Kimberly Hanlon Small Business and Estate Planning Attorney

Kimberly M. Hanlon is a Minnesota attorney offering comprehensive services in the areas of estate planning, small business law, probate administration, and guardianship.

 

She has a different approach to lawyering than most of her colleagues – everything from how she approaches client relationships to how she advises people. Kimberly believes that the business-as-usual model for law firms doesn’t work for people, so she took on a whole new way of serving clients.

 

Come and see what makes our firm different – we have a fresh approach to traditional legal dilemmas.

 

We are a different kind of Estate Planning and Small Business law firm

It is not enough for a law firm to say they are different. They actually have to be different, to come from a totally different mindset, to have a totally different business model, and to have a totally different way of working with clients. We don’t just say we are different – we actually are.

 

The traditional experience, whether you are looking for estate planning or small business law, is to go to an attorney when you need something specific handled, like a will or a trust, or incorporation documents or a contract drafted. That attorney listens attentively, drafts whatever it is that you need, charges you for the document (and you may or may not have known the cost in advance), and then you go your merry way.

 

Maybe you will get a holiday card from your attorney (if you are lucky), but otherwise you don’t hear from them and they don’t hear from you. Of course, why would you call them? If you called them, that would start the billing meter running again.

 

Then, life happens, your circumstances change, the law changes, and your whatever-it-was legal document is no longer doing its job.

 

If it’s an estate plan, your estate is going to have to go through probate, despite your intentions otherwise, or your estate is now taxable, or your disabled beneficiary is now going to lose their ability to get the help they need. All sorts of things can happen that affect your estate plan.

 

If it’s a business matter, things happen even more rapidly and operating without the right legal advice can get you into a lot of trouble. The wipe-you-off-the-map kind of trouble.

 

You think you are protected because you went to see that lawyer whenever-it-was in the past, but really it’s a false sense of security.

 

Wouldn’t it be better to have an ongoing relationship with your lawyer, so when life happened and things changed, you could call and find out if those changes impact you? And wouldn’t it be better if your lawyer knew you well enough to know when changes in the law might impact you, and let you know about it?

 

Wouldn’t it be better if you had someone to call when a legal situation came up, and they could send you to the attorney they know and trust who handles that area of law if they couldn’t help you themselves? It would be like having a lawyer in the family. Wouldn’t that be nice?

 

Well, that is what we do and that is how we are different. Yes, we draft documents – but those documents are a by-product of our relationship with our clients. Really, we are trusted advisors and we are in it for the long-haul. We aren’t interested in drafting your documents and then hanging you out to dry. We want to be your lawyers for life.

 

Want to know what that looks like? For estate planning, look at our Personal Family Lawyer page and our Estate Planning Services page. For small business owners, look at our Creative Business Lawyer page and our Small Business Legal Services page.

 

Do you own a family-owned business? You have come to exactly the right place. We combine the best of our estate planning know-how with the best of our small business law know-how to make sure you are protected on both fronts.

 

If you think that sounds better than just having a document drafted and then being left to fend for yourself, give us a call.


 

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Kimberly M Hanlon, LLC can help you manage an inheritanceThe inheritance of a loved one’s retirement account is quite common. As a Personal Family Lawyer®, my experience has taught me some lessons that can help anyone wondering what step to take next. Much depends on your unique situation–the tax code has a diverse set of rules and, though they aren’t making it any easier, the IRS recently announced a harder line against taxpayers who make mistakes with inherited IRAs.

Below are some of the more common scenarios involving inherited IRAs. Though not thorough, this may help you to get an idea of the general categories–if you’re not certain about how to handle and IRA account you inherited, don’t hesitate to give me a call!

If the account you inherit was a 401(k) or traditional IRA and the decedent was at least 70 ½ years old:  You need to know if the account owner had already taken the required minimum distribution for the year they passed. It is important that the minimum be taken, so contact their bank or other financial institution as soon as possible.

If you are the spouse of the deceased account owner:  Until you reach 70 ½ years of age, you have the option to roll an inherited IRA into your own, effectively postponing the distributions. Remember, any distribution you take before you turn 59 ½ may be subject to early withdrawal fees. Alternately, leave the account where it’s at and wait on taking the required minimum distribution until your spouse would have turned 70 ½.

If you are not the spouse:  The account must first be retitled, naming you as the beneficiary. You must start taking minimum distributions beginning by December 31 of the year thereafter, lasting until the account’s funds are extinguished or you die.

If there are secondary beneficiaries:  If you need to avoid creditors or minimize your income or estate taxes, you have at least one alternative: disclaiming the inherited account, afterwhich it will pass directly to the secondary beneficiaries.

If there are multiple beneficiaries:  An IRA can be split among beneficiaries without much fuss.

If you’d like to learn more about how to treat inherited IRAs or have other estate planning questions, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.

