November 26, 2022

Episode #54: Rebecca Geyer – Rebecca W Geyer & Associates

Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, PC, located in Carmel, Indiana, is a full service estate planning and elder law firm serving the people of central Indiana. Since 1999, the attorneys of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates have provided exceptional client representation, assisting individuals with legal matters that include wills, trusts, estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid planning, nursing home and assisted living facility placement and financing, probate and estate administration, special needs trusts, guardianship, advanced directives, planning for incapacity, health care decisions and end-of-life issues. The attorneys of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, PC understand the challenges, fears, and family dynamics that often come into play with legal issues. They adopt an empathetic and compassionate approach to assist clients in addressing their particular goals and concerns.

Founder, Rebecca W. Geyer, is a board-certified Indiana trust and estate specialist* and a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Rebecca is also an adjunct professor of elder law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Rebecca received her Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Indiana University. An avid volunteer in both the legal community and the Indianapolis community at large, Rebecca frequently speaks and writes on estate planning and elder law topics, and annually provides pro bono legal services to individuals through her work with the Indianapolis Bar Association and the Albert and Sara Reuben Senior Resource and Community Center

Transcript

hello this is coach Tim Campsall and I’m your host for the self-made as a myth make a difference together show where we’re talking with successful business owners about their journey of building their business and because we know that success in business is not something that we can do on our own we’re taking some time to recognize the folks who helped us along the way today I’m excited to have a fellow business owner from Indiana with us today my guest is really good at explaining complex subjects in an easy to understand manner she loves to read and and check this out cheering on the Colts not a very good year for that is it not a great year for that as well as IU football uh and basketball and she’s immensely proud of her three sons who we will learn a little bit about here it’s my pleasure to welcome Rebecca to the show today hello Rebecca hello Tim thank you for having me it is my pleasure well hey let’s start with having you introduce yourself tell us a little bit of your personal story uh where you live about your family and some of your hobbies sure happy to tell you that so as you mentioned I’m Rebecca Guyer I’m actually an attorney in the north suburb of Indianapolis Carmel Indiana and I own and operate a boutique Estate Planning and elder law law firm I’ve been in practice for 23 years and for a decade I’ve had my own firm and we work with people really of all ages and estate sizes to assist them with matters related to Growing older or passing wealth or dealing with incapacity issues and trying to keep people as independent as long as possible I am a native Hoosier born and bred here in the city of Indianapolis I went to Indiana University for both undergraduate degree Atwell as Law School in the city of Bloomington and I am married to my wonderful husband Paul who is super supportive and a great compliment to me and all that I do and we have three terrific Sons uh who eat me out of house at home but I love it I I was gonna say I have three teenage boys but my oldest son just turned 20 so I can now say I have a 20 year old a 17 year old and a 15 year old and they’re still eating me out of houses and and so how was it uh being the only woman in the house well I eventually had to cave and get girl dogs or estrogen in the house we do have a male cat but generally it works well I think probably uh I don’t know God must have known something that I’d make a good boy mom because it hasn’t been without its trials and tribulations but I love them dearly and I’m very lucky that they are all close with me and talk to me on a regular basis even my oldest son who’s in college I hear from regularly and whenever uh even updates on about his day or certainly whenever he has an issue that comes up so I’m very blessed that I have three boys that I’m close with but I understand how difficult it can be to be a working parent as well indeed so the Colts um they almost pulled off a pretty cool win on Sunday but uh gave up in the very end it was like deja vu was the first game all over again not so great well eventually they’ll figure it out so uh Rebecca what’s a funny story that your family likes to uh tell about you that you’d be willing to share with us today

