Hostak, Henzl & Bichler
840 Lake Avenue, Suite 300Racine, WI 53403
Phone: 262-632-7541

Contact Stephen J. Smith

262-632-7541 (Ext. 139)


Click here to learn more about the Family Vision Experience™.

Stephen J. Smith

Current Employment Position:


Areas Of Practice:

  • Estate Planning
  • Business Succession Planning
  • Charitable Planning

Bar Admissions:

Wisconsin, 1976


Northwestern University School of Law,
Chicago, Illinois, 1976
J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence
Honors: cum laude

Luther College, Decorah, IA, 1971
B.A., Bachelor of Arts
Honors: magna cum laude

Steve worked from 1971 – 1973 in the Chicago office of the international accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co., working on the audits of companies like Marshall Field, Brunswick, the common trust funds of The Northern Trust, and other banking and brokerage clients of the firm.

After graduating from Northwestern University School of Law in 1976, he joined Hostak, Henzl & Bichler (which was Thompson & Coates, Ltd.), becoming a shareholder in the firm in 1980. He initially divided his time between estate planning, tax, corporate and acquisition work.

An early adopter of computers and the earliest form of electronic spreadsheets (Visicalc), Steve has been creating custom spreadsheet analyses for his clients since the early 1980s. He combined his background as an accountant and familiarity with spreadsheets with his legal training, using the combined skills to build spreadsheet models to project the effects of alternative strategies to maximize after-tax benefits for his clients, customized to their unique situations.

Since about 1990, he has focused increasingly and almost exclusively on estate planning, broadly defined to include

• use of trusts and other devices to manage and transmit property efficiently, including revocable living trusts, IRA Inheritance, Trusts, and Total Return Trusts.
• strategies to minimize taxes
• advanced charitable planning techniques
• creating and working with business entities as part of estate planning strategies
• ownership and management succession planning for closely held businesses

The Family Vision Experience™ is the name Steve has given to his unique process:

  • Focused on helping his clients create a realistic understandable and meaningful vision for their future and the future of the ones they are most concerned for.
  • Characterized by frequent use of diagrams and other tools designed to help the client truly understand the process to the greatest extent possible, so the client can own the process and decide that truly represent what the client wants, not what others might seek to impose on the client.

Steve is also the founder of The Senior Estate Planning Clinic which he created for seniors who would like to do a will but who would not otherwise go to see a lawyer because of the cost. In this special process, Steve does simple wills and powers of attorney, charges a modest flat fee of $100 per couple (or individual), and HHB donates 100% of that fee to a fund Steve created with the Racine Community Foundation called The Fund for Seniors (the income will provide assistance to senior citizens, in effect recycling the money).