Clark, Mize & Linville Named a Tier 1 Law Firm by U.S. News and Best Lawyers®

Nov 09

Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered, is once again pleased to announce that it has been named a Tier 1 law firm, the highest ranking level, for the Salina/Wichita Metropolitan regions in the 2019 Edition of the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” Firms included in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

The firm’s Tier 1 rankings are in the areas of Health Care Law, Trusts & Estates Law and Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants. In addition, the firm received a Tier 2 ranking in the practice areas of Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants, Insurance Law, Non-Profit/Charities Law and Tax Law, and a Tier 3 ranking in Business Organizations (including LLC’s and Partnerships) and Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law.

Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.  The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

Ancillary Administrations

Nov 09

When an out-of-state individual dies owning Kansas real estate, Kansas probate proceedings are necessary to transfer the real estate. Depending on the facts and circumstances involving the assets, beneficiaries, and planning, the necessary probate proceedings may take a number of different forms.

If less than six months have passed since the date of death, then a full administration in Kansas would be necessary.  If, however, a probate administration has already been started in the decedent’s state of residence and more than six months have passed, an expedited ancillary administration in Kansas can be used to transfer the real estate.  Accordingly, if the immediate sale or use of the Kansas property is not required, the most efficient method of transferring it often is waiting six months.

In order to begin this process, an “authenticated” (referred to as “exemplified” in some states) copy of the will and order admitting the will to probate is required.  The next step is the preparation of the petition, order for hearing, and published and actual notice in Kansas.  At the hearing, the Court would enter a journal entry transferring all the Kansas property to the beneficiaries.  Once initiated, this process takes approximately a month and a half.

If the decedent owned additional real estate in other Kansas counties, authenticated pleadings from the first Kansas court would then need to be filed with the courts in the other counties to ensure clear title.  Under the expedited probate process, the title in the properties would vest directly in the beneficiaries.  Therefore, if the beneficiaries wished to sell the properties, they could do so in their own names following the completion of the probate matters.

While these procedures can be used for any Kansas property owned at death by a non-resident, they are most common for the transfer of family farmland and mineral interests. The attorneys at Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered have assisted numerous families and out-of-state attorneys with these probate actions.

Written by:   Joshua C. Howard

Related Practice Area:   Probate and Estate Settlement

Five CML Attorneys Selected as Best Lawyers©

Aug 16

Five Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America©

Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered, 129 S. 8th Street, Salina, is pleased to announce that five of its attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.  Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© is based entirely on peer review and recommendations of lawyers with experience working in the same practice areas as those receiving recognition.

Peter L. Peterson has been included since the publication’s inception in 1983 and currently is listed in the practice areas of Trusts and Estates, Non-Profit/Charities Law, Tax Law, and Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law.  Previously, Mr. Peterson was selected as the 2013 Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year in the Wichita/Salina Area for the practice area of Trusts and Estates.

John W. Mize has been listed since 1995 in the practice area of Health Care Law. Previously, Mr. Mize was selected as the 2018 Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year in the Wichita/Salina Area for the practice area of Health Care Law.

Eric N. Anderson has been listed since 2013 in the practice areas of Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) and Trusts and Estates. Mr. Anderson has also been selected as the 2019 Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year in the Wichita/Salina Area for the practice area of Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships).

Dustin J. Denning has been listed since 2018 in the practice areas of Medical Malpractice – Defendants and Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants.

Peter S. Johnston has been listed since 2016 in the practice areas of Medical Malpractice – Defendants, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, and Insurance Law.

Eric N. Anderson Obtains AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell

Aug 07

Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered, is pleased to announce that Eric N. Anderson has obtained his “AV® Preeminent™” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is its highest rating for lawyers who have obtained a reputation among their peers for exemplary professional expertise, experience, stature, and high ethical standards.

Eric focuses his practice primarily on tax, estate, and business planning for both individuals and businesses.

Goals of Estate Planning

Apr 27

Estate planning is the process of planning for the eventual distribution of assets upon death. Although there are many different reasons to plan an estate, the following general goals are applicable to everyone:

  1. People want to give what they want. They want the flexibility to decide what to give.
  2. People want to give their property to whom they want. They do not like being told that they must include or exclude certain proposed beneficiaries.
  3. People want to distribute their property how they want. They want the freedom to choose the manner in which they make distributions of their property.
  4. People want to distribute their property when they want. They want the flexibility to make decisions for themselves based on the circumstances existing at the time.
  5. People want to accomplish these goals as conveniently as possible and at the lowest possible cost. People generally do not want the asset transfer process to be more difficult than necessary. Nor do they want to pay any more in taxes than is minimally necessary. Thus, the goal is to develop an estate plan that streamlines the transfer process and maximizes the value of property passing to the decedent’s family.

