Fall Family Fun

Celebrating families is one of the things that makes Edwards Group unique. We’re not just about documents. We’re about relationships. That’s why we love sharing our families with our clients.

We hope that you and your family are having a wonderful fall and finding time to celebrate the relationships in your life that make it worth living!

A zombie lawyer and his wife. (Joshua and Cecile Becker)

Kinsey and Maxton Becker

Ninja Power! (aka: Mathijs, Joshua's oldest)

Cole Edwards napping in the pumpkin patch.

David Edwards with daughter Bailey enjoying a beautiful fall day at the pumpkin patch.

Cole the Laughing Elephant

Grant and Sarah Edwards, Dave's nephew and niece (and children of Beth Edwards, our business manager)

Josie, granddaughter of Laura Peffley, Asset Coordinator, playing in the leaves

Bailey Edwards

Bailey Edwards with little brother Cole napping at the pumpkin patch.

Carrying My Kids to Bed

You can’t stop the clock.

One night Michelle and I pull into the garage. It’s 10 pm. The kids were up WAY later than usual. No surprise, they are asleep in their car seats. 4 year old Bailey sits in the 3rd seat in our SUV. I unbuckle her and try to somehow get her out of the car seat. (It’s not easy!)

Do you ever have one of those moments when you wish you could just stop time for a while? 

“Bailey you need to take a step so daddy can pick you up.” (I can barely reach her from where I stand at the car door.) She takes a groggy step towards me, enough so I can grab her. As I do that, she goes limp again and puts her head on my shoulder. As I carry her upstairs to her room, I get a little sad. How many more times do I get to do this? To carry one of my kids upstairs to bed?

I lay her in bed, and tuck the covers around her. Half asleep, she says “Daddy, can you turn on my music?” So I flip on the ipod in her room (most common request is the Dixie Chicks). Then I give her a kiss and tell her our saying. “Sleepy tighty, bed bugs bitey.” (It has evolved over time from “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”) I close the door with a click, leaving me standing in the hallway alone.

It’s these moments that I realize how short life is, and how quickly kids grow up. 

I wish I could stop time for a little bit, just a few minutes so I can remember what this is like. But, no, we can’t freeze time.
Time continues to march on and on and on. And we all have to make the most of it, reminding ourselves what’s really important in life.
P.S.  Email me a story from your life – when you wished you could stop time for a minute. 

Estate Planning Fees and Our Money Back Guarantee

We talked a little last week about how estate-planning attorneys’ fees can be a real obstacle to effective planning. If you missed that article, be sure to check it out on our website HERE.

So how does Edwards Group charge fees in a way that will help you plan better?

Flat fees. Our estate planning is done on a flat fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much time we are taking (or billing) working on your plan. This also allows us to spend time getting to know you, hearing stories about your family, and finding out what’s really important to you.

Choose your own fee. New clients are presented with different planning options and the fees associated with each option. The options are based on the goals and concerns of the client. The client can weigh how important various goals are and whether the fee for that plan is worth the value.

No surprises. We get to know about your situation, including your family and finances, before we quote a fee. So you hear the fee before you commit to it. And then you know what it will cost to get the job done.

Money back guarantee. What kind of attorney offers a money back guarantee? Ones like us who are so confident in our process, and have seen a steady stream of clients be delighted with the way we do our estate planning process. Our clients get a money back guarantee and are told, that at the end of the planning process, if they feel they didn’t get the value for the price they paid, they can adjust the fee however they think is fair.

When I started Edwards Group in December of 2008, I wanted a firm that only focused on estate planning. I wanted everything we did to be designed around helping clients plan better and have more peace of mind. This includes how we charge our fees. Contact us to RSVP for an upcoming workshop or to schedule your initial meeting today. Just call (217) 726-9200.

Halloween at Edwards Group

In working with our clients, we get to know their families, and we love sharing our families as well. Here are a few of the pics from this year’s Halloween with the Edwards Group children:

Bailey Edwards and an unnamed pumpkin friend.

Asset Coordinator, Laura Peffley's newest grandchild Josie, with her parents, Karie and Tim.

Joshua's youngest son, SuperMax!

That's no skeleton! That's Cole Otis Edwards, the latest addition to Dave's family.

Stefanie Siwak's girls, Lily and Kelsey.

Baby Photos from Dave!

Thanks so much for all the good wishes!  We heard from so many of our friends, clients, and fellow professionals after Cole Otis Edwards was born on September 13th!  Michelle and Cole are doing great.  And Bailey is having a great time being a big sister.  Here are a few photos I wanted to show off!

our new addition to the family.

Bailey meet your little brother, Cole Otis Edwards!

Bailey holding Cole just after meeting him for the first time!

I think Bailey likes having a little brother!

time for a snack

Bailey Olivia and Cole Otis - big sis and little brother

Welcome home!

Welcome Home!

Sweaters in the Suitcase – and your living trust document

What do sweaters in the suitcase have to do with estate planning?  Let me tell you.

As I sit down with clients to review the draft of their living trust, they may think the trust is much thicker than they expected.  Before we review the trust, I tell them a story.

I’m terrible at packing for trips.  I pack way too much.  I always think I need everything – all kinds of extra clothes, books, all kinds of stuff.  Of course, with each trip out of town, I don’t use half the stuff I take.  So, what happens when I take the next trip?  Same thing.  I still pack way too much because, you know, I just might need it.  Doesn’t matter that I usually don’t need all that because this next trip I just MIGHT need it!

What does this have to do with a living trust document? As we look through the trust documents, there are various paragraphs, pages, even entire sections that are “extra sweaters in the suitcase”.  It’s there if we need it, even if we probably won’t need it.

