGBT rights says that he is extremely happy to have found a home, and a calling, in South Florida. “One of the best moves that I ever made,” Castrataro notes. “Great people and great weather, what more could you ask for?”