Employing Solutions-Focused Process in Our Law Firm
Planning for the Ones You Love
Our process begins with a Family Wealth Planning Session. Before the Session you will complete homework that will have you feeling more organized and put together than you have in a long time. Maybe ever.
During the Session, we will look at what would happen to all of what you have and everyone you love, if anything were to happen to you.
Then, we’ll determine a plan together to make sure everything goes the way you want it to so you are always in control. And so your family always knows just how much you care.
Should we decide there are things we can do to take care of your family better than they are taken care of now, we will present you with planning options that allow you to decide on your fee and the level of service that is right for you and your family.
Three Levels of Planning
Estate planning at VMGokea Law is not one size fits all for everyone. We offer three levels of planning to suit your varying needs.
Our firm believes in personalized service for each and every client. Our approach is educational and proactive – we first determine each client’s individual needs, desires and values, and then tailor their plan to best fulfill their dreams.
We represent a families throughout varying stages of life:
- traditional two parent families or single parents wishing to provide for and protect their children and themselves;
- unmarried couples who are either solidifying their relationship through proper planning or dissolving their relationship with the assistance of caring counsel,
- blended families negotiating the challenges of creating new relationships with varying expectations
- high net worth families seeking strategies for minimizing estate and income taxes
- family business owners seeking ways to protect and expand their companies and considering how and when to transition to the next generation of ownership
- estate executors and beneficiaries navigating the court process of probate administration
- family members or trustees carrying out the legacy left behind through a trust administration
With each of our estate plans we include a no-charge 3 year review to ensure that as our clients’ lives change, so does their estate plan and ensure that all our clients’ assets are held properly for maximum protection. And, we have annual membership programs for clients that desire even more service. Whether you participate in one of our membership programs or not, we keep all of our clients updated about changes in the law and issues that might affect their lives.
In addition, we advise clients regarding relationship nuptial agreements, perform reviews of existing plans that may be out of date, and handle all aspects of administration after the death of a loved one. And, we keep our clients corporate records up to date so that they have the maximum protection from personal liability that a corporation can provide.
Our clients benefit from the care we offer the whole family from free estate checkups to basic planning documents for young adult children; become part of our client family and feel how much we care.
Your Family Lawyer For Life
Our Family Wealth VIP Membership programs are part of what set us apart and allow us to care for you and your family throughout all life’s stages.
At most estate planning law firms the relationship ends when you sign your documents. At VMGokea Law we see the signing of your estate planning documents as just the beginning of our relationship with your family.
Over time, your assets will change, your family will change, the law will change and your life will change.
Your plan must accommodate all of these changes in order to make sure your plan works when your family needs it the most. If your plan is not properly updated over time, your documents become worthless – worth no more than the paper they were printed on. And the costs of failing to update are typically far greater than keeping your plan current.
In addition, we ensure your assets are owned in the right way throughout your lifetime. There are currently billions of dollars sitting in State Unclaimed Property depots and we never want to see a penny of your assets there. Or for your family to be stuck dealing with the Court when you’ve worked so diligently to make things as easy as possible. That’s why we prepare a Family Wealth Inventory of your assets and keep it up to date year in and year out. So your loved ones can always locate what you own and how you own it, if and when necessary.
With each of our estate plans we include a no-charge three-year review to ensure that as your life changes, so does your estate plan and to confirm your assets are held properly for maximum protection.
Some of the Benefits Provided Under Our Membership Plans include:
- Annual Plan Review with Unlimited Plan Amendments;
- Annual Priceless Conversation to transition your most important and most frequently lost family wealth- who you are and what’s most important to you;
- Annual Membership in service which provides 24-7 on-line access to health care and guardianship documents;
- Substantial discount on our fees for advising your loved ones after you’re gone;
- Annual review of your assets and update of your asset spreadsheet;
- And much more, including valuable membership enrollment bonuses.
For more information about our unique membership programs, please contact us.
Planning For Your Children
Having a Will Alone Simply Does Not Ensure the Care of Your Kids If the Unthinkable Happens to You!
If you are a parent of minor children (or those with special needs) who are counting on you, your estate plan must begin with ensuring your children would always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what happens.
At VMGokea Law one of our areas of greatest expertise is in planning for the well-being and care of the children you love.
