Meet Our Staff at Dent Coulson Elder Law
L. Kaye DeSelms Dent
After almost a decade devoting herself to her Elder Law practice, the importance of this rewarding area of law hit home when Kaye’s then husband and law partner was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2020 at the age of 51. Fortunately, after the initial struggle to obtain a diagnosis, the Dents were able to successfully execute the plan they’d never imagined using at this stage in life, with two teenagers still at home.
Kaye had attended law school with plans to practice disability law. Having worked her way through college at the University of Illinois in Urbana assisting students with disabilities, she graduated from Hofstra University School of Law in 1996. She initially worked with a non-profit providing legal services exclusively to persons with disabilities, and, after years of practice as both a State’s Attorney and Public Defender, she returned to private practice, providing an array of Elder Law and estate planning services, focusing on Nursing Home Planning and Special Needs Planning.
As a member of Elder Counsel and Wealth Counsel, and serving as Secretary for IL NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Illinois Chapter), Kaye has an array of resources available for her clients’ planning needs. She serves as Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the Children’s Advocacy Centers Of Illinois. She also serves on the board of the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation Advisory Board for Effingham County and Chairs the Fifth Circuit Pro Bono Committee of the Public Interest Law Initiative. Kaye enjoys accepting pro bono cases referred from various non-profit agencies, a very rewarding part of the practice of law.
Kaye speaks frequently to public groups regarding Estate Planning, Nursing Home Planning, Special Needs issues and other topics.
When not working, Kaye loves to cook and constantly explores new recipes. She is also an avid traveler and considers herself to always be “between trips.” While her children are now leaving the nest, seeing the world through her teenagers’ eyes was very rewarding. They have traveled the entire width of the country via automobile, visiting many Civil War battlefields and other National Parks sites, for a total of 29 states and 15 foreign countries visited together. Over the last 22 years, Kaye has hosted 14 foreign exchange students and maintains contact with most of them, even including a couple in travel plans over the last several years.
Kaye believes that the security and peace of mind a good plan offers allows people to enjoy life more fully.
Wesley J. “Wes” Coulson
Wes Coulson is the founder and principal of Dent-Coulson Elder Law, LLC and the developer of the Better Estate Planning concept and website. He earned his B.A., with honors, from Northwestern University in 1975, and his J.D. from The
University of Michigan Law School in 1978. He is a member of the Illinois and Missouri Bars, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the St. Louis Estate Planning Council and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St.
Louis. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1978 and in Missouri since 1997, and regularly serves clients from offices in both states.
He has been a Certified Elder Law Attorney (“CELA”) since earning that designation in 2004 from the National Elder Law Foundation (www.nelf.org), the only organization authorized by the American Bar Association to confer practice area specialization in elder law.* He is one of 16 CELAs in Missouri and one of 15 in Illinois. He was the first Illinois attorney south of
Peoria to earn that designation, and is currently the only actively practicing Illinois attorney south of Peoria to hold that designation.
Wes has also earned the AEP (Accredited Estate Planner) designation from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (www.naepc.org), which
is awarded only to estate planning professionals in the fields of accounting, insurance and financial planning, law, philanthropy, and trust services who meet special requirements of education, experience, knowledge, professional reputation, and character. Across all of those professions, there are only about 2,000 people who hold AEP designation.*
Wes’s practice is focused in the areas of elder law, long-term care asset preservation, special needs planning, and trust and estate planning and administration. He is a member of the Illinois and Missouri chapters of NAELA,
and has given numerous continuing legal education presentations for both, as well as being the author of several articles on various elder law topics. The Illinois chapter of NAELA gave him the “Ron Runkle Award,” given
annually to honor a member’s contributions of time and knowledge.
Wes lives in Waterloo, IL with his wife, Laura. He is the proud father of two sons, Jonathon and the late Oliver Coulson, and the proud “dog father” of the office mascot, Ziggy. In his spare time, he wishes he had more of it,
and daydreams about retirement.
*Neither the Supreme Court nor the Bar of Illinois or Missouri confers or recognizes practice area specialization in the field of elder law.
Jyothi “Jo” Jayasimha
Jyothi “Jo” Jayasimha has been a paralegal at Dent-Coulson Elder Law for the past ten years. With three degrees, including a masters and law degree from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, a Paralegal Certificate from St. Louis Community College, Missouri, and customer service experience, Jo has extensive knowledge in the area of law, customer assistance, and communication.
