KC Estate Planning Symposium

I’m looking forward to attending the KC Estate Planning Symposium Thursday in Overland Park. I hope to post some insights from what promises to be a great program of nationally renown speakers on timely estate planning topics. If my firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, can serve your estate planning needs, please call me (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient appointment.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

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Heckerling Insights: Part 3

Here are some interesting insights from our colleagues at the Heckerling Institute from this year’s conference. Among other topics, beneficiary defective inheritor’s trusts (BDITs), generation skipping tax planning (GST), trust protectors, qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), grantor trusts, and various probate planning issues are discussed. If we can help you and your family with any of these issues or address other estate planning or small business issues you have, please call (913-707-9220) or email us (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient appointment.

Our firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, is developing a practice in Missouri inheritor’s trust and other beneficiary defective inheritor’s trusts (BDITs) and excited about sharing this new tool with clients to help meet their estate planning needs now and for generations to come.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Happy Tax Day!

Happy tax day and many happy returns (or refunds, as the case may be)!

In unrelated news, the Daily Mail (UK) has this article about the dangers of using Google to find medical treatments and self-medicating without seeing a doctor about medical issues. A parallel problem exists in the legal world: many people use the Internet to try and solve their legal issues without consulting with an attorney. Remember, if you use an online legal form, you’re doing so at your own risk. If it’s anything important, or that could affect your rights,  your finances, or your family, you should consult with an attorney. Only an attorney has been through three years of law school, passed a bar exam, and become well versed in handling your particular issue. Some online legal resources have useful insights, but many are riddled with errors, hopelessly obsolete, filled with misstatements of the law, or  misleading or incomplete documents that won’t hold up in court (and aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on).

At Johnson Law KC LLC, we constantly review and revise our documents and keep up to the moment on new legal developments to ensure our clients always get the best representation and legal advice. If we can help you or your loved ones, please call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient appointment.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Lump Sum Retirement Planning

This video from Smart Money has useful strategies for lump sums from early retirement. If you’ve taken early retirement, you need to review and revise your estate planning documents as well. Call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) us and we’d be happy to work with you on your early retirement needs.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Shhhh … You’ve Inherited Money

Smart Money has this interesting video about how to interact with family and friends when you inherit money or have a large financial windfall. Our law firm has decades of experiencing advising wealthy individuals and families. Affluent people don’t always look the same either – some look like a socialite, while others may be a small business owner or farmer. If you have inherited money or had a windfall, be humble and quiet about it, and talk with your financial advisor and attorney ASAP. If we can help you deal with an inheritance and related estate planning needs, call (913-707-9220) or email us (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient appointment.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

To Retire or Not to Retire, That is the Question

The WSJ has this insightful article about the differences in philosophy that married couples may have about retiring. What happens when John and Jane have been married 40 years and he wants to keep working, but she’s ready to retire, or vice versa? As the article discusses, things can get dicey, unless couples work together and communicate about their financial and retirement planning needs, goals, and values.

Nobody likes to talk about money: it’s one of those taboo topics in polite society. But financial planning, like estate planning, conversations are crucial for couples to have as they travel through life together. And they’re also good conversations to have if you’re dating or exploring a relationship at some other time in life. If our office can help have a good conversation about estate planning with your spouse, give us a call (913-707-9220) or email us (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a convenient appointment. You and your spouse will be grateful that you had the money talk and communicated clearly.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Small Business Tax Strategy

So if you’re like millions of Americans, you own, work for, or are part of a small business. America has long been defined by a vibrant entrepreneurial excitement and stream of thought in its economic life. But just like with trusts, setting up a small business may be a matter of tax strategy. Which state will charge you the lowest formation and maintenance costs (e.g. setting up your corporation or LLC and maintaining the required filings)? What is the state’s business income tax? These factors and more are all important for the financially savvy small business owner or entrepreneur to consider.

Bloomberg Businessweek has this article exploring the tax benefits and costs of having a small business in various states. It’s crucial to remember that you don’t have to be a resident of a state to have a business or trust there. In fact, some of the best deals from a tax standpoint may be available outside of your home state. And other things, like friendliness of corporate law and sophistication of the business law courts can be important too. Consider that many large U.S. companies are incorporated in Delaware. Why? Because Delaware has long been considered the friendliest state to businesses in America and its Chancery Court has a long and distinguished history of providing protections to business owners and shareholders from various corporate lawsuits and liabilities.

So if you’re setting up a small business or trust, be smart about taxes! Call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) and we can explore the best place to start your small business or trust.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Adding Longevity to Your 401(k): The Annuity Option

CNBC has this interesting article about using annuities as an investment option in your 401(k) retirement plan. Good retirement planning and estate planning is critical to providing for yourself and your family as you journey into new seasons of life. Call (913-707-9220) or email (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) our office to explore your estate planning options to help provide for and protect you and your family for generations to come.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Who Gets What: Will Beneficiaries

Dave Ramsey, the noted popular financial planning speaker and author, has this interesting discussion of deciding who should get what in your will. If you’re an adult, you need a will. If you’ve recently gotten married, divorced, had children, received an inheritance, retired, or had other major changes in your life, you need to update your will. Give me a call (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a convenient appointment to review your estate planning needs together.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Sibling vs. Sibling: The Inheritance Wars

Caren Chesler has this interesting article in the March/April edition of Private Wealth magazine. The article addresses the inheritance wars that often arise between siblings when another sibling gets a larger inheritance for their caregiving work for the deceased parent, or one sibling grew up more frugally than a younger sibling who was born after their parents made a fortune, and the business succession disputes that can break out and threaten companies, especially where one sibling is deeply involved with the company’s operation and another sibling is not in the family business.

All of these inheritance wars boil down to a lack of communication. Communication is critical in estate planning and business succession.  Your desires, wishes, and intent need to be clearly laid out for your children or grandchildren and business partners. And your documents need to be crystal clear to help avoid potentially divisive and costly disputes.

Estate planning and business succession planning can be an excruciating process where raw emotions and decades-old resentments and grudges are laid bare and flare up over the continuation of the family name/money. San Francisco attorney John O’Grady is quoted in the article as recommending a healthy alternative where:

“Everyone has a voice. Everyone knows what the plan is. And in the end, [the siblings] participated in that plan, whether or not mom and did did it their way.” Without good communication about estate planning and business succession, siblings may feel ignored, as if “their parents mentioned a plan but never showed it to them, and they have no idea what’s going to happen when their parents die.” The unhappy result of a lack of communication is that the estate planning process may “end in tears.”

Please give me a call (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) if I can help you or your family with estate planning and business succession issues.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.