Without advance legal planning for the care of your children, if the unthinkable happens to you, here’s what could happen:
- Your children could be placed into the care of Child Protective Services (yes, even if you have a will in place and even if you have a living trust) and, yes, it would very likely only be temporary, but trust me, you never want your children in the arms of strangers. Not even for a minute;
- Your children could be put into the custody and care of someone you would never want, like that one family member who has good intentions, but you’d never want raising your kids;
- A judge who doesn’t know you, or your family, will decide who will raise your kids, even if it’s the last person you would ever want;
- Your family could get into a long, drawn out custody fight or there could be a challenge to the guardians you have designated;
- Up to 5% of the value of your assets could be lost to court costs and other unnecessary fees through the probate process, a court process that can tie up your assets for years and deprive your kids of the resources they need to live comfortably, which can totally be avoided with advance legal planning;
- When your kids turn 18, they get a check for whatever assets are left;
- There are unscrupulous people out there who make it their business to look at the public records to find out when 18 year olds are getting that inheritance check;
- The vast majority of estate planning attorneys do not address these issues, and do not plan from a parents perspective.
Yes, these things scare us too. That’s why we offer Special Planning for families with minor children nominating temporary and permanent guardians to make sure your children will never be in the care of strangers.
More Than Just Your Money: Leaving a Real Legacy – Who You Are & What’s Important to You
How We Guide You to Leaving a Real Legacy That’s About Much More Than Just Your Money
After you are gone, your loved ones will miss you deeply. They will long for your words of counsel and concern. Hearing your voice again would be a tremendous gift.
Through our unique legacy process, you can give your loved ones the most precious gift – a lasting expression of your love. What could be more valuable?
At VMGokea Law we believe estate planning is not just about transferring your financial assets and personal belongings. It’s also about capturing and transferring your valuable intangible gifts: who you are and what’s important to you – your values, insights, stories and experience.
Before my grandmother died, we began to make video recordings with her. Those recordings of her speaking and singing – she loved to sing – are the most valuable part of her legacy that she left for us.
When I was first in practice, I would tell my clients to record a message for their loved ones and put it in a safe place or simply write notes to their children letting them know how they felt about them. But so few people ever actually did it. We just get so caught up with the day to day of our lives that focusing in on leaving a legacy seems to take a back seat.
So we realized we’d have to build this into our planning process and not make it just another thing you’ll get done someday. That’s why at VMGokea Law we make it part of our planning for every client to help you capture and pass on more than just your money: your intellectual, spiritual and human assets, who you are and what’s important to you.
For more information about how we help you pass on your most valuable assets – your values, insights, stories and experience – to your loved ones, or about our resources for leaving your family with a true legacy, please contact us.
WHAT WOULD IT BE WORTH?
Can you picture someone who’s passed away, someone you love and miss deeply? Can you recall a conversation you had with them? Can you remember the sound of their voice and what they told you?
What if you could hear their voice again?
What if they could speak to you—heart to heart—and share their wisdom and advice? What would it be worth to you to hear their words one more time?
What is it worth to you to know that they’ll always know exactly how much you love them? It’s worth a lot to us and we are honored to be able to provide you and your family with this gift.
Planning for the Business You Love
We plan for your business far differently than other lawyers and law firms.
Business guidance begins with either a LIFT Start-Up Session (if you are not quite off the ground yet) or a LIFT Audit to review the legal, insurance, financial and tax systems in your business (if you are already in operation).
We are the holistic business advisors you have been looking for, not just putting in place legal documents or acting reactively, but instead giving you the peace of mind of knowing you have not only set your business up right from the get go, but that your business systems continue to keep up with your growth trajectory.
We focus on the details so you can maintain your high level, creative focus on growing the company and serving the right clients and customers.
It’s taken guts, savvy and sheer determination, but you’ve done it: You’ve made your business a success. You’ve weathered the market swings, outshone the competition, and kept your customers more than satisfied. Your achievements have enabled you to take care of and protect your family. So what happens if you get hit by that proverbial bus?
According to a recent national survey, 25 percent of family business shareholders who are entering their senior years haven’t completed any estate or succession planning other than writing a will. But succession planning for a business owner involves more than just deciding how your assets will be divided after you die.
At its most basic, a succession plan is a documented road map for partners, heirs and successors to follow in the event of your death, disability or retirement. This plan can include a program for distribution of business stock and other assets, debt retirement schedules, life insurance policies, buy-sell agreements between partners and heirs, division of responsibilities among successors, and any other elements that affect your business assets. The plan may also establish the value of your business.
So where do you start? In the succession planning process, you must first clearly establish your goals and objectives, as well as your company’s current human and financial resources. How much control of the business do you want to maintain? Is there someone capable of running the business once you step down? Are there key employees who must be retained? Are there sufficient assets to pay the estate tax, equalize the estate and keep the business? How much money do you need to reach your financial goals? And don’t forget: While clarifying your goals and wishes is important, it’s not enough. You also need to communicate your vision with your family, business partners and key employees.
