DTC Advisors, Legal Counsel
Dawn Christoffersen, Counselor at Law

Counselor at Law
Dawn Christoffersen

Tel: 314.218.3040, ext. 101
Fax: 314.219.3987

Shannon Kastor , Counselor at Law

Counselor at Law
Shannon Lopata Kastor

Tel: 314.218.3040, ext. 103
Fax: 314.219.3987

Shannon Kastor , Counselor at Law

Of Counsel
Deborah J. Smiley

Tel: 314.218.3040
Fax: 314.219.3987

Tracie Vermillion, Certified Paralegal

Certified Paralegal
Tracie Vermillion

Tel: 314.218.3040, ext. 102
Fax: 314.219.3987

Tracie Vermillion, Certified Paralegal

Legal Assistant / Paralegal
Lisa M. Hipps

Tel: 314.218.3040, ext. 106
Fax: 314.219.3987


Dawn T. Christoffersen

Dawn T. Christoffersen founded DTC Advisors, LLC in 2011. Dawn concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning and probate and trust administration, federal and state income tax planning and controversy, and business legal matters, including general corporate counsel advice, mergers and acquisitions, and business succession planning. Dawn is also a certified mediator with focused expertise in these areas. Dawn has received an AV Peer Review Rating on Martindale Hubbell, the highest rate that can be given, which was given by her peers for her high level of professional excellence.

Dawn's experience includes:

  • Preparation and implementation of a variety of estate planning techniques including Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Gift Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, Family Limited Partnership, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Foundations, Retirement Trusts and Installment Sales involving Defective Grantor Trusts.
  • Work with middle-sized and closely held businesses regarding formation issues, choice of entity concerns, general business advice, planning for transfer of control, partnership, S Corporation and C corporation tax planning problems, debt restructuring issues and retirement plan compliance with ERISA and federal tax laws.
  • Structure and implementation of mergers, acquisitions, recapitalizations, liquidations and other corporate reorganizations for middle and smaller market enterprises.
  • Successful representation of taxpayers before the United States Tax Court and the Internal Revenue Service at the audit and appellate level with regard to estate, gift and income tax matters.
  • Counseling of fiduciaries in relation to independent and supervised probate estates, shall estates, conservatorship estate and trust administration including involvement with estate and trusts with significant creditor issues and disputes among beneficiaries/shareholders.
  • Successful representation in state circuit court to modify and terminate revocable living trusts, defend against breach of fiduciary claims and defend against Will contests brought by estate and trust beneficiaries.
  • Preparation and advice related to complicated fiduciary, estate and gift tax returns.
  • Planning and drafting agreements regarding matters ancillary to estate and business succession planning such as pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, buy-sell agreement, voting trusts, split dollar agreements and deferred compensation agreement

Professional and Civic Activities

Dawn is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois. She is also admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court and the Internal Revenue Service. She is a member of the American Bar Association, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, the Missouri Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, the BAMSL Probate and Trust Steering Committee, the Estate Planning Council of St. Louis, Saint Louis University Gift and Bequest Council (Chair, 2013-14 & Vice Chair, 2011-12) and Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital Planned Giving Council and is a member of the Professional Advisory Committee of several area banks.

Dawn is an adjunct faculty member in the L.L.M. in taxation program at Washington University's School of Law. She is teaching a class entitled "Practical Issues in Wealth Planning and Drafting".

Prior to founding DTC Advisors, LLC, Dawn was an equity shareholder and Practice Group Leader for the Business Law Practice Group at another area law firm.

Representative Presentations

  • "Basic Estate Planning", Laclede Gas Retirement Planning Seminar
  • "Estate Planning Issues", St. Louis Theos for the Widowed
  • "Buy-Sell Agreements: Could they lead to unintended consequences?", Suelthaus & Walsh Planning Seminar
  • "Estate Planning and Business Succession Planning", SITE Improvement Association of St. Louis
  • "Legal Planning for Loved Ones with Special Needs", Edwardsville School District, St. Louis ARC
  • "Understanding Illinois Guardianships for Medical Practitioners"
  • "Proactive Planning for Estate Taxes", National Business Institute seminar
  • "Legal Planning Issues for Non-Profits", Illinois Chambers of Commerce
  • "ABCs of Estate Planning: Basic Trusts", Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • "The Life of Your Practice: Your Exit Strategy", physicians' groups
  • "Tax Relief Act of 2010 - Planning Opportunities", panel member, Moneta University


Dawn received her L.L.M. in Taxation from Washington University in 2002 and received the Gary I. Boren Memorial Award for the highest GPA. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Northwestern University in 1997 with a Business Associations concentration and received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington University in 1994 with a concentration in accounting and minors in music and political science. Dawn passed the Missouri Certified Public Accountancy Exam in 1996. She also has Masters in Sustainability from Saint Louis University.

