A Note From Jeni:
I began my law career working at very large international firms in New York City and Los Angeles, before landing at a midsized law firm in downtown Los Angeles. I knew from experience that the impersonal "Big Law" firms weren't for me and I thought going to work for a smaller firm with closer to 50 lawyers instead of 500 would be more up my alley. But there was still a huge disconnect between what I had dreamed about when I went to law school and the reality of being a lawyer. I had dreamed about going to law school to make a real difference in people’s lives, on a very personal level. But in reality, working at law firms representing large commercial clients was totally impersonal, transactional and didn’t truly serve individuals and families.
I went to law school to make a real difference in my clients’ lives, in your lives. Focusing on estate planning was the best way that I could make the biggest impact on the families in our community.
Many people do not plan at all. Some do make an effort to put a plan in place, but do not make sure that the plan is current with their life and the laws. My own parents spent $6,000 on an incomplete plan that now completely obsolete. They no longer own any of the businesses or properties in their plan, they have moved to another state, and they have changed their minds about end-of-life decisions, yet they have never updated their plan and their lawyer never contacted them again. And that’s really how estate plans fail. They fail because if a lawyer does not regularly following up with a client, making sure that their plan stays up-to-date, the client is likely to stick the documents on a shelf somewhere and forget about them. And, of course, that isn't malpractice, it is common practice. And I didn’t go to law school just to put form documents in place for my clients. I wanted to make a difference.
In order to prevent the mistakes I have seen, such as with my parents' obsolete plan, I realized that I would have to learn to help clients with their estate planning in a new way.
We opened this firm with the idea of bringing back the Personal Family Lawyer relationship - where initial planning is just the beginning of the relationship and we focus on putting in place a plan that will stay current for you and the people you love.
I choose to serve families like yours because I really care about what happens to you and your loved ones. I know that by facing the potential for incapacity and the guarantee of death in this way, you are going to make better life choices for the people you love and sleep better knowing there's a plan in place to map out what will happen when the time comes.
Some of the things I do differently based on my experience with the traditional model of estate planning are:
1. None of the planning I do is billed on an hourly basis. Every plan I create is billed at a flat fee, agreed to in advance, so there are no surprises. You’ll know exactly what it will cost to work with me, we will review your wants and needs, and you’ll even be able to choose your own fee. Then, after the initial planning process, you will have options to ensure your plan stays up-to-date throughout your life.
2. You will be able to communicate with me. I have specific office hours on weekdays that you will know about in advance so you can get a quick question answered. If it's a longer discussion, you can schedule a call online so that I can be prepared and we won’t waste your time playing phone tag.
3. Once you sign your planning documents, that is when the relationship really begins. At no additional charge, I will review your plan at least every three years. Plus I want to hear from you sooner if any significant changes to your circumstances occur.
4. Most importantly, we won’t just focus on passing on your financial assets, but your whole family wealth. When my grandparents died, they did not leave behind a lot of money, but much more importantly, they didn't leave behind any of their extraordinary stories about surviving World War II, life in the former Soviet Union, and immigrating to America. My memories to retell their stories are fading and my children don't understand the amazing lengths they went through to get here and to realize the American Dream. Money is a renewable resource, but our lives, our stories and wisdom are not. So I have a process to guide you to pass on more than your money-to pass on your intellectual, spiritual and human assets. It's included in every plan because while I can tell you to do it, you are very unlikely to do it without support.
These are just a few of the things that make my firm un-traditional. I’m the best fit for people who don’t just want to leave their family a set of documents that may or may not work, but instead want to use the estate planning process to get organized and to pass on a legacy of love and care and ease. All with the goal of keeping their family out of court and out of conflict.
On a personal note, I’m a mom to three beautiful children – and, what my children bring to this experience for me is the awareness that planning is something that you do for the people you love the most. You won’t be the one to benefit from the plan we design together – the people who will benefit are the people you love the most who will be dealing with things after you’re gone.
A Note From Marlet:
I started my legal career working for a small firm on Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh. I tried several different practice areas in the beginning, most of them requiring me to bill by the hour and spend a lot of time in court. My entrepreneurial spirit won out and in 2008, I moved to the other end of Fayetteville Street and opened my own general practice.
In 2015, I decided to limit my practice to estate planning and guardianship. These are the most rewarding practice areas because I strongly believe everyone needs a plan. The government’s plan does not work for most families and when people learn how their situation plays out without an estate plan in place, it motivates them to create their plan their way. I love guiding clients through this process. It is a process, and it does not end at the signing ceremony. Estate planning is not creating documents that you sign and put away. Estate planning is about creating outcomes that work. Outcomes directed at keeping your family harmonious and providing you with peace of mind. You, your life situation and the laws change, therefore so does your plan. I have always believed in reviewing plans and staying in frequent contact with clients.
Jeni and I met several years ago when our daughters were in seventh grade and we all became members of a mother-daughter charity and leadership organization, National Charity League. Over the years, we brainstormed on estate planning issues and supported one another as friends and colleagues in solo practice. In 2022, we started to discuss the idea of merging into Snider Edwards, PLLC, because we share a common vision in how to best serve our community in this practice area.
We both believe in the importance of kid protection plans and decided that we do not want legal fees to stand between any parent gaining access to these vital documents, so we offer them for free. As a mom myself, I know the peace of mind that comes with having an up-to-date, thorough estate plan that includes child protection provisions.
We also believe that estate planning is more than the tangible assets you leave behind. Your personal legacy – memories, recipes, values, jokes and stories – should be captured in a meaningful way for your loved ones. We interview each client on video and ask a series of questions. The responses are saved on a thumb drive and made a part of the estate plan. Many clients find this Legacy Interview to be one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences. I love getting to know my clients on this level. I walk away from each interview with new nuggets of wisdom.
On a personal note, I have two amazing children who are growing up way too fast. We love to travel, spend time with friends and family and laugh at our golden retriever and new cocker spaniel puppy. Please reach out to either of us if you have any questions about estate planning or how to best leave behind a meaningful legacy.
University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Artium Baccaleureus, French literature, cum laude
Hanover, New Hampshire
North Carolina State Bar
Wake County Bar Association
10th District Bar Association
The State Bar of California
American Bar Association
Estate Planning & Fiduciary Section of NC Bar
Elder Law Section of NC Bar
Triangle BNI, Chapter Leadership Committee
National Charity League, Patroness
Boys Team Charity, "Teammate"
Licensed Attorney, North Carolina
Licensed Attorney, California
Notary Public, North Carolina
Licensed Real Estate Agent, North Carolina
Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law
Raleigh, North Carolina
B.A. Communication, magna cum laude
Raleigh, North Carolina