Mike Overmann knows estate planningNov 16, 2015 09:22AM ● By Neighbors Magazines
Mike and Jenny Overmann
There’s a radio commercial for a hospital that begins with a woman saying “the brain is the most complicated organ in the body, so for a brain disorder you want a specialist who treats it all the time.” Obviously a specialized doctor is important for medical patients. Mike Overmann strongly believes that a specialized lawyer is important for legal clients.
Local attorney, Michael Overmann’s vision for a sharply, focused wills and trusts law practice began in his final year of law school at St. Louis University in 1995. During an estate planning course taught by an influential professor, he made the decision to limit his practice to that one area. Mike began his legal career at The Northern Trust Company in Chicago where he worked on thousands of wills and trusts and acquired a practical education in trust administration and estate settlement.
Mike’s law practice has been in Darien since 1999. What’s unique about Michael Overmann, Ltd. is that it’s a family business strictly focused on estate planning. Mike’s wife, Jenny, has worked with him since 2002. They met while both attending Purdue University and married after Mike’s first year of law school. Jenny’s business degree got her a great job downtown after college, which enabled Mike to “hang a shingle” and start building a law firm from the ground up. Later, when the opportunity to work with Mike became available, Jenny jumped at the chance to stop commuting downtown to work in the family business. This gave them enormous flexibility in raising their two children (now ages 18 and 16). Jenny wears many hats at the firm from answering phones, managing business issues, greeting clients and working on legal documents. Some cautioned them against a husband and wife business team but Mike and Jenny make it work. They are happily married and employed by a law practice that has grown over the years and now provides a stable income with work-life balance for the family.
Many estate planning attorneys also practice “elder law” or Medicaid planning. That’s when a person is entering a nursing home and plans for running out of money, then applying for public aid. Mike made a deliberate choice not to advise clients on such issues and instead refers those matters to attorneys specializing in Medicaid. It was simply a preference for the type of law that he wanted to practice. Mike believes his clients are better served by a sharper focus on pure trusts and estates law. Ethically, Mike was also troubled when a frail little old lady walked through his office door on day with her children, who then demanded that I advise her to give them all her money so it won’t go to the nursing home.
Mike doesn’t practice direct asset protection planning law either. He recently saw a video webcast seminar last year on Offshore Planning. The seminar topics included “Is Asset Protection Planning Ethical?”, “How To Avoid Being Involved in a Fraudulent Matter”, “Possible Criminal Exposure” and “Aiding and Abetting a Fraudulent Transfer”. Yikes! If you have to ask: Is it ethical? No thanks – he’ll take a pass on practicing that type of law. Parents can protect an inheritance passing to their kids with an estate plan; but hiding your own assets from creditors is not easy and often boarders on unethical, even illegal.
The growing complexity of our world makes it more and more obvious that specialists are better able to handle almost any type of issue. Many professionals are increasingly focused on specialties and even sub-specialties. The legal profession historically was occupied by “general practitioners”, who would represent clients on any legal matter. There are still a lot of lawyers who will take any type of case and many people still believe specialization doesn’t matter. There are lawyer’s advertising that say, “specializing in bankruptcy, divorce, real estate, criminal, business law, estate planning, probate, civil litigation and traffic law.” That’s the opposite of specializing! If you needed heart surgery you wouldn’t go to general physician. Estate planning documents control your medical decisions and life savings. If you need estate planning advice, you want an attorney that does it all the time.
In his spare time Mike enjoys working out, family activities, reading non-fiction and playing guitar with his band Luxury Pork. Luxury Pork will be playing at DarienFest on Saturday, September 3, 2015 from 3-4:30pm. Mike also writes a weekly blog on the economics and philosophy of estate planning called, The Estate Planning War Chest – which you can find via Google or on his web site. Both Mike and Jenny are active in the community volunteering for the Darien Lions Club, Darien Women’s Club and the Darien Chamber of Commerce. Mike also served term on the District 61 School Board.
Mike will continue to specialize in only estate planning and probate law as Jenny works hard to support the business end of things. The State of Illinois does not certify legal specialties. To learn more about Michael Overmann, Ltd. you can visit his web site at needawill.net.