We had the good fortune of connecting with Heidi Thompson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heidi, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
Estate planning is very misunderstood in many ways. 1. Even the name is deceiving. Estate planning sounds like it is only for the wealthy. Many would think, “I don’t have an estate, so I don’t need an estate plan.” But without a plan, the state uses its own laws to divide your belongings when you die. And it requires your money to pay for that process. 2. There’s more than just a death plan. Good estate plans also prepare for emergencies, extended trips, and incapacity. 3. It’s not just for the old. There are different plans at different stages of life. Even an 18 year old young adult needs a plan so that, in an emergency, parents can make medical and financial decisions. Co-habiting and engaged couples need a plan to give their intended the legal voice to speak for them. Parents need to assign guardianship and may want guidelines for parenting and spending as their children grow up. Seniors may want to ensure that the values they’ve built into their families and community continue–leaving more in a legacy than money. 4. Estate plans can provide stupidity insurance. A properly designed trust can actually protect children’s inheritances from creditors, divorces, bankruptcy, and lawsuits while still providing for them. And some proper planning can keep family from fighting over “stuff” when they should be grieving and remembering together. 5. Estate attorneys have to keep up with legislation and tax changes to make sure that plans will still do what they set out to accomplish. It’s not necessarily set it and forget it. If you haven’t had your plan reviewed in the last 3 years, you should probably talk to an estate attorney. Most in the industry offer free reviews. In short, no matter what you have, how old you are, or who you love, you need a good estate plan.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I quit the office before it was popular. I found that clients preferred when I would come to them. So I started a concierge practice. During COVID, this has served me well as very few attorneys would go to clients–and many clients didn’t want to venture out. I don’t have clients complete intake forms. This is a big difference in my industry where most intake forms are 14 pages long. Instead, I sit with clients and ask questions. Those answers give me what I need to draft their plans. I review the key parts of the drafts on Zoom with clients and let them have an active voice into any needed changes. Then I come to them for signing, where they are comfortable, with witnesses that are neighbors or friends. (Sometimes those witnesses become new clients.) I had the world’s worst business plan. I moved to a place where I knew no one. To do something I had never done before. When I had never run a business before. It was not easy. But I’ve thrown myself into the work and have enjoyed meeting the people along the way. Prior to estate planning, I spent most of my career in education, counseling, and behavior. It is remarkable how much the counseling degree is used in this practice. I help couples and blended families find agreement about how to leave their legacies to family members or charities–and they don’t always see eye-to-eye at first. The years in behavior are helpful in predicting how family might react to certain suggestions from clients, helping me to tailor those provisions. And the education background helps me to communicate complex ideas in more creative, fun, and engaging ways, especially with the lifeguard theming.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve been fortunate to live in some great tourist areas: Orlando, Houston, Orange County/LA, and now Phoenix. We’ve had company in a revolving door and enjoy entertaining them. Here in Phoenix, my favorite restaurants the Sicilian Butcher and La Torretta. We spend some time up in Desert Ridge shopping and dining–my favorite up there is the SandBar. But I’m still a fast-foodie and frequent Chick-Fil-A, In-n-Out, and Whataburger. (I went to school so I wouldn’t have to be domestic and cook!) My son and I enjoy Chick-Fil-A so much we’ve recorded two songs and made a music video about it. For recreation, my hubby would probably take them hiking (but I don’t enjoy walking up.) We would all go to Top Golf. And pre-COVID, I enjoyed “Live Band Karaoke” Thursday nights at Copper Blues downtown or regular Karaoke at Ernie’s any night of the week. For guests with families, I’m always up for a day at the Phoenix Zoo or at the Wildlife Park. And I love taking my grandbabies to the McCormick Railroad Park–or even just to ride the little train around the mall. When theater kicks back off, our family loves going to musicals–and we have quite a few good venues in Phoenix. My son, who was a dancer on Princess Cruiseline pre-COVID, may yet someday light up a Broadway stage. We are blessed with a beautiful home, so in the summer, we really spend a fair amount of time in the pool. And all year, we enjoy movies on our back patio or in the theater room. Not to mention, my husband is a grill master and makes the best brisket this side of Texas, perfectly grilled steaks, and chicken that deserves a new meat category because chicken is usually boring.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am grateful to so many who influence, support, and encourage this journey. First, Josh Dorcey, a law school classmate, who is an incredibly successful estate planning attorney in SW Florida. He got me started on this adventure when he told me at our ten year reunion that I need to be doing what he’s doing. I laughed. But he was right! And his recommendation to join WealthCounsel has led to fantastic training and many friendships and collaborations. Most recently, Robert Back, a retired attorney, has befriended me and become an incredible mentor. He is so very gracious and thoughtful. Like the very best law school professor, he knows how to encourage problem-solving and shares the best stories. My business was kicked off by introductions from Jason Bressler to financial professionals. No one knows more people than Jason! And I love surrounding myself with business owners in greater Phoenix, through the Phoenix Metro Chamber of Commerce, my Womens Success Resource Group of Scottsdale, NIA, and Networking Phoenix.
Other: Google Business – https://lifeguarding-legacies-pllc.business.site MeWe – https://mewe.com/i/heidithompson4 Alignable – https://www.alignable.com/phoenix-az/lifeguarding-legacies-pllc Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/mtmailbox/boards