Meet your friends in southwest Michigan

For 35 years we have faithfully been serving the communities  Michigan and Indiana.  See what a difference we can make.

 

Insurance Defense Litigation

Straub, Seaman & Allen, P.C., has represented insureds and insurers throughout
Michigan and Indiana for nearly four decades. The expertise of our insurance lawyers
extends from simple property damage claims to the defense of multi-million dollar injury
and liability claims. Our experience extends from the insurance contract and its
interpretation to the complexities of governmental regulation and applicable statutes. Our
professional liability and no-fault lawyers specialize in early evaluation, cost-effective
planning, and early resolution. Trust the lawyers at Straub, Seaman & Allen to handle all
insurance related issues from claims, to investigation, to litigation.

Trusts and Estates

The estate planning group at Straub, Seaman & Allen provides clients with tailored solutions.  Our estate planning services include: drafting wills, trusts, powers of attorney and patient advocate designations, assisting in trust administrations, and assisting in the administration of probate estates. Our goal in drafting a specific estate plan is to carry out the wishes of our clients while preserving assets with an estate plan that provides protection, flexibility, and ease of administration for each client.  We value the lasting relationships with our long-term clients and look forward to assisting new clients gain the peace of mind that comes with a comprehensive estate plan.
We also represent clients involved in litigation in probate court.

Business

The business attorneys at SSA represent business organization of all types, including corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships. We are dedicated to protecting our clients’ personal and business interests and our attorneys provide a full range of legal services to effectively address the challenges faced by every business.

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Award winning legal services

About Straub, Seaman & Allen

Established in 1984, Straub, Seaman & Allen provides quality representation for businesses and individuals throughout Michigan and Indiana. To better serve our clients, we maintain offices in St. Joseph, MI, and Grand Rapids, MI.

By hiring outstanding personnel and using the latest technology, we are able to solve complex problems, comply with detailed claims handling guidelines, manage cases in a cost efficient manner, and successfully handle even the most difficult litigation. Our varied and successful background enables us to effectively evaluate cases and provide sound legal advice.

We pride ourselves on tailoring a strategy to meet the specific needs of each client. This is accomplished by identifying our clients' needs and expectations, exploring available options and selecting the best means of achieving the client's goals.

In addition to traditional strategies, we often suggest alternate forms of dispute resolution such as facilitative mediation and arbitration.

While we encourage alternate dispute resolution as a cost- effective means of resolving litigation, there is no substitute for the ability to successfully represent clients in trial. Straub, Seaman and Allen has established an unparalleled reputation for successfully trying cases in all State and Federal Courts.

We invite YOU to explore how Straub, Seaman and Allen can assist you in meeting your goals.


We would like to recognize Drew Seaman founding partner that passed away in August of 2017, you are missed dearly.

