April 2017 Newsletter

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Estate Planning & Business Succession Planning

Greg Marler has been practicing law for over 27 years and is licensed in both Florida and Michigan. He graduated from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1986 with a B.A. in Political Theory and then received his law degree (J.D.) from Wayne State University Law School in 1989. He returned to Wayne State to earn a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Corporate and Finance Law in 1997.  

Greg’s practice serves Florida from our Fort Myers office where he focuses exclusively, on estate planning, business succession planning, and probate and trust administration. He began his legal career with a medium-size real estate, business and estate planning firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan and later worked with law firms in Plymouth and Novi, Michigan before relocating to Naples, Florida in 2005. In addition to estate planning, Greg’s legal experience includes business planning, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate transactions, all of which help him to understand and assist clients with many of the broader issues that affect estate planning. 

How did you become interested in Estate Planning? What path brought you here?

I have always preferred planning and avoiding conflict over litigating and arguing. Early in my career I had the opportunity to work in several areas of the law and was most impressed by the professionalism and abilities of the estate planning attorneys at my firm. It was clear that they were doing something that was highly valued by their clients. With estate planning, in addition to the challenge of mastering and applying the technical provisions of the law, I get to help people address some of the most difficult aspects of life and give them the peace of mind that they have taken care of their families.

What is Estate Planning? 

Most people think of estate planning simply as preparing some legal documents to deal with their property at death. Those documents are certainly an important part of estate planning. But in many ways, they are just the final piece of a larger process. To increase the likelihood of having assets to transfer at death, and to transfer those assets efficiently, there are several things that should be done during life, including:
  • organizing finances, arranging assets and doing financial planning to meet goals
  • planning for current or possible future incapacity or disability 
  • protecting assets against creditors
  • maintaining appropriate insurance policies including life, property, liability, and long-term care
  • making lifetime gifts and implementing strategies to reduce or avoid taxes

Then, a will or trust can be prepared to guide the distribution of property to the persons, and in the manner, desired. For example, trusts for minor children can ensure that their inheritance is properly managed by qualified persons, and used for their best interests. Even for adult beneficiaries, trusts are often advisable to protect them from creditors, divorce, or sometimes from themselves. Specific instructions and wishes can be communicated to guide a trustee to act as the deceased might have acted if still living. Such trusts can be created during life, or written into a will to be established after death. Very importantly, estate planning documents allow for the selection of specific, qualified persons to serve as the guardian of a child, the guardian of yourself if you become incapacitated or disabled as you age, and the personal representative of a probate estate or trustee of a trust.

To prepare a good and meaningful estate plan, it is necessary for the client to do some work, and likely make some difficult decisions. I believe that is why many people, understandably, avoid the issue. But the reward is worth the effort. In the end, a good estate plan is a gift to surviving family members that makes their lives easier immediately after a death, and preserves assets for their benefit long after that death.


What is Business Succession Planning?

It may be obvious from the name, but the goal of business succession planning is to preserve and pass on the value of a business that is owned in whole or in part by a key person. Eventually, that key person will leave the business either due to death, retirement or resignation. Unlike personal estate planning, which can usually be started and implemented in a few weeks or months, planning for business succession might require a plan that is executed over several years.

When there is only one active owner, successors must be identified, whether they are children, key employees or an outside purchaser. Then, ideally, a tax efficient plan to sell or gift the business is implemented that might need to account for the different levels of involvement of multiple children of the owner. There may be a need for purchasers of the business to pay the purchase price over time. In some cases, that payment is dependent on the continued success of the business, and that fact requires the seller to stay involved for a period of time, sometimes years, to ensure that success.

Alternatively, if there are multiple active owners, a “buy-sell” agreement can be executed which establishes the rights of the business partners if one leaves, sets a valuation method and provides for payment terms. Life insurance is sometimes used to fund any required buyout. Even after completing an agreement, a long-term plan also should be put in place for the day that all of the current, active owners leave.

