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Thomas J. Houser

Tom is a senior shareholder of the Davis Brown Law Firm and chair of the Trusts & Estates Department. Tom’s areas of practice include estate planning, business and succession planning, and estate administration and trust estates.

Tom crafts comprehensive estate plans that accomplish a client’s personal objectives in a tax efficient manner. He offers advice on methods for distributing wealth to the next generation, transfer techniques for the family business, tools that leverage the transfer tax system, coordinating beneficiary designations with the estate plan, and distributions from qualified plans and IRAs. Tom also advises on asset protection matters, pre-marital planning, and handles complex estate and trust administration.    

 

REPRESENTATIVE ENGAGEMENTS

Estate Planning:

  • Advisor to business owners, business executives, physicians, and farmers on their personal estate plans, succession plans, and asset protection concerns.
  • Regularly advises on the use of wealth transfer techniques including FLPs, FLLCs, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), sales to intentionally defective trusts (IDGTs), charitable remainder trusts (CRTs), and charitable lead trusts (CLTs).
  • Routinely advises clients on the use of revocable trust agreements as a probate minimization technique, federal estate and state inheritance tax minimization, and Title XIX qualification issues.
  • Counsels parents of minor children regarding guardianships, testamentary trusts, special needs trusts, irrevocable insurance trusts, advanced directives, and beneficiary designations.

Business and Succession Planning

  • Advised on the transfer of dozens of family enterprises including real estate developers, an over-the-road trucking company, commercial general contractors, and an agricultural implement manufacturer, among others.
  • Counseled dozens of farmers on the transfer of their farming operations, including transfers to children active in the business (“on-farm heirs”) while providing for children not involved in the business (“off-farm heirs”).
  • Reviews, advises, and drafts buy/sell agreements, non-compete agreements, covenants not to solicit, and confidentiality agreements.
  • Counsels business owners on general business issues including formation, termination, acquisitions, routine asset purchases, and sale agreements.

Litigation:

  • Successfully removed a trust beneficiary who had assumed the role of the trustee and obtained the appointment of a suitable successor trustee.
  • Successfully removed an individual trustee from office and forced reimbursement of mismanaged assets.
  • Enjoined the sale of a closely held business and gained the appointment of a receiver in a state court action to judicially dissolve a limited liability company.
  • Second chair on federal district court commercial litigation case involving a failed construction and demolition recycling system.
  • Prosecuted and defended several will contest, will construction, and contested probate and trust administration actions.
  • Rendered opinions as an expert witness in several cases involving allegations of undue influence.