Spotlight on Christopher W. Dumm
Our spotlighted attorney, Christopher W. Dumm, of Joplin, was born in Euless, Texas, where his father was a civil engineer. After a little over a year, his family moved to Missouri where he was raised on his father’s 600-acre family farm in Jasper.
After graduating from Jasper High School in 1986, Chris went to undergraduate school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in Business Administration with double majors in Finance and Economics. He “bummed around” in Europe after graduating and before beginning law school in 1991 at Virginia Beach, Virginia, at Regent University Law School, where he received his J.D. in 1994.
Chris met his wife, Markelle, at law school and married her in 1993. She also graduated from Regent Law School in 1994. They practiced in Virginia’s tidewater area for a couple of years before Chris returned to Missouri in 1996 to practice with Christy Barton in Columbia. Chris and Markelle opened their own firm in Joplin in 1997.
Chris and Markelle have two children—Cate, age 9, and Elena, age 8. Markelle practiced law full time with Chris until 2005 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Markelle went through seven years of treatment before she died in December of 2012.
“Markelle received hospice services before she died. I grieved through that process when the end was near,” Chris said. “I have had fewer bad days after her death because she is not suffering any more. The first holidays without her are very rough for my daughters and me.”
“It has been hard to find anything positive from my experience in caring for Markelle and being a single father,” said Chris, “but I feel I am more sensitive and better at estate planning and elder law because I can better empathize with what my clients are going through. I also know the value of having high quality documents made necessary near the end of life.”
“In my nineteen years of estate planning practice,” Chris said, “I have found the importance of elder law to be a vital component of comprehensive estate planning. The former estate planning emphasis on the ‘Tax Boogeyman’ is gone, but some of the same asset protection techniques such as irrevocable trusts to avoid taxes for the very wealthy can be used for people of modest means to protect their assets.”
“Adult children usually tell me that they want Mom and Dad of the WW II or Korean War eras taken care of while Mom and Dad want something to go to their children,” said Chris. “My younger clients in their 50’s and 60’s are more interested in managing risk requiring me to discuss long-term care insurance and coordinate with their financial planners and CPA advisers to protect ‘heirloom property’ such as century farms.”
“I enjoy working with other estate planning and elder law attorneys because our interactions are less adversarial,” Chris said. We serve as counselors listening to, learning from, and supporting each other.”
When asked what he does in his spare time to relax, Chris said, “I don’t have much spare time because I am Mom and Dad to my girls. As much as possible, I try to structure my schedule to spend time with them at home, but occasionally I steal away to play some golf.”
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