Contributing Editors

Over the years, I have been blessed by a number of professionals who have advised and mentored me. Their willingness to share their knowledge and experience has greatly contributed to the balance and content of this book. I thank them for their patience, as I work to keep things accurate and understandable.

Here is the current group of contributing editors who have acted as advisors and reviewers for this edition of Understanding Living Trusts.® They, too, have been very generous with their time and knowledge. I have learned from them, and I am grateful for their assistance.

Jonathan A. Mintz is a Partner in the national law firm of Evergreen Legacy Planning, LLP, with offices in Newport Beach, California, and Evergreen, Colorado. Jonathan helps both U.S. and non-U.S. families and businesses achieve privacy, protection, and income and estate tax minimization, often for generations.

A former Adjunct Faculty at Chapman University Fowler School of Law (a “Top School” according to the 2018 U.S. News and World Report rankings), Jonathan taught Estate Planning for law and masters in taxation students. He is also past Chair of the Orange County Branch of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP), where he oversaw the branch’s operations, including an Annual Institute in collaboration with UCLA School of Law in Newport Beach.

Previously, Jonathan was a partner in the Orange County firm of Matsen Voorhees Mintz LLP, and before that he served as Chief Operating Officer for WealthCounsel, LLC where he oversaw operations of the nation’s premier support organization for thousands of estate and business planning attorneys nationwide. He was also instrumental in the creation of The

Advisors Forum, a national interdisciplinary membership organization that helps all disciplines of wealth planning professionals work together more effectively for the benefit of their clients.

Jonathan has served on the editorial board for several treatises, and he has either authored or co-authored articles appearing in the estate planning industry’s most prestigious publications, including Estate Planning Journal, the AICPA’s The Tax Adviser, and the Journal of Financial Service Professionals, among others. In his 25+ years of practice, Jonathan has taught thousands of professionals, including lawyers, CPAs, financial advisers and fiduciaries, and he is a sought-after national speaker on all areas of sophisticated estate planning.

His family includes his wife, Valerie Peterson (a nationally known elder law and veteran’s benefits attorney), and two wonderful daughters. He can be reached at

Valerie Peterson is the CEO of ElderCounsel, LLC, a national membership organization that serves elder law, veterans pension and special needs planning attorneys. Prior to joining ElderCounsel, Valerie was a practicing elder law attorney in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Florida as the owner of Peterson Law Office, P.A.

She attended Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas where she received the Order of Barristers award for excellence in courtroom advocacy. A litigator for several years after law school, Valerie decided to focus her practice on elder law after she experienced firsthand the challenges of caring for an elderly loved one.

In her role as CEO, Valerie also sets the curriculum for ElderCounsel’s education conferences and serves as instructor in several courses, including the Elder Law Immersion and Practice Building Camp and the VA Pension Planning Immersion Camp. Valerie has also taught for the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the Academy of Veterans Pension Planners (AVAPP), and for various state bar associations on topics pertaining to Elder Law, Special Needs Planning and Veterans Benefits. As an adjunct professor for Stetson University Law School, Valerie teaches the Veterans Benefits course to Elder Law LL.M. students.

Valerie resides in Huntington Beach, CA, with her husband, Jonathan Mintz.

Dennis Brislawn is a practicing attorney and shareholder in Oseran Hahn, P.S., a multi-attorney firm located in Bellevue, Washington. He is a nationally-recognized speaker, author, and legal systems architect and principal member of the WealthCounsel Companies, comprised of WealthCounsel, LLC, The Advisor’s Forum, LLC, and ElderCounsel, LLC. He is the recipient of the Martindale Hubbell AV Peer Review Rating ranking him top in his profession for ethical standards and professional excellence, and he is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Seattle Magazine consistently ranked Dennis as a “5 Star Wealth Manager,” a list consisting largely of financial professionals and only a few attorneys.

Dennis is admitted to practice in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, before the Federal Bar and the IRS. His practice is interdisciplinary and counseling-oriented, offering a full range of planning services and mid- to high-end strategies that accomplish client goals. Client representations include estate and gift tax planning, estate and gift tax audits, asset protection, business planning and succession, advanced estate and charitable planning. He regularly co-counsels cases with other attorneys nationwide.

Among the numerous systems Dennis has co-authored or authored are the RLT, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Company, and SettlementCounsel™ systems, with the latest being GunDocx® all published by WealthCounsel, LLC. He created the GoldDATA® contact management system and co-authored the WealthData™ System distributed by Premier Software. He is the author of a number of print articles and electronic publications through social media.

