Your Business: Legal, Tax, and Estate Resource!

You have concerns — I have solutions

If you have a small or family business, you are in the right place. Every business goes through several stages. I save you money in every stage, by saving legal, tax and estate costs.  This website discusses thousands of ways to save thousands of dollars. So read on. 

I am your legal boutique. I am your mentor. My goal is your success and satisfaction.

  • Are you puzzled as to what form of business to use?  Use my tax and legal expertise.
  • Do you deal with contracts that you cannot understand?  I have negotiated with the best.
  • Are you paying high taxes without knowing why? I am your tax mentor. 
  • Is your family afraid of what will happen if you die? Plan your estate! 

I will not take you as a tax client unless it is worth your while. Tax savings enhance wealth.

I can provide you:

WIN-WIN CONTRACTS: Don’t use form agreements and don’t sign agreements that you don’t understand. I negotiate win-win contracts. They benefit all parties so they last. For more information, see the Business tab or use the Search Box.

THE BEST TAX HELP: Professionally prepared tax returns;  tax planning enhanced with my  personally designed Tax Mastery(c) program. Answers to your tax questions from a TAX LAWYER  based on respected sources like Bloomberg Law; Legal representation against the Internal Revenue Service by a former IRS attorney.

AN ESTATE PLAN that works : You cannot predict when you will need your estate planning documents. God will not warn you. So make sure that you have the best estate plan. I provide you: considerate, personal estate plans, wills, and trusts; Answers to estate questions by an Accreditted Estate Planner. See the Estate Planning and Probate tab or use the Search Box.  Search for “trust” in this website for more information.


  1. Entertaining seminars to inform and entertain your group.
  2. My WealthWISe e-letter: regularly updates you on fast moving laws.
  3. Useful articles: My website and blog provides lots of useful information.
  4. Knowledge, Knowledge, Knowledge that puts you in control.

Find out About Wis and Client Testimonials

CONTACT ME HERE today and try out my services with a FREE 1/2 Hour Consultation 

This Website only presents the  tip of the iceberg. Do not act on it the advice of a tax professional.

Posted in Businesses, Estate Planning & Probate, Individual Tax, Real estate, investing, Representation before the IRS, Speaking, What's New? | Leave a comment

More little known facts about RLT’s-Secret Trusts

You may know that a will is a public document once probated since it is published in the Probate Court files. Some of you may know that your revocable living trust gives you some privacy since it is a private agreement. But I bet that you do not know that you may form a “secret trust” under Tennessee law. What does this mean and why would you want one?

What is a secret trust and how does it work? In Tennessee Code Annotated Sec. 35-15-813 it says that “A trustee shall keep the current income or principal beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed about the trust and its administration.

However, this duty to keep beneficiaries informed does not apply if the terms of the trust provide otherwise or the settlor of the trust, or a trust protector or trust advisor given such the power directs otherwise in a writing delivered to the trustee. Furthermore, the trustee can require a beneficiary eligible to receive such information to keep it confidential.

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Revocable Living Trusts: Top Financial Management

Particularly in this time of Covid, your families cannot afford for you to ignore estate planning. This series in my blog will discuss some of my Linkedin posts and other materials describing less knows features of RLT’s. Pass it on!

A well-drafted RLT package provides you and your family superior financial management. As the Trustee (manager) you manage your affairs as long as you are willing and able. You choose a successor trustee to manage the trust in case you are no longer willing or able to do so, as with disability. When you pass away, your successor trustee can supervise the trust property for family members and others who may not be able to manage it themselves, such as those who are too young or too old. In your RLT agreement, you can specify specific instructions for your trustee to take care of beneficiaries. in almost any way that you can imagine. For example, a recent client had me draft instructions that the trustee distribute assets to his child at ages 22 and 25. He could have triggered it upon a certain level of education or upon marriage or buying a house. My RLT agreement also protects trust property from creditors of the beneficiaries.

If you used a Will to provide the same benefits it works only upon your death and it must be settled through the Probate Court when you pass on. You can give your loved ones proper time to grieve by avoiding the added anxiety, wasted time, and unnecessary fees of a Probate Court administration.