The role of an estate planning attorney is to help the client accomplish their goals. An experienced attorney has various tools at his or her disposal, and an estate can be transferred at death using the following methods:

  1. Last Will and Testament – The benefit of a will is that the testator can direct how he or she would like the assets to be distributed. Within a will, guardians for minor children can be named and language can be included to provide for children until they are old enough to manage assets. Wills, however, require a probate administration for transferring assets.
  2. Joint Tenancy – This type of ownership is one of the most common forms. The benefit of joint tenancy is that assets are transferred automatically to the joint owner upon the first death. However, the assets are then held in the survivor’s name alone and are subject to probate. Also, joint tenancy often does not work well outside of a marriage relationship.
  3. Transfer-on-Death and Beneficiary Designations – These types of designations can be used for various assets, including bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, and real estate. Naming beneficiaries allows for assets to be distributed without the need for probate. Unfortunately, these designations sometimes lack the flexibility that is often necessary in estate plans.
  4. Revocable Living Trusts – Trusts are a time-honored method of avoiding probate. A properly established and funded trust provides all the benefits of avoiding probate and at the same time allows the necessary flexibility to leave assets in the desired manner. For example, trusts can be used to hold assets until children become older and protects assets from the beneficiaries’ creditors.

None of these tools are right in every circumstance. The estate planning attorneys at Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered would welcome the opportunity to discuss your individual circumstances with you to tailor a plan to meet your needs.

Written by:     Joshua C. Howard

Related Practice Area:            Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning

Significant Changes of the 2017 Tax Reform

Mar 15

Major tax reform legislation was signed into law at the end of 2017 and resulted in sweeping changes to the tax code for both individuals and businesses. The legislation impacts not only federal income taxes but also the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes.

Individuals

The tax act implemented seven tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. These brackets also have higher income breakpoints, which are intended to lower the tax assessed. The standard deductions were nearly doubled; however, the law eliminated the $4,050 per person personal exemptions. State and local tax deductions are now capped at $10,000. Given these facts, far fewer taxpayers will be itemizing their mortgage interest, state and local taxes, charitable contributions, and other deductions, instead relying on the standard deduction.

Additional changes include (i) the child tax credit being doubled to $2,000 and made partially refundable; (ii) mortgage interest deductions being limited to $750,000 of new debt; and (iii) home equity loans being deductible only if used to build or improve a home.

Estate Planning

The law doubles the estate, gift, and GST tax exclusion amounts to $10 million (to be adjusted for inflation from a base year of 2010). For 2018, the inflation-adjusted amount will be $11.2 million. Effective as of December 31, 2025, the increased exclusion amounts will sunset, returning to a $5 million inflation-adjusted amount.

Businesses

Businesses should be aware of the provisions that have changed and plan now for how they affect the business moving forward. The corporate rate cuts are significant as the 2017 tax act provides for a 21% flat C corporation tax rate. In addition, no special tax rate is applicable to personal service corporations.

Businesses conducted as sole proprietorships, partnerships, or S corporations are subject to a special deduction under the 2017 legislation, generally equal to 20% of the qualified business income received by the individual from a pass-through business. Congress, however, placed income limits and conditions that affect the receipt of the deduction in certain circumstances.

The tax changes under the new law are far reaching and stretch beyond the coverage in this article. Please contact the attorneys at Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered to schedule a convenient time to discuss your planning if you believe that the tax laws changes might impact you, your family, or your business.

Written by:      Joshua C. Howard

Related Practice Area:

Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning

Probate and Estate Settlement

Business Formation and Governance

Defense Verdict Obtained in Bowel Perforation Case

Mar 11

Dustin J. Denning and Jacob E. Peterson successfully defended our client, an obstetrician/gynecologist (OBGYN), in a medical malpractice jury trial in which the plaintiff alleged that our client was negligent when performing a laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy (“LAVH”) during which her small bowel was perforated through and through with a 5 mm optical trocar. The perforation occurred during the initial introduction of the optical trocar into the abdomen, but was not observed intraoperatively during the nearly 2-hour surgery. As compared to traditional trocars that involve the “blind” insertion of a Veress needle and bladed trocar, the plaintiff argued that the optical method is arguably a safer method of obtaining access into the abdominal cavity because the surgeon should be able to visualize each layer of tissue as the tip of the trocar is advanced into the abdominal cavity. The plaintiff alleged at trial that our client deviated from the standard of care in failing to recognize the bowel perforation at the time it occurred and failing to recognize it during the surgery prior to closing up plaintiff.

The plaintiff began showing signs consistent with a post-operative ileus the day after surgery (Post-Op Day 1), and her condition continued to worsen until she was returned to the operating room the morning of Post-Op Day 2 for exploratory surgery that revealed the through and through small bowel perforation. The plaintiff developed sepsis and other significant complications following the second surgery but recovered and was discharged from the hospital 35 days later. The plaintiff sought approximately $870,000 at trial.

