National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award

In 2004 the NAEPC Board of Directors created an award to honor those that have been highly active in the estate planning community and crucial to the development of the Association. The award was named after the "heart" of the NAEPC, Hart Axley, and will be presented yearly at the NAEPC's Annual Conference. Recipients of the award appear below.

We are pleased to honor Conrad Teitell as the recipient for 2016. Mr. Teitell is a principal in the Connecticut and Florida law firm of Cummings & Lockwood, based in the firm’s Stamford office and chairs the firm’s National Charitable Planning Group. He is an adjunct professor (Masters Graduate in Estate Planning) at the University of Miami School of Law. He holds an L.L.B. from Columbia Law School and an L.L.M. from New York University Law School.

Mr. Teitell has lectured nationally on taxes and estate planning and teaches ethics in charitable gift planning. He teaches public speaking to other professional advisers and laypeople and for the Practicing Law Institute. Mr. Teitell founded and taught the American Bar Association’s (ALI/CLE’s) public speaking courses for over 25 years. 

Conrad Teitell has taught public speaking in a six-part PBS television series and he was the on-air adviser for the PBS series On The Money produced by WGBH/Boston. He has done six PBS television specials on taxes and estate planning and has been a commentator on National Public Radio’s Marketplace.

Mr. Teitell’s publications on taxes, wills, and estate planning have been read by millions. His many articles include columns in Trusts & Estates magazine and the New York Law Journal. He is the editor and publisher of the monthly newsletter Taxwise Giving and is the author of the five-volume treatise Philanthropy and Taxation. His column, Speaking and Writing, has appeared in the American Bar Association’s Journal and in TRIAL, the magazine of The American Association for Justice.

Conrad Teitell, the subject of three lengthy interviews in U.S. News & World Report, is regularly quoted in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes Magazine. Profiled in Bloomberg Personal Finance as one of the nation’s lawyers who has reshaped estate planning by helping clients protect wealth, avoid taxes, and benefit charities, he is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in American Law.

Mr. Teitell has been awarded the Accredited Estate Planner® (Distinguished) designation by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. He is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He is the recipient of the American Law Institute/American Bar Association’s Harrison Tweed Award for Special Merit in Continuing Legal Education and the recipient of the Connecticut Bar Association – Federal Tax Institute of New England’s Outstanding Achievement Award. He has been named the Stamford, Connecticut, Trusts and Estates Lawyer of the Year by the publication Best Lawyers in America.
Originally posted November, 2016

We are pleased to honor David Eugene Lajoie as the recipient for 2015.

Mr. Lajoie was born July 18, 1930, in Worcester, Massachusetts, the youngest of eight children. As a child, it was his dream to become a baseball player for the Boston Red Sox. While being a professional baseball player was not to be his destiny, his love of the game did not diminish and he fondly remembers the Sunday double headers at Fenway Park with his father. 

What was to become his destiny was a lifelong commitment to his chosen profession of accounting with a specialization in estate planning. Throughout his professional life he remained devoted to the concept of required professional education and he demonstrated this commitment through his involvement and leadership in many professional organizations including the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) where he served as president. 

Mr. Lajoie earned a business degree and law degree from the University of Notre Dame where he taught accounting during his senior year and served as a professor’s assistant during his second year of law school. He was admitted to the practice of law by the Texas Bar in 1955 followed a year later by becoming a Certified Public Accountant. He enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the Dallas office of the accounting firm of Lybrand Ross Bros. & Montgomery, later to be known as Coopers & Lybrand, in their tax department where his interest in the specialty of estate planning was nurtured and grew. Upon his retirement in 1991, the firm became Pricewaterhouse Coopers as it is known today.

As an early supporter of continuing professional education (CPE) for accounting professionals, Mr. Lajoie was invited to serve on the committee of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants that developed and implemented this requirement and was twice recognized for his leadership.  He later served in a similar capacity for the Texas Board of Public Accountancy. He was a frequent speaker for the Dallas Estate Planning Council and the estate planning conferences of the Texas Society of CPAs as well as a noted speaker on estate planning at Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and the Notre Dame Law School – preferably on home football game weekends! 

Mr. Lajoie was also active on the AIPCA Tax Committees on Estate Planning and Estate, Gift, and Generation Skipping Transfer Taxes and he chaired the AICPA Committee on Income Taxation of Estates and Trust. In this capacity, he testified before Congress on proposed gift tax legislation and in partnership with the AICPA and the American Bar Association, he worked for tax relief and simplification legislation as it related to generation skipping transfers that was ultimately enacted by Congress. 

As president of the NAPEC from 1991-92, Mr. Lajoie reflected that he was honored to have served the organization to which he had devoted  much time and energy and he was proud of his direct contribution to creating the first national exam for the Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation. 

