Estate Planning in 2019 and 2020

Fall is here! The autumn leaves will soon change colors, and it’s time to start thinking about year end planning for 2019 and getting ready for a great and prosperous 2020. I enjoyed an interesting estate planning 2019-2020 webinar today featuring several national estate planning luminaries and attorneys (Jonathan Blattmachr, Sandra Glazier, Joy Matak, and Martin Shenkman). The webinar discussed estate planning opportunities for the rest of 2019 and early 2020. The speakers looked ahead to potential tax changes that the 2020 election may bring. The speakers had several handouts: here, here, here, here, and here.

A good estate plan, including a trust where appropriate, is an affordable way to give you and your family peace of mind. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, trust consultation and drafting, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on various legal issues. Call/text (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2019, Stephen M. Johnson.

 

Trust State Income Taxes

Happy summer 2019! This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on state income taxation of trusts. The Court ruled 9-0 (per Justice Sotomayor) that a North Carolina law taxing any trust distribution “for the benefit of” a North Carolina resident was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled the state trust income tax was unconstitutional for state residents if the resident (1) “received no income from the trust in the relevant tax year,” (2) “had no right to demand income from the trust in that year,” and (3) “could not count on ever receiving income from the trust.” This common sense ruling is good news for trust beneficiaries. If you’re a trust beneficiary, you should talk with an attorney and accountant to explore how this decision might impact their situation. Here are some basics on Kansas and Missouri trust income taxes.

A good estate plan, including a trust, is an affordable way to give you and your family peace of mind. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, trust consultation and drafting, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on various legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2019, Stephen M. Johnson.

To Prenup or Not? The Prenuptial Conversation

Prenuptial agreements can evoke awkward and dreaded conversations. But discussing if a prenup is needed is a wise and smart idea in preparing for marriage. Wealth Management has this helpful article discussing prenups and the oft-dread prenuptial conversation. Prenups can be helpful (even recommended or essential) in some situations, but may not be needed or useful in other situations – just like a will or estate plan, it’s not a one size fits all deal. With wise counsel and an honest evaluation, the prenuptial conversation can be helpful, clarifying, even uplifting or encouraging to the couple, rather than awkward and dreaded. The article highlights 4 good questions to think about when evaluating prenups and your relationship:

  1. Wealth identity
  2. Raising children in wealth
  3. Rules of engagement, and
  4. Death, inheritances, and taxes

In fact, those 4 questions and conversations are a good idea to discuss in any relationship, regardless of whether a prenup is in play. If you’re thinking of getting married soon, you need to think about the prenup question and have the conversation, even if you both decide not to sign a prenup. Honest and open communication is vital in relationships, especially about money and financial issues. Don’t risk your relationship by delaying important conversations. If you need a prenup or an estate plan (for any size of estate, large or small) or need help handling a loved one’s estate, my law firm is here to help you each step of the way.

Prenups and estate plans are affordable and can give you peace of mind. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, prenup consultation and drafting, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on various legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2018, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Make A Will & Make Your Wishes Clear

Recently, America lost another great singer and entertainment personality, with the passing of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Unfortunately, she joined a long list of celebrities who died without a will or estate plan in place, and now her $80 million estate is in play. Some years ago, Robin Williams’ family encountered a similar issue when he died without a will or estate plan, and a bitter family feud broke out over his estate.

We would be wise to learn from these situations: be prepared, make a will so your wishes are clear, regardless of your financial situation. Don’t leave your family’s well being to chance or up to the whims of a court, bank, or legislature that doesn’t know you or understand your situation. An estate plan ensures your wishes will be followed and your family will be taken care of.

We have a new tax law in place that helps many individual and families. For 2018, the IRS gift tax applies to all gifts over $15,000 ($30,000 for a married couple) to each person, and the IRS estate tax applies to all estates over $11.18 million per person ($22.36 per married couple).