Before joining the Dent-Coulson Elder Law team, Jo worked in retail. She then went on to work for the Law Offices of Doraswamy, in Boston, Massachusetts, where she interviewed clients and prepared documents for visas. She later worked for a brief period for Sridharan & Associates in Hyderabad, India, where her duties included preparing legal briefs, reviewing government regulations, and filing required documents with the Registrar of Companies. Later, she earned her Medical Coding Certification in St. Louis. Jo then went on to work for The Law Office of Cathy Steele, in Clayton, Missouri where she completed a paralegal internship while she attended St. Louis Community College for her paralegal certificate. In 2010, Jo moved on to work for Intermed Medical Consultants until she joined the team of Dent-Coulson Elder Law. Jo has outstanding analytical and communication skills, which aid her in assisting clients to successfully apply for Medicaid benefits. Being part of Dent-Coulson Elder Law for a decade, she is always ready to take on any other task as required.
Jo resides in Chesterfield with her family and enjoys watching The Ohio State Buckeye football team on television and at “the Shoe” whenever she can get tickets.
Karen has been working side-by-side with Attorney Kaye DeSelms Dent for the past 10 years. She works directly with clients to get the most out of the estate plans that Kaye has created, assisting with Medicaid applications, Probate and Trust Administration, Guardianships, and Estate Planning.
Karen grew up in rural Jasper County and now makes her home in rural Edgar County. Having grown up in a farming family, she easily relates to many of the challenges our clients face in planning for the next generation.
Karen and her husband, Tom, live on a small livestock farm in Northern Edgar County. They have 3 boys who have kept them busy throughout most of their 27 years of marriage. They have attended countless basketball and baseball games. The family have also kept busy showing livestock (mainly pigs) all over the United States. Karen has been a 4-H Leader for the past 18 years and is also a 6-year member of Chrisman School Board, for which she is now the president. In her spare time, Karen enjoys being with family and friends, gardening, reading, U of I basketball and the St. Louis Cardinals.
As Karen’s children slowly leave the nest, she is preparing to start a new adventure. Karen hopes to travel throughout the United States and also Europe. She has also acquired a new best friend, her Wheaten Terrier, Kate. Kate is in training to become a Therapy Dog. Karen & Kate hope to be able to assist children and adults through difficult times.
Heidi D. Hagen
The newest member of the Dent-Coulson Elder Law team, Heidi Hagen, arrived in our office fresh from the realm of personal injury litigation. Heidi, originally a Michiganian, holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Western Michigan University
Cooley Law School, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University, and has been an adjunct instructor in the paralegal and criminal justice programs at two community colleges.
Heidi assists Dent-Coulson Elder Law as the Office Administrator and as a Paralegal. Her wealth of legal experience and knowledge in several areas of law make her an asset to our team.
Heidi resides in O’Fallon, IL with her family and enjoys exploring the Greater St. Louis area.
Karie has been with the firm since 2020 as a Front Desk Receptionist and is the first person clients meet when coming to the Effingham location. She keeps busy answering the phone, scheduling appointments, and making sure the proper documents are scanned for meetings, along with a multitude of other tasks.
Born and raised in Effingham County she is the oldest of 3 children, and still resides in Effingham County. In 2006 she bought a quilting machine and started her own business quilting for others. Her hobbies include sewing, reading, gardening and spending time with family and friends, especially her 3 very active nephews, who are the love of her life.
She also enjoys sewing quilts for children’s charities, and regularly participates in “sew-days” with the local Project Linus Chapter to help complete many quilts to donate. She also is a member of the Nine Patchers Quilt Group and coordinates one day per month sew-days for the group, also making quilts to donate.
Official Mascot / Greeter
Ziggy Coulson is the youngest staff member and official mascot at Dent-Coulson Elder Law. Naturally enough, he took the title of “greeter” as well. Ziggy embraces his job titles, and is eager every day to come to work, except on the many days when he chooses to stay home and relax.
In his free time, Ziggy enjoys long walks around the neighborhood, playing ball, battling squirrels, raccoons, and other toys, and receiving oodles and oodles of attention. In case you’re wondering.