Image Courtesy of ammer / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Sell Your Business With Kimberly M Hanlon, LLCThe sale of a small business can be a boon for the owner, providing a nice windfall while at the same time freeing their attention to focus elsewhere. Whether you plan to sell your business to pursue additional entrepreneurial activity or simply to retire on, there are certain things you must do to see the sale come off without a hitch. With the help of a Creative Business Lawyer®, the following necessities are easily accomplished:

Set a realistic price.  You wouldn’t pay $100,000 for a Honda Civic, reliable though it may be. Putting a reasonable price tag on your business cannot be based entirely off your own perception of your achievement, but off serious research into the market value. You know your industry; what do similar businesses sell for? Your industry association should be able to provide you with information on sales trends. Don’t forget to include the actual assets your business holds–and even customer goodwill(!)–in your valuation. It’s often helpful to work with a CPA who is experienced in valuing closely-held companies.

Consider taxes.  You have gotten your business this far, so you’re surely aware of the complexity of the US Tax Code. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, you must be sure to know what taxes apply to the sale of your business. The two factors that affect this are the structure of your company (corporation, LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship) and whether you put the entire corporate entity on the market or are simply liquidating its assets.

Get financials in shape.  Your tax returns will need to be recast if you plan to sell your business. You’ll want to add back any discretionary expenses that your prospective buyers may not spend–your family’s medical insurance or bonuses, for instance. Consulting with a tax attorney or accountant will set you on solid ground.

Advertise.  If you’re lucky enough to already have a buyer lined up, jump on to the next paragraph! Most business owners, however, must put their company out there to attract a buyer. A buyer need to be aware of your business before they can approach you, so advertise where you will be seen–local newspapers, trade publications, and on business sale websites. A word of warning, though – you may not want your customers, employees, and competitors to know that you are selling your business until the deal is done. Advertise with general terms that won’t put everyone on red alert; say “mid-sized dry cleaning business in uptown” instead of “Gary’s Dry Cleaning on Main Street”. A business broker is an option to keep you from going to the hassle of advertising, but you must be willing to pay a commission for the service.

Negotiating the sale.  The complicated nature of negotiating the sale of your business is where the counsel of a Creative Business Lawyer® is absolutely indispensable. In the process of negotiation, you will be disclosing intimate details about your business’ financials and methods of operation – things you wouldn’t normally want to share with the public or your competitors. It’s important to have a non-disclosure agreement in place before divulging all that information, and it’s important that the agreement is drafted in a way that it will be enforceable, otherwise it won’t be giving you the protection you think you are getting. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your experienced attorney will help you strike the best deal possible and keep your valuable information safe in the meantime.

Developing a sales agreement.  A sales agreement can be complicated and your future could hang on the phrasing of a single clause, so be sure to keep your Creative Business Lawyer® involved. The agreement should include a list of assets included in the sale and their value, all contracts and business relationships the new buyer will be carrying forward, and the structure of the sale–especially how you will be paid!

Closing preparation.  Do consider what your buyer will need at closing. Craft a list of all documents you’re passing to the buyer, along with miscellaneous items like building keys and security codes.

Filing the IRS paperwork.  An Asset Acquisition Statement will need to be filed with the IRS by you and the new owner. Don’t forget to include it with your tax returns.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.

Do you have experience selling your business? Share your story below.

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

America is aging, and so is its workforce. Older Americans increasingly choose to remain on the job, or at least take on a part-time position for something to do for a bit of spending money. A full one-third of the workforce in the United States will be over 55 years of age less than three years from now, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor. Chances are, you aren’t immune to the progression of time yourself–and as a small business owner you probably hope to retire one day. Some people sell their business, others turn it over to their family, while others wish to see it continue to grow with new talent at the helm.

When taking this route, it is vital that you are aware of the risks to this approach. Lawsuits alleging age discrimination are not infrequent, particularly when promoting or hiring executive management staff in a highly-competitive workplace. How can you keep your business protected and avoid such a lawsuit in the first place? A Law.com article provides the following tips:

Avoid Litigious Employees, Call Kimberly M Hanlon, LLCLoose lips sink ships.  The office rumor mill spares no one. If you give voice to your musings of hiring or promoting younger and cheaper talent–particularly if those musings are denigrating of your more mature staff–you had might as well paint a target upon your chest. Several court cases over the last year have handed large victories to employees could cite examples of their managers expressing a wish to rid the ranks of “white-haired” men and women.

Don’t use the “R” word.  Similarly, bringing up the subject of retirement plans with potential candidates can land you in equally hot water if the inquiry is “unnecessary or unreasonable.” Yes, you do have the right to pose the question as a part of business succession planning, but employers need to avoid anything that may be construed as ageist language.

Pick from a large pool with a success training program.  Expanding the skillset of your employees not only makes them more valuable to your business, it ensures that you have plenty of options to choose from when thinking of business succession–and thus lower risk from any individual complaint.

