Why Choose Us

Selecting a Trusts and Estates law firm is an important decision which can sometimes be difficult to make, considering all of the attorneys that are available.

Here are some of the reasons, we are told, why our existing clients have chosen us to be their Trusts and Estates attorneys.

We Are Not General Practitioners.

We are not, and have never been, general practitioners.  Rather, we are thrilled to be able to spend 100% of our time practicing in four different, but complementary, areas: Estate Planning, Trust Administration, Probate Administration, and Real Estate.  When you do something all of the time, it makes sense that you’ll be better at it than someone who does it only part of the time.

We’ve Been Doing This for a While.

We have concentrated our practice in these four areas since 1978.  As a result, we have a wealth of knowledge we can share about how to address various legal and non-legal issues.  And although we’ve dealt with a whole host of these issues during those 40+ years, we don’t believe we have yet dealt with anywhere near all of them—one of the reasons our practice is so interesting and enjoyable.

We Emphasize Teaching Our Clients.

We think it is important that our Clients understand the reasons behind our recommendations, as well as the important elements of all documents we prepare for them.  In our view, nothing could be worse than having a Client leave the office after signing a document, and then later wonder “what in the world did I sign, and why was it necessary for me to sign it?”  We view teaching, and answering questions, as an integral part of the Client–Attorney relationship.

  • Please review our Trusts and Estates Glossary, which is located in the Resources section of our website.  Like all glossaries, ours contains definitions of various terms and phrases.  However, our Glossary is a bit unusual, in that we have included not only additional commentary, but also numerous examples, all in an effort to make these terms and phrases understandable.  We think of our Glossary as an Annotated Glossary.
  • Please also take a look at our analysis of the widely used and almost always misunderstood phrase “Descendants, per stirpes,” which is discussed in "The Most Mystifying Phrase" in the Resources section.  If you click on the link at the end of the analysis, you will be able to see, in a visual (and even colorful!) format, exactly how distributions pursuant to this phrase are made in 4 different Scenarios.

We Are Innovative.

We may be the only law firm that makes extensive use of Flow Charts in all of our practice areas.  Again, our goal in utilizing our Flow Charts is to better inform our Clients by offering them a visual tool as an alternative to reading, and then attempting to understand and remember, lengthy and complex legal documents.  Summarizing estate planning documents, as well as Trust and Probate administrations, in a colorful Flow Chart that can be retained as a reference, has proven to be much more meaningful for our Clients.  Excerpts from one of our Estate Planning Flow Charts, and from one of our Trust Administration Flow Charts, are also located in the Resources section.

We are also the only law firm we know of that utilizes a Unit Billing System for most Trust and Probate Administration matters.  We developed this System many years ago, and it has become extremely popular, as the Attorney’s Fees that are calculated under this System are not based upon the number of hours we spend, or upon the value of the assets held in a Trust or an Estate.  Our Unit Billing System is described in the Attorney’s Fees portions of Probate Administration and Trust Administration under Becoming A Client.

We Enjoy Meeting and Helping People.  

During our 40+ years of practice, we have met many wonderful people, and have enjoyed helping them address a variety of goals, concerns and issues.  We hope to meet and help many more. The ability to interact with our Clients, and to assist them in addressing diverse goals, concerns and issues, makes our practice fulfilling.

We Are Down-to-Earth, and Approachable.

To be sure, we do, when warranted, draft complex and sophisticated Trusts.  We prepare and file, on behalf of Trustees, Executors and Administrators, Federal and Illinois Fiduciary Income Tax returns and Estate Tax returns.  We are also able to expound at length on many of the technical provisions found in Subchapter J of the Internal Revenue Code (and here we’re talking about some serious “snooze-inducing” expounding).

On the other hand, we also enjoy rooting for, and “2nd-guessing” from afar, the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Bears, and discussing who will be performing at Ravinia.  And, depending upon the day, you might also find us debating whether it’s “better” to adopt a Dalmatian, a Border Collie or a Boxer (there is presently a 3-way tie vote on this critical internal issue), or which beer or wine generally works best with the broad range of foods and condiments often found at a Chicago area BBQ (in our considered opinion, a Pilsner, and either a “Bubbly” or a Beaujolais).

We Are Passionate About What We Do.

Our Clients often remark that it is very evident that we enjoy our practice.  They are absolutely correct—we really do.

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Meet Our Team

Joseph C. Johnson's Profile Image
Joseph C. Johnson is the founder of Joseph C. Johnson, P.C., and is also a co-founder and Fellow of EPICOR, an estate planning and wealth strategies collaborative. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and of the Chicago Estate Plannin… Read More
Patricia L. Smith's Profile Image
Patricia L. Smith joined Joseph C. Johnson, P.C. in 2016. To say that Trish is immersed in all aspects of our practice would be an understatement. She meets with Trust and Estate clients, drafts and implements estate planning documents, opens, admini… Read More
Ann Place's Profile Image
When you call our office, you will most likely first speak with Ann Place. Ann’s workdays are varied and busy. She is our Estate Planning and Real Estate Paralegal, Legal Assistant, Office Manager and Director of First Impressions. Ann is also in c… Read More