Riverwoods estate planning attorney focusses on various trusts
An interview with Steven H. Peck, founder of the Law Offices of Steven H. Peck Ltd.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
A: In a nutshell I help people protect their families from creditors, predators and taxes. Officially, I am an estate planning attorney. I concentrate on using various types of trusts in my planning. Everyone needs an estate plan regardless of their estate size. If you don't make your own plan, the State of Illinois will make one for you. The foundation of my planning is the living trust, which is an advancement over a simple will. One of the biggest differences in the way I practice from the majority of estate planning attorneys is that I believe in keeping inheritances long term in trust. The children and grandchildren (or other beneficiaries) have full access to the money but it stays protected from lawsuits that may arise from job liabilities, car accidents, divorces and estate taxes. I offer prospective clients a 2-3 hour no-obligation initial consultation to find out all their concerns, goals and possible unusual circumstances to then make a tailored proposal for them. I also assist clients if they are concerned about how to pay for nursing home care without losing all their hard earned assets.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: I had been working for another estate planning law firm which was experiencing problems. since I had developed strong relationships with a number of financial advisor referral sources, who didn't even know the firm's owner, they were all happy to continue working with me on my own. I left with two of the other attorneys from the firm to share office space and expenses. Thus, the transition was fairly seamless compared to opening a practice from total scratch and having a long lead time in generating revenue.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running a small business?
A: Not having a steady paycheck like you would if working for a firm with a regular salary. Some weeks I can be extremely busy and other times I could go a few weeks without seeing a new client. You need strong nerves during those times to deal with cash flow ups and downs.
Q: What areas do you service?
A: I service almost the entire Chicagoland area. Since I work with many financial companies and their clients, I often meet at their offices. I am also admitted to practice in Florida, New York and Massachusetts, so I have clients in those states.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: When I was young, I wanted to be an airline pilot or architect. In fact, I was awarded a US Air Force pilot full scholarship. However, I was applying to college during the 1973-674 oil crisis when huge numbers of people in these fields were being laid off. I figured having an aeronautical engineering degree wasn't very transferrable to another field as I couldn't just start my own airline. So I decided that going to law school would give me many options. At the very least, if I couldn't work at a law firm I could always open my own firm and always have a job. Since I took all the estate planning courses offered in law school, which I enjoyed, and paid my way through school as an insurance agent, when I was offered a position at my previous firm, I thought this was a natural fit. I find this is one of the most gratifying areas of the law as it is not adversarial, i.e. having to fight another lawyer all the time. I spend much of my day talking with clients and not just pushing paper. They are highly appreciative of how I help protect their families.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I generally sleep very soundly because I have helped a family that day and made a positive impact. I think that it is important for any professions that you can feel good about what you do. But there is something that does periodically keep me up: my wife's "loud breathing."
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: You need to have complete faith in yourself. It is very daunting to start your own business of any type. Most people will feel afraid to try. But if you have confidence in yourself and are willing to persevere, you can take the plunge. It doesn't necessarily even take a lot of money either. If things are looking tough, just hang in there and eventually you will succeed.
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Law Offices of Steven H. Peck Ltd.Address: 300 Saunders Road, Suite 100, Riverwoods, IL 60015
Owner: Steven H. Peck
When business started: 1995
Web address: www.pecktrust.com