Quote for the Day

“Family business succession planning is the cornerstone of any successful family business owner’s estate plan. As is often the case, however, planning for the inter-generational transfer of ownership and control of the business becomes complicated by the intra-generational conflicts of the business owner’s heirs. These onflicts among members of the second generation, if severe enough, can render the effective management of the business by the second generation virtually impossible, leading to a loss in productivity and profitability with a resulting decline in the enterprise’s value.”

Michael V. Bourland and Dustin G. Willey, “Setting the Stage for Planning with the Family Business Owner: Tax-Free Division,” ALI CLE Estate Planning Course Materials Journal, April 2015.

Quote for the Day

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Henry David Thoreau

Conservation Easements: Go Big or Go Home

Briefly, creating a conservation easement can allow you to receive good by doing good. Consider creating one on your  property to protect

“natural, scenic, or open space values of [that] real property, assuring its availability for agricultural, forest, recreational or open space use, protecting natural resources, maintaining or enhancing air or water quality, or preserving the historical, architectural, archeological or cultural aspects of real property”

HeartMt_431511_10150848522799638_729014637_12580484_639413481_nand you might receive a variety of tax benefits, including a reduction in property taxes and a charitable deduction that can be carried forward on future tax returns, among other things. For a farmer or rancher, the easement can have the added benefit of ensuring the farm or ranch stays in the family, because, according to G. Bruce Chilcott and Erin Johnson,

“with most or all of the development potential given away in the easement, the next generation doesn’t have the usual incentive to sell or develop [the property] in a residential or commercial manner.” (Long-Term Planning Issues for Farm and Ranch Owners, Wealth Counsel Quarterly)

The steps to create one are outlined in the Utah and Wyoming state codes and are not particularly hard to follow. But, Chilcott and Johnson caution, don’t go the cheap route. Get it done correctly. In particular, they say,

“In creating a conservation easement, the key to achieving the desired tax benefits is the appraisal. This is no place to skimp on costs or quality, and the appraiser must have special qualifications and significant experience in this arena.”

Make sure you choose an appraiser with a good track record regarding farm and ranch appraisals for conservation easement purposes because “the quality of the appraisal can be instrumental in getting the eventual approval of the department of revenue.”

Quote for the Day

On the impact of the business structure of a farm on federal farm payment limitations:

The structuring question also influences eligibility for the federal farm program payment limitation. Under the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act, of 1996 and earlier legislation, each “person” under one or more production flexibility contracts is eligible for a maximum of $40,000 in federal farm program payments. The payment limitation was eased in 2000. Thus, a key issue any time the farm or ranch business is restructured is determining who will qualify as a separate “person,” and whether different types of entities qualify as their own separate “person.”

McEowen and Hart, “The Law of the Land: Fundamentals of Agricultural Law,” (2002)

 

Quote for the Day

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.

Winston Churchill

 

 

Quote for the Day

“If you feel like your VC [venture capitalist] is a proctologist, run for the hills.”

Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, Venture Deals: Be Smarter than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist, Wiley 2103

A “True” Story Retold

IMG_0968As anyone who’s read my profile knows, I once wrote for Bloomberg–for three Bloomberg magazines, in fact. One of them was Bloomberg Wealth Manager, which was later sold and then sold again. I continued to write for the magazine in all its iterations. The other day, I stumbled upon a list of some of my articles for one of the later iterations. Since most of the articles are still (mostly) timely, I’m going to start posting them here. Here’s the first, called “A ‘True’ Story” about Casper, Wyoming’s Dave True and the family business. Enjoy, but with this one caveat: As I said, these stories are still (mostly) timely; the basic law underlying them is still (mostly) valid.

I’ll be posting a number of them. If one of them discusses a subject near and dear to your legal problems, don’t rely on the story as legal advice. Use it instead to prompt you to talk to an attorney about the problem to get more current insight on the subject.

Quote for the Day

Actually, this is not a quote but a paraphrase of some information I found the other day on the Internet. Can’t remember the source–I think I may have found it on Farm Bureau website and repeated in a variety of other places, including a Nationwide Insurance brochure I discovered online. With that, this:

Almost 97% of farms in the U.S. are owned by families, and only 11% of those families have succession or transitions plans in place to ensure that the farm stays in family hands after the current owner dies.

Some Things I Learned Answering Questions on a Forum for Asking Legal Questions

Yikes_2016-03-07_0843So I sometimes forget that everybody’s smart, just on different subjects. For example, I don’t know much about physics. My teachers tried, but my head could only hold so much gravity and speed of light and such. Well, today I was online in an online forum where non-lawyers posed legal questions to attorneys. These were real life people experiencing real life problems that involved the law in some way or the other.

Now let me be crystal clear: I don’t think these people are dumb. To repeat: we are all “smart,” just on different things. I happen to know a lot about the law, but boy am I at a loss about some other subjects (heck, even about some legal subjects). With that, here are a few things I learned while answering questions:

  1. Many, if not most people, don’t realize that estate taxes are no longer a concern for most of us. Did you know that you and your spouse must be worth almost $11 million before the tax man comes knocking? Yes, you may need to do some planning to make sure you take full advantage of that $11 million threshold, but still.
  2. Many people don’t realize that the First Amendment doesn’t protect them from employers, friends, parents, and the like from infringing on their free speech rights. No, the First Amendment protects us from the government infringing on our rights. And even then the right is not absolute.
  3. More than a few people confuse a living will with a plain old will, also known as a last will and testament. A living will is a document that tells your family and doctor whether you want life support and such should you become incapacity and unable to speak for yourself. A will or last will and testament is what you use to appoint guardians for your children and to give your property away when you die. You can read more here.
  4. A lot of people–especially people down on their luck financially–aren’t aware of the legal resources available to them that are free or at a reduced cost, nor are they aware of the state agencies that might be of help to them–child protective or family services, for example. For the record, in Wyoming you can go to the Wyoming State Bar to find free or reduced-rate legal services. In Utah, you should go here.  In Wyoming, you can find child and family services here.  In Utah, you’ll find them here.
  5. Finally, too many people are way too quick to pull the trigger; that is, they get angry and immediately shout “Medic!!!” I mean, “Lawyer!!!” To those I say, try to work out your problems by yourself and amicably first, especially if it’s family, then resort to the law. But the corollary to that is, if the proper response is legal, then hire an attorney. Trust me on that one.

Now where do I go to find out how fast the speed of light was back in the days of horse and buggy?

Quote for the Day

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Henry David Thoreau

The Wyoming State Bar does not certify any lawyer as a specialist or expert. Anyone considering a lawyer should independently investigate the lawyer’s credentials and ability, and not rely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. This website is an advertisement.