Estate Planning Made Easier

Here’s a helpful article from Fox News offering 5 tips for preparing a will and estate planning documents. They are:

1. Make a plan – what do you want to happen to your assets when you die?

2. List your assets – what different accounts, cars, house, and other stuff do you have?

3. Name an executor – who’s going to handle your final affairs and administer your estate?

4. Consult an expert – use a good estate planning attorney, accountant, and financial advisor

5. Leave a note – how do you want your funeral handled? Who should your family call after you die?

While thinking about estate planning is often unpleasant or morbid, we try to make the estate planning process easier and help you gain the peace of mind and assurance that your family is taken care of and well provided for. Whether you’re in Kansas or Missouri, young or old, single or married, wealthy or just starting out your career, we’re here to serve your estate planning needs. Call our office (913-707-9220) or email ( us for a convenient appointment and let’s begin the estate planning journey together, for you and your family’s sake. We offer a free 30 minute consultation and convenient, no surprises flat fee billing to our estate planning clients.

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


Adjustable Mortgages: Like ‘Em Like Facebook’s Zuckerberg?

Mark Zuckerberg, the multi-billionaire co-founder of Facebook, recently took out an adjustable mortgage on his house. But this article wisely cautions that adjustable rate mortgages are not usually a good idea. In Zuckerberg’s case, the idea might make sense because he can invest the money in more profitable ways. Then again, most of us don’t have a $15-20 billion net worth to invest. But like Zuckerberg probably did around the Facebook IPO and his marriage the next day, you should visit your estate planning lawyer to be sure your estate plan is optimized to provide for your family and continue your legacy in the community. If you’ve gotten married, divorced, had children, or had other major life changes happening lately (or coming on the horizon in the next few months), you owe it to yourself and your family to be sure your estate plan is tailored to meet your needs.

Call our office (913-707-9220) or email us ( for a convenient appointment to review your estate plan. We offer a free 30 minute consultation.

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

Narrow Window for Short Term GRATs

It’s a good idea to act soon if you want to set up a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) for less than 10 years. If you have a GRAT or are interested in setting one up before the rules change, give our office a call (913-707-9220) or email us ( for a convenient appointment and free 30 minute consultation.

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

Gift Giving in 2012

The NYT has this interesting blog post encouraging wealthy individuals and families to take advantage of the $5.12 million gift tax exemption for 2012. Remember, on New Year’s Day 2013, the gift tax exemption goes back to $1 million per person, meaning you’ll lose the opportunity to give $4.12 million tax free. And the gift tax rates are scheduled to rise from the current 35% (for amounts over the $5.12 million exemption).

Does your financial power of attorney document include gifting provisions if you’re incapacitated? If not, you may need a new power of attorney.

If you’re considering giving gifts this year to family members, remember the old adage that there’s no time like the present. Call (913-707-9220) or email our office ( for convenient appointment to discuss your gift giving strategy for 2012 and a complimentary 30 minute consultation.

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

Gifts and FLPs in 2012

CNBC has this interesting article regarding the increasing popular estate planning tactics of gifts and setting up family limited partnerships or family limited liability companies (FLPs) in 2012 to take advantage of the $5.12 million per person gift tax exemption. Our firm is advising numerous clients on leveraging the gift tax exemption this year (before it falls back to $1 million on January 1, 2013 when the Bush tax cuts sunset absent Congressional action) and drafting FLPs or family LLCs to meet client’s estate planning needs.

If you had over $1 million, real estate, business interests, or want to extend your family’s legacy to your children and grandchildren and beyond, now is the time to look at gifts and see whether a FLP, family LLC, or dynasty trust may be right for you. Call (913-707-9220) or email us ( for a convenient appointment to discuss your estate planning strategy. We offer a complimentary 30 minute consultation. Our firm has experience counseling high net worth individuals and families on their estate planning needs and we frequently design FLPs or trusts for clients. A well-designed and carefully crafted FLP or trust is like a finely polished diamond: We understand the legal, tax, and business facets of protecting your assets, providing for your family, and ensuring the legacy of your values continues for generations.

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