Special Edition of ACTEC Law Journal Honors Life, Work of McGuireWoods’ Dennis Belcher

February 20, 2018

The life and work of McGuireWoods partner Dennis Belcher are memorialized in a remarkable collection of tributes to the beloved lawyer in the ACTEC Law Journal, the quarterly publication of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

The 148-page Fall 2017 edition of the journal is a special “festschrift” volume of writings by authors honoring Belcher, a nationally recognized leader in trust and estates, tax and family law whose death last April 27 at age 65 saddened clients, colleagues and friends across the nation.

Among the 24 articles and tributes to the former ACTEC president are two in Belcher’s own words, filled with his keen legal and business insights. Seven were penned or prepared by current or retired McGuireWoods attorneys.

In the Joseph Trachtman Memorial Lecture Belcher delivered in March 2016 at ACTEC’s annual meeting, his hallmark humility and humor shine through. McGuireWoods partners Bill Sanderson and Michael Barker transcribed all 8,300 words, in which Belcher assessed business opportunities and competitive challenges awaiting trust and estate lawyers. He evoked laughter illustrating his points with varied references including TV’s “Star Trek” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.” He also presciently noted six months before Donald Trump’s election as president: “We’re one election away from more changes in the estate tax law.”

Steve Akers, managing director of the Bessemer Trust Co. in Dallas, compiled dozens of Belcher quotes and aphorisms for his article, such as, “Perpetuity is a long time. Don’t forget that.” And, “Wealthy people will always need solutions; all families are dysfunctional; and Congress can’t repeal greed.”

Another contributor, McGuireWoods partner Ron Aucutt, recalled what a fellow firm partner recently observed of Belcher. “Despite living in a world of billionaire clients, Dennis treated everyone the same. His clients included the super wealthy and the guy from the mailroom.”

Longtime friend and McGuireWoods partner Anne Marie Whittemore noted in her article, “He delighted us with tales that inevitably pointed out the foibles of human nature, which fascinated him, and were often cast in his beloved valley of Virginia. He enjoyed people, and people enjoyed him.”

Contributor James Walsh noted the deep sadness of losing his best friend and colleague, but added “there is comfort in contemplating how privileged I was to have participated in his life.”