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Staff Profile: Attorney Ted Brown

 

Ted is a staff attorney with Cooper, Adel & Associates. He grew up in Mariemont, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati, where he served as the Director of Traffic Operations for the Police Department. He graduated from Xavier University with a major in History and Philosophy. During Law School at the University of Dayton, his favorite classes were estate planning, tax and constitutional law. Ted clerked for the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C. and also spent a semester studying in a comparative law program in London, England. Ted's wife, Natalie, is also an attorney.

Ted's love of history started with his admiration for his grandfather who served in WWII, Korea and the Cold War. His plane was shot down over North Korea and he was the only man of an eight person crew to survive. He spent three days surviving behind enemy lines until he was spotted by a passing American plane using a small signal mirror.

At Cooper and Adel, Ted leads the Estate Administration Department that helps our clients and their beneficiaries get access to their inheritance, minimize estate taxes, claim IRA distributions and navigate the murky waters of probate. He also works in the Trust Department assisting clients with trust and estate planning. He has learned the most from two attorneys in the firm. One he calls “Jedi Master Dan Vu” and the other he calls “Yoda Thom Cooper”.

The top highlights of his life have been marrying his beautiful wife and attending a campaign rally in 2004 where he met President George W. Bush. He is proud of working to start an annual 9/11 Memorial at Xavier University. Ted's greatest aspirations are to live a long, healthy and happy life, while helping other people to do the same.

What would we be surprised to know about Ted?

He is an avid collector of antique road signs. He also volunteers as a traffic control consultant for the Mariemont Police Department and directs traffic for large events, parades, and sporting events. He's also flown in a WWII B-29 Bomber.

How is it to work with Ted? Here is what Ted's client's are saying:

“Ted did a wonderful job … He was very responsive and offered to meet with us to update our documents.”

“It's a great comfort to us knowing that you are overseeing our estate planning. We really appreciate all that you've done.”

“Your presentations were descriptive and to the point. Our questions were answered promptly.”

Thom & Mitch comments…

“Ted has been a great addition to the firm. He does a great job for our clients and they know it. It is always a pleasure to hear from clients about how well Ted has handled their affairs. One of the things I like about ted is how quickly he learns new things. In recent months, Ted has been working through some of the most difficult-to-understand estate tax laws at the firm and he always meets the challenge.  

DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.

The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement.
If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

 

What’s the Best Way to Give My Stuff Away When I Die?

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.34.22 PMThere is no doubt about it: Americans have a lot of stuff. Surveys consistently show that of all the Americans that have a garage, the majority of them cannot fit a vehicle inside it due to the fact that it is dedicated exclusively to the storage of stuff. “Stuff” can be almost anything, from furniture, family heirlooms, collections, clothing, tools, valuables or all those things earmarked for that future garage sale.

The trouble is what happens to all that stuff when we die? Most of the conflicts that arises in the estates that I handle deal with that stuff. Heirs generally don't argue over the money or the land but they frequently argue over who gets the stuff.

Therefore, if you have stuff that is important to you, it is very important to address it as part of your estate planning. For example, if you have a trust you want to make sure that your personal property is properly assigned to that trust. You can then provided specific instructions about who gets what within the language of the trust itself.

Specificity is always a good rule of thumb. As much specific instruction that you can put in writing about who gets what, where that item is located and how to tell it apart from the other stuff can go a long way to smooth out any potential disputes. It is important that these instructions are written in a way that someone who doesn't know anything about these items can read and understand it. These instructions should be signed and dated by you at the bottom of the document.

If you do not have any specific wishes then it is important to provide a method by which disputes are to be settled. For example, items are to be sold and the proceeds divided if the heirs cannot agree. Or perhaps heirs can choose items by “drawing straws.” Use your imagination.

In most cases, when a resolution process is provided along with carefully written distribution instructions, it will usually be followed and can save the family years of conflict and heartbreak. Your stuff is an important part of your formal estate planning, particularly if you believe as we do that “it should be easier for those who are left behind”. Please be sure to find experienced elder law attorneys to help you with the process.

