DAVID M. LUTREY of LLPH LAW
It’s not uncommon for David Lutrey to be approached by a client to create an estate plan, when they already had a previous estate plan in place from many years prior.
The previous one was incomprehensible to the client, they had no idea if their assets were arranged to their liking, and worse, they couldn’t recall who the trustee was.
But when Lutrey came into the picture, the client knew clear answers to every question, and understood what was going on, throughout the entire process. That personal touch is among many reasons why so many people have put their faith in David Lutrey for the past two decades.
Lutrey - whose focus is on trust and estate litigation, and estate planning - is one of two managing partners at the Lake Forest law firm of Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe, LLP.
Among a long string of accolades, he completed his fifth consecutive term as Chair of the Lake County Bar Association's Trusts and Estates Committee. He was selected by Thompson Reuters as a “Super Lawyer” since 2014, and selected by the Law Bulletin Publishing Group as a “Leading Lawyer” since 2016.
He is teaching this fall term at Loyola Law School in Chicago on Estates and Trusts. Lutrey has worked with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Bankers Association and other professional groups in the development of Illinois statutes affecting the areas of probate, trusts, estates, guardianships and elder law.
Lutrey served on the legal education and outreach committees of the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education's Estate Planning Short Course from 2009-2016. In addition, he wrote part of the current Illinois statute on trusts.
He appears regularly in various trial courts in Lake, Cook and McHenry.
Counties, as well as Federal District Court.
My Business Magazine: asks David Lutrey how he’s unique among others in his field, what his work ethos is all about and how he rescues difficult situations with clients’ delicate legal matters.
MBM: What do you think differentiates you, and your firm, from other firms?
DAVID: We have amassed tremendous experience with trust and estate dispute resolution.
That can certainly include litigation, which we generally consider a last resort. Often times, people come to us after litigation has begun, or there’s no alternative.
I think another thing that strongly differentiates us, is the ability to really address the entirety of either an estate plan, or an estate and trust litigation matter, because we have deep experience with both and one informs the other.
Often times what will happen is another attorney will already have drafted an estate plan – a will or a trust or a combination. But, the product of drafting is not as strong because the drafting attorney is not really plugged into what goes on in dispute situations, or the way the laws interact with a document of that nature, or how a judge is likely to rule on a particular question.
It’s about understanding how documents are drafted, and why each of the provisions of the document is in that document.
We have that drafting experience. And, it’s that experience that gives us a foundation that most other litigators in this area do not have.
Trust and estate law is deceptively complicated, including the taxes - something that we deal with a lot. Every angle of trust and estates is handled with our firm.
We know how to advise clients either to avoid litigation, or to deal with problems that come up with litigation.
MBM: Can you explain how you go the extra mile?
DAVID: I spend a lot of time educating people on trusts and estates.
That includes hand-outs and charts, explaining things in a way that is more accessible than what I think other attorneys are doing.
What we do is make sure the client is confident about what they’re doing.
The focus really is, how do we best serve the client, and how can I provide value. One of the things that I do to provide value is that I offer continuing legal education for clients.
When they do an estate plan with us, they are added to our mailing list, and they can come back, have a glass of wine on a Thursday night, and hear about estate planning ideas at no charge. They love that. Some people are there every time.
I also offer free follow up calls. If we’ve done your estate plan, and you have a few questions about how it works, or need some help with it after the fact, I don’t charge you for those calls. I want you to call me.
" I want to make sure that whatever we do gets implemented properly. It’s about making the client feel comfortable, supported.
I get a lot of feedback at the end of the process like, “This is the first time I’ve ever understood this. We really appreciate the time. We really feel like we’ve done the right thing. We understand it now.”
MBM: Can you offer an example of the kinds of challenges you need to solve?
DAVID: We regularly see a scenario where there are several children, and some of them live out of town, and some live right near mom. As mom ages, she requires more help and the ones nearby are able to provide it. Later, everyone is confused and upset because the children who were helping mom in her last few years end up with everything when she passes. So, there is an argument. One side says, “Well, you were helping mom and she had dementia, so you obviously unduly influenced her into giving you everything.”
The other side says, “No, I’m the only one who gave a darn. I was here when you were not. So, it’s natural she should reward all the effort I put in.” That’s one type of scenario we deal with frequently.
Another common scenario is where family members act as co-trustees of a trust and they have a disagreement about what happens next. Oftentimes, they are also beneficiaries of the trust, so they are looking to try to maximize their own value at the expense of the other trustee, or the other family members. So, something has to be done to resolve the dispute.
There are situations where a family member becomes a trustee, and does not reveal what they are doing with the money that’s in the trust.
So, mom or dad have now passed away, and everyone is wondering what is happening to all those things that mom and dad owned. If those things are being kept secret, often the conclusion reached by the other family members is that the trustee must be stealing, or is doing some other dishonest thing. We routinely represent either side of that argument.
" When a family member dies, it’s already an extremely difficult situation for people. Fights can occur easily, even in the best of families. A lot of times, the financial aspect of settling an estate is the secondary or even tertiary factor. Instead, it’s often more about resolving the relationships, the resentment, the fear, the anger, the memories."
MBM: What do clients appreciate most about what you have offered?
DAVID: "We are strong in the courtroom and we get results. Naturally, clients appreciate that. But, perhaps even more important is that clients really seem to appreciate our interpersonal relationship. We spend a lot of effort listening, responding and acting based on our clients’ personal needs."
I’ve had a number of clients come to me – either in the initial interview, or I found out down the road – that their former attorney just didn’t offer that kind of interpersonal support.
That was a real important factor for them in selecting our firm, or staying with our firm.
It’s a sensitivity to the difficult situation that the individuals are going through. It’s a responsiveness to their communications.
That has a lot of value for people who are going through difficult scenarios.
Dave Gordon has penned more than a thousand articles, and more than five hundred editorials, on every topic imaginable. He writes regularly on domestic and international politics, current events, culture, relationship issues, and much more.
He has spent time in the newsrooms of the Toronto Sun, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Baltimore Sun, National Post and eye Weekly.
David Lutrey, Attorney At Law
191 E Deerpath Rd #300,
Lake Forest, IL 60045,