In The News: August 19, 2016

U.S. Targets Tactic to Avoid Estate Tax
By Richard Rubin, as published in The Wall Street Journal on August 2, 2016
The U.S. government on Tuesday proposed making it harder for wealthy business owners to transfer assets to heirs without paying estate and gift taxes.
The plan from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service would place new limits on a common technique used to transfer interests in family businesses.
The regulations address the practice of discounting the value of ownership stakes in closely held businesses or land. The discounts are permitted because some stakes are worth less since they are harder to sell or represent a minority interest. The reduced values allow wealthy families to pack assets inside the $10.9 million lifetime exclusion from estate and gift taxes for married couples.
A typical strategy would place, say, $14 million worth of assets – stock, a business, real estate or even cash – into a company with restrictions on some of the owners’ ability to sell their pieces, said David Scott Sloan, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston who advises high-net-worth families. Those restrictions could allow the owners to get an appraisal saying that the actual value of those assets was about $10 million.
“By taking advantage of these tactics, certain taxpayers or their estates owning closely held businesses or other entities can end up paying less than they should in estate or gift taxes,” Mark Mazur, the assistant secretary for tax policy, said in a statement. “Treasury’s action will significantly reduce the ability of these taxpayers and their estates to use such techniques.”
The government’s proposal would make it harder for taxpayers to claim valuation discounts that taxpayers typically have used to reflect the diminished value of minority interests, said Richard Dees, a partner at McDermott Will and Emery in Chicago. “This is going to be a major problem for all family-owned businesses,” Mr. Dees said. “This all boils down to the question of whether a family business should be valued as if it’s owned by one person.”
The government has signaled for months that the regulations were imminent. Estate planners have urged clients to complete transfers before the government acted. Such efforts may accelerate, because the regulations must first go through a 90-day, public-comment period and parts of the regulations won’t take effect until 30 days after the government issues a final version.
Estate and gift taxes apply at a top rate of 40% above the $5.45 million per-person exclusion, which means the estate tax affects about 0.2% of those who die each year. In 2014, about 5,200 estates filed taxable returns, according to IRS data.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to eliminate the estate tax. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she would make the estate tax apply to about twice as many people. She proposes returning to the law in effect in 2009, when there was an estate-tax exclusion of $3.5 million per person, a $1 million per-person gift-tax exemption, and a 45% tax rate.
In fiscal 2016, the U.S. is projected to collect $20 billion in estate and gift taxes, less than 1% of federal revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Around the Offices: July 12, 2016

0022 final vignette     0053 paris team final adjusted with brooke vignette

Has it been a little while since you’ve seen our team? If so, there may be some new faces!

And if there are some folks you need to meet, it might be a good time to review your estate planning documents. Remember, it’s a good idea to have our attorneys take a look at your plan periodically to ensure that any changes in the law won’t affect you. If you’ve experienced any of the following, updates are a must:

  • Divorce or remarriage, whether doing so personally, or if anyone in your family does
  • Loss of a loved one, particularly if that person was given gifts or responsibilities in your documents
  • Relocation, especially if it is out of state
  • A significant change in assets, be it real estate, personal property, financial, or business-related
  • Retirement, as this may affect your assets and investments, and your overall tax profile
  • New child or grandchild, through birth or adoption

The list could go on, and still miss the reason YOU may need to visit. We look forward to working with you to craft your personal plan, tailored for your unique story.

Around the Offices: July 7, 2016

Occasionally, someone in our professional network sends along some information that strikes a chord. Dave would like to share one such instance with you.

In her article,  The #1 Thing To Say Instead of “I Know How You Feel”, Amy Florian of Corgenius recognizes how helpless many of us feel when we’re talking to someone coping with grief. Maybe you’ve been tempted to say, “I know how you feel.” The reality is, no, we don’t have any idea how they feel. Even if we have lived through similar circumstances, everyone is unique, and so is their journey through grief.

Another almost default phrase is, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Sadly, this can make the grieving person feel isolated and even more lonely.

So how can we offer compassionate, kind words, that recognize the uniqueness of someone’s situation while drawing them into a conversation that demonstrates your empathy? Try using a phrase like:

  • “In a situation like this, I bet that a lot of people have told you they can’t imagine what you’re going through. If you could get into their imaginations, what would tell them?”
  • “I’m trying to imagine what this is like for you. What can you tell me that will help me better understand?”

Remember, too, that many of life’s changes can trigger a grieving period. In addition to the loss of a loved one, people can grieve the dissolution of a marriage, an empty nest, or even retirement.

Kindness and compassion is appropriate in every situation, and learning the best language to use can ease that situation for many. If you know someone coping with some of life’s challenges, maybe you can benefit from the tools shared in Ms. Florian’s article. And, as always, let us know if we can help.

Around the Offices: April 1, 2016

Many of our clients are aware of DocuBank, a service that provides immediate access to healthcare directives and emergency medical information. We’ve helped some of our Family Heritage (trust) clients enroll over the years, and we look forward to helping many of you do the same in the future.

We’ve received word that DocuBank has added an easier way for clients with COMPLETE memberships to add and update their list of medications. The two new online options will allow clients to type their medications right into an online form or upload a PDF file they have already created.

This information will be transmitted to doctors whenever the card is used. DocuBank has offered medication list storage for years and will continue to accept handwritten or emailed forms from clients who prefer this method. These new options allow for instantaneous additions and updates and make it easier to use and manage their medication lists. You can watch a demo here.