 

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Facts about the 4th of July

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By Attorney Ted Brown

As the firm's dedicated history buff, I wanted to share a few quick historical facts about the Fourth of July that have been largely lost on our collective common knowledge. Just like real life, history is rarely the cut-and-dry retelling of names and dates that the history books like to depict.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally voted to declare independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4th, the Delegates unanimously approved a final draft of the Declaration of Independence. However, the Declaration itself was not actually signed by the 56 delegates until August 2, 1776. July 4th was assigned as the actual date of the document by the printer who was tasked with distributing (hand-made) copies of the draft version to the public. Great Britain did not actually learn of the Declaration until months later.

Until recent years, Americans generally did not refer to July 4th as “Independence Day” even after the day was declared a national holiday in 1870. Even today, the holiday is most commonly known as “the Fourth”. This is likely based on the fact that our independence was far from certain on July 4, 1776. At the time, Great Britain remained one of the most powerful empires in the World with a vast military presence. The Delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence knew they were very well signing their death warrants and that a long and bitter struggle would be waged. The Revolutionary War that began in April 1775 did not end until April 11, 1783 which perhaps would be a much more fitting date to hold the title “Independence Day.”

From everyone here at Cooper and Adel, we wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July.  

D-Day plus 70 years

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By Attorney Ted Brown

Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Known as “D-Day” it marked the beginning of the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II. The invasion remains the single largest military operation in the history of the world and was undertaken not for the purpose of conquest but rather to liberate an entire continent from the oppression and terror of Nazi control. The message “Ike” shared with his forces the night before the invasion says it best:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

-General Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 5th 1944

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

The History of Memorial Day

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 10.22.34 AMToday Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season and a long weekend to relax or travel with friends and family. However, as you are enjoying your family road trip or backyard cook-out, I urge you to take a moment to remember the original meaning of Memorial Day.

Originally known as “Decoration Day”, the first observance was held on May 5, 1868 to honor the hundreds of thousand of soldiers who fought and died to preserve the Union. The holiday was first established the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Veterans, to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The month of May was chosen since flowers were in bloom across the country and would remain for the remainder of the summer.

Decoration Day was became known as Memorial Day in 1882 but was not made an official government holiday until 1967. In 1968, Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May, creating the three-day weekend we know today.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is working to get our veterans the VA benefits they rightfully deserve.  

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Does your irrevocable trust provide capital gains savings for your heirs?

By Attorney Ted Brown

Irrevocable trusts are commonly used to protect assets from the cost of long-term care and to reduce estate tax liability. However, without the right language, an irrevocable trust can create a potentially crippling and unanticipated capital gains tax problem for your heirs.

Capital gains tax applies to the sale of appreciated assets such as land or stocks. In general, the tax is based on the profit that one earns on the sale. The profit is determined by subtracting the value of the property when you acquired it from the sale price. For example, if you buy a piece of land for $100,000 and you sell it for $225,000, you have a capital gain of $125,000. The $100,000 figure is known as your “cost basis.”

A gift or transfer of property during the owner's lifetime to an irrevocable trust will results in a carry-over in the cost basis to the trust, This means that when the beneficiaries eventually sell the assets given to the trust, they will owe capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price and the price that you paid. Depending on how much the property has appreciated over time, this could result in a stifling capital gains tax problem for the beneficiaries years down the road. In order to avoid this, the trust must contain special language that will pull the value of the trust back into the creator's estate and achieving something known as a step-up in basis.

An irrevocable trust is a very complex estate planning tool. It is very important to understand the many nuances of these trusts and of gifting assets before embarking on such a plan. Call us today to learn about how we can develop a customized plan to protect your assets while still preserving tax benefits for your heirs.  

 

 

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Should I deed my property to my kids?

The Most Common Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Mistake

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.17.42 PMAnswer: No. Not unless you (and your children) understand the risks and drawbacks.

In an effort to protect their real estate from nursing home or from estate taxes, many people consider deeding their real estate to their children. This is a very risky strategy for a variety of reasons.

Taxes – By transferring real estate to a child while you are still alive can create a future tax time-bomb for that child.

A gift of property during the owner's lifetime results in what is known as a carry-over in basis. Basis is the IRS term for the value of the property when you received it, being either the price you paid for it or the value it was worth when you inherited it. Basis is important when the property is sold. The sale price, minus your basis, equals your capital gain which is taxable at roughly 29% between Federal and State taxes.

For example, if you buy a piece of land for $100,000 and you sell it for $225,000, you have a capital gain of $125,000.