tell about me because she said it represents my personality to a T and she loves to tell a story of when I was a kid and I was in elementary school and I was learning my multiplication tables and I had a multiplication times test in my class and the first day that we had to take it I came in dead last in my class and my mom picked me up after school and I was quite upset over the fact that I came in dead last I was pretty embarrassed about it and she said well don’t worry honey I’ll work on your multiplication tables with you and it won’t be a problem going forward and I told her no that’s okay Mom I got it covered and I worked on it myself and sure enough then you know a few you know a week or two later then I was pleased that I learned them enough to be at the top of the class and not at the bottom of the class so she always jokes that that’s a true test to my personality figure things out and get the job done well that’s awesome so I don’t need your help Mom I’m gonna get there on my own I wouldn’t say that’s quite true because I my mother is a wonderful role model and I Rely have relied on her heavily over the years for advice on everything from you know creating my business to HR issues so I wouldn’t say it’s really on my own but certainly about multiplication tables I felt like I love it so Rebecca tell us how’d the business come about and and at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business that’s a really good question I originally when I I always knew that I wanted to become an attorney and I really wanted to work with families but I had zero desire to do traditional family law like divorce and child custody work and so my father originally suggested that I look into estate planning which I did when I was in law school I’m a third generation attorney actually although we’ve all done different things and after about 10 or 11 years of practice I kind of hit a sweet spot where a lot of other firms were looking to hire someone who had an existing book of business and a knowledge base not such a new attorney anymore and I took some some different job offers and while I enjoyed that I always had worked primarily for firms that while they did Estate Planning and elder law it wasn’t their primary focus So eventually in 2013 I decided you know what I have my own book of business this is silly I really want to build a business that is focused on my practice areas and I took the leap I would say that makes me a little different from a lot of attorneys who kind of hang out their own shingle right out of Law School in that it was less risky for me because I already had a book of business at the time that I started it but it was still not without its challenges because like many professions law school does not teach you anything about running a business learn all that separately indeed right yeah

so um tell us a little bit more about the company what what specifically do you do how do you help folks yeah absolutely so there are my firm in uh there are eight of us all in total we have uh two attorneys here uh and then uh six support staff and we work with clients really of all ages and net worth sizes we help people traditionally with estate planning so about 60 of our practice is traditional wills and trusts uh preparation of Powers of Attorney and advanced directives we also do full service estate Administration so we have clients who pass away or their loved ones call us uh you know clients of mine their parents might have died and we assist them in collecting assets and helping their family receive distributions after they pass away and then the other side of our practice is Elder Law related and that is really focused on keeping people independent as long as possible so we want to work with them to ensure that in the event that they can no longer live independently they have the ability to perhaps use the resources to bring care in home we look at whether or not they need to move into a facility we want to make sure they don’t have to go to a nursing home if they’re not ready for that and then we also use governmental benefits if they can qualify for them to help keep them independent as long as possible sometimes we deal with Medicaid issues veterans benefits Social Security and those sorts of things and then we do some business organization and succession planning as well as special needs planning wonderful so Rebecca tell us a story or share with us where someone pushed you or inspired you that about something that they felt that you could do but maybe you weren’t so sure that you could and and the impact that that person had on you I would say in general my mom was really much a big proponent of me starting my own firm I there’s a lot of safety in working for an established company and feeling like you know that’s where my paycheck is coming from I know I can rely on this I have benefits and things like that and I was very hesitant at first to consider opening my own practice and my mom who is not an attorney and actually has never she has worked mostly for city and state governments said you know you have all these skills you have clients you’ve been able to develop business and she really encouraged me and that was uh helped me take a step in the right direction my father was also a key to that he actually did have his own practice uh as an attorney for many years and I just felt even though I was really nervous and worried about what it would mean for my family from a financial standpoint their I guess confidence in my abilities to do this on my own really assisted me in being able to open the doors and made sure I made the right decisions that would ultimately help my family and help me build a successful firm so amazing to have that support from your parents and and allow you to you know to to step out and take that big big jump and and know that they’ve got your back and that you know they believe in you and and so yeah that’s awesome I’m so happy for you that you had that uh that support so um now that you’ve been a business owner for a number of years what’s the biggest learning that you’ve had over that that time I would say you know the part that there’s a lot of things that you have to learn in terms of owning your own business certainly spending an adequate amount of time working on the business is important so I would say the two things that both surprise and have been helpful to my practice that I worked on one was learning how to come up with