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.

Offshore estate planning

The Wall Street Journal has this interesting article on offshore estate planning tactics with reference to Mitt Romney’s IRA. If I can help you with offshore or domestic estate planning issues, please call me at your convenience.

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

“Mom/Dad, I need some money…”

CNBC offers this advice to parents whose children want more money. If you need counsel on estate planning or gifting options to your children, give me a call to schedule a convenient appointment.

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

Here Comes an IRS Audit: Depending on Your Income

CNBC has this article about your chances of facing an IRS audit. If you earn $200,000 or more per year, your audit chances are 1 in 25 (4%). For those earning $1 million plus each year, your audit chances are 1 in 8 (12.5%). If your annual income is under $200,000, your audit chances are just 1 in 100 (1%). One suspects that these audit odds are primarily politically motivated, rather than actually driven by tax evasion or income under-reporting data or similar metrics. In any case, as long as you keep careful financial and tax records and retain your records for several years, audits shouldn’t be a big concern, just a time consuming issue to deal with. If you find yourself in an audit situation or needing tax and/or estate planning advice, give me a call or send me an email to setup a convenient appointment.

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

2011 Tax Deadline Extended

Some news you can use, for lawyers and accountants (and others) preparing or filing 2011 tax returns. Because April 15, the traditional tax deadline, falls on a Sunday in 2012 and the 16th is a D.C. holiday (Emancipation Day), your 2011 tax returns won’t be due until Tuesday, April 17, 2012. Of course, you can still file for a 6 month extension via Form 4868, which pushes your (individual income tax) due date out to October 15, 2012 (the IRS also has extension forms for other filers). As one of Kansas City’s favorite sons (and H&R Block co-founder), Henry Bloch, titled his memoir, Many Happy Returns!  It’s a good book that relates a fascinating story of perseverance and growing a family business into an accounting and tax empire, written with warmth and charming anecdotes by a gem of a gentleman.

If I can help you with your individual, corporate, or fiduciary tax returns for 2011, give me a call or send me an email.

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

Conflicts of interest

This Daily Mail article highlights a classic case of lawyers (and accountants) getting removed from a case by the judge because of conflicts of interest, in the Clark case, for each being slated for an $8 million bequest from the estate. This is a classic legal ethics question that confronts estate planning attorneys – can the lawyer accept a gift from the estate of the deceased? Short answer is “no.” If a lawyer drafts estate planning documents for family members, the relative is entitled to independent legal counsel if they so choose and the lawyer may not receive more than an intestate share of the estate (e.g. what they would’ve received if the relative had died without a will). A client can theoretically leave gifts to their lawyer or other professional advisors in a will or trust, but those gifts are automatically suspect and best practice is to only be paid your attorney’s fees and not accept gifts from a client’s estate.

If you need legal counsel with year end estate planning or if you’re an attorney who has a conflict of interest and need independent legal counsel to help, give me a call or send me an email. Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year – 2012, here we come!

(c) 2011, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

Planning for Life’s Unexpected Moments

CNBC has this story of a family who benefited greatly from doing basic estate planning, when the unexpected happened and the father and family patriarch died suddenly. Every adult – regardless of age, wealth level, or other factors – needs a will, a living will, and medical and financial durable powers of attorney. To live life without these basic estate planning documents is to play Russian roulette with your future and your family’s.

(c) 2011, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq. All rights reserved.

Forbes’ 400 Wealthiest Americans in 2010

The annual Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans has been released. The top tier of America’s wealth – the billionaire club – has not changed much during the Great Recession, although the wealthy have often seen their fortunes improve with time.

(C) Stephen M. Johnson, 2010. All rights reserved.