Digital Estate Planning

In our digital age of laptops, smartphones, social media and digital photos and video, digital estate planning is a necessity. (You’re reading a digital asset written on a MacBook Pro.) What if a family member or business colleague needs access to your email and other digital assets when you’re alive but unavailable or incapacitated? What about after your death? This BBC article includes a good summary of the concerns and need for digital estate planning. My law firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, includes digital estate planning provisions in all powers of attorney, wills, and trusts – standard and at no extra charge – because we know how much our clients value their digital assets and want to preserve them for future generations.

If my law firm can help you or your family with your estate planning (digital and/or traditional), asset protection, elder law, or business needs, call me (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient, complimentary consultation. My firm relishes the opportunity to serve each client with reliable, friendly experience at an affordable cost.

(c) 2013, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

37% of Middle Class Americans Won’t Retire

So finds this new Wells Fargo survey of Americans with incomes in the $25,000 – 100,000 range.

Among the Wells Fargo survey’s other findings:

  • 34% of Americans expect to work until they’re 80
  • Paying daily bills trumps retirement planning
  • Middle class Americans still feel the Great Recession’s shockwaves, even if economic data says we’re in recovery mode
  • Only 30% of Americans have a retirement plan
  • People in their 30s are most likely to have a retirement plan, but 45% say not enough assets and 25% don’t know how to create a retirement plan

The survey results make for sober reading. Every adult American needs a retirement plan, just like every adult needs health care and an estate plan. Every adult will reach a point in their life when they don’t want, or are physically unable, to keep working. And depending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for your retirement is (at best) a bad idea. The Big 3 entitlement programs were designed to keep seniors from being destitute – the equivalent Social Security retirement age when FDR signed the law would be a woman in her 80s today. But the Big 3 have big unfunded liabilities, to the tune of $70 trillion+. And we’ve all seen lately how bad Congress is at math and keeping promises. 

At my law firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, we guide clients to proactive retirement planning and regularly counsel clients on reliable, state of the art estate planning techniques to protect clients, spouses, children, grandchildren, and families. We recommend a Roth IRA, as your money grows tax free over your career and you don’t pay income tax when you withdraw money during your retirement. If you don’t have an IRA or other retirement plan, get one. They’re quick, easy, and inexpensive to start. If I can help you and your family with your estate planning needs, call me (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient, free consultation with my experienced estate planning law firm, Johnson Law KC LLC.

(c) 2013, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.    

Protecting Estates

The LA Times has this interesting obit of Roger Richman, a California attorney who represented various celebrities’ estates and campaigned for state laws to protect (or tastefully restrict) the use of a deceased celebrity’s image or likeness. This issue involves state and federal law: state law governs estates (probate) and tort (appropriating or misappropriating someone’s name, image, or likeness), while federal trademark law may also come into play. Richman’s work led to beneficial laws for estates of celebrities or other well-known or influential people.

If my law firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, can help you or your family, or a loved one’s estate with your legal needs – estate planning, elder law, asset protection, small business law, or probate – give me a call (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient, complimentary consultation. I have extensive experience working with individuals, families, small businesses, and nonprofits on legal issues large and small – from drafting a basic estate plan for a young couple or young professional client with minimal assets to counseling affluent families with millions of dollars of complex business and real estate holdings.

(c) 2013, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Trusts on trial

Trust litigation is a growing trend in the estate planning and financial world. A beneficiary may think she’s entitled to more money, accountings, or information that the trustee has given her. A trustee may make a controversial investment or distribution decision that the beneficiary doesn’t agree with and believes violates the trustee’s fiduciary duties. A grantor may not be happy with how the trustee is doing things. On the international trust litigation front, Bloomberg has this article about a recent decision by the New South Wales Supreme Court where a daughter and heir to a large fortune lost her bid to keep the trust dispute in private arbitration, so the trust (all $4 billion of it) is going to trial.

Trusts have traditionally been private law matters, set up by individuals or families for the benefit of family members and friends. Everyone involved hopes that a trust never goes to court or trial, but if the trust does get dragged into court, the parties need good counsel from experienced estate and trust litigation attorneys. Because trusts often involve sensitive family financial matters, details of closely held business operations, complex family dynamics and relationships, and may hinge on state trust or fiduciary duty law, trust litigation is best handled by estate planning attorneys, not general practice trial lawyers. If my firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, can help you or your family in the estate planning process, or in estate or trust litigation, call (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a complementary consultation.

(c) 2013, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.