a marketing plan to determine how I was going to ensure that I had a steady stream of business looking at where referrals were coming from where my dollars were best spent determining what was a good use of my time and resources and what was not and I’ve been very uh I guess I would say very committed to making sure that I had a plan of action in place for continued success the other part that I would say was a pretty steep learning curve was HR issues managing a team of people puts you in a very different light and a different role than when you were previously a colleague certain individuals HR can sometimes have a steep learning curve but after 10 years I’ve gotten better at it and feel like you know the ins and outs but unfortunately you know having a work family is no different than personality conflicts than your regular family and sometimes those things do come up yes and that is a big transition right when we’re when we work for someone else we could just send that issue you to HR and now it’s like well where do who do I send that person to oh yeah that’s me exactly right the buck stops here yes um you mentioned marketing that is a a big challenge that a lot of new businesses have right because when they worked for someone else those leads or you know or that marketing just happened and and the opportunity just kind of showed up and now as a business owner we’re responsible for making that happen and um and you mentioned the the learning curve and and and figuring that out it it doesn’t just happen overnight so congratulations on on working through that and and having that success thank you so we know business success doesn’t happen in isolation so tell us about um the biggest challenge that you faced over the years and maybe a fellow business owner who came alongside you and helped you get through that well I have to say when I started my own firm I did spend a lot of time talking with other attorneys that I knew who or know still who have were successful practitioners and I felt that they were really invaluable resources for everything from uh you know potential vendors that I could use you know who do you get your phone service from what should I anticipate paying for rent as an attorney I had a general idea already what my business structure should be but you know I needed to talk to my CPA about accounting things and those sorts of things but I felt that the best help was really uh going to fellow attorneys some that I really trusted implicitly and are good friends of mine and talking with them about what worked and what didn’t work so that I could start out in a way that was both manageable manageable from an economic standpoint but would also help get my firm established quickly and have continued success so I really have felt that that was I work in an area of the law that unfortunately we don’t have a huge amount of practitioners right right now but I’ve always been very active in our bar association here locally and as a result I know people in all sorts of practice areas and we have a very collegial bar and they were wonderful to work with and even now I partner with some of those attorneys to teach other individuals about how to successfully run their own law practices that’s wonderful I there’s often a fear of I don’t want to ask my quote-unquote competition because that doesn’t seem fair or they’re not really gonna you know help me but um so just talk a little bit about that it sounds like your experience was completely different that folks were more than happy to to help you I generally feel yes people were more than happy to help me I haven’t had any issues with people who have been necessarily reluctant to provide help I have from time to time I remember my parents seemed concerned one time I said oh I was sharing a forum on how to do something with someone and they said oh aren’t you giving away you know your secrets and how you do something to someone but practicing law is more than just a form it is certainly being able to know the law in your area in a way that you can make sure that you are able to meet the client’s needs and explaining it accurately to clients and so I have felt not much of a concern about sharing you know things that I create that have helped me successfully run a practice and I really never got any pushback I felt that generally people were flattered to be asked what has worked and what hasn’t worked for them and I even have a team of attorneys that I know who have similar practices to me in other parts of the state of Indiana and we meet periodically just to share ideas about practice management because it is such a difficult thing to run your own business and figure out what does and doesn’t work and really maximize your time you can only wear so many hats and get so much done on a daily basis for sure I I like what you’re saying because it’s the it’s really the difference between an abundance mindset and a scarcity mindset right and what I mean by that is if we don’t feel like there’s enough to go around then we might not be willing to share a template or a tool or or help one another out but if we believe that you know that that we all can raise up and and all benefit from sharing knowledge then we’re more apt to to help one another and and we all benefit from that so we actually call that Co-op Edition and instead of competition right I like that I mean that’s a great word for it I don’t feel you know generally I definitely feel at least in my area the law there’s plenty of work to go around we have an aging population and there’s you know not enough people who are interested in practicing this area so I’ve always been willing to share but I think my nature generally as