Like personal estate planning, business succession planning also can be difficult for founders and owners to confront. Most founders and long-time owners of successful small businesses feel a strong, personal connection to the business and are very concerned about what will become of their business when they leave. But again, the rewards of implementing a plan can be great because it will preserve the value of what is often a life’s work, and will make things much easier for family members after the owner’s death.

What are you known for professionally? What do you have a knack for?

I listen carefully to each client. If I recognize an issue from what a client tells me, or even if I detect a concern that is subtly or sometimes sheepishly expressed, I will follow up and explore that further. With little additional effort, even relatively simple estate plans can be personalized to be more effective. I want my clients’ families to have the benefit of a thoughtful estate plan that meets their particular needs, since that is likely the reason a client hires me in the first place. It would be a disservice to my clients and their families to think that their situation calls for the exact same solutions and documents as a previous client with similar assets and family relationships.

What’s the one problem you solve best for your clients? What do your ideal clients say about you?

My goal is to provide assurance and peace of mind for my clients that they have done what they can do to preserve their assets and take care of their families. One way I do that is by using plain language and reducing sometimes complex legal concepts to understandable explanations. It is also important to quickly forge a good relationship with clients and let them know that I am just a regular person. This helps clients share their concerns and wishes more freely. Regrettably, lawyers or maybe the complexity of the law, intimidate some people, and that fear might contribute to them not preparing an estate plan. They might mistakenly think that a lawyer only wants to work with millionaires. But that is not the case, and I would hope that my clients say that I made them feel comfortable and ultimately confident in their estate plan.

Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C. is equipped to assist clients in Michigan and Florida with their estate planning, business succession planning, and probate and trust administration needs. In addition to Greg Marler, Attorney Bruce Rice works from our Oak Park, Michigan office practicing Probate and Estate Planning law, and Attorney Tim Kaufmann also works from our Oak Park office practicing business planning and real estate law.

News & Announcements 


By Victoria J.H. Orlewicz 

On March 15, 2017, the Judges of the Third Circuit Civil Division held the Civil Bench/Bar Luncheon: Meeting the Challenge of 2017. The Bench addressed the challenge of how to efficiently handle the influx of auto negligence cases and how to resolve 70% of PIP cases within one year of the filing date.
The Court is attaching addendums to Scheduling Orders in No-Fault cases with additional requirements. These include:

  • Defendant insurance companies producing the redacted PIP claim file with the privilege log within 21 days of a scheduling order being issued.
  • Plaintiff identifying all known medical, household service and attendant care providers and employers by name, address and phone number within 28 days of the scheduling order being issued.
  • Plaintiff must provide executed medical record authorizations for all providers on a form supplied by Defendant within 28 days of the scheduling order being issued.
  • The parties must establish, in writing, a mutually agreed upon schedule for depositions and independent medical examinations within 28 days of the scheduling order being issued.

In addition to the new Scheduling Order Addendums, the Bench discussed its new protocol for cases that evaluate under $25,000.00. These cases will be sent to an early facilitation. The Court will appoint a facilitator, however, the parties my stipulate facilitation with a different facilitator.

The Defense bar noted concerns with scheduling all IMEs within 28 days from issuance of the scheduling order would preclude insurers from obtaining necessary IMEs pursuant to MCL 500.3151 after that deadline. The Bench noted that if the insurers wanted additional IMEs after the 28 day guideline that insurers could file a Motion and show good cause. The local rule appears to create a new requirement that the insurer show good cause that an IME after the 28 day guideline is necessary. However, this local rule appears to be inconsistent with the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Muci.   

Staff Spotlight: Words from SARAH DOLLARS

I sit with the Hewson team as the legal assistant for Scott Stawiasz and Mike Sapick. Since middle school I have wanted to build a career in the legal field. Maybe one day I will continue my education, but for now I love this season of life starting a career and being a mom and wife! 

