06 February 2014


In most, if not all, states attorneys must take a certain number of hours of continuing legal education classes every so often to keep their licenses current. In Colorado, the requirement is 45 hours every three years, including seven hours of legal ethics every three years.

Last fall, I flew out to a television studio to record my lectures for a continuing legal education class that was then broadcast over the web to students all across the nation (and in theory, the world) about a month later, at which point I made myself available to answer students questions on a live basis.

On April 23, 2014, this will be the first of the dozens of continuing legal education classes I've taught and conference papers that I've presented to enter the "rerun" cycle, and I'll make myself available a second time for Q&A.

The class is: Use of LLCs in Asset Protection and Estate Planning.

The CLE provider is the National Business Institute (800-931-3140), and the class will be offered in a video webcast format. If you are an attorney, you can register to watch the 7 hour presentation and receive the associated course outline for $339.[1]

My co-presenter is the charming and highly intelligent Shayna W. Borakove of Wisconsin. The topics that I cover in the talk are:

Estate Planning Advantages of an LLC
* Lack of Marketability Discounts
* Income Earned out of the Estate
* IRC Section 2036 - Retained Enjoyment in Life Estates

Transfer of Interest
* Buy-Sell Agreements, Options, and Similar Arrangements
* Planning and Executing a Gradual Transfer

Using LLCs and Trusts Together
* Choosing the Type of Trust to Use
* Protecting Pension Plans
* Protecting and Transferring Real Estate
* Case Examples of Using LLC and Trust in Combination
* Administration Costs

Tax Planning and Reporting
* Asset Freezing Techniques - Preserving the Low Value of the Business Assets
* Avoiding Step-Up in Basis
* What to Do about the New Federal Tax Law
* Income and Gift Tax Hurdles
* Preventing Challenges by IRS with Regard to Valuation Discounts and Disclaimers

Legal Ethics
* Who Is Your Client?
* Preventing Fraudulent Transfers
* Attorney Fees
* Attorney Fiduciary Liability

My co-presenter discusses "Initial Client Considerations", "Structuring and Funding the LLC," and "Asset Protection with LLCs," although, in many of the sections there is a fair amount of back and forth discussion between us. (For what it is worth, it is much harder to give one of these talks to a camera in a studio without an audience, as we did, than to do a presentation before a live audience, since you don't get real time feedback as you look them in the eyes so that you can see if they are getting it.)

Thanks to the able assistance of my assistants, this presentation also includes some of the most awesome and entertaining power point presentations that I have ever used in any class or presentation.

You will laugh, you will cry, it's better than Cats (and more expensive to watch)!


[1] Consider that price.

Instead of watching three first run movies in 3D at the local multiplex for $14 each and buying a trade non-fiction paperback by a best selling author for another $20 (total $62), hundreds of highly intelligent adults have chosen watch Shayna and I, and to read our course pack, for about five times this cost, even though I will freely admit that I am not nearly as good looking as your average movie star (Shayna probably comes out better in that department, so our viewers aren't getting a total loss), and not nearly as funny as the screenwriter for a typical big screen comedy.

Clearly, we are pretty awesome and our reputations precede us.

Alas, despite the much higher ticket charge, I assure you that I am not making anything approaching what Hollywood movies stars do for their performances, despite the fact that I have far more screen time and far more lines than they do. The pervasively unionized environment of the Hollywood movie industry has its privileges.

To earn even Hollywood character actor class paychecks as a lawyer, you need a better paying performance situation - the kind where your audience is a judge and a jury, or perhaps a boardroom.

What's the moral of this story?

Remember folks: Law is theater for ugly people, except it pays more consistently.  My current assistant, Alex, has learned this lesson.  He's spending today taking the LSATs (the standardized tests you need to do well on to get into law school).  Good luck Alex!

Seriously though, the price of a presentation like this does make a certain amount of sense. Watching us teaches you skills that allow your clients to reduce their tax bills by hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars.  For implementing these techniques, the lawyers watching the program, in turn, will receive handsome fees and be allowed to keep their licenses which are indispensable for their livelihood, current.

Essentially, the pricing reflects a return on investment pricing model (and the fact that the economies of scale aren't nearly so good when you have an audience of hundreds, instead of tens of millions, of students).  This deal is really better than most classes of this kind.  A class like this one pays for itself for the student even if that student does only a single transaction that requires this knowledge base.  And, unlike ordinary "get rich quick" seminars, I have no interest in offering my students false hopes that will screw them up down the road in order to pack my audiences in for my huge commissions.

Also, the malpractice lawsuit liability to a lawyer for screwing up a transaction like the ones we are discussing could easily run into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars as well. Indeed, ethical mistakes in transactions like this could even cost a lawyer his license or result in criminal charges.  This is another huge value added feature of watching this presentation.

So, really, the class is well worth the price, even though I'm no Brad Pitt.

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