Drew Seaman

March 26, 1951 - Aug. 8, 2017

BENTON HARBOR - Drew Fredric Seaman, 66, of Benton Harbor, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Drew grew up in a very small town in Churdan, Iowa. It was important for him to instill in his daughters the mid-west values that he was raised with. His family would consistently go back to his hometown every Fourth of July to celebrate with his childhood friends and many fireworks. Drew had many loves. From hunting with good friends, boating with his brother-in-law, repairing his ‘54 Chevy Pick-Up and truly enjoying life with his daughters and wife. He has been sincerely touched by his sons-in-law, Travis, Sam, and Jeff, as he knows they will carry on his legacy and watch over his daughters. His two grandchildren, Ava and Drew, will always remember their Papa sneaking them treats just like his father (Dick) did before him. His sister, Diane, was important in his life and he enjoyed debating any intellectual topic with her. Drew and Diana met on a blind date and the rest is history. They enjoyed scuba diving and taking trips all over the world, especially the Caribbean which Drew really loved. The most joyful times of their lives were when their children were born and raising them to be caring, strong and independent young women. He was a real class act. He treated everyone the same and made an impact on everyone's life he touched. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 3:00 pm on Saturday, August 12, 2017, at Starks & Menchinger Chapel & Cremation Services, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph. Friends may visit with the family from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm on Friday, August 11. Memorials may be made to Southwest Michigan Humane Society. Those wishing to sign Drew's Memory Book online may do so at www.starks-menchinger.com. Drew was born on March 26, 1951, in Jefferson, Iowa, to H. Richard & Edna (Schmid) Seaman. On November 2, 1985, he married Diana Hofer. Drew was a partner at Straub, Seaman & Allen, P.C. in St. Joseph. Drew is survived by his wife, Diana; children, Daire (Smail) Benteldjoune, Danielle Leigh Seaman and fiance, Jeff Mathews, & Devyn Marie (Travis) Hanko; two grandchildren, Ava Marie Margaret Hanko and Drew William; and sister, Diane Lee Seaman. Drew was preceded in death by his parents, and childhood best friend, Pete Parks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Historically, corporations were a desirable business form because they offered shareholders limited liability for acts of the corporation, and when tax rates were materially higher for individuals than for corporations, there was a potential for tax savings. However, today there are a number of business forms that offer both limited liability and potential tax savings, as well as other benefits the corporate model does not offer. One such option is the limited liability company. Like a corporation, a limited liability company is formed by filing Articles of Organization with the State. Like shareholders of a corporation, all members of a limited liability company have limited liability, including managing members. However, unlike a traditional corporation (called “C-Corps”), the members of a limited liability company are treated as partners for tax purposes, and are taxed directly on the company’s profits. Thus, the profits of a limited liability company are taxed only once at the member level, whereas C-Corps are considered separate legal entities and consequently are taxed once at the corporate level, and then again at the shareholder level when income is distributed. However, this double taxation of corporations has been softened somewhat. Certain corporations can also elect to be taxed only once if they qualify as sub-chapter S corporations, also called “S-Corps.” The biggest advantage of the limited liability company model is the flexibility it offers over corporations, especially in the area of how profits are distributed. Under the corporate model, profits are distributed proportionate to stock ownership, whereas the members of a limited liability company can agree to allocate income in a manner disproportionate to their ownership interests. This is just one of the advantages that may be of interest to you as a business owner. Before forming a business, you should discuss the variety of business entity models now available with your business and tax advisors to determine which entity best suits your needs

Auto accidents are a fact of life.  Fortunately, the vast majority of accidents are minor fender benders and are easily resolved. But from time to time, a person may bring a lawsuit against another driver after an accident. While a lawsuit is a very important procedure that requires legal expertise, it is usually much less stressful than people imagine.

In Michigan, all drivers must carry car insurance. Under the No-Fault Act, certain expenses are paid automatically by a driver's own auto-insurance carrier without regard to who was at fault for the accident. These expenses include medical (including emergency hospital treatment, follow-up medical treatment, and in-home care) and up to three years of wage-loss payments.  So when a person brings a lawsuit against another driver, that person is suing for injuries or wage loss above and beyond what the No-Fault Act requires their insurance carrier to pay.

Many people who have been sued worry that they will not be able to pay for a lawyer. This is usually not a problem.  All drivers who maintain appropriate auto insurance are protected because the insurance agreement says that the insurance company will pay for the reasonable costs of a lawsuit. This means the insurance carrier will hire an attorney to defend the lawsuit at no additional expense. The attorney hired has a duty of confidentiality and loyalty to the insured driver, not to the insurance company. So even though the insurance company has hired the attorney, the attorney's relationship with the insured driver is the same as any other attorney-client relationship.

Once a lawsuit begins, the plaintiff and defendant's attorneys take part in a process known as discovery. During discovery, the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant investigate the cause of the accident and the injuries and other damages caused by the accident. Typically, both attorneys will prepare written questions (called interrogatories) that must be answered in writing and under oath. The attorneys may also request the plaintiff and defendant to produce certain documents regarding the accident or claimed injuries. The attorneys usually respond to these questions with the help of the client.

