Burns Law Offices, S.C. provides personalized, cost-effective legal solutions designed to address each client’s particular estate, retirement, and/or business planning objectives. We restrict our practice to these highly specialized areas of the law to provide a focus not typically available from a general practitioner, and most often provided by larger law firms only at significantly greater cost.

Typically, a client of the firm is an individual or family seeking assistance with a particular estate planning distribution objective, and many clients are owners of small or medium sized businesses who seek business succession guidance. However, our clients are a diverse group with varying needs, all of which are addressed with the same degree of personalization.

ESTATE PLANNING
Our estate planning clients range from newly married couples interested in properly planning for an unforeseen circumstance, to persons of considerable wealth who are interested in discussing sophisticated tax planning techniques designed to meet tax minimization objectives. Specifically, our estate planning practice has involved:

  • Preparing Wills for purposes of directing distributions and/or naming guardians for a minor child or children;
  • Providing representation in probate and estate administration matters;
  • Counseling clients with respect to sophisticated tax and insurance planning strategies, which may involve establishing revocable and/or irrevocable trusts;
  • Establishing vehicles, such as qualified personal residence trusts and family limited liability companies, to accomplish asset transfers to family members at discounted values;
  • Marital Property Act planning for married Wisconsin clients;
  • Assisting clients with funding trusts and coordinating insurance, annuity, and retirement account beneficiary designations;
  • Reviewing options available to make charitable gifts;
  • Counseling clients as to techniques and strategies relating to asset protection planning;
  • Providing guidance with respect to planning for a beneficiary with special needs;
  • Preparing medical directives, such as medical power of attorneys and Living Wills, and durable power of attorneys.

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RETIREMENT PLANNING
Retirement planning often must be coordinated with our clients’ estate planning. We are frequently asked to provide estimates of anticipated retirement account balance accumulations under varying scenarios, and to offer guidance as to account distribution planning. The unique background of the firm’s attorneys also makes us well qualified to review our clients’ retirement account asset mix, and to offer recommendations as to how changes in that asset mix might better accomplish client objectives.

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BUSINESS PLANNING
Frequently, our estate planning clients also seek guidance with respect to business interests that they own or control. Specifically, we have advised clients with:

  • Business succession strategies, which often require coordination with the business owner’s estate plan;
  • Implementing a Buy-Sell (or Stock Restriction) Agreement designed to limit transfers of interests in the business to family members or other designated "insiders" and provide for a smooth transition of ownership interests if a predetermined event (i.e., death, retirement, divorce, disability) should occur;
  • Consulting Agreements, pursuant to which retiring executives may continue to participate in the business on a part-time basis;
  • Business formation and organization, including selection of the appropriate entity type; and
  • General business representation, including advice in connection with leases and other business contracts.

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ASSET PROTECTION PLANNING
As part of the planning process, many clients express concerns regarding the potential risk of loss to their assets resulting from frivolous lawsuits and similar claims. These concerns typically extend not just to claims made against themselves, but to potential claims made against their intended estate plan beneficiaries once assets have been transferred to those persons. To address these concerns, planning strategies and initiatives intended to preserve and protect assets are frequently undertaken as part of, and integrated into, the estate planning process. Planning intended to limit the risk of loss from the claims of one's creditors is referred to as asset protection planning (also referrred to as "creditor" protection planning)

Typically, asset protection planning involves:

  • reviewing the potential for claims of liability relating to the client's particular profession or lifestyle;
  • a review of the composition of the client's assets, and an assessment of the extent to which each particular type of asset might be susceptible to the claims of the client's creditors;
  • arranging ownership and titling of assets to provide optimal protection from potential claims;
  • analyzing applicable state and federal law considerations to determine what protections those particular laws provide;
  • discussing what asset protection vehicles can be established to further insulate client assets from potential claims (various domestic and foreign asset protection trusts, limited liability entities, etc.)

In order to be effective, asset protection planning initiatives should be implemented in advance of a claim arising and reviewed on an ongoing basis to confirm that the client's concerns are optimally planned for. Therefore, we recommend the asset protection planning initiatives and strategies that have been implemented be discussed as part of the ongoing review of the client's estate plan.

 

Burns Law Offices, S.C. does not hold itself out as providing counsel in all areas of the law. For example, areas such as intellectual property law (which frequently involves copyright and trademark issues) and environmental law, both of which are highly specialized, are beyond the scope of the representation that we provide. However, we maintain close contact with attorneys and other professionals that do specialize in areas that are outside of our particular focus. We feel confident that these professionals will provide our clients with the same quality service that we offer. A recommendation of a professional by us to a client which results in a poor experience for the client reflects poorly on us, and is something we strive to avoid.

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