We defended the case by showing that while our client preferred the optical port because he felt it was a safer alternative to the “blind” approach, the optical port is still not without risks, including injury to the bowel, and that such a complication occurred absent negligence on the part of our client. We demonstrated that the layers of tissue through which the optical trocar passes can be distorted for various reasons, including the patient’s body habitus, and that failing to observe the perforation intraoperatively is not a deviation from the standard of care. Medical literature suggests that perforations go unrecognized at the time of surgery in 30-50% of all cases.

After a four-day jury trial, a Riley County, Kansas, jury agreed and returned a verdict in favor of our client after deliberating about 45 minutes.

Defense Verdict Obtained in Surgery Case

Jan 25

Dustin J. Denning and Jacob E. Peterson successfully defended our client, a general surgeon, in a medical malpractice jury trial in which the plaintiff alleged that the surgeon was negligent when performing a colostomy takedown with primary anastomosis. This procedure is designed to reconnect the rectum to the descending colon so that the patient no longer has a colostomy bag. The plaintiff alleged that the surgeon deviated from the standard of care by stapling the posterior vaginal wall when forming the anastomosis. She alleged that the stapling error caused her to develop rectovaginal fistulas, which is a communication, or opening, between the rectum and vaginal canal, that allowed the passage of stool and gas through the vagina. The plaintiff had to undergo additional surgeries to repair the fistulas. She sought $500,000 at trial.

We defended the case by showing that the patient developed a leak of her anastomosis, which is a known surgical complication that occurs in about 5% of all anastomotic procedures. The leak led to the development of an abscess, which then led to the development of the fistulas, through no fault on the part of the surgeon. We demonstrated to the jury that the surgeon would have had a clear view of the rectal stump that was being stapled to the descending colon using the EEA stapler double-stapling technique. Reinforcing sutures were applied as well, which gave the surgeon a second opportunity to observe the connection and reassure himself that he did not incorporate the posterior vaginal wall when creating the anastomosis.

After a five day jury trial, a Dickinson County, Kansas, jury returned a verdict in favor of our client after deliberating about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Clark, Mize & Linville Named a Tier 1 Law Firm by U.S. News and Best Lawyers®

Nov 01

Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered, is again pleased to announce that it has been named a Tier 1 law firm, the highest ranking level, for the Salina/Wichita Metropolitan regions in the 2018 Edition of the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” Firms included in the 2018 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

The firm’s Tier 1 rankings are in the areas of Health Care Law and Trusts & Estates Law. In addition, the firm received a Tier 2 ranking in the practice areas of Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants, Insurance Law, Non-Profit/Charities Law and Tax Law, and a Tier 3 ranking in Business Organizations (including LLC’s and Partnerships), Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law and Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants.

Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.  The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

How Do You Pay for Long-Term Care?

Sep 28

We are all likely to need some type of long-term care services during our lifetimes. With proper planning, the lawyers at Clark, Mize & Linville, Chartered, in Salina, Kansas, can help you utilize strategies such as irrevocable trusts, gifting, converting countable assets into exempt assets, permissible spend downs, and purchasing annuities to posture your assets in a way that protects them from nursing home costs.

“Long-term care” refers to medical and social services designed to support the needs of people living with a prolonged illness, disability, or cognitive impairment that affects their ability to live independently and perform everyday activities. Furthermore, traditional long-term care services include medical treatment, social services, and housing.

The costs of long-term care are staggering, and the number of elders needing long-term care is on the rise. By 2050, the number of individuals using long-term care services will likely double. Estimated from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million people. The average cost of nursing home care in Kansas is $165 per day. Not all individuals can afford to pay their long-term care costs for prolonged periods of time. Privately paying for your care requires spending your assets, such as savings and retirement, to pay the nursing home or in-home caregiver each month. At the rate of $60,225 per year, your assets can be quickly depleted.

 

What options are available to help pay for long-term care costs?

Medicare:

Firstly, most seniors have Medicare as their primary payer of health care costs, but Medicare does not pay for prolonged stays in a nursing home. At a maximum, and only after verifying strict requirements, Medicare may pay up to 100 days in a nursing home.

Insurance:

In addition, another possible payment source is long-term care insurance. There are many insurance products available, including hybrid life insurance policies with a long-term care rider. Unlike traditional long-term care policies where if you do not use the policy you lose the benefit, hybrid policies guarantee a death benefit if you do not use the long-term care feature during your life. It is important to evaluate long-term care insurance early, and it usually isn’t an option for those facing an immediate health crisis.

Medicaid:

The last payment option is Medicaid, which is the most significant source of financial assistance for eligible recipients. However, Medicaid has complicated income and asset rules that make qualification difficult. Currently, an individual can have only $2,000 of “countable” assets to qualify for Medicaid in Kansas.

Written by: Jessica L. Stoppel

Related Practice Area: Elder Law