919 West Main Salem, IL 62881
Phone: (618) 548-3729 | Fax: (618) 548-3585

Wednesday, December 13, 2017   Search
About Us
    

Curt W. Ferguson
Attorney & Counsellor at Law
curt@tlcplanning.com

 

Curt is the founder and currently sole owner of the law firm called The Estate Planning Center. He started the firm in 1989 as a general law practice, but within a few years was concentrating his work in estate planning.

In 1996 he was invited to join the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys. Curt joined and from that time forward limited his practice exclusively to estate planning. In 1999 he actively implemented his "Three Step Strategy™" practice model; and in 2002 he joined LifeSpan LLC, a group of estate planning attorneys “unreasonably committed” to delivering predictably positive estate planning results for their clients through the LifeSpan Planning Process™.

Within the National Network Curt quickly distinguished himself.  In 1999 he was asked to start teaching other Network attorneys topics relating to practice management and incentive trusts. In 2001 and 2002, Curt was an instructor of the ESTATE PLANNING PRACTICUM©, an intensive week long training course, and ESTATE PLANNING PRACTICUM II©, an intermediate training course for Network members. In 2006 he began teaching the two-day “Generation Skipping Transfer Tax” course for National Network attorneys, along with team-teacher Mike Dolan of Colorado.  He also served his Network colleagues for many years on the Member Advisory Board.

Since Curt's practice often involves sophisticated strategies for higher net worth clients, he is a graduate of THE ADVANCED PLANNING STRATEGIES PROGRAM, a comprehensive two year course in advanced estate planning, tools, techniques and professional collaboration.  His professional development has included participation in each of the following:
·          InKnowVision Institute™;
·          Legacy Builder Institute™;
·          Esperti Peterson Institute ADVANCED STUDIES FOR WEALTH AND ESTATE PLANNING (graduated in April of 2000); and
·          Esperti Peterson Institute "MASTERS" program designing wealth strategies for Americans with estates in excess of $25,000,000.
·          Semi-annual Collegia (2 to 5 days long) of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys
·          Others too numerous to list: Illinois State Bar, Missouri State Bar, etc.

Curt received his law degree from The University of Texas in 1989, and his BA from Buena Vista College in 1986. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Christian Legal Society.

Curt serves his community in a variety of ways: on non-profit boards and in his local church. He has served as Executive Director of the Rutherford Institute of Illinois and as a law instructor at Kaskaskia Community College.

He since 1989 has been the husband of Laura, who is an accomplished musician, homemaker and inspirational blogger. They are the devoted parents of two wonderful daughters: Rachelle (Hillsdale College 2017 highest honors) playwrite and entrepreneur, and LaRae, an Oxford DPhil in Greek and Latin Languages candidate (2019) and Junior Dean at Wycliffe College, Oxford.

A more formal "resume" follows for those who like additional details:

CONTINUING EDUCATION

THE ADVANCED PLANNING STRATEGIES PROGRAM of the National Network, a comprehensive two year course in advanced estate planning, tools, techniques and professional collaboration
ADVANCED STUDIES FOR WEALTH AND ESTATE PLANNING, April, 2000, the ESPERTI-PETERSON INSTITUTE

Continuing education through MASTERS 2003 class of the ESPERTI-PETERSON INSTITUTE

EXPERIENCE

THE ESTATE PLANNING CENTER, Founder and President. This law firm was founded by Curt in 1989, in Salem, Illinois. The practice is concentrated in the unique, pro-active Three Step Strategy™ estate planning process known as LIFESPAN™.

Design and implementation of successful planning for all sizes of estates, from small-estate Medicaid planning to high-net worth sophisticated EPC WEALTH DESIGN tax planning

Special interests include Maximizing the Impact of Your Life and Legacy through Protective Trusts, Family Values Integration and Incentive Trusts

INSTRUCTOR

Instructor of the ESTATE PLANNING PRACTICUM©, an intensive week long training course for members of the NATIONAL NETWORK OF ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS, 2001 - 2002

Instructor of the ESTATE PLANNING PRACTICUM II©, an intermediate training course for members of the NATIONAL NETWORK OF ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS, 2001 – 2002

Periodic instructor of breakout workshops for semi-annual COLLEGIA: conventions of the NATIONAL NETWORK OF ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS; on practice management, estate planning tools and techniques, and “impact” planning

Frequent guest speaker at public, professional and private workshops and seminars on estate planning, including accredited continuing education programs for licensed financial professionals