In his retirement, he has enjoyed traveling with his wife of 62 years, Joyce Claire Sanders, his seven sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.
Originally posted November, 2015

We are pleased to honor Robert G. Alexander as the recipient for 2014.

Mr. Alexander was the president and majority shareholder of Alexander Law Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned a B.A. degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, and a LL.M. in Taxation from DePaul University. Mr. Alexander entered into private practice in 1978 and concentrated his practice in the areas of domestic and international wealth transfer, asset protection and family business planning, including discretionary dynasty trusts, asset protection trusts, life insurance planning, federal estate and gift taxation, trust and estate administration, fiduciary income taxation, charitable planning, business organization and succession planning, and trust and estate litigation. He earned professional designations as a Board Certified Estate Planning Law Specialist (EPLS) as accredited by the American Bar Association, and as an Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC). He was AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards.

Mr. Alexander devoted much of his professional time and abilities in service to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC). He worked tirelessly on behalf of the members of the NAEPC and served most recently in a leadership capacity as President-elect. He also served as a member of the Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc. including the office of president of the board. He was a NAEPC delegate to the Synergy Summit, a leading national estate, tax, and financial think tank, where he was a founding member and also served as Chairperson. Mr. Alexander served on the editorial advising board of Wealth Management Magazine and served for two years as the original publishing editor of the NAEPC's academic journal, The NAEPC Journal of Estate and Tax Planning. He served for three years on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Estate Planning Forum, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for the Milwaukee Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals (SFSP).

Mr. Alexander was a nationally known author, speaker and consultant who lectured, taught, and consulted extensively for both public and private organizations, including the NAEPC, national continuing legal education providers, state bar and CPA organizations, major insurance companies, brokerage firms, banks, trust companies, community foundations, charitable organizations, and various local colleges. He authored and co-authored many legal articles which were published in numerous law review journals.

Mr. Alexander was a member of the American Bar Association section on Real Property, Probate and Trust Law and the section on Taxation; the State Bar of Wisconsin; the NAEPC; the Milwaukee Estate Planning Forum, Inc., and the Society of Financial Service Professionals. He was admitted to practice in Wisconsin, the U.S. District for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Tax Court.

In memory of our good friend and colleague, the NAEPC named its new webinar series after Bob. The Robert G. Alexander Webinar Series is presented monthly featuring a nationally-known speaker on a topic of interest to the estate planning profession. We believe that Bob would approve.
Originally posted November, 2014

We are pleased to honor L. Henry Gissel, Jr., as the recipient for 2013. Mr. Gissel graduated from Rice Institute in 1958, with honors, where he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to earn his LL.B., magna cum laude, in 1961 from Southern Methodist University School of Law where he was selected to the Order of the Woolsack (now Order of the Coif). After serving in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Army, he began his legal career at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. in Houston, Texas, where he practiced law for 43 years before retiring as Senior Partner. During his tenure there he also served as chairman (or co-chairman) of the Trusts and Estates Department from 1977 to 1997. Mr. Gissel is a board-certified attorney in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Beginning in 2008, he has been serving as a consultant to Wilmington Trust Company of Wilmington, Delaware.

Throughout his distinguished legal career, Mr. Gissel has been a member and leader of the Houston Bar, Texas Bar, and American Bar Associations having served as chairman of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law (RPP &TL) Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) and as such served as the Section's Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates from 1994-1997. He also serves as a member of the Tax Section of the ABA and served as chairman of the Probate, Estate, and Trust Law Committee of the Houston Bar Association. He was also a fellow, past president, and regent emeritus of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) where he served on their executive committee. He currently serves as a director of the ACTEC Foundation. Mr. Gissel has been an active member, leader, and supporter of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) by serving as its national president during 1975-76 and as president of the Houston Estate and Financial Forum, an affiliated local estate planning council. He is the only person who has served as head of the NAEPC, the ABA RPP&TL Section, and ACTEC.

Mr. Gissel has been an author and frequent lecturer on probate, trust, estate planning, and tax law subjects at the local, state, and national levels. He is one of a very small number of lawyers who were listed in each of the first 25 editions of The Best Lawyers in America in the Trusts and Estates category, and he is currently listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Law. He is a recipient of the 1999 Rice Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2004 he was honored as the recipient of the Houston Bar Association Probate, Trusts and Estate Section Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Gissel was elected into the NAEPC Estate Planning Hall of Fame® and honored as a recipient of the Accredited Estate Planner® (Distinguished) designation in 2011.
Originally posted November, 2013

The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils honored Leonard H. Neiman as the recipient of the 2012 Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award which was presented during the 49th Annual Conference on Friday, November 9th in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Neiman was selected for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated service to the NAEPC and the estate planning profession.