Entity Formation & Maintenance
Forming your business entity at VMGokea Law is not one size fits all and is never handled in a vacuum. If you wanted once size fits all, you could use a document drafting service or online legal document website.
Before we form your entity, we get to know you, what’s important to you, what your business is going to do in the world and how you plan to exit it. We ask you questions that will inform the tax structure of your entity, how you own the entity and what happens to your business entity when you pass on (or you pass the company on to an new owner).
We ask you the questions so you do not worry that you don’t know the right questions to ask. And then we discuss your options with you in a way that allows you to know you are making informed decisions about:
- Where to form your entity (Nevada, Delaware, Wyoming or your own home state are all options);
- What type of entity to form (LLC, S-Corporation, LLC taxed as an S-Corporation, Partnership, or C-Corporation are the most likely options we will consider);
- How to set up your bank accounts, what type of insurance to get, which agreements you need immediately (and which can wait), which intellectual property to protect (and whether to own it in a separate entity from your operating assets), how much and what type of insurance you need, how to work with your CPA for max tax savings and more.
We see the formation of your business entity as just the beginning of a long-term relationship in which we are able to become the trusted counselor you turn to for help with all of your business decisions.
Think about it this way – Warren Buffett doesn’t just turn to Charlie Munger (his personal business lawyer) for help incorporating his business entities, he turns to Charlie before entering into any business deal that will impact the bottom line. That’s the type of relationship we have with our clients.
We don’t really like the word compliance because it seems to suggest that we are going to restrict you in some way — but, it’s just the opposite…
Through our regular updating programs, we take care of all the little details,
so you can stay creative and expansive.
At most business planning law firms the relationship ends when you sign your incorporation documents. At VMGokea Law we see the signing of your incorporation documents as the beginning of our relationship with your business.
Over time, your business will change and grow; your ownership structure may change; we know for sure that the law will change. Your business documents must accommodate all of these changes in order to make sure your business is on track for growth and continued success.
If your business does not have annual meetings, maintain meeting minutes, have agreements, and is not properly updated and maintained over time, your legal documents become worthless – – worth no more than the paper they were printed on.
And the costs of failing to update your legal documents regularly are typically far greater than keeping everything current.
To help you make sure your entity is maintained properly, we offer entity formation planning and maintenance programs.
Our membership programs are designed so we can proactively monitor the activities of your business on a monthly, quarterly or bi-annual basis. By doing this, we can stay on top of your business’ legal, insurance, financial and tax details so you can relax and be more creative, more expansive and live more into the possibilities for your business knowing everything else is handled.
For more information about our unique programs, please contact us.
Hiring & Firing
Hiring and firing team members is the single most expensive part of your business, bar none. And most entrepreneurs simply have no idea how to go about it, not just from a legal perspective, but from a how to run your business perspective.
We can help you hire right, train smart and fire when necessary so that you keep as much time and money in your business as possible.
You’ve heard the saying, “hire slow and fire fast”, right? Well that makes a whole lot of sense when you have the right legal processes for hiring and firing in place. If you don’t, well this can be a sticky, tricky area. In fact, hiring and firing could very well be the biggest risk area in your business.
What are some of the risks?
Well there’s a whole lot you need to know about when it comes to how you hire – what you can say and not say, what you can ask and must never ask, how to set up payroll, designate team members as independent contractors or employees, and of course, how to fire.
Hiring and firing team members is your greatest area of risk in your business. We mitigate that risk.
For a review of your employee handbook, contact us for a LIFT Foundation Audit and we’ll review your handbook while we’re at it. Contact us at 646-820-1180 or use our Contact form.
Insurance Says I Love You — Really!
Yep, you read that right – insurance really does say I love you. You have insurance because you love your family, your partners, your clients, and ultimately yourself. Let me explain.
When you have the right type and amount of insurance, you can relax knowing that whatever comes up, is handled.
As a business owner, you need to consider general business insurance, professional liability insurance, employment practices insurance, special events insurance, and more. You also need to consider personal lines of insurance, such as insurance to care for your home, your vehicles, your income, and most importantly to insure your life, to care for your family and partner should anything happen to you.
It can be very easy to be persuaded to buy too much insurance or the wrong kind of insurance by high pressure insurance sales people who get paid big commissions or conversely to not get enough or overlook an important type of insurance because the insurance professional you are working with is more of an order taker than a consultant or advisor.
We will support you to get just the right amount and type of insurance in place by recommending an trusted insurance advisor if you do not already have one, reviewing what you already do have in place, and being the trusted counselor you can turn to for an objective, third party review of your coverage – we do not get paid a commission on your insurance, so you can trust our unbiased guidance.