Instructor of law, 1990 – 1992, KASKASKIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Centralia, Illinois

MEMBER

LIFESPAN LLC, a professional association of attorneys unreasonably committed to delivering their clients exceptional estate planning results

NATIONAL NETWORK OF ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS, Charter Member

ILLINOIS BAR and ILLINOIS STATE BAR ASSOCIATION since 1989. Member of sections on TRUSTS & ESTATES and ELDER LAW

CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY, a national organization of Christian attorneys and law students

AUTHOR

The Estate Plan Edge®: a monthly column of The Prairie Farmer®, Illinois’ premiere farm magazine.
Contributing author to WAYS & MEANS: MAXIMIZE THE VALUE OF YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS, published by Esperti Peterson Institute Incorporated, 1999

COMMUNITY & PERSONAL

SALEM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT #111 board of education 1991-2003

Advisory Board Member of the SOUTH CENTRAL PREGNANCY CARE CENTER, of Salem

Former Executive Director of THE RUTHERFORD INSTITUTE OF ILLINOIS


EDUCATION

Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SCHOOL OF LAW Austin, Texas, 1989: Law School Admission Test score of 41 (93rd percentile); accepted as non-resident. Honors: Received honor grades in Constitutional Law I, Marital Relations & Divorce, Business Associations, Federal Income Tax, Religious Liberties Seminar, and Intellectual Property; received high scores in Hutcheson Moot Court and in Novice Mock Trial; partial scholarship award each year based on character, scholastic record and financial need; Participated in both the Children's Rights Clinic and the Criminal Defense Clinic, and presented brief and oral arguments in Texas Court of Appeals in a Criminal Defense Clinic case in January of 1989; President and on the Steering Committee of Lawyers Christian Fellowship, a prominent University of Texas School of Law student organization; intra-mural basketball on successful Law-Grad Division team "Contempt of Court"

B.A. Management Science, BUENA VISTA COLLEGE Marshalltown, Iowa, 1986, Magna Cum Laude; January, 1985 to June, 1986 Degree: B.A. Honors: Magna Cum Laude with final cumulative G.P.A. of 3.72. Major: Management Science. Minor: Psychology.

MARSHALLTOWN COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Marshalltown, Iowa; three semesters in 1982 - 1985. Major: Business. Honors: Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the National Honor Fraternity of the Community and Junior Colleges

COVENANT FOUNDATION COLLEGE, Greenfield, Indiana; two semesters part-time, one full-time. Major: Bible and Music. Honors: Dean's List; traveled and sang in a public relations quartet from September 1983 through August, 1984. Was offered scholarship to continue in 1984-1985, declined it to pursue my legal education.

CLARK BUSINESS COLLEGE, Indianapolis, Indiana, while attending Covenant Foundation College part-time. Major: Business Administration. Honors: President's List; 4.0 GPA

 

 

    

Sarah Rupe
Client Services Corrdinator 
sarah@tlcplanning.com

Sarah is the sunny voice and face that most people hear or see first when they stop by our office or call us. She has been with the firm longer than anyone except Curt. We don't know what we would do without her! Her duties are far too numerous to try to list. For starters, Sarah makes all client appointments, controls the attorneys' schedules, manages the office finances, runs the file room, types most of our letters and memos, and in her spare time--as if there is any--serves as part-time receptionist.  Sarah and her husband Steve have two daughters and live in Centralia.

    

Gayla Ball
Education & Settlement Director 

gayla@tlcplanning.com

Gayla joined our firm in January of 2003. She quickly proved to be an incredibly important member of our team, managing the educational events we provide for clients and coordinating the updating of legal documents.

Experience in a variety of previous jobs helped prepare Gayla for the multitude of demands that are placed on her as she meets the hundreds of clients in our LifeSpan updating process.

In 2008 Gayla earned a new title: Settlement Coordinator. She is the go-to person now for family members who’ve lost a spouse or parent with a LifeSpan estate plan in place, and she keeps the settlement process moving along to reduce stress on the family.

Client satisfaction--peace of mind--is her number one priority, and she does a great job of providing it.

Gayla and her husband David have two daughters and live in Salem.

