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Meet Our Legal Team

Attorneys and Counsellors at Law

Curt 4-22

Curt Ferguson

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 and homemaker. 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

Sam 4-22

Sam Collins

Sam was raised in the small town of White Hall, Illinois in a farming family, and has been a licensed attorney since 2004. In his first few years of practice, Sam saw 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 in 2011. Sam’s focus is in trust and estate settlement, and wealth reception—helping families to secure all the benefits of estate planning after a death.

LICENSURE/MEMBERSHIPS:

  • Attorney licensed in Illinois and Missouri (Illinois 2004; Missouri 2020)
  • National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys (NNEPA) (Since 2011)
  • Co-Chair of Trust Administration and Settlement Process Team, NNEPA (2014 to present)
  • Graduate of Advanced Estate Planning Strategies and Implementation, NNEPA (2015)
  • Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA) – American Bankers Association ® (Since 2019)

 

INSTRUCTOR/CONTRIBUTIONS:

  • American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) Game Changers: 2013 Spring NNEPA Collegium, Indianapolis, IN (co-presenter with attorney Curt W. Ferguson)
  • It’s Not About (Those) Taxes: Legal Keynote Speaker on innovative techniques to obtain basis adjustments to credit shelter trusts, at the 2013 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Orlando, FL (co-presenter with attorney Curt W. Ferguson)
  • Settlement Process-Start to Finish: 2013 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Orlando, FL
  • Trusts as IRA Beneficiaries: 2014 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Reno, NV
  • Estate Tax Return Preparation- Reporting Powers of Appointment and Second “Step Up” Issues:  2016 Spring NNEPA Collegium, Indianapolis, IN
  • Trust Settlement and Administration:  2016 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Reno, NV.  Comprehensive, two-day workshop for attorneys and paralegals on trust settlement and administration, combining process, best practices, and legal/technical.
  • Tax Efficient Irrevocable Trusts- Refresher on IRC 678 Withdrawal Right and General Powers of Appointment:  2018 Spring NNEPA Collegium, Indianapolis, IN
  • Resolving Closely Held Business Interests During Settlement: 2018 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Indianapolis, IN
  • Main Principals of Trusts/Marital Trusts in a Nutshell:  Authored sections for the National Business Institute and presented on subject topics at a day-long continuing education event, 2019, Carbondale, IL
  • Estate Planning:  Where to Begin and Revocable Living Trusts:  Authored sections for the National Business Institute and presented on the subject topics at a day-long continuing education event, 2020, Collinsville, IL
  • Family Trusts, Marital Trusts, Illinois Trust Code, and Living Trusts:  Presented on subject topics at a day-long continuing education event for Community Bankers Association of Illinois, 2021, Springfield, IL
  • Family Dispute Resolution in Trust Settlement Process: 2021 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Reno, NV
  • Basics of Trust Settlement & Administration Part 1:  2022 Winter NNEPA Collegium, Orlando, FL. Comprehensive two-day workshop for attorneys on estate settlement and trust administration, covering a wide range estate settlement issue, including income and estate tax considerations
  • Closely Held Businesses in Trust and Estate Settlement: 2022 Winter NNEPA Collegium, Orlando, FL
  • Basics of Trust Settlement & Administration Part 2:  2022 Fall NNEPA Collegium, Indianapolis, IN. Half day workshop building on topics introduced in Part 1, covering estate settlement issues regarding trust termination, powers of appointment, and wealth reception in trust. 
  • How to Use Trusts To…. Authored presentation materials and lectured on the following comprehensive topics in Webinar format:  use of various types of trusts to decrease taxes, and use of trusts to manage inherited assets.  Presented for the National Business Institute, 2023.
Marcus 4-22

Marcus Collins

Mark (who goes by “Marcus”) was raised in a small town in Southern Illinois. Marcus holds an Associate of Arts degree (Shawnee Community College), a Bachelor of Arts Degree in German Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics (Southern Illinois University Carbondale). He also holds a Juris Doctor from SIU School of Law. He also holds Certificates of Specialization in International and Immigration Law, and Business and Transactional Law.* Marcus became an Illinois licensed attorney in 2019, and joined the Estate Planning Center in April of 2022.

Marcus believes strongly that one of the greatest benefits of practicing law is the ability to help make clients’ lives better. Some of the several factors that made it clear that the Estate Planning Center was the right firm for him were: the impeccable reputation of the firm; estate planning that is comprehensive and focused on results (in other words, an approach that ensures that the plan accomplishes the client’s wishes in reality, and not just in theory); the core values of the firm; and the opportunity to work with some great people.
 
LICENSURE/MEMBERSHIPS:
  • Attorney Licensed in Illinois (2019-present)
  • National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys (2022-present)
  • Illinois State Bar Association
 
Marcus’s focuses in the firm are estate planning, business, and real estate law.
 
Marcus and his wife are high school sweethearts who met when his wife was an exchange student from Germany. They have been happily married since 2017. They adopted their rescue dog, Snow, in 2020. They welcomed Oliver into their family in October, 2022, and Johanna in December, 2023.
 
Marcus is a licensed member of the clergy with the United Pentecostal Church International. He and his wife serve at the Apostolics of Salem (Salem, IL), where they are members. They served as associate missionaries of the United Pentecostal Church International from December 2020 to February 2022.