Monthly Archives: May 2015

Can Your Estate Plan Become More Effective if You Use an Holistic Approach Unique to Your Own Family’s Goals?

Estate Planning is hard for many reasons—from discomfort with death to difficult family dynamics. It is made harder by complicated tax laws and documents. Too often, in estate planning, the focus is solely on tax planning without considering the impact of the planning upon the family or incentivizing the type of behavior that is desired to act as an extension of the client’s system of values.

We try to make estate planning easier and more effective through a holistic approach, which entails sophisticated tax planning tailored to a client’s objectives for his or her family. To learn more, review these materials from our recent presentation at The World MoneyShow Orlando© conference:

View Presentation Here

Ric Gregoria

Rose-Anne B. Frano

Applicable Federal Rates for June 2015

The Internal Revenue Code prescribes minimum imputed interest rates and time-value-of-money factors applicable to certain loan transactions and estate planning techniques. These rates are tied formulaically to market interest rates. The Internal Revenue Service updates these rates monthly.

These are commonly applicable rates in effect for June 2015:

Short Term AFR (Loans with Terms <= 3 Years)                                          0.43%

Mid Term AFR (Loans with Terms > 3 Years and <= 9 Years)                     1.60%

Long Term AFR (Loans with Terms >9 Years)                                              2.50%

7520 Rate (Used in many estate planning vehicles)                                     2.0%

Here is a link to the complete list of rates:

E. John Wagner, II

Protecting Your Company’s Brand through Trademarks

Protecting your company’s trademarks is important to grow your brand and prevent other companies from trading off your hard-earned goodwill. Below are a few things to keep in mind when creating and protecting trademarks:

Choosing a Trademark

There are a number considerations when choosing your company’s trademark. Among other things, you should:

  • make sure that your mark will not infringe on an existing mark. Your trademark could infringe another trademark because it is spelled the same, looks the same, or even sounds the same.
  • consider choosing a more “distinctive” mark to receive a higher level of protection.
  • make sure that the domain name is available for purchase. Even if the trademark has not been registered, the domain name may be in use by another company.


The best trademark protection comes from registering the mark. Where you register will depend on where the trademark is used.

  • If the trademark is used for goods sent across state lines or services that affect interstate commerce, a federally registered trademark would provide the most complete protection.
  • If the trademark will only be used within one state, state trademark registration may be a simpler (and cheaper) alternative to consider.

Keep in mind that just because your company is registered with your state’s Secretary of State or because you have registered a fictitious name does not mean your trademark is automatically registered.


Once a trademark application has been filed and the registration has been received, you must have a plan in place to police your brand to make sure that others are not infringing it. If someone is infringing your trademark, this could lead to a loss of business or could affect your company’s reputation and its ability to fully protect its trademark.


As your company evolves, so must your trademarks. As you create new products and services or expand the area of your business, you may want to create new trademarks or file existing trademarks in new jurisdictions.

These are just a handful of items to keep in mind for creating and protecting your company’s trademarks. Other forms of intellectual property protection for your company may also be available through copyright and trade secret protection. For more information on using intellectual property law to protect your brand, please give us a call or email.

Elizabeth M. Stamoulis
Admitted only in New York

Tax Court Holds that Good Faith Reliance on Long-Time Attorney (Not a Tax Expert) is Sufficient to Establish Reasonable Cause and Avoid Penalties

In CNT Investors, LLC v. Commissioner, 114 T.C. No. 11 (2015), the Tax Court recently held that a retired mortician reasonably relied on the advice of his long-time corporate and estate planning attorney in participating in a Son-of-BOSS tax shelter transaction to divest real estate holdings. Although the court ruled that the transaction was a sham, it declined to impose valuation misstatement penalties due to the taxpayer acting with reasonable cause by relying on his “go-to attorney and trusted counselor.” The three-prong test for determining whether a taxpayer acted with reasonable cause, and thus avoid penalties, is: (1) the adviser was a competent professional who had sufficient expertise to justify reliance, (2) the taxpayer provided necessary and accurate information to the adviser, and (3) the taxpayer actually relied in good faith on the adviser’s judgment. The most interesting part of this case is that the court held that under the first prong the question is not whether the adviser is a tax expert and has sufficient tax expertise from the perspective of the IRS or other tax experts, but instead whether the adviser would appear to be a competent professional with sufficient expertise from the taxpayer’s layperson perspective. In this case, the court found that the taxpayer justifiably viewed his long-time corporate and estate planning attorney of 20 years as competent and with sufficient expertise, even though the attorney was not a tax expert.

A copy of the opinion can be found here:

Michael J. Wilson