Mr. Neiman has had a varied career. During WWII, he was sent to the University of Minnesota to study Japanese. He served in the Pacific and participated in the war crimes trial in Tokyo. After his military service, he finished his education with a B.S. in Marketing and Journalism from New York University. At graduation, he received an award for the person most responsible for racial and religious harmony at the school. With another person, he founded the first inter-racial and non-denominational fraternity in the U.S. Following graduation, he pursued a career in journalism by owning newspapers.

In 1958, he was recruited by the Prudential Insurance Company. This began a 40-year term with the "Pru." He had a 3-year stint as a manager, but returned to the field, his first love, where he rose to be "Pru's" leading agent.

Mr. Neiman was a member of the New York City Estate Planning Council, serving on its board and then becoming the council president in 1984. He was approached by the NAEPC to become a member of its national board – a role that lasted 17 years. During his tenure on the NAEPC board, he served on many committees. Early on, he was given the assignment to be head of council relations, responsible for 25,000 members and over 100 local estate planning councils. This committee is now comprised of over 30 members. He also served on the AEP® Committee as well as the planning committee for the Estate Planning Law Specialist (EPLS) program. Mr. Neiman is also a member of the Westchester Estate Planning Council and was a founding member of the Putnam County Estate Planning Council.

In 2009, Mr. Neiman tried to retire from the board, but was convinced to stay on when the position of Director Emeritus was created. Finally, however, in 2010, Mr. Neiman did retire.

In spite of a very active commitment to NAEPC, for 15 years he was also president of the tenant's association of the building where he resides in New York City. He battled with state and federal authorities over a subway that is being built right under his building which houses over 2,000 residents. For 15 years, Mr. Neiman owned a lakeside home north of New York and became a member of the local lake board as well.

Mr. Neiman has one daughter and 2 active grandsons. He and his wife, Barbara, both are enjoying their retirement and travel extensively.
Originally posted November, 2012

The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils honored John "Jack" Wood Rittenhouse, Jr., as the recipient of the 2011 Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award. This award was presented during the 48th Annual Conference of the association on Friday, November 18, 2011, in San Antonio, TX. Mr. Rittenhouse was selected for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated service, both to the national organization and to the estate planning profession. Mr. Rittenhouse entered the life insurance business in Milwaukee in January of 1965 with New York Life. After three years as an agent, he spent almost ten years on the sales management side of New York Life, and in March of 1973, was transferred to be the General Manager of the San Rafael (CA) General Office. In August of 1978, he declined a transfer to Chicago and became an Agent again in San Rafael.

In 1971, Mr. Rittenhouse earned the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) Designation and became a Registered Representative of NYLIFE Securities, Inc. in 1982. In 1995, he earned the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) Designation from The American College and in 2002 completed the Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) Designation from the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC). He was a charter member of the Marin County Chapter of CLU® & ChFC® and served as the treasurer for three years. In 1996, he transferred his membership to the Redwood Empire Chapter and was a Director (1996-2001).

Mr. Rittenhouse has been an instructor for both CLU® and LUTC classes. He was President of the Marin Life Underwriters Association in 1981-82 and then became a member of the Redwood Empire Life Underwriters Association. He is a Past President (1994-95) of the Marin County Estate Planning Council. Mr. Rittenhouse was also a Director (1996-2008) of the Redwood Empire Estate Planning Council. He was a Director (1996-2000), Secretary (2001), Vice President (2002), President (2003), Immediate Past President (2004) and then a Director Emeritus (2005-2009) of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.

Over the years, Mr. Rittenhouse has devoted countless hours to public and civic service. Specifically, he was a member of the Marin County Heart Association Planned Giving Advisory Group, the Marin County American Cancer Society Planned Giving Advisory Group, Sonoma County Community Foundation Professional Advisory Group for three years; was a member of the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Foundation Advisory Group; the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation Advisory Group and Sutter VNA & Hospice Foundation's Planned Giving Professional Advisors Council. For the past 46 years, Mr. Rittenhouse has worked with small businesses in Business Insurance, Employee Benefit Plans and Estate Conservation, with special emphasis now on Charitable techniques of income, asset, tax and legacy planning. Official retirement from New York Life occurred January 1, 2011.

He and his wife, June, lived in San Rafael for 17 years and now reside in Santa Rosa. They have four children, six grandchildren and not enough rose bushes.
Originally posted November, 2011

