Chris Edgar is a Member of the firm and has been practicing law since 1975.  His practice is focused on representing a wide range of closely held business owners and executives, their families, and other individuals in matters involving business and estate planning, probate and trust administration.

Business Counsel

Mr. Edgar advises clients on long-term business strategies while at the same time has the ability to handle the legal issues that arise in the day-to-day continuing operation of their businesses.  He regularly addresses succession issues in family and privately held businesses, asset protection, and various types of restructuring.  He has considerable experience with agricultural related businesses and associated real estate issues, including oil and gas leasing.

Mr. Edgar has particular experience in working with family farms to pass the business to the next generation on a tax preferred basis while retaining adequate security for the transferring generation.

Estate Planning

Mr. Edgar carefully works with his estate planning clients to identify their goals.  After analyzing their personal and financial situations, he outlines and explains various options.  While each plan is different, some common goals often emerge. Things that are taken into consideration when drafting documents and retitling assets are:

  • Minimize, defer, or eliminate death, gift, and income taxes.
  • Plan for the orderly transition of a family business.  Transitioning a family business involves more than just tax and business issues.  There are often delicate family relationship issues that must be addressed.  Mr. Edgar has experience in dealing with these issues.
  • Avoid probate by properly titling assets and/or using living trusts.
  • Coordinate life insurance and retirement plans with the total estate plan.
  • Accomplish charitable goals in the most tax advantageous way.
  • Preserve governmental benefits by using discretionary trusts and maximizing exemptions.

Probate and Trust Administration

Where and when possible, Mr. Edgar will assist clients in avoiding probate.  Mr. Edgar has experience in trust administration, tax planning to minimize taxes during administration, tax planning in connection with trust funding, appropriate elections regarding S-corporations and tax preparation.

Mr. Edgar has particular experience in working with families that are in dispute.  He has successfully helped families resolve their disputes and, where necessary, has litigated the dispute in court on behalf of a client.

Conservation Easements

Mr. Edgar has written and successfully negotiated conservation easements.

Articles and Presentations.

Mr. Edgar is a frequent speaker to professionals groups on business and estate planning techniques and topics. These include:

  • “Sophisticated Planning and Pitfalls with Powers of Appointment” at Institute of Continuing Legal Education. 23nd Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents. 2014
  • “Exoneration of Trustees and How to Do It,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education. 22nd Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents. 2013
  • “Conservation Easements – a Personal Account,” West Michigan Estate Planning Council. March, 2010.
  • “Drafting Marital and Charitable Formulas in Light of Christiansen v Commissioner,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education.  18th Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents.  2009.
  • “Drafting Intentionally Defective Irrevocable Trusts (IDITS), Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 12th Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents Seminar.  2003.
  • When, Whether and How to Draft 5 x 5 Powers,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 8th Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents Seminar.  1999.
  • “Drafting Family Limited Partnership Agreements,” Institute of Continuing Legal Education.  1997.
  • “Drafting a Family Limited Partnership Agreement,” National Business Institute. 1995.
  • “Ethics in Probate Proceedings,” National Business Institute on Michigan Probate.  1995.
  • “Will Contests,” National Business Institute on Michigan Probate.  1995.

Mr. Edgar has also written several articles for firm publications.  Two were focused on vacation home planning issues:

  • “Summer Plans with Long-Term Benefits: Protecting Your Cottage,” Priority Read- Business Law Update, Spring 2008.
  • “Summer Plans with Long-Term Benefits: Protecting Your Cottage – Part 2,” Priority Read- Business Law Update, Summer 2008.

Professional Affiliations, Activities and Honors

Mr. Edgar belongs to the State Bar of Michigan where he is a member of both the Probate and Trust Law and Business Law sections,  He is a member of the American Bar Association and the sections for Business Law, Probate and Trust Law, Real Property, and Taxation.  Mr. Edgar serves on the Construction and Commercial Law Panels for the American Arbitration Association and earned a certification as an arbitrator for Large Complex Cases.  He is a member of the Grand Rapids Bar Association.  Mr. Edgar is a past President of the West Michigan Estate Planning Council.

Mr. Edgar is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and serves on its Business Planning Committee.  He is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America®” for Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Trusts and Estates, and Litigation-Trusts and Estates.  Mr. Edgar is a Michigan “Super Lawyer” for estate planning and probate.

Community Activities

Mr. Edgar is on the Board of Directors of Opera Grand Rapids as well as the Porter Hills Foundation. He is also on the Board of Directors for the President Gerald R. Ford Council Boy Scouts of America and is on the Council’s Vice President of Major Gifts. He was an Assistant Scoutmaster and Troop Committee Chair for nearly 20 years. Mr. Edgar was awarded the Gerald R. Ford Council’s Silver Beaver award for his service to youth in the Council. He is also the 2013 recipient of the National Eagle Scout Association’s National Eagle Scout of the Year Award for the President Gerald R. Ford Council. He is a former board member of and currently serves on the Finance Committee for Planned Parenthood Centers of West and Northern Michigan.  He served on the Recreation Commission for the City of East Grand Rapids.  Mr. Edgar is an active member of Mayflower Congregational Church where he was the Chair of the Senior Minister Search Committee, past Moderator (twice) and sings in the Chancel choir.

Mr. Edgar served in the U. S. Navy on active duty from 1968-1972.  He achieved the rank of Lieutenant, SC United States Navy Reserve.

Education

Mr. Edgar received his law degree in 1975 from Vanderbilt University and his undergraduate degree in 1968 from Duke University.  He is admitted to practice in Michigan.