Trust and Estate Counsel

Practice Areas

Legal support for clients throughout Tennessee

Howard Mobley Hayes & Gontarek, PLLC offers comprehensive, tax-sensitive estate planning, trust and estate administration, business succession planning, family business formation and operational planning, charitable planning, wealth preservation planning services, and litigation services for various trust and estate issues for clients located throughout Tennessee.


Estate Planning

Our attorneys recognize that every client’s situation is unique, and we prepare every client’s estate planning documents accordingly. Our estate planning attorneys have extensive experience in planning for individuals and families of high-net-worth with multi-generational planning needs and those with more modest estates, second marriages and blended families, tax planning for Qualified Retirement Plans and IRAs, and elder law issues related to estate planning. Our estate planning attorneys recognized that an estate plan must address financial security during your life, including asset protection, while providing a tax and administratively efficient means of passing your estate to your intended beneficiaries.  Our areas of representation include: wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts of all types (whether tax-sensitive planning based or otherwise), asset protection planning, planning for individuals with special needs, planning for blended families, insurance planning, lifetime gifting arrangements, multi-generational planning, planning for unique assets (including family businesses, farms, and homes; intellectual property; art and other collectables), planning for resident aliens, financial powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and living wills.

Business Planning and Succession

Our attorneys regularly advise family business entities on a number of matters, including but not limited to: formation, operational matters, preserving family ownership and asset protection planning, restructuring, redemptions, liquidations and sales to third parties. Our attorneys recognize that family business entities are unique with operational, management and succession issues that are different in many respects than a traditional, non-family business. Our attorneys regularly work with families to ensure the smooth, successful transfer of the business to a younger generation, key employees or a strategic buyer. Our attorneys also regularly advise families on  tax savings strategies to transfer the family business both during lifetime and at the death of a family member, including but not limited to, preparing  governance documents that are tailored to protecting and preserving family ownership and buy/sell or shareholder agreements, as well as utilizing advanced planning techniques such as a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust or  a sale to an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust.

Charitable Organizations & Nonprofit Organizations

Our attorneys regularly advise clients on making and structuring charitable gifts, whether made during lifetime or as part of a final estate plan, to carry out their charitable goals and maximize tax savings. Our attorneys can assist clients with the preparation of such documents as charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts,  gifting agreements, beneficiary designations for life insurance or for qualified retirement accounts or an IRA, as well as outright gifts or bequests under a will or trust.

Our attorneys can advise clients on forming and structuring a new charity and prepare the requisite documents. Our attorneys also advise existing charities with ongoing governance matters. Our attorneys also assist newly created charities to obtain a tax exemption determination from the IRS.

Our attorneys are well versed with the nuances of gifting to charity unique property or property that is illiquid and advising individuals and nonprofits how to navigate the complex rules governing the interaction of a significant donor and the recipient charity.

Asset Protection & Wealth Preservation Planning

Our attorneys understand that preserving your wealth during your lifetime and for those who receive it at your passing is a significant goal, especially in our increasingly litigious society and the likelihood of greater than fifty percent that the marriage of a recipient beneficiary will end in divorce. Our attorneys can advise you on advanced asset protection planning and wealth preservation strategies including the use of various business entities and asset protection trusts,  including multi-generational Dynasty Trusts and other irrevocable trusts, such as a beneficiary controlled trust to hold an inheritance while retaining asset protection.

Our attorneys can also advise you concerning establishing a self-settled domestic asset protection trust, such as the Tennessee Investment Services Trust, that provides protection for your assets while allowing you to benefit from them.

We are particularly sensitive to the ethical rules governing estate planners with respect to asset protection planning, and we will not recommend any strategies that could constitute a “fraudulent conveyance” in violation of state or federal law, which could be deemed voidable in a bankruptcy proceeding, or could be legally voided by a creditor or bankruptcy trustee.

Trust & Estate Administration

Our attorneys have extensive experience in the area of estate and trust administration, including the settlement of complex estate matters and post-mortem income, estate and generation skipping transfer tax planning. Our firm prepares federal and state inheritance and estate tax returns. Our firm also represents estates in tax controversies involving gift, estate, inheritance and generation skipping tax returns from the initial audit to a final resolution whether on appeal or court filing.

Court Proceedings and Litigation

We represent clients in court proceedings involving wills, trusts, conservatorships and other probate matters. Our attorneys also provide experienced representation of trustees, executors, administrators, agents, surviving spouses, other fiduciaries and beneficiaries. We represent clients in will and trust litigation, including contests, lawsuits concerning the interpretation and modification of estate planning documents. We also handle tax controversies, including IRS and state estate, gift and inheritance tax controversies.