Letters from the President


Estate Planning and Trust Council of Long Beach

Dear Members and Guests of the EPTCLB,

I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer with family and friends. I’m thrilled to introduce our kick-off speaker for the year, Mr. Paul Velasco.  Paul is a former board member and an esteemed attorney. I’ve known Paul for over 10 years and he’s a superb professional, articulate, funny, community volunteer, and I hear he’s a decent golfer.  

Paul is the principal of Velasco Law Group and he’s been practicing law for over 18 years.  He focuses his practice exclusively on estate planning, probate, and trust litigation. He is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law.  Paul will be presenting on the “Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes that Often Lead to Litigation or Other Court Required Actions and How to Avoid Them.”

Please join us on September 5th at noon at The Grand to hear Paul speak on a topic offering insight for all of us.  

I’m thrilled to be your new President for 2019/2020 and I’m grateful for the support from our talented board members.  The board’s priority is to secure savvy and engaging speakers throughout the year presenting topics that address multi-disciplinary issues and are eligible for MCLE and CFP CEU’s.  Please reach out to one of us regarding your ideas for speaker topics.


2019/2020 Board Members:

Machelle Thompson, President         Ali Green, Director

Lauren Osborne, President Elect        Wade Perry, Director

Marcelle Epley, Treasurer             Ginette Skelton, Director

Andrew Scammon, Past President     Sindee Smolowitz, Director

Greg Burnight, Director              Leslie Wiberg, Director

Laura Claveran, Director             Mary Sramek, Administrative Director

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you on September 5th!

Warm regards,

Machelle Thompson, PT, CMC

President- EPTCLB



Dear Members and Guests,
Mind The Gap! (I'll explain shortly.)
I look forward to seeing you on Thursday at our final meeting of the 2018-2019 season. Say it with me now "This meeting is off-site, at the Long Beach Yacht Club." Parking is free, just flip around at the end of Appian Way, go past the member's gate, and park in any of the spaces that DO NOT HAVE A RED CURB.
I know you will be very pleased with this month's speaker, Wanda Allen, presenting on follow-up strategies. She has coached dozens of successful entrepreneurs in the Long Beach area and hundreds, if not thousands, more from around the country. That includes at least two past presidents of the Estate Planning and Trust Counsel. She lives in Oxford MS and we very fortunate to have her coming to speak to us. I want to make sure you are in the right frame of mind: This presentation, like last months, is master level, not introductory. Leave your biases and bring your challenges and dedication. No tricks, just be prepared to hear YOUR story as Wanda picks apart some of the hurdles to perfect follow-up. I personally know several of the most successful attorneys, financial planners, bankers and Realtors from Phoenix to San Diego to LA that have worked with Wanda, and we all sing her praises. While Wanda concentrates on follow-up, the work she does also lifts every facet of business and brings order and calm out of disorder and distraction.
Be sure to arrive early, I will order a free copy of Wanda's book, "Follow up Sales Strategies" to the first fifty people completing the information form handed out at the door. I know some people shudder at the word "sales" but let go of that. This is not about tricking people into a poor decision, but about providing the highest level of professionalism and service to our clients, and customers, even to family and friends. If you or your staff have let a client or potential client, "slip through the cracks" this is perfect. And that's why I say "mind the gap."
Also, our next meeting, the social in July, will be chaired by our new President, Machelle Thompson, founder of Keen Home Care. Machelle is bright, focused, dedicated & kind, and I know she will lift the Council to new heights. 

Finally, I'll bring the meeting to order a few minutes early (12:25) to facilitate  vote on the slate of new board members.

