Chris is a partner and leads Varnum's Estate Planning team. Chris is acutely aware that advising clients on estate planning and wealth succession requires an intimate understanding of the client's goals,hopes, desires, and concerns in order to accurately prepare an appropriate plan. As such, he works intimately with clients and their advisors to create estate plans that enable families to plan for today as well as for future generations. Chris regularly prepares sophisticated estate plans, emphasizing probate avoidance, estate tax planning, and business succession planning. In addition, Chris regularly assists families with cottage succession planning. Chris's practice also includes a significant focus on post-death planning and estate and trust administration.
Advising multiple second-generation members of a significant farming operation on estate planning, focusing on estate tax minimization and business succession planning. Begin implementation of structure to involve next generation members in business operations.
Working with the majority owner of a large food-service operation to take advantage of tax minimization strategies while also simplifying a complex structure for maximum efficiency and flexibility for future planning.
Representation of an individual trustee regarding the settlement of a complex estate following the death of both parents; assisting in probate litigation regarding validity and interpretation of estate plan documents.
With several generations of multiple families involved in a variety of businesses, worked to establish consistent business succession plans within context of very individualized estate plans, and with an emphasis on transfer tax minimization, asset protection for future generations, and business operation efficiency.
Worked with a couple owning eight-figure qualified retirement plans to prepare an estate plan with a goal to maximize benefits to individual beneficiaries and charities in the context of income tax, estate tax, and cash flow concerns.
Represented parents holding valuable Lake Michigan real estate to address property tax concerns while creating a cottage management structure for future generations.
Honors & Recognitions
Best Lawyers in America® since 2013
Leading Lawyers, Trust, Will & Estate Planning Law
Grand Rapids Bar Association
Michigan Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE)
State Bar of Michigan: Probate and Estate Planning Section, Council member and Membership Committee chair; Charitable and Exempt Organizations Committee, chair
West Michigan Estate Planning Council, Board vice president
West Michigan Planned Giving Group, Board
Fountain Street Church Foundation, Board
Home Repair Services, Board
Porter Hills Planned Giving Committee, past committee member
Widowed Persons Service, past Board member
News & Publications
- August 16, 2017
- August 26, 2016
- August 20, 2015
- August 27, 2014
- August 15, 2013
- September 24, 2012
- December 10, 2009
- Estate Planning Advisory, December 11, 2017
- Estate Planning Blog Post, August 17, 2015
- Cottage Law Blog Post, June 24, 2015
- Cottage Law Blog Post, October 22, 2014
- Estate Planning Blog Post, July 14, 2014
- Cottage Law Blog Post, June 16, 2014
- Estate Planning Blog Post, June 10, 2014
- Happy National Healthcare Decisions Day: Why an Advance Directive is a Crucial Part of Estate PlanningEstate Planning Blog Post, April 16, 2014
- Cottage Law Blog Post, March 26, 2014
- Cottage Law Blog Post, December 23, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, December 2, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, September 18, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, July 25, 2013
- Estate Planning Blog Post, July 15, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, July 1, 2013
- Estate Planning Blog Post, June 28, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, June 27, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, March 27, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, March 18, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, February 20, 2013
- Estate Planning Blog Post, January 16, 2013
- Cottage Law Blog Post, January 2, 2013
- Estate Planning Blog Post, November 30, 2010
- Michigan Lawyers Weekly, November 11, 2010
- Cottage Law Blog Post, October 1, 2010
- Estate Planning Advisory, July 13, 2010
- Michigan Lawyers Weekly, November 1, 2009
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
J.D., magna cum laude, 2002
B.A., cum laude, History, 1998
- All Michigan state courts