The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils has honored Charles C. Ives, AEP® as the 2010 recipient of the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award. The award was presented at the 47th Annual Conference of the association on Friday, November 19, 2010 in San Diego, CA. Mr. Ives was selected for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated service, both to the NAEPC and to the field of excellence within his profession. Throughout his illustrious career, Mr. Ives continued his professional education earning the Certified Trust & Financial Advisor (CTFA) certification in 1992. His dedication to the profession he loves is exemplified by his service both locally and nationally to the estate planning organizations of which he is a member. Specifically, he served as president of the Boston Estate Planning Council from 1980-1981; as president of the Essex County Estate Planning Council from 1984-1985; and president of the National Association of Estate Planning Councils (now known as the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils) from 1990-1991. He was among the first class to be awarded the Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation after it was launched in 1990. Mr. Ives graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is 1961 earning a degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. He also is active as class agent for his class of 1953 at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, and serves as corporator of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts. He and his wife reside in Marblehead where he enjoys volunteer work as a tax aide for AARP and also enjoys golf and boating with his children and several grandchildren.
Originally posted November, 2010
National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) has honored Sidney Kess, CPA, JD, LL.M., AEP® (Distinguished) of New York, NY as the 2009 recipient of the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award. The award was presented at the 46th Annual Conference of the Association on November 13, 2009 in Amelia Island, Florida. Mr. Kess, the sixth recipient of the honor, was selected for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated service, both to the NAEPC and in the field of estate planning. Sid was instrumental in the success of 2009's National Estate Planning Awareness Week by creating a solid relationship between NAEPC, AICPA's PFP Section and several other professionals and professional associations. Mr. Kess is a nationally renowned tax expert and author/coauthor of hundreds of tax books on financial and estate planning and was recently selected "Most Influential Practitioner" by CPA Magazine Having lectured to more than 700,000 practitioners on tax, financial and estate planning, Sidney Kess is consulting editor of CCH Incorporated's Financial and Estate Planning Reporter, and consultant for the CCH Estate Planning Guide. He was also the editor of CCH newsletters and author of numerous CCH books and audiocassettes.
Originally posted November, 2009
National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) has honored Byrle M. Abbin, JD, CPA, AEP® (Distinguished) of McLean, VA as the 2008 recipient of the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award. The award was presented at the 45th Annual Conference of the Association on November 14, 2008 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mr. Abbin, a Managing Director of WTAS LLC, was selected for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated service, both to the NAEPC and in the field of estate planning. He is the fifth recipient of this award recognizing excellence within the profession and service to the NAEPC. Mr. Abbin has spoken over a hundred times before most major tax and estate planning conferences and institutes and the ALI-ABA Large Estates Course of Study. He has authored over 150 articles on estate and succession planning, and related fiduciary income tax topics. He is author or co-author of several nationally recognized tax treatises, including "Income Taxation of Fiduciaries and Beneficiaries (CCH)" and "Tax Economics of Charitable Giving" (Warren, Gorham and Lamont). He has served on various AICPA tax committees and task forces, a joint ABA-AICPA committee on relationship between lawyers and CPAs, and several major tax policy organizations based in Washington, D.C. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, Estate Planning Journal and Tax Mgt. Estates, Gifts and Trust Journal. He served on the boards of a major rehabilitation hospital, a Boy Scout council and a social service organization, for which he authored a booklet on charitable giving. "This award is the culmination of a career spanning over 50 years," said Byrle Abbin, "It is most meaningful to me because it is presented by my peers and colleagues, and especially as it bears the name of my longtime colleague and friend, Hartman Axley. I am truly humbled by this recognition."
Originally posted November, 2008
The 2007 Hartman Axley Lifetime Service award was presented to Harold I. Apolinsky, Atty, EPLS, AEP® of Sirote & Permutt, PC in Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Apolinsky was crucial to the development of the Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc., formation of the Estate Planning Law Specialist (EPLS) designation and was the President of the organization at the time of its inception. Congratulations, Harold, on being award the 2007 Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award!
Originally posted November, 2007
Our 2006 honoree was Harold S. Small, Attorney, AEP® from San Diego, California. Hal served as the NAEPC's president in 1992 and 1993. Small was selected for this award in recognition of his many years of dedicated service, both to the field of estate planning and the NAEPC. He is the third recipient of this award, recognizing excellence in his profession and service to the NAEPC. "I am honored to be recognized by such a distinguished group of colleagues at NAEPC," he said. "Continuing into my 30th year in supporting the organization, I'm proud of our accomplishments and shared commitment to the estate-planning practice." While serving as a director of the NAEPC, Small was instrumental in creating the Accredited Estate Planner (AEP®) designation for estate planners throughout the United States, which acknowledges their experience and knowledge in estate planning.
Originally posted November, 2006
The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils presented Sam Tannenbaum with the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award at the 42nd Annual Conference in Grapevine, Texas in September, 2005. Mr. Tannenbaum received this award in recognition of his many, many years of dedicated service, both to the field of estate planning and the NAEPC. Congratulations, Sam!
Originally posted November, 2005
The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils presented Hartman Axley with the Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award at the 41st Annual Conference in Atlanta in October, 2004. Mr. Axley received this award in recognition of his many, many years of dedicated service, both to the field of estate planning and the NAEPC. He is often noted to be the "heart" of the NAEPC and has been active in every facet of the NAEPC over the past years. Congratulations, Hart!
Originally posted November, 2005
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