Business Spotlight: Dennis, Wenger & Abrell

Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Brian Brosmer

For over 40 years, Dennis, Wenger & Abrell (DWA) has built a reputation for excellence in central Indiana by providing clients unmatched, individual attention in the areas of family law, estate planning, probate law, corporate and business law, civil litigation, and personal injury law. DWA is strengthening their connection to the greater Indianapolis area by opening a new office at 356 Gradle Drive in Carmel.  

David Karnes, Tara Smalstig, Michael Foley, Anthony Oliveira and Mary Wisehart are each experienced, knowledgeable and skilled attorneys. As a team, they handle nearly every legal issue.

“One of the keys to our firm’s longevity is the focus that we put on our relationships with our clients and our community,” says Michael Foley, an attorney with DWA who focuses on the areas of estate planning, estate administration and corporate law. “We want all our clients to know that if they need a will, are starting a new business or have any other legal problem, they have someone who they can trust to advise them. We look forward to building those relationships here in Carmel.”

Carmel, Indiana, is the location of their new office as the firm expands. 

“We searched all over Hamilton County before we found this space a block west of the Palladium,” says Anthony “Tony” Oliveira, a second-generation attorney who focuses on personal injury, workers’ compensation, home improvement fraud, and firearms trusts. “Our proximity to U.S. 31 and Keystone Avenue provides a convenient location for our clients.”

“I have practiced in the Hamilton County area since 1993,” adds Mary Wisehart, whose two areas of focus are family law as well as end-of-life planning. “I joined the firm when the Carmel office opened. The firm’s ethics, excellent reputation, as well as the abilities and personalities of the attorneys, were what attracted me.”

The practice of law runs in Wisehart’s family. She and her father, Robert “Bob” Wisehart, practiced together for 17 years at a firm started by her grandfather. During those years Bob mentored her, and imparted to her the skills and qualities that made him such a well-respected member of the legal community.

During Wisehart’s legal career, she was also a judicial officer for four years, presiding over family and probate law cases, such as estate administration and custody disputes. “That experience gave me the perspective from the other side of the bench,” she says. “I have a passion for children, specifically considering what is in their best interest and how that can be accomplished. I have also been trained as a mediator, arbitrator, collaborative law attorney and guardian ad litem. I find in family law cases involving children it is better for the parents and, most importantly, their children, to resolve issues before litigation. An agreement can be crafted for a family’s specific circumstances that may be better suited for them than a court order.”

Family law, which includes issues related to divorce, paternity, children, support, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and guardianships, is dynamic as family situations change over time. Those family changes may require modification of existing court orders. Additionally, changes to the law itself, such as the overhaul of the child support guidelines this year, may warrant modification. Wisehart emphasized the need for everyone who is paying or receiving child support to have their current order reviewed to find out how the new guidelines impact them.

“It enables people to make important, personal decisions for themselves, rather than a court making those decisions for them,” says Wisehart, when asked why estate planning is important. “Estate planning sets your wishes out in writing so that there is no confusion about your decisions. Everyone needs to have a power of attorney, advanced health care directive, and most importantly a last will and testament. Most people only associate a will with deciding who will receive your assets. However, a will is about much more than just distributing assets. By appointing a trusted personal representative or executor, you can reduce family conflict. You are also able to make one of the most important decisions of all, determining who will be the guardian for your children if you die.”

There are many estate planning options, and the laws change periodically. New tools available to transfer certain assets outside of the court process should be considered in your estate planning. Meeting with an attorney may also dispel inaccurate information that clients get from the internet and other sources. One area where misinformation runs rampant is trusts. “A trust may offer advantages in some circumstances but may not always be the right choice,” Wisehart says. “Reviewing your estate planning documents periodically is essential, especially if you have had a major life change such as a divorce, death of a family member, significant illness, major injury, or birth of a child.”

“Our attorneys are happy to meet with you and explore the legal options for your situation to help you make informed decisions,” Oliveira says. “We offer an hour of consultation at a reduced rate for family law and estate law, and do not charge for personal-injury consultations. When you call us, you are talking and interacting with an attorney, not a paralegal. You won’t get that level of service at a big law firm.”

“As a firm, we take a collaborative approach,” Wisehart says. “Each attorney is ready and available to assist each other or discuss issues in a case. This team approach provides access to the expertise of five attorneys to better help our clients navigate their legal challenges.”

“It is such an asset to be able to talk through complex issues with the other members of our team,” Foley says. “I have access to Tara and Mary’s wealth of family law knowledge. If I need to talk through a complex business or civil litigation issue, I can do so with David Karnes. David, Tara, Mary and I all practice in the areas of estate planning and estate administration, so there is always someone to run things by.”

Call today at 317-789-8988 to schedule a consultation, and visit for more information.

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