Joanie’s Story

Joanie Harris Legacy CounselingI am a long-time resident of Fredericksburg, Texas and have strong family and community ties here. Years ago I enjoyed a fruitful career in real estate, selling residential and ranch properties in the Texas Hill Country. 

In 1990, a sharp change marked my life when I lost five loved ones within one short year. The losses of my father, uncle, aunt and grandmother were a devastating blow, soon compounded by the sudden death of a dear friend.  I turned to a counselor to help work through my grief and the big life changes I was facing.

A few years later, I found myself at a crossroads in my career. I reflected on the healing and growth I had found with the help of my counselor, and with time I realized that I wanted to start a new career to help others as I had been helped. I earned an advanced degree in counseling, and in 1996 opened a practice in Fredericksburg.

Just after I finished my graduate work, my mother was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Given the uncertainty of her prognosis, my mother chose to be intentional in handling her affairs, crafting meticulous plans for her estate and personal effects and exploring the relational and emotional aspects of each.  Amazingly, she beat her cancer and recovered to good health; then in 2003 she was lost in a tragic car accident during a rare ice storm.  Our family was closely knit, and I was deeply affected by this loss.

As executor of my mother’s will, I now faced the emotional and financial challenge of settling her estate. I soon discovered just how gracefully my mother left her affairs, which provided a comforting assurance. Clearly my mother was caring for me and my siblings as lovingly in death as she did in life. 

Soon after, some of my mother’s friends asked me to help them with their own plans. As we worked together, I not only was struck by how rewarding it felt to help people find peace through preparation but also by how effectively my background as realtor, counselor and estate executor came together in this new role. Trusted friends, meanwhile, affirmed my new direction. In 2004 I started helping people with estate issues, and in 2011 I officially established a practice in what I describe as LEGACY COUNSELING.

Today I counsel people through the  relational and emotional challenges associated with the process of estate planning, helping them to minimize family conflict while gaining clarity and peace about how they choose to leave their estate. 

Feel free to review my curriculum vitae as well as this case study.