All the best,

Members, Guests, and Friends,
     The last two speakers for our 2018-2019 season are personal favorites. I have worked with, hired, and/or referred Michel Zelnick and Wanda Allen, to rave results.
     Our May speaker, Michel, is a CPA, Attorney, psychotherapist, and I can personally attest, a great guy.
     He is the uniquely suited to increase our effectiveness by showing us how to help our clients overcome their emotional roadblocks. This is master level information, not for those who blame clients or outside forces when deals don't close. The friend I referred to him realized he was allowing anger to get in the way of money. Michel's insight broke through a long business dissolution quickly and efficiently. 
     Come and learn more about how our own listening (or not listening) costs us clients, and may cost our clients their estate or business.  Several high level estate and succession planning attorneys who know Michel Zelnick, or his reputation,  have told me they are rearranging plans to be at this meeting. At least one local, well established, wealth management office is sending several teams. This session, and the next, promises to be transformative for offices that participate. 
     And thank you again for the many kind comments and praise for our speakers. It is only because of the growing reputation of the professionalism of our members, that we are able to attract such high level speakers.
Hello members and perspective members. Happy April Fool's Day! This month we're canceling the meeting, instead the board and Mary are having dinner at L'Opera. We'll post pictures. 
I kid, I kid.
Seriously though, this month's topic could not be more timely. We will have Stan Stahl, Ph.D., founder of Citadel Information Group, they provide information security management services, and Secure The Village, a non-profit whose mission is a cybersecure Los Angeles. Dr Stahl is an internationally acclaimed expert on cyber security, and a pioneer in the field of information security, having entered the field in 1980. Earlier in his career he secured teleconferencing at the White House, databases inside Cheyenne Mountain and the communications network controlling our nuclear weapons arsenal, and he is passionate about helping you protect your information, your clients, and your technology from hackers. He and his company are the tip of the spear in the fight, protecting you against those who would do you harm over the internet. Not only will he bring us the latest information about international threats, he also has the updated information for those of us doing business in the state of California and what we need to do to prepare for the California Computer Privacy Act. Did you know that though this law goes into effect on 01 Jan 2020, it has a one-year look back? We are all subject to following it right now!
Dr. Stahl will also make us better at the human factor. His look at system users as the first line of defense, rather than a liability, changed the way the industry approaches training, and has saved companies countless times from attacks. (And that's just on my desktop.) This is a can't miss. The attached information are topics he will cover, and a great flyer to take back to the office, professional organizations, places of worship, and social media.
We also have new members to introduce Thursday. Thank you to the many of you who introduce highly valued, highly vetted professionals to the council. I pray that you and your firms serve your clients well and that you bear much fruit.



Greeting members!


Last week I was at a large gathering of estate and succession planners in Orange County and once again the topic of how to get clients to take our advice came up. We had a very open and lengthy discussion about the economy, and the role it plays in our client's decisions.  Because planning takes place in the logical side of the brain, but implementation with the emotional side, no amount of logic will sway someone with emotional baggage that fears “upsetting the apple cart.” We heard you, and we will go hard on the topic of getting our clients to execute on their plan with two nationally known speakers in May and June. And we will gain insights that will make us more effective in all walks of life.


Thank you to everyone who completed the survey about our speakers from Farmers and Merchants Trust Company. They received very high ratings with over three-quarters of respondents saying that they would like to see them speak to the council again. I agree and even referred them to the South Bay and Inland Empire council's. While the tales from the trenches was memorable, the accounting and investment aspects were full of insights.


Reminder: Get 10% off membership fee for next year for every corporate member that you sponsor. If you sponsor 10 corporate members you will get next year for free!


We think we hit another home run scheduling Kim Onisko to speak this Thursday. Kim will speak to a topic at the heart of estate and trust planning, Avoiding the common traps when dealing with a family-owned business. Family family-owned businesses administered by fiduciaries are often the subject of litigation by beneficiaries that believe they are not receiving their fair share of the profit or value of the business. A fiduciary must maximize income for income beneficiaries and be cognizant of retaining value for residual beneficiaries. This presentation reviews distinct steps that a fiduciary can take to protect themselves from the claim of improper management. A must see for those of us who have, or expect to have, client's with a family owned business.


See you Thursday, and may your March be filled with the luck of the Irish!

Happy New Year! 
Many of you expressed your appreciation that we've been providing an excellent experience for you, both at our meetings, and as a member of the estate planning and trust council. We have upgraded our website, improved our check-in process, added additional continuing education credits, and also worked very hard to make sure that the speakers are of the very highest quality and bring valuable information, increasing our technical proficiency, but also helping us be more efficient, more productive, and to better serve our clients.
We work particularly hard for every meeting to balance the four important quadrants of the council. Technical expertise versus client management and high-net-worth individuals versus the millionaire next door. Each of these categories has distinctive challenges and benefits. You've all had an impact on how the council works, and we thank you and ask that you continue to share your ideas.
I look forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming meeting on Thursday February 7th 2019. Remember we begin promptly at noon for lunch with the presentation beginning at 12:30.
Our presentation will be headed up by Kevin Tiber, COO of Farmers and Merchants Trust Company, Karin Finnegan CTFA and Ryan Eichenauer CTFA, and Matthew Kimmel CTFA. They will make sure we are all up-to-date concerning the important role trust officers play in administering and managing trust accounts, particularly regarding compliance with federal and state laws. Since we have a good mix of seasoned and growing professionals from all those disciplines, they will spend a few minutes on basics and then get more granular.
-Types of trusts that are managed by trust officers
-Case Studies
-Account Limitations
-Exclusions; who isn't a candidate.
And much more.
All four presenters are well known experts in trust management, with a strong record of leadership professionally and in the community. I look forward to their insights, and to seeing all of you there.
All the best!