Another common investigative technique used in discovery is known as a deposition.  A deposition is an oral statement under oath.  Depositions may be taken of the plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses involved in the lawsuit. Depositions are taken in person and sometimes are videotaped.  During a deposition, the attorneys will ask questions related to the lawsuit so they can gain more information.  A court reporter is always present to record every word said during the deposition.

Many drivers worry about having to go to trial. Today, most lawsuits are resolved prior to trial. A lawsuit may be resolved for any number of reasons.  Michigan courts require all parties to a lawsuit to attempt to negotiate a settlement of the lawsuit prior to going to trial. This is commonly known as Alternative Dispute Resolution and it can involve a number of different techniques.

If the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree to a settlement, the lawsuit will proceed to trial. Trials are rarely the long, drawn out procedures that people imagine.  Many trials may last only a day or two. The plaintiff and defendant are required to be present at the trial, but the attorneys handle the entire process. The attorneys will select the jury before the trial begins (unless both parties have decided to have a judge hear the case). The trial presentation begins with both attorneys presenting an opening argument that gives a brief description of the evidence that will be introduced during the trial. Then the attorneys present evidence, which usually involves questioning witnesses and producing documents. The attorneys will end by giving a closing argument. After that, the judge or jury will deliberate and will decide the outcome of the case. The decision is binding on both parties, but either may choose to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. Even if the judge or jury determines that the defendant was at fault for the accident, it will not effect the defendant's driving record. Driving records are not influenced by lawsuits; the appropriate police department makes the decision whether a driver is issued a citation.

The term "living trust" was replaced with the term "revocable grantor trust" by the Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC). Revocable grantor trusts are created during the lifetime of the person creating the trust (the settlor) and includes terms that allow the settlor to revoke the trust. The settlor is both the initial trustee and the sole lifetime beneficiary of the trust. The trust is not only revocable by the settlor, but is freely subject to modification by the settlor during his or her lifetime.

A revocable grantor trust becomes irrevocable upon the settlor's death or incapacity. Upon the settlor's death, the trust may either terminate or continue in the form of one or more trusts for the benefit of the settlor's spouse or other individuals or entities. The growing popularity of revocable grantor trusts is largely due to the desire to avoid the probate process. As the vehicle through which the settlor's assets flow upon his or her death, probate is unnecessary. However, to the extent the trust is not funded by any assets of the settlor, a will is always required to "pour over" those assets into the trust. Therefore, not all clients will be able to avoid the probate process.

Also, a trust will not provide for the care of the settlor's children. A will, on the other hand, is commonly used to name a guardian for minor children, and, if necessary, to nominate a conservator.

One more benefit of a revocable grantor trust is realized in the event that the settlor becomes incapacitated because of age or illness. A fully funded revocable grantor trust eliminates the need for a conservator which requires probate court involvement. A funded revocable grantor trust can manage the property in the manner selected, and by a person or entity chosen by the settlor.

Experienced counsel can evaluate your situation and help you choose the best course of action. You may want to avoid a lawsuit, but unless the debtor pays you voluntarily there is no other way to force him to do so. Prior to litigating, we can advise you as to what to expect, and make sure that the cost-benefit of the service is reasonable. While many misunderstandings are the result of poorly drafted contracts, even if the debt is based on an oral agreement, the lack of a writing likely will not bar you from recovering. Proving the terms of an oral agreement can be difficult, but if you have evidence that the money was given (such as a canceled check) and that the money was not a gift, most courts will consider the transfer evidence of a loan. Partial repayment may also be evidence of a loan. If it is appropriate to proceed in small claims court without a lawyer, we can assist you by helping you understand the elements of your claim and making sure you have necessary supporting documents (contracts, receipts, and other evidence) at your hearing.