Dynasty Trusts: A Great Estate Planning Tool

The WSJ has this useful perspective on dynasty trusts and inheriting in trust. Dynasty trusts enable families to take care of future generations and ensure their philanthropic and business legacy while protecting hard-earned wealth from creditors, divorcing spouses, and other potential money drains. My firm counsels Kansas and Missouri clients to use Missouri dynasty trusts to help achieve their estate planning goals.

My law firmJohnson Law KC LLC, has experience working with individuals and families to serve their business and estate planning. I enjoy working with a variety of clients – ranging from single young professionals with minimal assets to multimillionaire business owners with complex trusts. My firm has strong relationships with local and national trust companies to help administer all types and ranges of trusts. If my law firm can help you or your family with your estate planningelder lawasset protectionbusiness law needs, or digital estate planning, including advising on trustee removal or other fiduciary litigation, call me (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a free, convenient appointment.

(c) 2014, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.




Long Term Care Choices

Driving to a lunch appointment with a friend, I heard the wonderful Up to Date program Tuesday on KCUR (Kansas City’s NPR affiliate), an elder law attorney friend gave some great advice to families considering long term care and elder law issues. As our family members and loved ones age, we can support them by having open and honest conversations about long term care and elder law issues and helping ensure their legal affairs are in order to give care and dignity to the final years of life.

The long term care discussion reminded me of this WSJ article. Anecdotally and in my practice, I’ve seen a real mix of retirees selling their homes and downsizing. Some people want to downsize long before they have any serious physical ailments or health related issues. Others may insist on living in their homes until their 80s or 90s, including spending for in-home health care services as needed (an expensive option). Ultimately the question hinges on (1) how much a client wants to stay in their home as their health issues arise and youthful vigor deteriorates, (2) how much in-home care they can afford, and (3) the family’s comfort level with the decision (including proximity to the elderly relative). 

My firm’s estate planning documents (wills/trusts, living wills, and durable medical and financial powers of attorney) include elder law protections standard and can be custom tailored (for free) to reflect a client’s beliefs, convictions, and long term care wishes. Here’s a basic explanation of the core estate planning and elder law documents. If you or a loved one need to consider your estate plan or elder law issues, call me (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a free, convenient consultation. Our passion and expertise is serving you and your family’s legal needs.

(c) 2014, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.

7 Reasons Why You Need a Trust

Fox Business has this brief, helpful article with 7 reasons why a person would want or need a trust.

They are:

1. Don’t Want Children to Inherit at Age 18

2. Asset Protection from Creditors

3. Someone Else at the Helm

4. Complicated Family Situation

5. Avoid the Probate

6. Take Care of a Disabled Child

7. Safeguard Your Privacy

All 7 of these are good reasons to consider a trust. My firm often works with clients wanting or needing asset protection, privacy, avoiding probate, or caring for a disabled child (or parent). Trusts come in a variety of options and are affordable, smart choices for many clients. If my law firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, can serve you or your family’s estate planningasset protectionelder law, special needs trusts, or business needs, call me (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient, complimentary consultation. My firm looks forward to serving you and your family with reliable, friendly experience and counsel at an affordable cost. And there’s no better time than before the holiday rush, amid the beautiful autumn colors, to get your financial affairs settled.

(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.

Elder Law and Finances

CNBC has this interesting article about a dilemma many people face – when to take over an elderly parent’s checkbook and finances. To pay bills for an elderly parent, you must have a durable financial power of attorney in place. There are a myriad of elder law issues to examine as well. You need an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney to help guide you and your loved ones.

If my office, Johnson Law KC LLC, can help you or your elderly parent with your estate planning or elder law needs, give me a call (913-707-9220) or email me (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) to schedule a convenient, free consult.

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

Cross posted to The KC Elder Law Blog.

Final Boarding Call: Estate Planning in 2012

The WSJ has this helpful article reminding folks to get their estate plans in order, especially for families with $1 to 5 million+ in assets. As we ring in the new year in a few short months, if Congress hasn’t done anything on the tax front, you’ll see several changes hitting your pocketbook. The Bush tax cuts will expire – so you’ll owe tax if you (1) die with more than a $1 million estate, if you (2) give more than $1 million to family or friends, or (3) if you do more than $1 million generation skipping transfers (e.g. grandparents to grandchildren). Portability is also set to expire, so you won’t be able to use your predeceased spouse’s estate tax exemption. The Obama payroll tax cut will also expire – so you’ll have less take home pay from each paycheck. Like the historically low interest rates now in play, we may not see estate and gift tax laws that allow you to pass on your hard-earned wealth and leave a legacy for your family again in our lifetimes.

Echoing the anecdotes offered in the WSJ article, our firm has been very busy lately, and our appointment calendars are filling up with work, as are the other professionals we work with to best serve clients with a holistic approach. If you need to do any estate planning, business, or real estate work before 2013, it’s time to act. If you have a small business, real estate interests, or other potentially hard-to-value assets, you may need to have an appraisal done before structuring your business succession plan, or setting up a family limited partnership (FLP) or family LLC. Appraisers’ schedules are filling up, so if you’re thinking of passing on your business or real estate holdings, it’s time to bite the bullet and get it done. Your family will thank you and you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays with the peace of mind that everything’s taken care of according to your desires.

We offer a free 1/2 hour consultation, convenient and affordable flat fee billing, and we’re a simple phone call or email away at (913) 7o7-9220 or steve@johnsonlawkc.com. At Johnson Law KC LLC, we look forward to serving your legal needs.

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

Special Needs Trusts for Veterans and Military Families

Via the Wills and Trusts Prof blog, Bernard Krooks, a New York lawyer who spoke very persuasively on long term care planning at the 2012 KC Estate Planning Symposium, has this article in Forbes on a new provision to allow military veterans and active service members to start special needs trusts for their severely disabled children, to ensure their families receive better care. Great idea, advocated by Sen. Jerry Moran, who hails from the great state of Kansas (my home state).

If our law firm, Johnson Law KC LLC, can help you and your family with a special needs trust to provide for your family member, please call (913-707-9220) or email us (steve@johnsonlawkc.com) for a convenient appointment.

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

The Debt Crisis Lesson

As the United States Government’s spending continues to reach stratospheric levels and outpace tax revenues by over $1 trillion per year, and push against the statutory debt ceiling (the amount the U.S. Treasury is legally allowed to borrow to pay the Government’s bills), there is an important lesson for estate planners and families setting up trusts to provide for future generations.

The debt crisis lesson is be sure you have enough money in your trust to provide for the unexpected. Uniform Trust Code sec. 414(a) provides that a trust may be terminated by the court after the trustee provides notice to the beneficiaries if the amount held in trust is less than $50,000 (the UTC’s suggested amount, which adopting states are free to change), because maintaining a trust with a smaller amount would be uneconomical. My home state of Kansas, which was the first state to adopt the Uniform Trust Code in 2003, allows a court to terminate a trust containing less than $100,000. K.S.A. 58a-414(a).

Is your trust properly funded? Does it contain enough money to provide for you and your family if the unexpected occurs, or a rainy day arrives? Do yourself and your family a favor – be sure your trust is properly funded.

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