Shannon Lopata Kastor

Shannon Lopata Kastor joined DTC Advisors, LLC in January of 2015. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning and probate and trust administration, including business succession planning.

Shannon previously served as in-house counsel for a large brokerage company, where she provided complex legal advice to multiple departments with the Operations and Compliance Divisions of the broker-dealer retail firm. Shannon also was a member of the firm’s litigation team within the Legal Department, and served as a subject-matter expert on trusts, estates, and beneficiary disputes. Shannon served as an expert witness arbitration matters, and helped negotiate settlements for estates related cases. Shannon also helped develop firm-wide policies regarding estates and trust matters, and train associates regarding estates related procedures across the country.

Shannon previously practiced in the Wealth Planning and Estate Administration groups of other local law firms, where she prepared estate planning documents, estate and gift tax returns, and memoranda regarding tax issues and explanatory materials for clients. She has had experience in drafting buy-sell agreements, documents for the formation and operation of small business entities, and materials necessary to facilitate advanced gifting strategies. Shannon also has drafted agreements regarding matters ancillary to estate planning such as pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Shannon clerked for the Honorable Ann K. Covington at the Supreme Court of Missouri. Shannon assisted her judge in conducting legal research, performing legal analysis, and drafting opinions and memoranda for the Court. She also assisted in drafting dissents, concurrences, and rulings on petitions for rehearing.

Shannon is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois.

Shannon earned her Juris Doctorate from Washington University School of Law in 1999. She earned the Dean’s Scholarship Award while at Washington University, and also served as an Editor for the Washington University Law Quarterly. Shannon earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and American Studies, with a minor in Religion from Miami University in 1996, and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Deborah J. Smiley

Deborah has specialized in estate and business planning and estate and trust administration for the majority of her twenty three years of legal practice. Her practice includes trust and estate planning, general business and corporate planning, real estate transactions, probate and trust administration and tax planning. She is admitted to practice in the state of Missouri.

Deborah has advised clients on various wealth management issues, including asset protection and preservation, business succession and sale, estate and business planning and retirement planning. She practiced with a boutique estate planning firm and also worked as a Wealth Planner and Trust Advisor at local wealth management groups and trust companies. As a result, she has experienced both the planning side and the administration side of estate and business planning and is able to craft her documents with these different perspectives.

One of the most essential elements of Deborah's practice is a relationship-based, counseling-oriented process. Deborah assists her clients with their plans from beginning to end to ensure that her clients’ estate and business plans are up to date and aligned with any of their life changes.

Prior to beginning her estate and business planning practice, Deborah litigated State and Federal cases in Missouri, with a focus on Title VII cases, including co-chairing two federal jury trials and one St. Louis City jury trial. She also practiced in the areas of domestic relations, intellectual property and criminal defense.

Deborah attended the University of Kentucky where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Cum Laude. She then received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky Law School. Deborah also holds the designation of Certified Financial Planner ® and Accredited Estate Planner ®. She is a member of the Missouri Bar, Past Chair of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’s Probate and Trust Committee, a Board Member of the Estate Planning Council of St. Louis and a Legacy Advisor to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Deborah enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga and playing the guitar.

Tracie A. Vermillion

Tracie A. Vermillion, CP graduated the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) in 2001 with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communications. After graduation Tracie worked as a legal assistant for a law firm in Evansville, Indiana. Tracie later sat for the paralegal certification exam offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and obtained her Certified Paralegal (CP) status. As a member of NALA, Tracie must maintain the CP status by attending various continuing legal education seminars.

Tracie moved to Missouri in 2005, and began working with Ms. Christoffersen at a local St. Louis law firm. During her time at the firm, Tracie was relied upon to perform paralegal duties for all members of the business practice group, dealing in matters relating to tax, estate planning & probate, contracts, business matters, and real estate. As a result, Tracie’s knowledge bridges the gap between paralegal and attorney and she performs many advanced tasks, as well as those tasks that are uneconomical for an attorney to handle. This unique skill set has been further developed in the years since leaving the firm and working directly for Ms. Christoffersen in 2011. Since then, Tracie has continued to develop her knowledge and expertise. Tracie’s skills extend beyond the legal field as she is also responsible for managing the daily needs of a professional office. Tracie continuously works to develop herself in all areas.

Lisa M. Hipps

Lisa M. Hipps is a legal assistant/paralegal with DTC Advisors, LLC and the newest member of the Firm. She provides a wide range of support for our clients, attorneys and staff. Lisa’s “can do” attitude and willingness to tackle new projects inspires confidence, both within and outside of the Firm. Each day, she is motivated by the opportunity to help people, and experience new and interesting challenges.

Lisa comes to DTC Advisors with over 25 years of legal assistant and paralegal experience, specifically in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, litigation and corporate law. She has primarily gained the legal knowledge from her time at a large local law firm. The skills learned over the years allow Lisa to perform at a level many would expect from the well-known law firm names, but at a boutique law firm experience.