Our DocuBank clients should receive an email about this, but if you have any questions, please contact DocuBank.

Toll-free Customer Service is 866-362-8226 and is answered live M-F from 9 am to 5 pm EST.

Around the Offices: March 23, 2016

We know that some of our clients are impacted by the Sygenta lawsuit and its related issues. In an effort to keep you as up to date as possible, here’s an article we received from colleagues:

Sygenta, Billions At Stake

Dave would like to point out that, “no matter what anyone says, this litigation is a long way from being a ‘slam dunk’.  The facts are complicated (who has the burden of proving commingling of grain or the lack of it, whether commingling or contamination actually took place, etc.) and the legal issues related to the responsibility of Sygenta and others for consequences triggered, at least in part, by the action of a Sovereign nation are subject to limited precedent (statutes and prior binding or even analogous legal rulings), if any.   It is impossible to predict how this will turn out.” If you’d like to talk with him further, you can contact Dave in our Paris office.

Around the Offices: January 4, 2016

The landscape of estate planning is ever-changing, due in part to how frequently new legislation affects IRAs, taxable income, and charitable giving. Our clients often have a lot of questions about this aspect of their estate plan, and we do our best to present them with current news. This is a good explanation of the PATH Act and how it might affect your planning.


If that seems pretty dense to you, you’re not alone! Sometimes the best approach is to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys in Effingham or Paris, IL or in Terre Haute, IN. Even if you have an existing plan, new legislation might change the way it affects your family! Reviewing your documents periodically is always a good idea!

Around The Offices: October 27, 2015

We spend a lot of time talking about and educating folks about what happens to their physical assets following their death or disability. Have you ever given any thought to what happens to your digital assets? We spend hours and hours on the Internet, and many of us have multiple online accounts: banking, credit cards, investment services, even shopping profiles. In fact, some people are such avid gamers that they buy and sell accounts, or hand them off to successors. While that probably doesn’t describe most of us, we still encourage our clients and friends to, at the most informal, leave a list of their online activities for their trusted loved ones, or, more formally, include digital information in their estate planning documents. (Get in touch with us to talk about this in greater detail.)

Many of us also invest a great deal of energy in our social media identities. Have you ever wondered what happens to, say, your Facebook profile once you’re no longer able to maintain it? Recently, our friend and colleague Anna Eckert Byrne brought the following information to our attention:

Facebook allows you to designate a “Legacy Contact” who will be allowed to access your Facebook profile if necessary. In order to add a Legacy Contact:

  1. Click the arrow in the top right corner of Facebook and select Settings
  2. In the left menu, click Security
  3. Click Legacy Contact
  4. Type in a friend’s name and click Add
  5. To let your friend know they’re now your legacy contact, click Send

Google has an “Inactive Account Manager” tool that allows you to set an amount of time you want Google to wait before taking action (3, 6, 9 months, or a year).

One month before that deadline, if Google hasn’t heard from you, it will send you an alert by either email or text message. If that month closes out and you still have not re-entered your account, Google will notify your “trusted contacts” — you can list up to 10 — and share your data with them if you have so chosen.

You may also set your account to delete any and all of the information in your Google account. To utilize “Inactive Account Manager”:

  1. Click your photo in the top right hand corner of your Google account
  2. Click My Account
  3. Under Personal Info and Privacy click Control your content
  4. Scroll down and click Change this Setting in the Inactive Account Manager box
  5. Click Setup

It seems that LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter do not yet have similar options, and we haven’t caught up with some of the other social media ‘you kids’ are using. Are you tech savvy, and know something we don’t about creating legacy or trusted contacts on social media? Please email information to so we can update our list!

Around The Offices: October 8, 2015

Mayor Jeff Bloemker of Effingham signed a proclamation declaring this Special Needs Law week. Over the years, we’ve learned that families whose loved one has special needs often have questions about how they can provide for their family member without hindering that individual’s ability to receive assistance from other sources. Sometimes, they have questions about guardianship, or what their rights are in cases of emergency. We have the answers you’re looking for, and we’d like to share them with you. Contact one of our offices; we’re looking forward to meeting your special family!

SN proclaimation

Around Our Offices: August 3, 2015

We’d like to take a moment to congratulate our own Krista Krabel on receiving her Illinois Paralegal Association accreditation! Many of our business and trust clients have worked closely with Krista and can attest to her hard work and dedication. Thank you, Krista, for all you do!

ILAP photo

Around Our Offices: July 31, 2015

Farm families have a lot on their plates, considering they make sure that the rest of us have something to put on our plates at suppertime. All too frequently, we meet families who haven’t formalized their business or succession plan for their farm. It’s easy to assume that the kids are going to continue doing things the same way we’ve done them, but, for starters, we know what happens when we assume, and, furthermore, since when do kids do what’s expected of them?

Even if your family is mercilessly free of uncertainty and drama (congratulations!), we think the peace of mind that comes with a well thought-out estate plan is absolutely priceless. We enjoy working with Water Street Solutions, because they share a similar attitude about the importance of protecting the future of the family farm. Their publication, Smart Series, is a great resource for families who’d like to set their business on the right course.

If you’d like to read more, we recommend this article about Legacy Planning: The legacy talk, How to get started and don’t forget to visit for additional information.