Dennis Belcher, one of America’s pre-eminent trusts and estates attorneys and co-chairman of McGuireWoods’ nationally renowned Private Wealth Services Industry Team, died unexpectedly during a medical procedure on April 27. He was 65.
Belcher was long recognized as a visionary within trusts and estates law. A past president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and former chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, his insights were sought out by clients, colleagues and Congress, where his testimony helped influence the direction of federal tax legislation.
His greatest impact, however, was on the people who knew him.
“What a wonderful person to know and what a great lawyer to work with,” said Managing Partner Tom Cabaniss, Dennis’ friend for more than 30 years. “There was never a time when I saw Dennis that we didn’t talk about — and usually laugh about — some experience we’d shared over the years.”
A lawyer with McGuireWoods for 41 years, Belcher’s contributions were many. He joined the firm on May 11, 1976, and became a partner in 1983. He was recognized numerous times for his professional prowess, including being honored as a “Most Influential Lawyer” and “Trusts and Estates Trailblazer” by The National Law Journal.
A national thought leader, news outlets such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal routinely turned to him for his unsurpassed expertise. Under his leadership, McGuireWoods’ Private Wealth Services Industry Team received the highest national ranking for wealth management from Chambers & Partners, one of the world’s most authoritative guides to the legal profession. Dennis was “the sort of guy you want in the trenches with you,” Chambers quoted one client as saying.
“There was no more popular lawyer at the firm than Dennis and no one at the firm had a better reputation in their field of practice than he did,” said Chairman Richard Cullen. “His sunny personality and infectious laugh will be forever missed.”
Partner Anne Marie Whittemore added: “Let us remember that infectious grin, the hearty laugh, the sense of humor and wonder at human foibles and the uncanny ability to muddle through any complex situation with excellent judgment and a touch of cleverness. How fortunate we are to be his dear friends.”
Dennis is survived by his wife Vickie; two sons; and a daughter, son-in-law and grandson.
Visitation will be Monday, May 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave., Richmond. Services will be Tuesday, May 2, at 11 a.m. at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1627 Monument Ave., Richmond. A reception will follow at the Commonwealth Club, 401 W. Franklin St., Richmond.
In lieu of flowers, Dennis’ family asks that memorial donations be made to the charity of your choice.