During our LIFT Foundation Audit, we will review your insurance and either confirm you are set up right with the right amounts and types of insurance, or make recommendations if there are holes.
During our LIFT Start-Up Session, we will discuss insurance so you know what you need and who to contact to get it all set it up right.
Making Agreements & Sealing Deals
Incorporating your business entity is just the very beginning – we help your business grow!
You probably haven’t thought of your business like this, but really it’s just a series of agreements. Agreements with investors or lenders, clients and vendors, employees and independent contractors, partners and customers; the success of your business depends on your ability to make agreements and seal the deal.
This is where most business owners struggle mightily and we can help. We love to create clear agreements, help you set boundaries and manage expectations. We know that the future of your business hinges on it. That’s why we won’t simply incorporate your business and send you on your way. Nope, every engagement with us begins with either a review of your current agreements or, if you don’t have any, the creation of the core agreements that are vital to your business.
Then, we will proactively monitor your business activities to ensure we are helping you seal the deal on an ongoing basis. Plus, provide you with template agreements you can use to handle recurring agreements that come up consistently, such as those with your clients.
We use an innovative agreement process that gets all parties on the same page and leads only to triple win situations – that means that an agreement has to be a win for you, the other party and the situation as a whole. If it’s not, no deal.
You see, we understand that it’s your upfront agreements (and your/our ability to renegotiate those agreements) that will keep you in the flow of business and out of the crunch of conflict.
If you have undocumented agreements (or no agreements at all), consider asking us to conduct a LIFT Foundation Audit and support you to take your business to the next level with the agreements your work deserves. During the LIFT Foundation Audit we will review your existing contracts as well.
When it comes to money, most business owners are dealing with it one of two ways – you either micro- manage your books and use your financial reports as a crystal ball that allows you to predict the future OR you manage your financials by going to the ATM and checking your balance.
How do you handle money in your business? Do you have a strong relationship with your CPA, bookkeeping team, your controller?
Do you have multiple entities and is the cash flowing between those entities properly?
Need financing for your business? Properly tracking loans you’ve made to the business? Capital contributions? Has the business loaned you money? Each of these situations has legal and tax impact that we help you navigate.
These are the money matters we help you with.
Tax Strategy Saves You Big Bucks
When your tax situation is structured right, you could be paying less than 10% of your income in taxes. Yes, less than 10%. Or, you could pay as much as 50% of your income in taxes.
Strategic planning makes the difference.
While we are not tax advisors, this is another one of those things we will support you with by ensuring you are meeting regularly with your CPA (and even meet with your CPA with you on our higher level Business Growth Membership programs), that you understand the tax strategies that are being recommended and you are able to make decisions about sometimes complex issues.
You can look to us to make saving money on taxes easy to understand and, most importantly, easy to take action on.
Your Ideas Are Valuable – Intellectual Property Into Profits
Like most business owners, I imagine you are frequently coming up with new ideas for product lines, businesses, programs and services. But, how do you know what to move forward with, what goes in the someday maybe pile and what should be acted upon immediately?
Having a trusted, objective advisor to run those questions by is a great idea. But who can you trust to give you unbiased, smart, thoughtful guidance? Us.
In fact, running your visionary plans by your business lawyer is the very best thing you could do – Warren Buffet’s no dummy and he runs every deal by his personal business lawyer, Charlie Munger, before saying yes to a new possibility. You see, as your personal business lawyer, I can help you make the decision about whether to move forward with a potential deal or new revenue stream within the context of your overall business objectives PLUS I can ensure that any new deal is properly documented and your intellectual property is protected.
From trademarks, to copyrights, and protection of your branding, systems, and processes, I will help you determine what really is protection-worthy with a full out registration with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (or other international jurisdictions) and what can benefit from a simple, easy and free stake of your claim.
When you participate in one of our Business Growth Membership Programs, I will regularly connect with you to discover any new websites you have registered, new ideas you have had crop up, or new content you have created so I can ensure it’s all been protected to the maximum that makes sense and your ideas are safe and sound so you can make the most of them in the world.
Plus, if and when one of your trademarks or copyrights are infringed upon (meaning someone else out there is using something you have staked a claim to), I’ll make contact on your behalf, not in a traditional crabby lawyer way, but in such a way that it opens up a dialogue and even the possibility for future collaboration.
That’s because I’m all about helping you do business in a new paradigm way that focuses a lot more on collaboration than competition while still allowing you to set clear boundaries and stake your claim to your brilliant ideas.