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Contract WISardry


  • Contracts are the keys to profits.
  • Have you ever stressed out over a difficult contract?
  • Have you ever wasted money in a contract dispute?
  • Have you felt beaten negotiating with a larger business with a big law firm?
  • Did you ever discover a law too late?

What do you do?

Hire a lawyer with experience in transactions:

As a small firm lawyer, I listen to you and respond promptly with the answers you need. With my diverse background, I see the big picture. As former Chief Counsel of a national software company, I negotiated hundreds of contracts with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Citibank, and the Federal Reserve Bank. I couldn’t push these giant corporations around. I learned how to negotiate!

For example, I recently helped a software client negotiate a million-dollar-plus licensing agreement with one of the nation’s largest banks. I gradually met each party’s goals and objections, using these techniques! Doesn’t your business deserve this expertise?

See all the services I can provide you in My General Counsel below.

For more information seeTennessee Business Information


In private practice since 1980, I spent six years as Chief Counsel and CFO of Software Earnings, Inc. a national software company. There I negotiated hundreds of contracts with Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Chase and the Federal Reserve Bank. Part of my job was to assure profitable relationships.


One approach I learned was “win-win negotiating,” advocated by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey introduced the idea that both parties can win. To win-win, you must understand what the each side wants and fears.

-Read between the lines of the offered contract to see the other party’s goals
-Listen to what they say and paraphrase it back to them to make sure that you understand them.
-Avoid negativity
-Avoid emotional exchanges

Your efforts to help your “adversary” change him into an ally. Make him want to help you. In this way, both get more out of the contract. You can offer items that mean less to him and more to them. For additional reading, I suggest The One Minute Negotiator, by Don Hudson and George Lucas. Also the Power of Two, by Susan Heitler (Susan also offers online marital counseling at The Power of Marriage)

See also The Nuts and Bolts of Contracts

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FINANCIAL ADVISORS & TAX PREPARERS, make a difference with your clients! You can substantially enhance client wealth with my new one-of-a-kind tax planning application. It allows you to produce a simple, one-page tax plan for your clients.

Unlike typical tax programs, this program allows YOU to select tax-saving comments for each client and calculates the amount of taxes saved by a comment for that client. It is easy and effective. If anyone is interested in testing this application, Contact me. Your clients will love you. #planning #tax preparation.

Posted in BLOG, Businesses, Individual Tax | Leave a comment

Revocable Living Trusts — a true story

I have been talking about the benefits of a revocable living trust plan for your family. The following true story says it all. In a meeting with recent widow, she asked me what she had to do to settle her late husband’s estate. She was worried because she had recently served as Executor of a friend’s estate and put in over 100 hours getting through a Probate Court settlement of that decedent’s will.

She was a business owner and effective manager, so I figured she had followed my instructions to place all of her husband’s property in his trust. She had. So I told her, “You are named as successor trustee of your husband’s trust. You and he had worked together on your finances. So you simply manage assets in the trust, just as you always did before. File your final tax return. Not much else. You do not have to go to Court. Keep paying bills.”

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Did you know your Revocable Living Trust could do this?

Considering the hardships of Covid-19, it should come as no surprise that estate planning is more important than ever. If you do not have an adequate estate plan, your family will likely suffer–financially and emotionally.Your estate plan is primarily for them! If you already have one of my current revocable living trust (RLT) plans, this e-mail will remind you of some of its great advantages.

In addition to the revocable living trust, the RLT package contains a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). If sickness or injury impairs your mental capacity, the DPOA authorizes a person of your choice to legally act on your behalf. Without it, your family might have to go to court so a judge can appoint a conservator to manage your legal affairs. This process is expensive, time-consuming, and potentially embarrassing. My RLT package allows your family to completely avoid a conservatorship, so avoid it!

As an Accredited Estate Planner and Super Lawyer in taxation, I can help you protect yourself and your family. If you don’t know whether an RLT Package is right for you, contact me for a free consultation. If you already have an RLT Package, please share this with your friends.

