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.

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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.

Pet Trusts

Americans love pets. But pets are an often overlooked part of an estate plan. A pet trust can help ensure your furry friend is well cared for if something happens to you. And if a pet trust isn’t in the cards, a basic will or power of attorney provision providing for your pet is a wise idea.

You want the peace of mind that your family’s taken care of no matter what life brings, including your pets. 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. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) today for a free, convenient consultation.

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

 

Update Your Estate Plan

If you already have an estate plan, great work! As this post from our friends at UMB reminds, be sure your estate plan is updated for your needs and current life situation. 8 things might require an estate plan update: (1) taxes, (2) marriage, (3) family changes, (4) moving to another state, (5) beneficiary designations, (6) overall financial picture/health, (7) charitable goals, (8) tying up loose ends/due diligence.

Or maybe you need an estate plan, or you’ve been putting it off, but you want the peace of mind that your family’s taken care of no matter what life brings. 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. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) today for a free, convenient consultation.

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

Trust Taxes

Trusts are a crucial estate planning tool and great way to avoid probate for families, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. But taxes can complicate great trusts. How do you use trusts to reduce (or eliminate) state and federal estate, gift, GST, and income taxes? I recently enjoyed presenting a session at the Trusts From A-Z conference where we explored how to usie trusts to reduce taxes. Check out the trust tax materials here for free, courtesy of NBI.

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 for a free, convenient consultation.

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

Series LLCs in Kansas and Missouri

Series LLCs are an important new business law tool. I recently enjoyed co-presenting a seminar on series LLCs in Kansas and Missouri. We had a great discussion of series LLC pros and cons, and how best to tailor a series LLC to meet a client’s needs.

Series LLCs can be a great idea for entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, and business owners, but some questions aren’t answered yet, so series LLCs should be approached carefully and thoughtfully with your attorney and accountant. Check out the series LLC seminar materials here for free, courtesy of NBI.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, has experience working with Kansas and Missouri clients on series LLCs, along with helping executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners with other estate planning and business law needs. We know how to tailor legal documents to meet your needs, big or small. Call (913.707.9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) today to schedule a free, convenient consultation.

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