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VOL. 118 | NO. 10 | Thursday, January 15, 2004

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-Tell me about your educational background

McDaniel Leads National Estate Planning Group


The Daily News

A. Stephen Steve McDaniel, senior partner with Memphis law firm Williams, McDaniel, Wolfe & Womack, is 2004 president of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, which promotes cooperation among lawyers, accountants, trust officers, financial planners and life insurance agents who provide estate planning services. McDaniel earned a law degree from the University of Memphis in 1973.


Q. Tell me about your career background and your firm.

I worked for the IRS as an attorney from 1973 through 1975. I joined Bob Williams and Robert Benham (now a probate judge) in 1975. We now have 13 attorneys, and seven do almost nothing but estate planning and probate.


Q. Tell me about your work with the NAEPC.

It is a great organization that tries to educate the public and support quality estate planners. There are a lot of less-than-honest people taking advantage of the public's lack of good information. They sell boilerplate trusts and other products to the public using fear of probate and taxes.

As president, I'll try to promote our organization to the public and other estate planning organizations around the country. I'll try to promote the use of Accredited Estate Planners to the public.


Q. Describe the association's presence in Memphis and the work it does here.

The Memphis estate planning council goes back about 35 years. It has about 140 members from the various professions, and it is a good group. It helps us get to know each other and hopefully better work together. Estate planning is a team effort no one person has all the answers. By working together for the client, the client benefits from the advice of the various professionals.


Q. What led you to a career in law?

Long story. It was 69, I was teaching eighth grade, trying to get into the Navy and stay out of the Army. I failed the draft physical and I needed something to do, so I started law school at night. Four years later I was (a lawyer).


Q. What is most rewarding/challenging about your area of practice?

The most rewarding part is watching a plan come together and work. It is a feel-good practice, especially when it works.

The most challenging part is dealing with a dysfunctional family following death, especially those who learned the word greed. Often the grief-stricken son or daughter only wants to know two things: How much do I inherit and how soon do I get it? It really hurts to see families fight, and poorly prepared documents make for really, really good fights. We try to make it harder for them to fight by doing clear and readable documents.


Name: Steve McDaniel

Position: Senior partner

Company: Williams, McDaniel, Wolfe & Womack

Basics: McDaniel, who joined his firm in 1975, is president of a national, multi-disciplinary association for estate planning professionals.


Estate planning is a team effort no one person has all the answers. By working together for the client, the client benefits from the advise of the various professionals.


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