Who We Represent
Profile of Our Clients
Planning and Extending Your Legacy
Our firm has determined we can best serve clients by limiting our practice areas, and not trying to be "all things to all people." We strive to provide peace of mind, by exploring your situation as completely as possible, asking questions, offering suggestions and determining your objectives, and how best to achieve them, as they relate to the practice areas in which we work:
QDROs: (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders) Although these documents or "orders" are part of the overall property division of many divorces, their preparation is often done by a specialist working in conjunction with the domestic/family lawyer. This is primarily due to the complex nature of retirement plan documents and operational rules. As a former IRA and retirement plan trust officer, and retirement plan administrator and consultant, we have the expertise to prepare these orders to comply with the retirement plan rules and the property settlement in your divorce. Protecting the benefit belonging to you or that you have a right to receive providing what is agreed upon and not inadvertently including or missing benefits not agreed upon.We prepare orders dividing qualified retirement plan benefits andalthough not technically "QDROs" we write orders to divide IRA benefits, governmental plans that follow QDRO type guidelines, 403(b) plans, 401(k) plans, and defined benefit plans. We consult with divorce attorneys on valuations and benefit provisions to help you get the best result, including division formula.
ERISA Services: As a former Trust Officer, retirement trust department manager and consultant, we can assist your company in selecting, designing retirement plans and establishing fiduciary, disclosure, due diligence guidelines on benefit plans. The pending 408(b)(2) regulations will require additional effort by employers and vendors, investment policy statements, investment selection processes and due diligence. We can help you wade through the process and determine best practices.
Estate planning: We have planned estates as large as $40 million dollars, and our typical estate planning clients have a net worth of $350,000 to $5 million dollars. We provide a comprehensive package of documents and services, including powers of attorney, living wills, wills, living trusts and pour-over wills, titling and funding issues in estate planning, special needs, spendthrift, children's or trust for minors, self-settled spendthrift trusts [or Tennessee Investment Services Trusts], Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATS), Charitable Lead and Remainder Trusts, Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGT), Education Trusts, and other techniques.
Asset Protection Planning: This type planning, which provides protection of assets from the unscrupulous for the benefit of those who may be victimized, is really a combination of detailed analysis of your situation and family expectations, with the available techniques to accomplish your objectives. These include: choice of corporate entity, entity formation, multiple entity structures, specialty irrevocable trusts, and insertion of spendthrift provisions in other planning documents;
Fiduciary Services: We have found in planning for our clients, some don't have family members or other advisors they are comfortable taking on the task of administration of trusts once they are gone. Addtionally, the minimum fees many trust companies charge are cost prohibitive for trusts of one million dollars or less, often the minimum will be four to five thousand dollars. As a former trust officer, we can and often does fill this void providing competent trust services on these trusts at a savings, often of thousands of dollars.
Buy-Sell Agreements: A succession plan in business is critical to deal with untimely financial exigencies, disability or death. A carefully crafted buy-sell can deal with the valuation of the ownership interest, payment terms, non-solicitation/non-compete included in the buy-sell, along with voting, and make a chaotic time manageable by providing a much needed road map.
Business Transactions: Whether entering a premises lease, signing a supply contract, or negotiating an employment or incentive package, legal representation can spare you the potential future costs when the terms become an issue, and disagreements arise.
Our office offers the full spectrum of services to plan and implement a business exit, succession, dissolution, or transition plan, including complete coordination with the personal estate plans of each owner, and "targeted" key employees. These include the use of buy-sells, whether Entity purchase, Cross-purchase, Trusteed buy-sell, Delaware Business Trust, or Limited Liability Company buy-sells, ownership/share restrictions, non-compete agreements, equity participation, "synthetic" or phantom stock plans, stock bonus or stay bonus plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), qualified plan compensation or discrimination planning. Our typical Business Succession client is one of two or three owners, of a company that has a value of $1 million to $8 million dollars. A frequent challenge in Business Succession planning is how to equalize the estate to family members who are not participants in the business, when one or more children are receiving the business.
IRA Management Trusts: Retirement Plans and IRAs are often the largest or second largest asset we see in an estate. If the distributions are planned properly prior to death, an account of a few hundred thousand can result in a million or more in distibutions to a spouse, then child over time. Planning in advance is the key, and using an "IRA" management trust can provide additional creditor protection that might not otherwise be available when held by an heir.
Tennessee Investment Services Trusts (TISTs): Tennessee is one of the few states allowing for "self-settled" spendthrift trusts. These are sometimes, generically, called Domestic Asset Protection Trusts or DAPTs. The states which allow them vary to some degree in provisions allowed, and requirements, but all allow some form of protection of assets of the owner from creditors of the owner, without having to employ the use of "off-shore" trusts. This is essentially a trust you create for yourself, place a certain amount (but not all) of assets in, and following certain formalities can provide a creditor protected asset for you or your heirs. These trusts can be created by both Tennessee and non-Tennessee residents, taking advantage of the Tennessee law, but you must have at least one trustee in Tennessee and some portion of the assets "held" in Tennessee. Contact our office to schedule a meeting on how a TIST might help you.
Business Franchises: Our typical Franchisee client seeks consultation on the formation of the startup entity selection, and other startup issues, including working with or referral to lenders, review and understanding of the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC), and negotiation of terms with the Franchisor for the startup of a local franchise office.
Probate: Although we provide probate services for estates as small as several thousand dollars, like our estate planning clients the assets in the estate are typically larger. We provide estate income tax return preparation, estate tax return, inheritance tax return, Tenncare waiver requests, accountings, and other services to estates. Typical estates for our office are $100,000 to $5 million. We also, can help in probate minimization or avoidance by helping you understand the rules of probate, as they relate to the various assets you or a loved one own, and how to save money on transferring these assets from one generation to another.
Obviously, within our practice areas, we strive to help those who we can; when a matter is likely to lead to litigation or some area of law outside our expertise, we can associate outside counsel or sometimes assist with a referral. We do have a number of clients that fall outside of the typical range, but the issues are related to one or more of our areas of expertise.
We will not accept work from a client we do not believe is cooperative and untrusting of our input, after discussing their objectives during the initial planning meeting. Any representation is a "two-way" street where trust and cooperation are needed. We want to provide advice and planning that address your concerns and adequately plan for your situation. Just as the client must trust that some of the planning or documentation may be beyond their complete understanding. We actively seek to provide extras to clients, such as answering basic or follow-up questions during the sixty days following completion of documents, without charge, to supplement the complete package of core and ancillary documents provided at the execution meeting. We seek clients with five attributes.
The attributes we require in our clients are: An attitude of Cooperation in their planning process; a level of Trust for the advice and insight we offer, and a willingness to Accept that advice after normal explanation of the associated issues; and Willingness to put forth the effort to assist in the plan to achieve the best result and understand the nature of complex and complete legal services, along with an Appreciation of the value of the service: responsive and responsible clients who respond to inquiries and help us complete the planning.
If a potential client contacts our firm, and after discussion does not seem to be a fit for our firm, we are happy to offer some suggestions for a professional who can help.
Value Added Service
If you are helping a friend or family member seek out one or more of the services we offer, please contact us and tell us about your friend. We will contact your friend to set up an appointment, so let your friend know you contacted us, and we will be calling. If your friend does not fit our Client Profile, we will assist them in finding an appropriate professional.