Document performance regularly.  Once a year is the maximum time span that should pass between performance reviews, particularly as you begin thinking of succession. Charting an employee’s performance can alert you to those candidates that are the most promising and those you may wish to avoid–and data to point to as evidence for the impartiality for your decision in case of a lawsuit! Ask your employees about their short- and long-term goals and you may find that they fit into your company’s future plans.

If you conduct business succession planning as part of your company’s routine business practices, you stand a better chance of avoiding an age discrimination claim when it comes time to make management changes.

If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.

What is the most important quality to look for in choosing someone who will take your place? Let us know in the comments below and start a discussion!

Image Courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Manage Your Inheritance with Kimberly M Hanlon, LLC

If you are a baby boomer, it is likely that you already have or will receive an inheritance in the future. Research shows that the average inheritance is nearly $65,000, not to mention other assets. Have you prepared to manage this windfall wisely? Here are seven vital actions you must take to ensure your family’s largesse doesn’t go to waste.

  1.  Revise your financial goals. Your circumstances have changed, so it’s time to give new direction to your investments. Will you use the inheritance as easy spending money, or keep it for a rainy day?
  2.  Review your estate plan. Like the above, your good fortune should be reflected in your estate plan, especially if that fortune is large enough to merit additional asset protection. Have you inherited a valuable collection of art, jewelry, or postage stamps? There are steps you can take to ensure these are protected, as well.
  3.  Rid yourself of debt.  Don’t underestimate the opportunity of paying off your existing debt with an inheritance–credit card debt and high interest rate loans often should take precedence. Work out exactly how much you are paying in interest and compare with the potential return of investment.
  4.  Relish the rainy days.  It is always a good idea to have at least six months’ worth of living expenses at hand. If you haven’t already made this emergency stash, consider using an inheritance to make it a reality.
  5.  Reexamine your circumstances. Are there any big changes to your life looming in the road ahead? It can be important to carefully determine where you are and where you are going before you take action on an inheritance. For example, a divorce poses certain challenges–an inheritance amounts to separate marital property but only if it isn’t commingled with marital assets, so it may well be in your best interest to place the cash in an interest-bearing account solely in your name until the dust settles.
  6.  Retain a professional. Unsure what circumstances should spur what action? Consider consulting someone with years of experience in the matter; both a financial planner and an estate planner can be your guides to handling your new wealth.
  7.  Reward yourself. Admit it: you deserve a little special something. Allot a small amount for something frivolous and enjoy it–just take care not to go to far!

A Personal Family Lawyer® can further advise you of all your options as part of a comprehensive estate plan.  If you would like to have a talk about estate planning for your family, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.

We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.

Have you received an inheritance? How did you spend it? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Courtesy punsayaporn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do Your Parents Need the Protection of Kimberly M. Hanlon, LLC?Though only the worst of the worst would prey on the elderly, the sad truth is that the financial exploitation of elders by unscrupulous individuals continues relatively unabated. The nature of these crimes leave many unaware that their parents have been victimized until it is too late–prevention is the best defense.

Fortunately, no small amount of resources have been devoted toward combating this scourge. The Investor Protection Trust has conducted a number of studies on the subject, including one finding the top three avenues of financial exploitation:

  • Theft of funds or property by family members
  • Theft of funds or property by caregivers
  • Financial scams by strangers

Their survey revealed that one of every nine seniors has been victim to financial abuse!

You parents shielded you from danger as a child; you owe it to them to stand by their side as they face this challenge. Below are the five keys to their protection–even doing just one could make the difference.

FIND a financial abuse prevention seminar. If they are part of a senior center or organization, it is likely that they have easy access to these kinds of programs. Pick one out together that is convenient for you and your parent(s) to attend and put it on the calendar.

AUTOMATE your parents’ finances. Many potential sources of income–pensions, retirement, investment income, and Social Security–can now be deposited directly in a savings or checking account at no extra charge. Your bank likely offers services online that will free them entirely from the hassle of writing a check for each and every bill at the end of the month, to say nothing of immediate access to their banking information.

COMMUNICATE with them frequently. Yes, if you’re reading this, you probably are good at keeping in touch with your parents. But are you asking the right questions? It can be vital to know if they have been solicited by anyone who called, visited, or emailed. If you live nearby, visit in person. They’ll be happy to see you and you may get a fuller story than you would over the phone.

INVEST a percentage of their retirement income into a low-cost, immediate-fixed or inflation-adjusted annuity from a reputable insurance company. This will provide a guaranteed lifetime income that cannot be lost to fraud or abuse.

KEEP your parents’ savings in their former employer’s 401(k) plan. The federal government maintains strict regulations to ensure that employees get the benefit they paid for all those years. These plans may even offer the best investment deal possible.

If you’d like to learn more about estate planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.  We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.

Can you offer any additional tips? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Courtesy of Toa55 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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