    

Carma Miller
Office Systems Coordinator
carma@tlcplanning.com

Carma Miller is the former owner of Century 21 Gold Standard, Inc. She worked her way from secretary to agent, broker to co-owner and finally to sole owner of the business. After 20 plus years in the real estate business, she sold her business and gave of her time doing volunteer work for Hospice and others. She has served on the boards of several organizations including the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, Egyptian Board of Realtors and Salem’s Pregnancy Care Clinic.  Carma joined our team in the summer of 2014. Her expertise in real estate is of benefit to our clientele. Carma and her husband traveled to Haiti on a mission trip in 2015. She enjoys farm life including a greenhouse, chickens, dogs and even raising a pig now and then.

    

Samuel Collins
Attorney & Counsellor at Law  
sam@tlcplanning.com

 

Attorney Samuel Collins is the newest addition to the team as of January 2011.  Sam was raised in the small town of White Hall, Illinois in a farming family.  Sam has been licensed in Illinois since 2004 and started a successful career in a small, but prominent, general practice firm.  Although since law school, he desired to focus in estate planning, during that time, Sam practiced many types of law—criminal, civil litigation, gun law, appeals, domestic relations, divorce (but he did manage to do some estate planning and probate!)  Over the last few years, Sam has seen firsthand that many estate plans did not work the way they were intended.  This led to his desire to focus his legal career extensively in the areas of results-oriented estate planning and trust administration in a firm that shared similar values to his own.  The reputation of the Estate Planning Center, the Lifespan™ commitment to “Plans that Work,” and Curt Ferguson’s expertise drew him to pursue a career with The Estate Planning Center and relocate to the Salem area.     

Sam graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2000 with a degree in History and a minor in pre-law.  From there, he went on to attend law school at The Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Lansing, Michigan as a result of a significant Honor’s Scholarship Award.  While there, Sam received honor grades in Taxation, Taxation of Business Entities, Research and Writing, Wills and Trusts, Criminal Procedure, and Securities Law.  He received his Juris Doctor with a certificate in Business Transactions in 2004 and was licensed the same year.  Sam graduated law school Cum Laude, in the top 15% of his class, and was on the Dean’s List for all semesters attended.   

Sam is a member of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys and Lifespan™.  Sam and his wife Kate have three daughters and one son and live in Salem. 

 

 

 

 

    

Sherry French
Funding Coordinator
sherry@tlcplanning.com

In July, 2007, Sherry French joined The Estate Planning Center service team as Funding Coordinator. Sherry has worked with the public for many years. She brings a wonderful sense of client care to our firm, and is known for her impeccable integrity.

Her primary role is helping us and our LifeSpan clients fully “fund” their living trusts, a critical step in assuring that their estate plans work. She meets with clients for their funding appointment, and follows through with delivery of letters of direction, assets transfer and beneficiary change forms, recording of deeds, and a zillion other kinds of paperwork to see that the funding is properly completed.

Sherry and her husband Ed live in Kell.
    

Laura Ferguson
Traveling Administrator
laura@tlcplanning.com

Laura is the person who coordinates--sort of our in-house travel agent--all the traveling Curt and Sam do for continuing legal education events and for their speaking engagements. She staffs many of our Truth About Estate Planning™ workshops, is our interior decorator, and is called upon to assist with special projects. Laura is an invaluable member of our team, even helping with entertainment! She is a wonderful hostess (like our Community Builder™ Bar-B-Q each September) and musician.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, Laura is the "woman behind the man" in Curt's life. Laura and her husband Curt live with their two daughters near Salem.  She invites you to visit her blog at www.fergyfamforum.blogspot.com to get better acquainted with their family!
    

Gaye Armstrong
Preservation Planning Coordinator
gaye@tlcplanning.com

Gaye Armstrong joined the team at the Estate Planning Center in June of 2016. She was born and raised in Georgia, went to college in sunny, south Florida, spent her first seven years teaching in Alabama and then moved back to Florida for another 20 years of teaching. It took some persuading—and a readiness for a change—to get her to venture out of her comfort zone and move north of the Mason Dixon line to start a new career here.
 
Gaye is everyone’s helper! Her primary role is assisting Sam and Gayla in the settlement department, where there is a lot of organization and paperwork behind the scenes getting ready for appointments. She also assists Sherry in the funding department, updating assets in our clients Asset Review Reports, typing and proofing legal descriptions, and filing. She is also our “go-to” expert on our alliance with Directive Communication Systems (DCS), the company that helps our clients track and control the eventual transition of their on-line accounts. If that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Sarah never has any problem finding other projects that need to be done!
 
If you haven’t yet, be sure to welcome Gaye to our Team!
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