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We do not accept representation on every matter that is offered to us.  On the contrary, we only accept matters on which we believe we can provide some assistance.  However, once we accept representation, we commit to vigorously pursue that matter to conclusion, even if that means through various drafts or through trial and appeal.  Included in our practice areas are the following:

- Estate Planning  - Probate Administration
- Probate Litigation - Trust Administration
- Trust Litigation  - Business Planning and Organization
- Business Litigation                 - Estate Tax Planning and Preparation
- Real Estate  
- Income Tax Planning and Return Preparation  

There are some areas of the law in which we do not practice, but we know other attorneys competent in those areas and will gladly provide their names to you.  We prefer to concentrate in the areas we know best.

In addition to providing processional legal services, we believe attorneys should be active in the legal community.  Our attorneys actively participate in attorney organizations, contribute to legal publications and speak to other lawyers and community groups about legal issues.  In sum, our lawyers consciously work to create an environment beneficial to our clients and the profession.


ESTATE PLANNING – Life is not perpetual and individuals owning any assets should plan for their passing in such a way to circumvent otherwise unnecessary costs and expenses.  An estate plan can serve a number of functions, from making sure a particular item finds its way to a specific loved one, to avoiding the necessity of a probate estate and the costs associated with it.  Often times, tax considerations must also be drafted into estate plans in order to best take advantage of certain allowances included in the law.  We have over 40 years experience in drafting, executing and funding estate plans in the State of Missouri.  The most important step in achieving the piece of mind an estate plan will provide is contacting a lawyer to tell them what you want so they can begin drafting the plan for you.

PROBATE ADMINISTRATION – While much estate planning is geared toward avoiding the necessity of the involvement of the probate division, there are many situations in which the probate process must be used.  Families of decedents who pass away while owning assets in their name alone usually need the assistance of the probate division to make sure those assets pass to those who are entitled to receive them.  Also, minors without parents or incapacitated persons often require Guardians who are appointed by the Court to make health care and other personal decisions for them.  If these individuals also own any property, they may also require a Conservator who is appointed by the Court to make financial decisions for them.  Persons appointed by the probate division have certain obligations and responsibilities while representing the interests of the decedent, minor or incapacitated person.

PROBATE LITIGATION – Unfortunately, it is not unusual for disputes to arise where a probate estate is somehow involved.  Many times, these types of disputes find their way into the judicial system in the form of litigation.  Probate litigation can get very complicated because there are typically numerous different interests involved.  Also, many types of probate litigation are subject to short and unforgiving statutes of limitation.

TRUST ADMINISTRATION AND LITIGATION – As with Probate Administration, a trustee is a fiduciary who stands in the place of the grantor of the trust and represents the interests of those who are in line to benefit from the trust.  Trustees often require the assistance of a lawyer to ensure that they act consistent with the trust language.  Trusts, much like probate estates, often are implicated in disputes that result in litigation.  Much of the law as it pertains to trusts (including litigation) can be found in the Missouri Uniform Trust Code (Chapter 456 RSMo 2006).

BUSINESS ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION – Businesses come in all shapes and sizes and the trend nationally has been to use the various entity designations in numerous ways in order to best protect assets and ensure smooth day-to-day operation.  Corporations, limited liability companies, non-profit corporations, partnerships, etc. all require organizing documentation to establish their existence and to set forth the parameters of their operation.  Business entities also often require assistance in drafting documents related to the operation of their affairs going forward such as agreements, applications, negotiations, sales, purchases, etc.

BUSINESS LITIGATION – Business entities, by the nature of what they are and what they do, enter into relationships with individuals and other business entities every day.  Because of the volume these relationships, it is inevitable that disputes sometimes arise regarding the rights of the parties involved.  These disputes can often be resolved without the involvement of the courts.  Sometimes, however, the parties are unable to resolve their dispute by themselves and go to the courts to ask for a resolution.  These types of cases often involve complex factual and legal facets that require close scrutiny.

INCOME TAX PLANNING AND PREPARATION – Most of us are familiar with income taxes and their returns.  Whether certain amounts should be included as taxable income and the definition of what constitutes a deductible expense are often times difficult questions to answer.  The assistance of lawyers and/or accountants is often advisable when someone gets into a situation where their situation may place certain assets or expenses between definitions and therefore make it difficult to determine taxability or deductibility.  

ESTATE TAX PLANNING AND RETURN PREPARATION – The Federal Estate Tax is an ever-changing entity.  The laws seem to be adjusted every year and apply to different categories of individuals.  The classification of assets as includable or excludable with respect to a decedent’s gross estate does not change much from year to year.  Similarly, deductions allowed on estate tax returns have not changed too much over the years.  We have prepared estate tax returns for high net worth decedents as well as those who had just enough assets to trip the obligation to file a return. 

REAL ESTATE – The ownership of real estate is something to which most aspire and many accomplish.  Real estate has its own legal identity in many respects and requires special documentation to memorialize transfers, liens, ownership, subdivision, etc.  The preparation and execution of documents such as quit-claim deeds, general warranty deeds, affidavits, deeds of trust, condominium conversion documents and durable powers of attorney are examples of documents that can be used with respect to real estate.

MUNICIPAL CRIMINAL – Our judicial system has numerous layers.  The layer applicable to local governments is called the Municipal Division of the Circuit Court.  Most cities and towns have municipal divisions with their own judges and prosecutors.  These courts typically handle matters such as speeding, municipal ordinance and zoning violations and certain misdemeanors.  Because municipal systems are often governed by local ordinances and procedures that differ from city to city, the navigation of these systems can be difficult.

 

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