The New Tax Law and Estate Planning

Estate tax planning just got easier for a lot of people with the passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last month. Despite all the speculation about repeal, that didn’t happen. But the threshold amount for the payment of the “death” tax doubled.

For individuals dying after 12/31/17, there is no federal estate tax due unless the estate value is more than $11.2 Million (reduced by lifetime taxable gifts that go over $14,000 in any year).

For a married couple, the amount is $22.4 Million, because the 2nd spouse can take whatever the 1st spouse doesn’t use. To do this, a federal estate tax return must still be filed for the 1st spouse. These amounts will go up each year, indexed for inflation.

However, unless Congress acts before then, the figures go back to the current level of $5.2 Million per person in 2026, also indexed for inflation. For this reason, making lifetime taxable gifts of more than $5 Million per person is risky until we know what future legislation will do. Still, a nice dilemma to have.

Indiana repealed its Inheritance Tax several years ago.

Estate and personal wealth-transfer planning is still a good idea for most people.


JO Knows Insurance Litigation

At Jones Obenchain, we’ve been representing local, regional, and national insurers and their insureds for over 100 years. The work we do for them runs the gamut from defending personal-injury claims, to litigating employment-discrimination claims, to prosecuting and defending coverage actions and errors-and-omissions lawsuits.

All of this litigation gets us into court…a lot. In 2011 Jones Obenchain tried more civil jury trials in Indiana than all but two other firms.*

And though litigation is an adversarial process, our peers consistently rank us among the best at what we do. So do our clients, if the feedback they’ve given us on legal sites such as AVVO and Martindale-Hubbell are any indication.

But as essential as courtroom skills are to a litigation prac­tice, they’re worthless if our clients and the courts don’t want to read what we have to say. Let’s face it: there’s a lot of writing in a litigation practice and most legal writing is a chore to get through. We read it because we have to, not be­cause we want to.

So our litigators emphasize writing in plain English and using cutting-edge tech­nology in the documents we prepare to make them a pleasure to read. What does that mean, exactly? It’s not unusual to see photographs, hyperlinks, and video embedded in our briefs and motions. These add visual interest to the text and corroborate the arguments without sending readers to riffle through mounds of exhibits.

Not only are plainly written, visually appealing documents easier for clients to read and understand, they help persuade mediators and judges about the merits of our clients’ position. That means we’re often able to bring cases to a successful resolution before we ever step foot in a courtroom.

*Source: 2011 Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year. Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination under federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983.

JO Knows Appeals

An appeal typically begins when legal proceedings in a trial court end, for example by a jury verdict or summary-judgment order. If a party isn’t satisfied with the trial court’s decision, the party can appeal the decision to a higher court. The appellate court’s job is not to retry the case. It doesn’t hear testimony or decide the facts. Instead, it will consider whether the trial court properly applied the law, and has sufficient evidence to justify its ruling. If the trial court got the law right, the appellate court will uphold the decision; if the lower court was wrong, the appellate court will reverse the decision and send it back to the trial court often for further proceedings.

Because appeals are done almost entirely through written submissions, our appellate attorneys have developed a unique, easy-to-understand writing style that has been praised by judges, clients, and other attorneys. We carefully format our briefs and submissions to reflect the same attention to detail and thoroughness we apply to researching and writing substantive legal arguments. And—when it’s appropriate—we add pictures, insert boxes, graphs, and even hyperlinks to help judges understand our arguments.

Judges read thousands of submissions a year. Almost all of them look alike and read alike. Our briefs—with their sharp layout, clear prose, detailed research, and well-organized arguments—stand out.

Reconstructing Records After a Disaster

With the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerta Rico, and the wild fires in California, we have witnessed the loss of homes and possessions. The loss of a home is a huge blow and requires a plan for rebuilding. So too with the reassembling of personal records. The IRS has prepared a helpful list of tips for those who need to reconstruct their documents following a disaster. Please visit


Happy New Year!

As we begin a new year, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have placed their confidence in us and given us the opportunity to serve them. And in this spirit, we say simply but sincerely – Thank you and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!


JO Knows Workouts

We help you through:

  • