Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.
Wealth & Succession Planning
Wealth & Succession Planning

Wealth & Succession Planning

The Wealth & Succession Group at KTJ represents individuals and families in connection with their personal and business legal needs including: estate planning; estate and trust administration; income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax preparation and planning; business formation, transactions, litigation and mergers and acquisitions; business succession planning; and real estate. 

Our practice is built around forming and developing relationships with our clients.  Rather than merely handling the legal services of our clients, we work hard to develop a trusted relationship with our clients, so that our clients have confidence in working with us in all aspects of their personal and business needs.  Forging relationships has been the keystone to our success and why families have continued to work with us from one generation to the next.

Our clientele spans a wide range, from couples just starting out with their professions and families, to family business owners looking to sell their business or transfer it to the next generation, to individuals looking for guidance on how best to transition their wealth to the next generation or charities, to executors and trustees in need of an experienced attorney to assist them through the complexities of administering a probate or trust estate.

Estate Planning

We advise our clients in the preparation of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and other advanced directives.  From simple Wills to complex Trusts, private foundations or family limited partnerships, we work to identify the individual legal needs of our clients and then craft a plan that meets those specific needs.  We help our clients plan for an orderly and tax-efficient distribution of their estates after their death, while also developing strategies to provide asset protection planning during their lifetime.  Because we advise clients in the administration of probate and trust estates as well as preparing income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax returns, our planning strategies have been developed over time through our collective experience and practice.  We believe that good planning only comes from proper anticipation of the real world application of those plans, and our clients benefit from our expertise in this regard.

Probate and Trust Administration

Navigating the complexities of a probate or trust estate is more daunting than it may first appear.  We help to guide executors and trustees through the process of gathering assets, paying expenses and claims, accounting to beneficiaries and heirs, post-mortem tax planning, preparation of tax returns, and proper distributions to the ultimate beneficiaries.  We have vast experience in litigating contested estate matters, and have represented executors, trustees and beneficiaries in regard to the proper administration of probate and trust estates, as well as abuses of influence over an incapacitated individual.  Our experience in administering probate and trust estates goes far beyond the borders of the State of Illinois, as we have assisted clients all over the United States.  Regardless of the issues, we have the experience and knowledge-base to properly advise and assist our clients throughout the process of administering probate and trust estates.

Tax Planning and Preparation

For our individual clients, we prepare individual income tax returns and gift tax returns, as well as planning and allocating for any generation-skipping transfers made during our clients' lifetimes.  We also represent individuals, administrators and executors in connection with IRS and state tax audits.  In connection with our probate and trust estates, we work with our executors and trustees in preparing final individual income tax and gift tax returns, income tax returns for estates and trusts, estate tax returns and generation-skipping transfer tax returns.  While other firms may not provide these services to their clients who are administering probate and trust estates, our clients benefit from one set of professionals advising the administration and preparing the related tax work.

Corporate and Succession Planning

We assist clients in forming businesses, advising them on the proper steps to register and creating organizational documents.  We identify specific legal issues faced depending on the type of business and transactions that are contemplated by the business owner. 

For those business that are already established, we have experience serving as general counsel, specifically, drafting contracts, advising on labor and employment issues, employee benefits, and other general transactional needs.  As trusted counsel, we also defend and prosecute commercial litigation on behalf of our business owners. 

For our business owners who are looking to sell their business or purchase a target business, we advise our clients with regard to the same by analyzing the structure of the transaction, preparing the necessary documents, and assisting through the transaction closing.  We work with related professionals to properly address related legal, tax and business concerns our clients face when contemplating a merger or acquisition.

For our business owner clients, integrating a business succession plan as part of their estate plan is crucial.  Whether our clients are looking to transfer their family-owned business to the next generation or have concerns with regard to limiting transfers of their partners or co-business owners, we help to address our clients' goals and desires and then appropriately plan and draft to meet the same. 

For our clients looking to transfer a business to the next generation, we work to develop a lifetime transfer plan or to integrate a testamentary transfer via their estate plan.  In any regard, we work to determine how best to make the transfer seamless, to afford the least amount of interruption to the business upon the transfer.

For our clients concerned about limiting transfers by other business partners, we help our clients to draft buy-sell agreements.  We also assist our clients in identifying the proper means of funding the buy-sell agreements whether through insurance products or other means of funding.  We also work with our clients to properly value their business in relation to the buy-sell agreement.

Schedule an appointment with experienced Wealth & Succession attorney today

To better serve you, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has convenient locations in downtown Chicago and Orland Park. Contact our Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 708.349.1506. You can also reach us online to schedule a consultation.

For questions regarding Wealth & Succession Planning, please contact Gerard E. Dempsey, Derek A. Farrugia, E. Kenneth Friker, Scott E. Nemanich, Donald E. Renner III and Bruce A. Zolna

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Probate and Trust Administration

Chicago Estate Planning Lawyers Provide Comprehensive Estate Administration Services

Delivering competent estate planning advice and guidance

Administering the estate of a loved one can be a complicated process, but at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., it is our goal to simplify it for you. We are problem-solvers, and we are here to make sure your interests are protected now and in the future. We understand the complexity of administering a decedent’s probate estate and trust.

Types of wills to protect your loved ones

A will is a legal document outlining how you want your estate distributed to your loved ones. Your will can be as specific as you want to make it and can include certain assets you want to pass on to named relatives. A will can also appoint a guardian for your children if you should die or become incapacitated. Below are a few types of wills:

  • Joint wills. A joint will is one that two people, typically married, make together. This type of will provides that when one dies, the estate passes on to the other person.
  • Pour-over wills. A pour-over will is used in conjunction with a trust. It provides that any assets or property left out of the will be transferred into a trust.
  • Living wills. A living will or advance directive describes your preferences regarding medical treatment if you are faced with a serious accident or illness and are unable to make your own decisions.

We oversee all aspects of the administration, including the marshaling of assets, inventory, accounting, preparation of estate tax and income tax returns, distributions from the estate and/or trust, and closing of the administration.

The validity of a will or the administration of an estate is sometimes challenged in court by a potential beneficiary. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all matters of litigation involving the administration of an estate or trust and incapacity issues. We can provide you with a full range of litigation options.

Types of trusts providing numerous benefits

Trust agreements come in a variety of forms. Each type of trust has specific uses, so it is important to confer with a qualified estate planning attorney to determine which type of trust you need and to obtain experienced assistance with properly administering a trust. Examples of trusts include:

  • Revocable trusts. A revocable trust allows you to transfer title to property and assets to the trust during your lifetime, which removes the property from the cost and time-consuming process of probate. The trust holds the property for the benefit of your beneficiaries, but you can reserve the right to alter the terms of the trust at any time and can serve as the trustee, which means you control the trust.
  • Irrevocable trusts. An irrevocable trust is useful for tax planning, asset protection, and wealth and succession planning. Assets transferred into an irrevocable trust are owned by the trust, and you cannot revoke the decision. However, you can name yourself as the trustee and have control of the trust.
  • Charitable trust. With a charitable trust, at least one of the beneficiaries is a charity or nonprofit. This type of trust provides significant tax benefits, in addition to benefitting worthy causes.
  • Special needs trust. When an individual receives government benefits due to a physical or mental handicap, a special needs trust can be created to protect the beneficiary’s eligibility to receive the government benefits while also allowing the beneficiary to receive supplemental funds.

It is imperative to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to properly draft your trust. With so much at stake, the advice and guidance can be highly valuable.

Confer with top-quality attorneys in Illinois

The legal team of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. can provide the help you need in administering an estate or trust. Contact our firm’s office in downtown Chicago by calling 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 708.349.3888. We can also be reached online to schedule an initial consultation.

Tax Planning and Preparation

Law Firm Assisting with Individual and Fiduciary Taxation in Chicago, IL

Helping you understand complicated tax matters

While we must all pay taxes, it is imperative to ensure that you and your family are not paying too much. At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we help you determine your true tax liability. We provide you with ways to reduce your tax obligations and have a deep understanding of individual and fiduciary taxation and how it applies to your individual circumstances.

What tax rules apply to estate planning?

Taxes can be confusing and overwhelming. We have the answers to your questions about the type of estate plan that is most beneficial to you, estate and gift planning, and how taxes may apply. We stay current on the ever-changing tax laws and keep you informed. Common tax matters related to estate planning include:

  • Estate taxes. Currently, the tax code allows for a $5.25 million exemption, which includes gifts given during a person’s lifetime. Thus, many estates are protected from estate taxes. However, it is important to have a qualified estate planning lawyer assist you with trusts and other estate planning methods to ensure that your legacy remains tax-free as far into the future as possible.
  • Gift tax exemption. If you are “gifting” your inheritance to your family while you are still living, the recipient does not have to report the gift as income for federal income tax purposes. You are currently allowed to give up to $14,000 per person, per year. An experienced financial planning lawyer can partner with you to determine the best way to distribute your assets.

Deferred payment of estate tax can benefit your family

Estate tax, in most circumstances, must be paid within nine months of the date of death of the decedent. But, the executor may be able to defer the time for paying any amount attributable to a closely held business if more than 35 percent of the decedent’s adjusted gross estate is held in such an eligible entity. We can review your individual circumstances and determine if you are eligible to postpone payment of an estate tax.

Minimize taxes with postmortem income tax planning

In a perfect world, everyone would have a comprehensive estate plan that protects family and personal wealth. When this is not the case, planning after death is still a tool that can be used to minimize taxes. Postmortem tax planning requires the assistance of an experienced estate-planning attorney.

Meet with highly skilled attorneys regarding your taxation issues

Allow Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. to assist you with the intricacies of individual and fiduciary tax matters. Our downtown Chicago office is conveniently located near Lyric Opera and is easily accessible by mass transit, and our office in Orland Park serves our clients in the suburbs. Visit us online or contact our firm’s downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 708.349.3888.