an attorney has always been to try to be collegial and helpful towards people and I don’t think it serves anyone by you know trying to keep things to myself and not being willing to share that information I love it Rebecca I asked you to pick three people in your business owner Journey that you’re most grateful for being there for you and helping with your business growth who are those three people and how they help you I would I would date the three people I would pick most I probably I have to say both my parents for different reasons my mother was the Public Works director for the city of Indianapolis when I was a kid and so she has lots of managerial experience and she’s been invaluable in running ideas off of for the growth of my business as well as dealing with issues that come up with personnel and things like that and my father as well since he had his own Law Firm have been certain certainly instrumental in telling me things that worked and did not work for him encouraging me to get into the area of the law that I practice and also to be active in local community activities that I have been a part of my entire career and so they were very impactful and what’s mom and dad’s name um my parents are Richard goal and Barbara Quinn awesome thank you they’ve been great I would also have to say we are very lucky here at Indianapolis we have a wonderful Bar Association that I mentioned I’ve been involved with uh for most of my career and we have an executive director of the Indie Bar her name is Julie Armstrong and she’s just been a wonderful supporter and has encouraged me throughout my legal career has uh provided me with resources and sometimes we discuss management issues because she has a staff that she runs to the association and she has been instrumental as well and then I guess I think I would have to say I have another attorney friend and her name is Claire Lewis and she is kind of a pioneer of elder law in the state of Indiana and she has always been there to provide resources and to bounce ideas off of and I don’t think I would be where I am today without the input of any of those individuals who have really helped guide me and provide me with assistance and even just an ear to listen to me when I needed it most it’s great to have people like that that you can bounce ideas off of you know I hear it so many times that it’s Lonely at the Top so that you know that business owners don’t have folks that they can talk to about stuff that’s pertinent to the you know the day-to-day operation of the business so so having folks like that that you can bounce ideas off of is is just an awesome uh blessing to to be able to have so I’m I’m so happy to hear that you’ve got a number of folks that you’re able to talk to about things yeah I would say it definitely is sometimes Lonely at the Top within my own firm only from the standpoint I’m friendly with all of my office of course they are my work family and I wouldn’t be where I am without them but at the same time I’m still their boss and so I always have to be respectful of that role and I think that adage is probably very accurate so it’s helpful to me to have other people to talk to and bounce ideas off of who have been in the same boat so as you think about the next three to five years Rebecca what are the challenges that you see that you’re going to face in reaching your goals and who are the types of people you’re going to need to overcome those challenges yeah I think the biggest challenge for me is uh in in some ways I need uh more people who can meet with clients and help me continue to provide the same level of service the only way I have found to be successful in my practice is to surround myself with the team of people who are of a like mindset to deliver the same level of service that I want to provide to clients to be responsive but there’s only so much that I can get done in a day and really I don’t like being the stop Gap in my office where people are waiting for me to respond to review work to get through my email whatever it is so really to reach the next level it’s going to be about expanding our staff to ensure that we have the right people in place to assist in meeting our clients needs and expectations

yes right but you mentioned the stop Gap so yeah the one of the biggest challenges that that I see with growing business owners is that they become the bottleneck right so that the there’s a book a great book it’s called what got you here won’t get you there and um you know the the folks who have figured it out and and have built successful businesses they don’t they don’t realize that they now have are the reason why the business can’t get to the next level so I’m I’m happy to hear that you’re you’re appreciating that and you’re right finding finding the right people can be a challenge um and also so critical we’ve probably all had situations where we’ve brought the wrong person onto the bus and then then it’s just we regret it and right of they’re just not a fit and why did I why did why did we bring those that person on and and now they’re disrupting everything so the that we should be quick to Fire and slow to higher but it doesn’t exactly that way depending on the pain point in your life but yeah you know we do the best we can but I’m uh I recognize my own limitations I’m always trying to work around those and block sufficient time for myself to do work and sometimes that work time is replaced with client meetings and things like that but uh you know there’s an old Business book The e-myth that talks about making sure you have uh specific processes and systems in place and I you know have really worked hard to develop those systems and spend time working