So if you have a piece of property that was worth $150,000 when you bought it and now it is worth $400,000, you have a lot of taxable appreciation. If you deed that property to a child, you pass on that taxable appreciation. Moreover, if the child holds onto the property for another 20 years and the value increases to $750,000 then they will owe tax on a $600,000 gain when they sell. This could result in $174,000 being lost to taxes.

Liability - if the property is owned by someone else, it is subject to the liabilities of that person.

Suppose you gift property to a child. Your child now owns that property. It is considered to be their personal asset, even if you continue to live there. If that child were to get a divorce, then that property is up for grabs along with all of their other assets.

What may be even worse is if that child gets sued, even for something that is no fault of their own, the entire property could be lost to pay their liabilities or judgement creditors, potentially leaving you without a place to live.

It is very important to understand the many potential consequences of gifting any assets, particularly real estate, before embarking on such a plan. You should seek the assistance of Elder Law Attorney to discuss the best strategies for protecting assets before taking on the challenge yourself.  

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

Honoring the Dangers of Spaceflight

By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 4.49.12 PMThe achievements of human space exploration has afforded mankind with innumerable benefits. While many of us take these benefits for granted, these achievements have come at a high price.

This week is marked as the deadliest week in the history of manned space exploration. The span from January 26 to February 1 has seen three major tragedies resulting in the loss of the entire crew in all cases. Below is a brief synopsis of these tragic missions. Today we remember the lives of these brave pioneers who gave their lives in the name of science and discovery:

January 27, 1967 – Apollo 1

January 26, 1986- Space Shuttle Challenger

February 1, 2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia

 

image via Wikipedia

VA Benefits for Desert Storm Veterans

by Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 9.11.00 AMThis week will mark the 23rd anniversary of the beginning of Operation Desert Storm on January 17, 1991. This marked the beginning of the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent liberation of Kuwait by coalition forces. Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait in August of 1990 sparking global outrage. The United States, together with over 30 other nations, formed a multinational coalition to free Kuwait from Iraqi control.

Operation Desert Storm began with one of the most vigorous air campaigns in military history, spanning nearly 5 weeks of 24 hour-a-day operations including air-to-air dogfights with Iraqi aircraft and strategic and systematic strikes against Iraqi command and control sites on the ground. The air campaign was the first to use many of the state of the art precision guided weapons, stealth aircraft and other modern military technology still in use today. The air war was followed by the now famous “100-hour” ground invasion driving the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and entirely defeating what was then the 4th largest army in the world in just under 4 days. Offensive operations in the Persian Gulf concluded on February 28th, 1991.

Over 650,000 Americans served in the Persian Gulf War and the VA offers many benefits for those who served. Many Gulf War veterans are not aware of these benefits which include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. (Click on any of these links for information directly from the VA website)

Additionally, there are a variety of illnesses and conditions that are linked to service in the Persian Gulf that can entitle veterans to special pension benefits.

See the link below for more details:

http://www.benefits.va.gov/persona/veteran-gulfwar.asp

(Image by Bryan Dorrough)

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.

2014 Federal Gift and Estate Tax Update

By Attorney Ted Brown

TaxCredits_Flickr_TaxJarEffective January 1, 2014, the unified federal gift and estate tax exemption was increased to $5.34 million dollars. This change reflects an adjustment for inflation from last year's 5.25 million exemption amount. In January 2013 as part of the “fiscal cliff “ negotiations, Congress established the limit at $5.25 million to be adjusted annually for inflation.

What this change means is that an individual can now give up to $5.34 million during their lifetime, or pass away with an estate valued up to $5.34 million dollars, without paying any Federal gift or estate tax.

The annual gift reporting limit remains at $14,000 per person. Total annual gifts less than this amount do not need to be reported and are not subject to gift tax. Total annual gifts in excess of this amount count against the donor's $5.34 million lifetime gift exemption.  

Photo by: Tax Credits on Flickr

 

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DISCLAIMER – Every case is different because every case is different. This blog does not give legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. This blog is an entirely personal endeavor. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
No attorney-client relationship is created by this site.
The use of the Internet, this blog or email for communication with this firm or any individual member of this firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Before we represent any client, the client and the attorney will sign a written retainer agreement. If you do not have a written, signed retainer agreement with us, we are not representing you and will not be taking any action on your behalf.



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