Estate Planning

Estate Planning Lawyers Provide Guidance for Handling Gift Tax in Illinois

Advising Illinois residents on estate planning and gift taxes

The ability to gift money or assets to your loved ones and the charitable organizations of your choice may provide you with a source of great pride. But Illinois residents should know about state and federal rules and regulations regarding gifts and gift taxes and how they may play a role in your estate plan. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has the knowledge and experience to assist clients in Chicago and the surrounding area with all aspects of making monetary gifts or gifts of other assets, documenting gift transfers, and preparing related federal and state tax returns.

Understanding estate and gift tax in Illinois

Illinois estate tax guidelines differ from those of the federal government. Here are some key differences of which Illinoisans should be aware:

  • In January 2013, the Illinois estate tax exemption was raised to $4 million. The highest possible tax rate for estates larger than $4 million is 16 percent.
  • The 2013 federal estate tax exemption is $5.25 million, and the top federal tax rate is 40 percent.
  • While Illinois does not levy taxes on lifetime gifts, the federal government does.
  • Federal estate taxes are indexed for inflation, but Illinois estate taxes are not. Federal estate taxes have increased by $250,000 since 2011 because of inflation.
  • The current annual maximum gift that may be transferred by one individual to another is $14,000. For example, each parent may gift a child with $14,000 of personal income, for a total of $28,000 in one year. The child does not have to pay taxes on this gift. However, the parents are required to pay any state and federal taxes on the income before they transfer the money to the child.

Providing guidance in gifting issues

There are many factors that may affect your decision of whether to gift money or other assets to another individual. These may include:

  • Your economic standing or that of the recipient
  • Your health or that of the recipient
  • Your age or that of the recipient
  • Family environment
  • Your emotional health or that of the recipient
  • Capital gains
  • Income tax brackets

We can determine the most beneficial gifting strategy for your circumstances and provide individual and fiduciary taxation advice.

What is a generation-skipping tax?

A generation-skipping transfer may meet one of the following criteria:

  • The transfer of money or other assets to a relative either two or more generations below the transferor, such as from a grandparent to a grandchild
  • The transfer of money or other assets to a non-relative who is at least 37 ½ years younger than the transferor, such as from a godparent to a godchild who is not related by blood

Congress has set a generation-skipping tax exemption of $5.25 million, the same as the federal estate tax exemption. However, any generation-skipping transfers over that amount may incur a 35 percent tax.

The rules and regulations pertaining to the generation-skipping tax are very complicated. Other options may also be available, such as perpetual trusts or dynasty trusts. It is important to obtain the advice of skilled attorneys who are well versed in Illinois state and federal laws regarding estate planning. We want to protect you and your loved ones from being hit with exorbitant gift taxes.

Contact experienced Chicagoland gift tax and estate planning attorneys today

Contact Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. today in Chicago at 312.984.6400, in Orland Park at 708.349.3888 or online to discuss how to effectively manage gift taxes and how transfers can fit into your comprehensive estate plan.

Corporate & Succession Planning

Illinois Lawyers Providing Business Succession Planning in Chicago, IL

Protecting the legacy of your business

If you are a small-business owner or you have a family-owned entity, it is important to create a succession plan for your company. Failure to do so could mean that your retirement, disability or death could be the end of the business you took years to build. At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we focus on developing a creative and effective strategy for handling the transfer. We can help you anticipate the obstacles and difficulties you may encounter, then work to overcome those hurdles with your succession plan.

Succession planning to safeguard your business’s future

Succession planning is the process of strategizing the exit of owners or key employees of a business. It is a comprehensive approach to selecting the leaders to take over and continue the company. All aspects must be taken into account, including:

  • Personal matters
  • Business issues
  • Financial concerns
  • Legal questions
  • Tax matters

We can help you develop a solid plan that gives you the confidence of knowing the future of your business is protected.

Asking the tough questions to protect your entity

Succession planning can be overwhelming to some business owners. It is difficult to know where to begin. We walk you through the process, step-by-step beginning with asking key questions such as:

  • Who will run the business after you?
  • Is your spouse or one of your children qualified to operate the company?
  • Is your family financially dependent on your business?
  • Is your estate protected from creditors, ex-spouses, in-laws, etc.?
  • If your grandchildren were to inherit the business in the future, have you exposed them to the industry?
  • If your successors inherit a healthy business, will it be forced into bankruptcy because of an inability to pay inheritance taxes and other taxes?

We can discuss each of these questions and more to provide your business with a solid succession plan. We also provide help with estate administration and litigation matters.

Explaining the succession planning process

We walk you through each step of succession planning for your business. Below are a few guidelines for succession planning:

  • Getting started. You do not want to wait until something unexpected occurs. Succession planning is not an effective means of crisis management.
  • Focusing on the position. When selecting the replacement person to manage your business, focus on the position being filled, not replacing the person.
  • Ensuring personnel policy compliance. Your succession plan must comply with the most current personnel policies to ensure fairness and equality in your choices.
  • Providing training. The more time you invest in training family members or your employees, the easier the transition will be when you are gone.

Contact an Illinois business succession planning lawyer for an initial consultation

If you are the owner of a business, contact Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. to schedule an appointment to discuss your succession plan. We have two convenient locations. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or our Orland Park office at 708.349.3888. We can also be reached by using the online contact page.


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