I grew up in Lapeer County – Imlay City, Michigan. I miss the farm life but am thankful that In my early twenties my family moved to Wayne County. I experienced city life living right downtown Detroit ☺ I do miss the slower pace of Imlay City and the space afforded by people not living so close.

I’m passionate about Diabetes Education and sponsorship/mentoring. I’ve had Type One since 1992 and will be celebrating my Silver Anniversary (25 years) of successfully living with type 1 this Labor Day. I feel the biggest gift I can give is to help others live a long and healthy life making good choices with diabetes. There are so many things our health system leaves out when educating newly diagnosed patients. Being involved in the College Diabetes Network and answering concerns and questions of new students, and helping freshman sign up at their disability office and making sure they know it’s okay to tell roommates, friends and professors, has been rewarding, I’m also involved with the Parent groups of newly diagnosed children and have meet-ups with moms who need reassurance that life is going to be great! 

In my not so spare time, I love my garden, talking about my cats and camping. I love growing flowers – right now it’s wild flowers with all the perennial spring blooms. I usually plant whatever I want for summer annuals and have an awesome fall perennial spread. My favorite parks in Michigan have been Wilderness State Park, for the seclusion it offers, and Silver Lake State Park because it is very family orientated, the lake is getting filled in by the sand dunes so it is incredibly shallow and great for the younger ones! I share all my passions with my Five year old son, Camden. I’ve been told I’m funny but I’m usually trying to be serious when I make someone laugh.

Michael Osman

Mr. Osman graduated from Wayne State University law School in 2014. During his law school tenure, Michael served as a law clerk for one of the largest personal injury law firms in the State of Michigan. Michael also was awarded an International Public Interest Law Fellowship, which allowed him to intern at an international legal organization located in Beirut, Lebanon during the summer of 2012.

In November of 2014, Michael became a member of the Michigan Bar Association. Immediately thereafter, he moved to Grand Rapids, where he joined a defense firm focused on defending employers, insurance carriers and government agencies in various work-related claims. 

Michael was born and raised in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He is fluent in the Arabic language. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Sara, traveling, working-out, playing and watching sports. He joins Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C.’s Grand Rapids office but will move to the Oak Park MI office this spring and will focus his practice on Insurance Defense. 

Introducing the Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C.

Blog Team

Timothy Kaufmann • Russell Elder • Victoria Orlewicz • 
Bruce Rice • Gregory Marler

Hewson and Van Hellemont, P.C. has started a new aspect to the website – BLOGGING!!! The blog will have interesting and informative articles about various topics. The team began with two articles on Estate Planning contributed by Greg Marler; “Five Good Reasons to Have an Estate Plan” and “First Steps for Estate Planning.” The blog is an interactive platform where you can ask questions and leave comments. Check it out.


The HVH Grand Rapids office recently had a donation drive for the Mel Trotter Ministries. Mel Trotter Ministries provides shelter, food, clothing, education, biblical studies, computer-based learning, and work training and experience for men and women in need throughout the local community.

Personnel in the Grand Rapids office collected various items like sheets, bins, shoes, jewelry, make-up, nail polish and clothing to support those in need.

Oak Park-Main Office 25900 Greenfield Road | Suite 650 | Oak Park, MI 48237 | Ph: 248-968-5200
Fort Myers 12800 University Drive | Suite 420 | Fort Myers, FL 33907 | Ph: 239-204-4013
Grand Rapids 625 Kenmoor Avenue, S.E. | Suite 304 | Grand Rapids, MI 49546 | Ph: 616-949-5700
Mount Clemens 126 South Main Street | Mount Clemens, MI 48043 | Ph: 586-690-8252

This newsletter is for the purpose of providing information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. The HVH website/newsletter is for information only and is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship in any form. This newsletter or any portion thereof is not to be distributed or copied without the express written consent of Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C.

Copyright © 2017 Hewson and Van Hellemont, All rights reserved.

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