on those and I’ve always been one I I don’t assume I know it all I’m always looking for more information I’m always asking my staff do you think we’re doing this the right way if you know of a different way we should be doing this or there is something that is a pain point for you that you think we could be doing differently I want to know so that we can continue to improve our services the e-myth is an awesome book we’ve got it on our recommendation list for for when we bring on new clients and um so everyone listening if you haven’t read that book definitely uh go buy it it’s full of helpful nuggets on how to how to build your business yeah they even have emiss for specific practice areas now I noticed oh I didn’t know that interesting they have you know emiss for a number of different professions where they’ll go into detail with specific ways to develop processes and procedures for your particular area there might be seven to ten of them now okay wonderful so Jim Rohn is one of my favorite authors he says that we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with so as you think about that statement um and uh and what that has meant in your business what advice do you have for for business owners who are thinking that they’re they need to do it all on their own so I think it’s a men really do it all on your own you might be able to be able to start on your own initial providing services but you still need to have people there as a support mechanism to make sure you’re doing things correctly I remember years ago seeing a presentation by an attorney from New Orleans and he said really all you need to do to open your own office at least initially is have a cell phone something that looks like letterhead or the ability to create it and a computer and you can start from there and that may be true at the beginning but I don’t think it’s true long term I definitely think when you’re running a business successfully you need to have a good CPA in your corner to make sure you’re not running afoul of any tax obligations or tax rules when you’re self-employed oftentimes you’re getting paid and you haven’t paid taxes yet and you definitely don’t want to end up owing the IRS and you want to know if there are ways that you can deduct certain business expenses that aren’t going to cause an issue for you I also think most people who run businesses if they have families you need to be clear about when is work time and when is family and sometimes you can’t plan for that ahead of time but I lead a crazy life sometimes when I’m in the office I’m in appointments all day and I don’t have an opportunity to meet with my staff let alone uh might not be the best time for me to run out if one of my kids gets sick and I have worked with my spouse closely to make sure that between the two of us we know uh how things would be handled luckily my children are a little bit older now so the some of those or when they were younger but it would be a myth to think that I could and do this job effectively without the support of my husband he is absolutely my rock and helps me uh and he has a full-time career of his own but we are the yin and yang to one another and balance one another out and so I don’t think I could be successful without his uh ability to be supportive to me and to work with my crazy schedule I would also say I mean what’s his name by the way his name is Paul Paul let’s give a shout out to Paul thank you for all your support he’s terrific and I don’t think that I would be a good uh as effective at my job also if I didn’t have people at to bounce ideas off of and so in my case that tends to be as I mentioned other attorneys who do what I do or have similar size firms it’s just really hard I think to know how to proceed even with all the information at our fingertips through the internet being able to talk through an idea with someone is really key for my success a lot of the time and learn from mistakes that others might have made or that I might have made in the past so that I can move forward in an effective Manner and also it’s great to have people just to talk to and get away from what I do for a living because it can be stressful and we need downtime and proper work-life balance if that really exists well I I like what you said earlier about you know giving yourself permission right bringing in people to take things off of your plate right that you’re you you mentioned the e-myth a few times right really building a firm and a practice that can run without you or can grow Beyond just you so that you can enjoy the fruits of your laborers too many people right just build the business to them working 60 70 you know 80 hours a week but you know unfortunately right if something was to happen to us and you know we’re in the hospital or we can’t work for you know three months our livelihood is is significantly at risk and so having that business that can run without us protects ourselves you know as business owners from you know the unknown right the the the risk of anything can happen and so I like the things you you’ve been talking about in terms of building this practice to be more than just yourself I would say one of the things that has been key to me when I have built my practice is not just having people here who can also support me in the things that I do but also having things in place just for the things that you said if I couldn’t practice I have all these people who work for me who are relying on me and it doesn’t make sense if I don’t have proper things in place to ensure their livelihood is taken care of if something happens to me so for example I met with my advisors to say okay it’s great if I have disability insurance