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Overview

Phil focuses on estate planning, trust and estate administration, and resolution of controversies involving trusts, estates and related property interests.  

He represents business owners, executives and professionals in their estate planning needs, and he advises fiduciaries and beneficiaries on the administration of trusts and estates to facilitate the efficient transfer of wealth. Phil also represents fiduciaries, beneficiaries, surviving spouses or other claimants when controversies arise involving taxes, trusts, estates and related property interests. Phil also works with nonprofit organizations on various aspects of their operations as tax-exempt entities, as well as needs unrelated to their tax-exempt status.

In addition to his work for clients, Phil has served as a member of the adjunct faculty of Marquette University Law School and as a co-author of the State Bar of Wisconsin three-volume treatise Marital Property Law in Wisconsin. Phil was a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin/Wisconsin Bankers Association committee that proposed legislation resulting in Wisconsin’s enactment of new trust laws based on the Uniform Trust Code.

Phil began his legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Robert W. Warren, U.S.District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin.  Before joining Husch Blackwell, Phil practiced for more than 30 years with Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.


Industry

Services

Recognition

  • The Best Lawyers in America, Milwaukee "Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Trusts & Estates, 2013, 2015, 2019; Trusts & Estates, 2012, 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America Trusts & Estates, 1995-2019, Litigation - Trusts & Estates, 2012-2019
  • Wisconsin Super Lawyers, 2005-2017, Wisconsin Top 50, 2005-2013, 2015, Wisconsin Top 10, 2007-2010, Top 25 Milwaukee Area, 2011-2014
  • Milwaukee Young Lawyers Association and Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. Volunteer Lawyers Project, Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service 

Education

  • J.D., Ohio State University College of Law
      • Order of the Coif 
      • Ohio State Law Journal, Board of Editors
  • B.S.B.A., The Ohio State University
    • summa cum laude
    • Economics

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin
  • Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Tax Court

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), Fellow, Wisconsin State Chair
  • Milwaukee Estate Counselors’ Forum
  • Milwaukee Mid-Winter Estate Planning Clinic
  • American Bar Association
  • Milwaukee Bar Association
  • The State Bar of Wisconsin
  • The Florida Bar
Experience
  • Structured estate plans to meet the specific business, family and financial needs and circumstances of various clients.
  • Prepared wills and trust agreements, including revocable and irrevocable trusts, life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and private foundations (both trusts and corporations).
  • Represented clients in planning estates involving multijurisdictional and multinational issues.
  • Negotiated and drafted various types of marital property agreements for clients.
  • Advised individual and corporate trustees in proceedings involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Represented an estate and its beneficiaries in litigation involving marital property claims and claims for tortious interference with inheritance to recover assets from the decedent’s surviving spouse.
  • Defended the proponents of a will in a contest with a previously named beneficiary of a testamentary charitable remainder trust involving issues of testamentary capacity, undue influence and standing.
  • Counseled a university on its beneficial interest in an estate against the personal representatives’ proposed undervalued disposition of estate assets.
  • Represented a personal representative of an estate in defending claims attacking the validity of a marital property agreement involving allegations of unjust enrichment, fraudulent inducement, unconscionability and insufficient financial disclosure, as well as interpretation of Wisconsin’s marital property law.
  • Advised the beneficiary of an estate in litigation with siblings to recover property for the estate and to have interests in a family limited partnership redeemed.
  • Represented a surviving spouse with respect to her deceased husband’s estate in classification proceedings commenced by the estate that sought to limit her nonmarital property rights and interests in retirement plan assets.
  • Represented a corporate trustee, including oral argument, before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a case of first impression concerning issues of federal and Wisconsin estate tax apportionment (Firstar Trust Co. v. First Nat. Bank of Kenosha, 197 Wis.2d 484, 541 N.W.2d 467 (1995)).
  • Represented a financial institution before the Supreme Court of South Carolina in a case of first impression concerning personal jurisdiction (Southern Plastics Co. v. Southern Commerce Bank, 310 S.C. 256, 423 S.E.2d 128 (1992)).
  • Advised the corporate trustee of a testamentary trust in proceedings that included reformation of a split-interest charitable trust, claims by an alleged heir and compromise of certain claims in bankruptcy.
  • Represented the settlors of several irrevocable trusts in contested proceedings to modify the trusts and obtained favorable private letter rulings from the Internal Revenue Service in connection therewith.
  • Advised the remainder beneficiaries of a marital trust in a contested proceeding involving the proposed conversion of such trust to a unitrust under Wisconsin’s principal and income act.
  • Counseled a university on breach of trust claims involving the university’s interest as residuary beneficiary of a decedent’s revocable trust.
  • Represented beneficiaries in connection with the replacement of a trustee and change of the principal place of trust administration.
  • Advised individual and corporate trustees on numerous occasions to obtain nonjudicial resolution of potential claims.
  • Represented a national charitable organization in connection with the construction and reformation of a substantial devise involving land use in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Counseled tax-exempt organizations in distress concerning protection of donor-restricted gifts.
  • Advised boards of directors of nonprofit organizations on their fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Represented one of Wisconsin's largest private foundations in numerous grant agreements with public charitable organizations and/or governmental agencies.
  • Interacted on numerous occasions with the Wisconsin Attorney General's office in connection with matters involving charitable organizations.
Community Leadership
  • Camp Manito-wish YMCA, Boulder Junction, WI, Board of Directors, Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Task Force, 2013 – 2014, Chair, Governance Committee, current, Executive Committee, current
  • Dominican High School, Past Chair, Board of Directors
  • Wiscraft, Inc. (formerly Wisconsin Enterprises for the Blind), former Board of Directors
  • Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, former Board of Directors