Estate & Elder Care Law
John Burns has provided competent and comprehensive counsel to individual and corporate clients since 1990. Hailed by his peers for his trustworthy and practical approach to the law, Mr. Burns is widely recognized for his legal acumen and skill. A frequent lecturer at conferences throughout the country on the issues regarding estate and tax planning for businesses and private individuals, Mr. Burns offers dependable legal guidance with an eye on your timelines and your goals at all times.
John Burns, LL.M. (Tax), CELA
Before opening his own law firm, John Burns was a partner in two of the regions largest law firms, Baker Donelson and Waller Lansden, where he successfully represented individuals in all aspects of estate planning, asset protection, business succession and federal and state tax controversies. Licensed to practice in Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, John is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and has been recognized as an Accredited Estate Planner by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. He also has earned a Martindale Hubbell® AV Preeminent® rating, has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America in the area of Tax Law, and is a Veterans Administration Accredited Attorney.
John and his wife, Rebecca, live in Decatur, Alabama, Rebecca’s hometown, where they enjoy rearing their young twins.
University of Mississippi, BA, JD
University of Florida, LL.M. (Taxation)
Designations, Awards & Recognitions
Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation
Accredited Estate Planner by National Association of Estate Planners and Councils
Martindale Hubbell® AV Preeminent® Rated
Veterans Administration Accredited Attorney
Listed in Best Lawyers in America
Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Fellow, Nashville Bar Foundation
Past Chair, Tennessee Bar Association Tax Section 2014-2016
Member, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
Member, Life Care Planning Law Firm Association
Rotary Paul Harris Society
Rotary GSE Participant to Bangladesh
Rotary Club of Decatur
Community Outreach Director
A native of Decatur and a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Rebecca worked for (Colossal) Pictures in San Francisco and later in creative development at Nickelodeon Movies in New York and Los Angeles. Drawing on her creative experience, Rebecca leads marketing and community outreach at the firm and is in charge of organizing special events and seminars. Rebecca is a Master Gardener and enjoys spending much of her time outdoors. Prior to returning to her hometown, she owned Rebecca’s Furniture and Design on Main Street in Franklin, TN.
Mitzi Bragwell, LBSW
Elder Care Coordinator
Mitzi is a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker for the State of Alabama. She has served Decatur and the surrounding communities for over 20 years. She was awarded the Alabama Department of Public Health Social Worker of the year award in 2019. Mitzi works closely with the elderly and disabled population, assuring that they have their needs met, while safely remaining in their home. Mitzi grew up in Decatur, which she continues to call home, with her husband and three children.
Karen Thatcher Moore
Karen Thatcher Moore is a Decatur native and a graduate of the Randolph School and the University of North Alabama. She is the mother of two college-age children and has spent much of her career in church administration. In addition to serving as the firm’s office administrator, Karen is also director of music at First Presbyterian Church in Decatur.
The Decatur Cornice and Roofing Building was built in 1895 as a tin shop in Albany, or the New Decatur district, in Decatur, Alabama. Built in the French Italian style, it is located on the corner of Johnston Street and Sixth Avenue.
A variety of businesses have occupied this building. Among those are Decatur Cornice and Roofing; Decatur Iron and Steel, a subsidiary of Decatur Cornice and Roofing; First American Bank; and Morgan Keegan Brokerage. Currently, John Burns Estate & Elder Care Law occupies the second floor with White & Oakes law firm on the first floor.
In 1845, Henry Rhodes bought a section of New Decatur from the State of Alabama. Afterwards, the land changed hands a number of times until Mr. L.W. Borton, with two other investors, purchased three adjacent lots in the area for $1184.40. Mr. Borton built the building in 1895. He operated his tin shop from the first floor and lived on the second floor. Lion heads and female faces decorate the north and west exterior walls. They, along with the light gray painted wall on the north side, appear to be concrete but are actually painted tin, which was fabricated on site by Mr. Borton.
F.D. Peebles purchased the building in 1925 and converted the entire building to apartments. Windows on the first and second floors are not aligned and are of different styles. The second story windows, with the tin cornice, were original to the building. The windows on the ground floor with brick arches were installed by Mr. Peebles for his apartments.
In 1936, Peebles sold the building to H. Floyd Sherrod and his wife, who happens to have been a great-great aunt to one of the current owners, Rebecca Burns. In 1980, H. Floyd Sherrod, Jr. sold the property to Fred Underwood. Mr. Underwood maintained a well-known architecture firm for 37 years on the second floor. Mr. Underwood designed his office space in such a way that the original shell of the building would be left undisturbed. John and Rebecca Burns purchased the building from Fred and Lou Underwood in 2017.
John and Rebecca updated the space from 2017-2018 with John’s law firm needs in mind. The open floor plan showcases the original hardwood floors and brick walls. The original wooden hallways can still be seen patterned in the hardwood floor. Mr. Underwood had created a glass partition from original windows and the Burnses have left that intact as well as an original skylight that now illuminates Mr. Burns’ office. John and Rebecca chose Decatur Cornice and Roofing for the name of the building because of its long history in the Decatur area. Much of the metalwork on historic buildings in this area was fabricated by the company.