Steven Cantor, a prominent Miami attorney who specialized in international and domestic tax planning, was found dead on the third floor roof of the parking garage at his office building on 2601 S. Bayshore Dr. on Tuesday.
The police report says Cantor, 66, fell from the 14th floor.
“He was a tremendously dynamic person who was wholeheartedly dedicated to his business, family and friends,” said Grace Lopez, chief operating officer of The Cantor Group, which features four international private client attorneys with specialized degrees in taxation.
“His sudden passing has shocked all of us who loved him and worked with him,” Lopez said in an email to the Miami Herald. “He touched the lives of many all over the world.”
Cantor, who started his law practice in 1984 — “with just myself and a typewriter,” he told the London-based Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) — has lectured and written extensively on international tax and estate planning topics and the structuring of foreign investment in United States real estate.
He recently called the growth of Miami as an “international financial center” a highlight of his career.
The firm he founded, The Cantor Group, formerly Cantor & Webb, has tony offices on South Bayshore Drive in Miami, but he wasn’t above stripping it down — way down. Days after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Miami-Dade in August 1992, Cantor, along with two Miami attorneys, started a grass roots legal clinic from patchwork tables of plywood in an Army tent on Harris Field in Homestead.
Cantor soon had a couple computers hooked to generators running, pulled together about 15 lawyers clad in shorts and polo shirts. They were there to dispense free legal advice to hurricane victims on how to handle landlord-tenant disputes, domestic conflicts and sundry insurance complaints.
“First-year law school stuff,” he told the Miami Herald at the time. “But very badly needed here.”
Cantor, who traveled the world on business, loved Miami — its arts scene, outdoor activities and he was a hardcore Miami Dolphins memorabilia collector with a noted sense of humor.
“Steve was an avid supporter of FIBA [Florida International Bankers Association] and gave freely of his time to help educate our members in the areas of wealth management and international taxation. He was also a man of great humor as reflected in the comedy skit he created for our Wealth Management Forum that he used to skillfully and lightheartedly demonstrate the succession planning issues faced by multinational families in the region,” said David Schwartz, president and CEO of FIBA.
Cantor was born in Riverhead, New York, on April 13, 1950, and raised in Miami Beach. He earned his bachelor’s in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972, and his law degree from the George Washington University School of Law in 1975. He earned his master’s of law in taxation from the New York University School of Law in 1976.
Professionally, Cantor joined STEP in 1994, an organization that aids families in estate planning, and soon founded the STEP Miami branch, the first STEP branch in the United States. He also founded the STEP Caribbean Conference and was an early advocate for forming the STEP Panama branch. In 2011, he was honored for his achievements with the organization’s Founder’s Award.
Cantor has also served on the board of directors of the American Chapter of the International Real Estate Federation and had an active role within the Geneva Group International, a worldwide alliance of accounting, consulting and law firms. He was a member of TIGER 21, a peer-to-peer learning network for high-net-worth investors. Since 2009, he served as an independent director on the board of RBC Bank (Georgia), a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada.
Cantor, who supported organizations including the United Way of Miami-Dade, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Miami Children’s Hospital’s Project Elf, is survived by his wife Sharon Lee Dresser, and sisters Lois Corwin and Joanne Friedman. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Sunday at Blasberg Rubin-Zilbert Memorial Chapel, 720 71st St., Miami Beach. Donations can be made to Temple Menorah or to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
An earlier version of this story had a headline that misrepresented Cantor as a real estate attorney. He was an international tax attorney.