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Michael L. Graham

CEO & Co-Author of Wealth Transfer Planning™

Picture: Michael L. Graham

Michael L. Graham

Michael L. Graham is CEO of InterActive Legal and President of Dallas based Graham Law Firm, P.C.

I believe the work we are doing at InterActive Legal will last beyond my lifetime. Steve Jobs is quoted as saying that he wanted to "make a dent in the universe." While InterActive Legal may not be Apple (yet), I understand Jobs' desire to make a lasting impact.

We are at the threshold of massive change in almost every aspect of the practice of law. Technology, artificial intelligence, big data, and intelligence assistance are our daily fare. We understand our client's need for a flexible, intuitive platform with absolute excellence in function and design. Our partnership with IBM Watson, and our development of an IBM Watson application for seniors, gives us a unique perspective on the future of the practice of law and it is thrilling.

Our commitment is to serve and is evident in everything we do. From personalized online training to specialized CLE to annual symposiums with blockbuster lineups, we serve those who serve. This commitment was established by our founder, Jonathan Blattmachr, and continues today at each and every level of our company.

Now I would like to add a bit of provenance to this biography. I have been continuously Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for 40 years. At the tender age of 30, I became a full partner in one of the largest, most respected law firms in the US, Baker & Botts. I was honored by the invitation to become a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel at age 34, and later to have been chosen to be an Academician of the International Academy of Trust and Estate Lawyers. I strongly believe that every lawyer must give back to the practice of law. I have served as Chair of the Texas Bar Association's Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, the Houston Bar Association's Probate Section, and the Dallas Bar Association's Probate Section. Other professional contributions include Supervisory Council Member of the American Bar Association's Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section and President of the Texas Academy of Probate and Trust Lawyers.

It is my personal mission to provide excellence in the practice of law and best practices for other attorneys. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work at and achieve these goals through my practice at Graham Law Firm and at InterActive Legal. This calling, involving my personal practice of faith through the recognition, respect, and love of others, is my heritage and passion. In my current law practice, which coexists with my service to InterActive Legal, I limit my focus to matters involving business and estate planning, administration of estates and trusts, and fiduciary based litigation. I have practiced at both large, international firms and small boutique firms over the last 44 years. I received my J.D., cum laude, from Baylor School of Law (1972), and my BBA from Baylor University (1971). I loved law school, and I love the law.

Events

Kaestner Case and State Income Taxation of Trusts

On June 21st, the Supreme Court of the United States entered its opinion in North Carolina v. Kaestner, 588 US (2019). The Kaestner case represents an extremely important decision for all estate planners, trust officers, trustees, and advisers. Although the holding is a narrow one, it is vitally important.

Christian Estate Planning

Each component of a client’s estate and financial plan can embody their Christian values, beliefs, and lifestyle. Perhaps the simplest way to integrate Christian values into an estate plan might be for a client to add to his or her will a bequest to an organization that has been instrumental or inspirational in his or her life, or which embodies the values he or she holds dear. But there is so much more.

Practitioners can guide clients to write a letter of final instructions, or an “ethical will,” to their heirs. This can explain to the heirs the client’s connection with the Church, and how the Christian concept of stewardship over assets is carried out by making a bequest in your will to complement philanthropy during a lifetime. Each aspect of your client’s financial, retirement, insurance, death (dispositive scheme), and post-death (e.g., trusts for heirs) planning and documentation can be imbued, to the extent the client wishes, with Christian values.

Current Developments, New Ideas, and More

This 90 minute program will review new cases, rulings, news articles and more from the first four months of 2019.

Included in the discussion will be an analysis of the Sanders tax bill which might serve as a blueprint for a Democratic tax proposal should there be a change in administrations in Washington in 2020 and what practitioners should advise clients to do now. Several recent malpractice cases will be reviewed with an emphasis on practical steps practitioners in all disciplines, but especially estate planning attorneys, should take now to modify how they practice in light of the issues and risks of those cases (regardless of how they are resolved). New data on elder financial abuse and steps to help clients will be discussed. Cases and rulings on a wide array of topics including decanting, GST planning, charitable deductions and much more will be discussed.


Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits

Digital Subscription | by Natalie Choate

For more information, visit RetirementBenefitsPlanning

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930 South Harbor City Blvd, Ste 505
Melbourne, FL 32901