Harry W. (Wis) Laughlin

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WISdom: What you don’t know revocable living trusts…

While it is easy to get distracted by current events, we mustn’t forget about estate planning. If you already have one of my revocable living trust (RLT) plans, you have taken a vital step in protecting yourself and your loved ones. Consider the following true story with the names changed for privacy purposes.

Not long ago a new client, Jill, came to me for help after her husband, Dave, had recently passed away. Although it was a tragic and emotional situation, she had little time to grieve. There were bills piling up and family disagreements followed closely behind. As is all too common, they hadn’t prepared for this unfortunate situation. Probate Court proceedings were required. Jill was overwhelmed with hours of tasks, paperwork, deadlines, and pricey Probate Court appearances–leading to initial legal fees exceeding $15,000!

If Dave had created a revocable living trust for himself, Jill would’ve been able to avoid Probate and save a substantial amount of money. Dave could have named her as successor Trustee. She would be able to take control without Court interference. My experience allows me to incorporate many features into an RLT that would’ve made Jill’s painful experience MUCH easier.

Don’t entrust your assets to an amateur. As an Accredited Estate Planner and Super Lawyer in taxation, I have the knowledge needed to help you protect yourself and your family.

Contact me for more information.

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What to do on Tax Day and after

If you haven’t filed your tax return, it’s time to get cracking! If you are a small business you will benefit by using an experienced tax professional. As a Super Lawyer in taxation, it is time for me to make sure that my clients get what they need. I provide tax preparation PLUS. Unlike many tax lawyers, I love to work with small businesses. As such, you get personal service and a caring attitude along with the expertise of a former IRS lawyer with years of experience. If you missed me this tax season, you can save taxes for 2020 by learning what I know.

As an Accredited Estate Planner, I don’t drop the ball during tax season or otherwise. Your family will not get advance notice of when they must use your estate planning. I have unusual experience with revocable living trust planning.

You can take advantage of a half-hour free consultation to find out if you will benefit from these services. Do it now, while you can! #tax planning, #estate planning

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MIND YOUR BUSINESS: What Form of business is best?

Many of my clients are small or family businesses. Diane & David Bowling of Commercial Construction and Renovation, LLC , Jackson, TN, said about my tax preparation: Thank you! You truly are a “Super Lawyer.”

New clients often come to me for advice on forming a new business. Some are interested in S corporations since S corporation earnings are not subject to the self-employment tax. There is a lot more to know before you choose an S corporation. I was once in house counsel and CFO of a $15 million dollar + S corporation. S Corporations have pluses and minuses. The rules are complex. They are audit magnets. One of my clients suffered criminal investigation because the IRS did not understand the rules.

The S corporation is an unusual hybrid business entity. It is a corporation under state law. However, for federal tax purposes, the IRS treats it much like a partnership. However, there are key differences between an S corporation and a partnership that confuse the shareholders.

For a corporation to become an S corporation it must file an S corporation election (Form 2353) within two months and 15 days (75 days total) of the date of formation for the election to take effect in the first tax year. The corporation itself is not taxed. Instead, the character and amount of income and deductions pass through to the shareholders. S corporation income is reported on a Form 1120 S and shareholder shares are reported on a K-1 form.

Shareholders’ wages. The IRS has ruled that S corporations must pay shareholders wages for their services, subject to social security and Medicare withholding, which must be matched by the corporation, so it is equivalent to self-employment tax. S corporations not paying wages to owners may draw IRS audits.
One class of stock. Furthermore, S corporations have other complicated rules and can lose their status easily. For example, an S corporation can have only one class of stock. No preferred stock.

Limits on shareholder loss deductions. Generally S corporation’s shareholders cannot deduct losses exceeding the sum of their stock cost plus what they loaned to the corporation. Loans to the corporation from third parties don’t count. Shareholders don’t like to worry about these nuances.

IRS Audits. Shareholders tend to misunderstand some rules and to abuse others. So, the IRS loves to audit S corporations. The IRS is challenging these cases and often wins in the Courts. Furthermore, the IRS does not understand the rules so I have seen them suggest criminal investigation where it was not warranted.

My advice. I have formed and managed several successful S corporations. However, they are not suitable for many taxpayers. I advise getting expert legal advice before making a deci.

Posted in Businesses, What's New? | Leave a comment