Stories written by Steve Gammill

Steve Gammill is an estate and business planning attorney in Western Colorado. Gammill is a nationally recognized teacher of strategic and tactical planning to lay persons and professionals alike. What sets him apart is his emphasis on story based planning. He has practiced for nearly 50 years and sees clients by appointment only. To learn more or contact him, visit

What clients should expect from attorneys

A column published in February described what an initial meeting with a planning attorney should be like. Clients really do have a choice and should treat an initial meeting like an interview in evaluating whether or not they want to move forward with that attorney. This column describes what happens next. Once the interview process […]

Stories often reveal true desires for estate planning

There’s a parlor game I learned a few years ago that can be ideal for gatherings of friends. It’s called, “My House.” When you were a kid, you and your friends would say, “Come on over to my house.” Remember that? The next time you have some people over for dinner and the dishes have been […]

Need an attorney? Consider initial meeting an interview

After years of procrastination, you’ve finally scheduled your first visit with an estate planning attorney. But  what does that mean as a practical matter? What do you do? What should you expect? Do you understand you should interview the lawyer to see if you really want to be there or are you just hoping he […]

Have planning cake — and eat it, too

Consider once again as an illustrative example the circumstances of my hypothetical clients. Carole and Bill have just learned Carole’s grandmother passed away and left a small ranch to Carole and her sister, Janet, outright, free and clear. The ranch is leased to neighboring ranchers as pasture and Janet and Carole will be absentee landlords. […]

Make your voice heard in estate planning

One of the more important concepts in modern estate and business planning is that your plan should be uniquely yours — not an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all plan. A number of recent studies have confirmed that very thing: When asked, most children say they’d much prefer to have their mother’s voice and other memories of her than […]

Generative trustee takes on key role

Jeanne, an older client of mine, asked a very good question as we wrapped up design of her revocable living trust. “Before you begin drafting, I have a concern with the people I have named as trustees. I have chosen humans over corporations primarily because I want my trustees to spend time, effort and thought […]

Dealing with the designated difficult one

Many parents face challenges in estate planning in dealing with what could be described as the designated difficult one — the child whose behaviors or attitudes prompt questions and concerns about inheritance. Consider this couple’s story about a daughter: “She’s been one tough kid to live with. Ever since she was old enough to begin […]

Proactive approach best to protect assets

I could see from the caller ID that Jack was on the line. Jack and his partner, Ray, are new clients. They own and operate a supply company for the energy industry. While sales have fallen off a bit over the past couple of years, the company remains viable and the outlook good. Jack and […]

Estate planning depends on relationships

Even the best estate planning in the world can crater and fail. But doesn’t that indicate it wasn’t the best plan after all? The middle-aged man in my office was angry and upset. Robert was the son of an elderly rancher client who’d died in an accident a few weeks earlier, and things were spinning […]

In estate planning, flexibility king

In times of uncertainty, flexibility is king. And for perhaps the past decade, we’ve been in a period of uncertainty regarding estate and gift tax law. Currently, the amount that can be passed on to heirs without paying any estate or gift tax on that transfer is $5 million per person. After adding the allowed […]


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