Dennis married Susan in 1988 and they live in Woodinville. They met while both were serving as active duty US Army officers. Dennis is an Airborne Ranger and French Army Commando among other things as a result of his active duty service.

Today, Dennis is active as a Board member for the Washington State Search & Rescue Advisory Council and in units of the King County Search & Rescue Association as an Operations Leader. His volunteer time often finds him on mountainsides, in the middle of the night, working with his teammates to get somebody who is lost, hurt or both to get home safe.

Dennis M. Axman, CLU, ChFC, AEP, CFP.® A native Kentuckian, Denny attended Bellarmine College in Louisville. He joined The Prudential Insurance Company of America as a representative in Louisville in 1970, and in 1973 he was promoted to management. In 1994, he elected to return to personal production and opened his financial planning practice in Jacksonville, FL. Denny retired from Prudential in 2006 and became an Associate Producer/Financial Planner with Laino & Associates, also in Jacksonville. In 2007, Denny became a Life Product Wholesaler for Prudential. In 2009, Denny re-retired from Prudential and joined Pinnacle Insurance and Financial Services as Director of Advanced Marketing & Vice President of Sales. In 2011, Denny became an Independent Insurance Advisor for Pinnacle. He also co-founded Advanced Market Resources, LLC (AMR) where he was a managing partner. In December 2016, he resigned from Pinnacle, closed AMR and joined Allstate Life and Retirement Advanced Solutions Team.

Throughout his career, Denny has earned sixteen Prudential Presidents’ Citations, three Circle of Life Awards, one Court of the Table, and is a Qualifying & Life member with fifteen years of membership in MDRT. Long active in local, state and national Association of Life Underwriters activities, Denny is a member of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting and has been a member of the Financial Planning Association since 1983. In 1998, he qualified for and was accepted into the Prudential Leaders Council. He has been a member of the Northeast Florida Estate Planning Council for the past 16 years. Denny is also a member of the Jacksonville Society of Financial Service Professionals as well as the Northeast Florida Planned Giving Council. From 2006 to 2008, Denny provided CE workshops for the American College Alumni Association throughout the United States. In November of 2011, Denny was reappointed as an adjunct professor with The American College for the CLU, ChFC and CFP® programs, from which he resigned in December, 2016. He’s also held many positions volunteering for the Million Dollar Round Table.

Denny and his wife, Mary Helen, are the parents of three daughters and a son. They have six granddaughters, of which two are twins, and four grandsons. They make their home in Orange Park, Florida.

Michael Ettinger was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, where he graduated from McGill Law School with honors in 1977. In 1978, Mr. Ettinger obtained his Master of Laws degree from The London School of Economics in London, England. Admitted to the New York Bar in 1980, Mr. Ettinger practiced general law in Manhattan and Scarsdale, New York until 1991, when he founded Ettinger Law Firm, devoted exclusively to Elder Law Estate Planning. Today, the firm maintains fourteen New York locations: Albany, Bohemia, Brooklyn, Fishkill, Lake Success, Manhattan, Melville, Middletown, Nyack, Rhinebeck, Saratoga, Southampton, Staten Island and White Plains. Mr. Ettinger was a Founding Member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, is Past President of The American Association of Trust, Estate and Elder Law Attorneys, and has been a member of The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys since 1992. Mr. Ettinger is a contributor to the New York Bar Journal, has published over fifty articles on Elder Law Estate Planning and is the author of “Elder Law Estate Planning” on and Kindle.

Richard Gottlieb and his law firm, Gottlieb & Gottlieb, P.A., have been providing estate planning services for clients throughout central Florida for over 30 years. Holding a B.S. degree from the UCLA School of Public Health, and a J.D. degree from the University of Akron School of Law, he is admitted to practice in Florida and Ohio, before the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Courts of Appeal for the 6th and 11th Circuits, as well as the Federal District Courts for the Middle District of Florida and the Northern District of Ohio. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association (Real Property, Trust and Probate, Health Law and Elder Law Sections) and the Ohio Bar Association (Probate and Trust Law Section).

Sharon Sides, founder of SidesCPA in West Hills, CA, has been providing strategic financial reporting, business development, operating, tax, and systems support and guidance to US based clients for over thirty years. Passionate about ensuring clients have the information they need to respond to critical business decisions timely and accurately, she and her team provide professional, personalized services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries including digital media, publishing, health care, insurance and manufacturing.

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