in case I can’t work but I have something called disability overhead Insurance to help pay for my firm expenses and ensure I can cover my employees salaries even if I can’t be there on a day-to-day basis so there are lots of things that I consider as a business owner and I also think I’ve really learned a lot about understanding what my needs are from a hiring perspective differently than just saying I’m hiring for a specific position because I’ve some I will admittedly say I’ve learned this the hard way but people who come in because my schedule’s crazy I need people who are effective at working independently and I don’t think I would have been able to articulate that I know I wouldn’t have been able to articulate the style of person I needed as well when I was hiring for things initially but now I’ve learned a lot over the years that’s a great point so a lot of times um we’ll all make or make the mistake of hiring based on skills and experience as opposed to hiring based on what’s the cultural fit right what’s the right what’s the type of person I need what what’s their disc profile what are their strengths and weaknesses right what do they really love doing and is that all is their personality also a fit to the role and to the organization because again we’ve all been in situations where we’ve worked with people who aren’t a fit and that is more trouble than it’s worth so I absolutely and yes we have to learn our way through it right we can all hear that and and Shake our head that that makes sense and then we’ll when we make the first mistake we we realize and remember how important that higher slow Fire fast statement is that you said earlier right absolutely so Rebecca if there was something catastrophic that happened uh in your business who’s the first person that you’d call and what would you want from them if something catastrophic happened well first because of the nature of the work I’m in I’d probably have to call my malpractice carrier we had I gave this as an example this didn’t happen to me but years ago when I was in practice we had a tornado come through downtown Indianapolis and it kind of ripped off the side of a skyscraper and a bunch of law firms were in that building and their client matters went down the street in the wind blowing through the wind and I have always remembered that conversation about what safeguards do I need to have in place for purposes of safeguarding information and so I would probably if something catastrophic happened from a business standpoint call my insurance carriers just to make sure if there’s something that I need to know I’ve taken care of then I would probably call my husband and my mom because

if something catastrophic happened and what I needed to do uh with regard to that but I’m kind of I have a little slide in my office that my mom gave me and it says put on your big girl panties and deal with it and I would pieces and try to decide what I needed to do and I tend to be you know somebody who you know we’ll start making a list and work my way through it to figure out how I need to deal with that issue I’m picturing the papers blowing all over downtown Indy it was terrible and it took years to fix that skyscraper because the front of the facade of the building was essentially destroyed and those law firms were displaced for months as a result maybe even a year they had to find temporary office space and it was a mess yeah it sounds like it so Rebecca you’ve been blessed with some incredible people who have helped you along your journey if they were all here on the show today what would you want to say to them definitely thank you and I feel like we don’t have as many opportunities or we don’t take enough opportunities to thank people uh the way that we should I feel it’s really important to make sure that the people that I know and who do things for me know that they mean a lot to me and have been such a huge support to me uh so you know it’s funny you sent me some questions and things to know about myself and and I’m not the type of person I know I’m successful but I generally don’t think of myself as uh unique or interesting in any particular way but when I was talking to my husband and even a friend of mine what do you think is unique about me or these things that they were able to Rattle off things that I I don’t know that I even thought about myself so I I want to say thank you for always being a cheerleader of of mine and making sure I have what I need to be successful as an individual and I would say that even within my firm we haven’t really touched on my employees but my work family is phenomenal and I adore them and could not practice law without them and I try to recognize all the wonderful things that they do and support them even with unexpected things like I have an office manager Jan who started earlier this year and she is great about anticipating my needs and taking care of things when I’m not able to do things for myself when I might be in an appointment and I like to surprise her with things whenever I can to show my appreciation fantastic I love um just how many people that you’ve recognized today and that have been part of your journey so thank you so much Rebecca for being on the show today it was a pleasure chatting with you yeah thank you so much for having me I really appreciate it to everyone who tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made as a myth show with your host coach Tim campsel be sure to help us move spread this Movement by liking the show and posting about it on your social media and to join us go to be mad together.com okay folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and I’ll see you all next time take care