A tough advocate—competitive with peers, compassionate with clients—Alison Barkley serves both individuals and small business owners, drawn to entrepreneurs by the risks they take and the support their families provide. Her early background working with large, publicly held corporations proved a superb training ground for the more personal service she offers today to closely held and startup companies. She expanded her practice into estate planning early to confront problems facing many of her entrepreneurial clients: succession of their businesses and financial provision for their families. Recommendations from these clients helped build an estate planning clientele that today is dominated by individuals—young and old, single and married—who are not entrepreneurs.
Alison attended law school at night while working full-time at one of the nation's largest, most respected law firms, serving there as an associate attorney for seven years upon earning her J.D. During an era of takeover by surprise tender offer, she concentrated on Fortune 500 companies, for which she helped manage corporate acquisitions throughout the country. She also worked in securities compliance and on general corporate transactions—such as stock and asset sales, mergers and consolidations—either opposing or collaborating with some of the best legal minds in the nation.
Alison's heritage, she believes, is the source of her work ethic and deep respect for self-made business people. A degree in journalism and background as an editor taught her to decipher important issues and complex relationships quickly—a skill that better enables her to manage staff and determine the needs of clients. Her experience meeting press and broadcast deadlines also has helped build the reputation of our Estate Management team. Thanks to the support and intellectual assets of our staff, Alison has substantially grown her practice. She frequently relies upon and works closely with many other Schuyler, Roche & Crisham attorneys, calling upon their expertise in corporate and individual taxes, employment matters, real estate and litigation.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Hoping to make a difference in the lives of individuals attracted Alison to law; counseling people rewarded by her advice sustains her. She is equally comfortable serving owners of small businesses, CEOs of midsize or large closely held corporations and individual estate-planning clients whose net worth ranges from $50,000 to $20,000,000. Within the requirements of the Canons of Ethics, she often serves multiple members of one family, who consider her their corporate counsel, family lawyer or both. This versatility contributes to her expertise in counseling manufacturers, distributors, retailers, service providers, associations, professionals, farmers, ranchers, franchisees, restaurateurs, nursing home administrators, healthcare providers, insurance brokers, general contractors and church officials. Logical yet intuitive, Alison has handled diverse matters, including:
- forming new corporations, partnerships and ventures
- negotiating acquisitions, mergers, consolidations, expansions and sales of stock and assets for closely held businesses
- counseling on all aspects of starting a business, such as the importance of business plans, licenses, registrations and insurance
- drafting bylaws, policy formation and incorporation and qualification documents
- negotiating the sale of businesses (stocks or assets) from estates of the deceased
- creating comprehensive, complex or simple estate plans for individuals, including tax planning devices for shifting appreciating assets to younger generations
- preparing wills, trusts, family limited partnerships, qualified personal residence trusts, living trusts and irrevocable insurance trusts
- counseling families and healthcare providers about the implementation of Illinois powers of attorney for healthcare, living wills, Hemlock Society documents and end-of-life decisions
- preparing specialized trusts to hold and manage the stock of closely held and family-owned businesses in order to address postmortem transition issues, including the possible sale or dissolution of the businesses
- creating employment, operating, stock restriction and buy/sell agreements
- counseling family-owned businesses on succession planning, which includes stock redemptions, stock gifting and employee stock purchase arrangements during each owner's lifetime
- planning for a client's disability, whether or not diagnosed, through estate planning, advanced healthcare directives, long-term care insurance, savings plans and appropriate succession planning for personal finances and taxes
- representing families of the ward—dependent minors or adults—and the ward in guardianship matters
- representing families and single parents in domestic and foreign adoptions
- negotiating contracts, leases and property acquisition
- representing general contractors or owners; creating construction contracts for residential, commercial and mixed-use projects; and managing and negotiating solutions to controversies arising during and after construction.
Representing the surviving spouse in the administration of an estate, Alison successfully deferred all taxes until this client's death and exercised disclaimers for the benefit of all surviving children, thereby shifting assets targeted for taxation to the decedent's spouse and family members to enjoy during their lifetimes. Working with this family, she negotiated the sale of an operating fertilizer distributorship to a large, national corporation and the divestiture of the family-owned grain storage business to employees. Also on behalf of this family, she reorganized and recommended management changes to farm and cattle operations—action that included dismissing the farm manager—and she counseled the family about transitioning management of the farm to the surviving son. A typical scenario for Alison, this example demonstrates her dexterity in addressing the needs of small businesses. In other representative transactions she:
- negotiated the complete redemption of a patriarch's stock in a family retail and service business with multiple locations; she also counseled the family on the dynamics necessary to enable a smooth succession of the business to a younger family member
- successfully administered a decedent's estate by saving considerable federal taxes and exercising disclaimers in favor of the children—all with a clean estate tax closing letter—after selling from the estate a large corporation that distributes and repairs equipment
- negotiated contracts for the acquisition, construction and federal small business financing of a closely held truck-trailer rebuilding company
- successfully gifted an operating farm to family members during the lifetime of the client, thus rendering the estate tax-free upon the client's death
- acquired multiple clinics for a licensed hospital pursuant to a contractual obligation to purchase them
- sold the stock of a bindery business to employees on behalf of the original owners under Zenz transaction rules permitting simultaneous purchase of the stock with partial redemption—action that permits sellers to remove cash in corporations without unfavorable tax treatment
- also, on behalf of a general contractor, successfully negotiated the resolution of breach of contract claims regarding nonperformance and a construction delay.
Alison's clients appreciate her ability to assess their current needs and anticipate future ones.