Life is short, and the best time to act is now. Don’t risk your family’s well being or relationships by delaying important decisions. If you need an estate plan (for any size of estate) or need help probating a loved one’s estate, my law firm is here to help. A good estate plan is affordable and will give you and your family peace of mind. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2018, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

 

Get an Estate Plan

D magazine has this fascinating story of a widow, a large bank, and a Texas-sized $8 billion verdict a jury awarded the widow. The husband died and left a multi-million dollar estate, but he didn’t have an estate plan, so chaos erupted. Sadly, the family’s relationships deteriorated, and accusations started flying that the bank wasn’t acting properly as a fiduciary in the estate’s best interests. The lesson is get an estate plan. Don’t leave your family’s well being to chance or up to the whims of a court, bank, or legislature that doesn’t know you or understand your situation. An estate plan ensures your wishes will be clearly followed and your family will be taken care of.

Life is short, and the best time to do estate planning is now. Don’t risk your family’s well being or relationships by delaying important decisions. If you need an estate plan (for any size of estate) or need help probating a loved one’s estate, my law firm is here to help. A good estate plan is affordable and will give you and your family peace of mind. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2018, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

When a Spouse Dies

A spouse’s death is one of the hardest experiences anyone’s likely to have in life. This article has some good tips for a widow (or other surviving spouse) about building (or using) credit to navigate financial and legal questions upon their beloved spouse’s death.

If your spouse has recently died and you need help settling their estate and legal matters, or if you need to plan ahead to be sure your spouse is well taken care of, my law firm can help. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2018, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Retirement Planning Meets Estate Planning

Bank Rate has these tips for retirement planning and maintaining a steady income stream. Retirement planning and estate or elder law planning are closely related, in many ways two sides of the same coin.

No matter your situation, you want your wishes to be clearly followed to protect and provide for your family and legacy. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning, elder law, and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2018, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Where There’s a Will There’s a Way: The Estate of Field

Books and films are often feature a high stakes court battle where a fortune hangs in the balance. This morning, the Kansas Court of Appeals issued its decision in a case from Hays, Kansas, the Estate of Field.

Judge Gardner wrote for the unanimous court. Field hinges on the validity of a 2013 signed (but unwitnessed) letter that claimed to change a 2010 will of Earl Field, controlling a $20 million estate (p. 4). Would Field’s estate go mainly to Fort Hays State University for athletic and music scholarships (tax free), or be left mainly to others (triggering estate taxes)? After carefully reviewing the evidence and arguments, the Court upheld the 2010 will as valid and tossed out the alleged 2013 codicil, so the college got its scholarship money, and Field’s estate didn’t owe estate taxes (p. 30).

Field hones in on requirements for a valid Kansas will (K.S.A. 59-606). The Court found that the burden of proof should shift to the will contestant to show it was “highly probable” a will was not validly signed by the testator. Field’s accountant testified he was certain that Field wanted the money to go to the college, not to others, and that “Field would be ‘rolling over in his grave’ if he knew his estate would have to pay millions in estate tax” from the money going to others (p. 27). The Court found it “highly probable” that Field’s friend (or someone else) “signed the purported codicil instead of Field,” since the “terms of the purported codicil contradict Field’s long time estate plan” (p. 30). In fact, the Court found “no evidence” “that Field ever mentioned wanting to leave any of his estate” to the friends offering the codicil for probate (p. 30). The Court also denied the will contestant’s quest for about $1 million of attorney’s fees (pp. 30-35).

No matter if you have $20 or $20 million, your wishes need to be clear to be followed. My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning and probate needs, including preparing wills or helping on will contests, to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com), the KC Estate Planner, today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2018, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Ellis Trust

The Kansas Court of Appeals issued this recent opinion in the Ellis Trust

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients on various estate planning and probate needs to help clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, and has years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2017, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Much Ado About Nothing?

Forbes has this article discussing the Treasury Department’s withdrawal of the controversial §7504 regulations. These regulations yielded some 30,000 comments to the IRS, many of which were quite critical about how the proposed regulations would negatively affect estate planning, and the IRS listened.

Estate planning expert Jonathan Blattmachr notes that the IRS’ proposed regulations would be “moot” if the estate tax were repealed, as the Administration wants as part of tax reform. But Blattmachr notes, the IRS withdrawing the regulations avoids adding further wrinkles or complications to gift tax plans.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, works with clients at all stages of life on various estate planning and probate needs, helping clients take care of their legal needs quickly and inexpensively, with years of experience counseling clients on a variety of legal issues. If you’d like to review your estate plan in light of the IRS proposal being withdrawn, call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) today for a free, convenient consultation.

(c) 2017, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.