Since our estate planning clients don’t pay us by the word or by the page or even by the hour (they pay flat fees), then we make sure our living trust documents have all the “extra sweaters” that may be needed in the future to carry out their plan.

Want an example of an “extra sweater” in the trust?   Well, we have an entire section that talks about what happens if we can’t find a beneficiary.  If we leave money to a long lost cousin and don’t know where the cousin is when it’s time to distribute, we have a process laid out clearly in the document so it doesn’t hold up the rest of the trust plan.

That’s just one example of the various “extra sweaters” we include in our legal documents to better protect our clients and their families.

If you’d like to read more about what trusts are and what they do, check out our blog post, “Your Bucket List for Estate Planning: Why a Trust Might be Right for You.”

P.S.  I am writing this sitting in a hotel in Denver, Colorado at a conference.  And yes, I again packed way too much stuff!   But it’s here if I need it…

Contain Yourself: Fool Proof Solution to Getting Organized

Why is getting organized so much fun? Well, I should rephrase that. Getting organized is a lot of work. But BEING organized is fun. A while back Michelle and I went to the Container Store in St. Louis. Who would think there is a store with nothing but containers for storing things? And it’s fun to look around in there! The truth is:

  1. We like to be organized.
  2. We usually don’t get organized on our own.
  3. When we do get organized, it doesn’t take us long to slip back into disorganization.

You’ll be glad to hear we have discovered a fool proof method for organizing your financial life, and keeping it that way. Let us help you! There is no doubt that estate planning (as well as peace of mind and happy relationships) rest on good financial decisions and organization. Here is how we help clients in our Dynasty membership program:

  1. Store documents. We keep copies of deeds, bank statements, insurance policies, etc. for us to refer to, but also in case the client needs it.
  2. Identify Problems. We help clients identify problems in their financial life. A good estate plan will not accomplish much if the person’s wealth is poorly invested, incurring extra income taxes, exposed to risks, or confusing to deal with after their death.
  3. Summary Reports. Assets can be scattered everywhere, without any one report to pull them all together. We maintain updated client financial info, and send out an Asset Review Report on a regular basis, asking the client to review.
  4. Reminders. Asset titling and beneficiary designations may seem boring, but they are key to making an estate plan work. We regularly remind and teach our clients what to look for in coordinating their assets.
  5. Warranty. After a client has titled a new asset based on what they learned from us, they send us the written proof. We double check it to see if the asset is properly organized with their estate plan. If not, we help fix it. Once we give it our blessing, they can rest with peace of mind.
  6. Objective advice on important decisions. I don’t invest assets for clients or sell financial products. But I see firsthand the work of dozens of financial advisors as well as the results of our “do it yourself” clients. I am always glad to give feedback on my client’s financial or business decisions. Often, I support the good advice coming from the financial advisor, and help the client understand how it fits into the bigger picture. Once in a while, I protect a client who is being threatened by poor service or advice from another professional.

A great way to learn more about Edwards Group’s unique approach and what the Dynasty program can do for you, is to attend our Wills & Trusts: How to Get Started. Click here to see upcoming dates.

Walls coming down at Edwards Group

What has been going on at Edwards Group LLC?   With the addition of Joshua Becker and Laura Peffley, we ran out of space.  So what to do?   Knock down walls.

After (or I should probably say “during”)

Here is the view into what used to be my office. Now part of my office is a hallway!

Before

Pic from Feb. 2009 open house. To the left, that is my office door. You can see my diplomas, etc. on the wall.

Dave’s office – before and after

Here's my old, bigger office. This photo was taken from what is now the hallway.

Now a glimpse of my new office.

Now here is a view from the back (new part) of the office. You get a glimpse of my office thru the door on the left. The 1st photo above was taken from the counter with the coffee pot, looking back this way.

Estate Planning: What’s in your tool box?

What tools do you want to use?

Is this the first question that your contractor asks you when you decide to hire him to build a house?

Or, if you’re car stops running and you take it to the mechanic to be fixed, do you quiz him on which tools he plans to use in repairing it?

When you need surgery to save your life, do you make sure you learn all about the different scalpels and various medical instruments to be used by the doctor?

No? You don’t focus on those things?

Well, then why do people focus more on the estate planning tools than on what they want to accomplish with their plan?

Wills, Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, various other planning or tax strategies. All of these are just tools. Tools in the tool box of an estate planning attorney who is there to help you build the kind of plan you want. If the plan looks and does what you want, then does it really matter what tools were used to get there?

The division of labor is much clearer in some of the other professions – doctor, contractor, mechanic, etc. But with law, it seems that attorneys have fed the confusion by hyping and selling certain “tools” instead of promoting their process of helping clients build a plan that works for them. Sure, some clients want to understand the tools, and that’s fine.

But, remember, the tools are not what’s important. What is important? Having your wishes, goals, and dreams carried out, in a way that allows your wisdom and values to be communicated as well.

My clients are already the experts on what they need to know. They know their families, values, what’s important to them. I am the mechanic with the tool box, and I can use whatever tools are necessary to help you carry out your plan.

So, if you want to work with me on your planning, please keep in mind that we want to focus our energy on the house we are building, not what kind of hammer is being used to build it.

How to pick an estate attorney – 4 questions to ask

Here are the questions I want any client to ask before they hire Edwards Group LLC to complete their estate plan.

1. Is this the right law firm for you? (We’re not for everyone because we do things quite a bit differently than most attorneys.)

2. Are you the right client for us? We are picky about our clients, who we expect to become clients for life.

3. Is this the right time for you? Plan when you believe in it and are ready to invest your time and energy (and money) to do it right.

4. Do you clearly understand the fees? We are up front and quote flat fees before we start so we can dig into the planning without any more thoughts or worries about what it may cost.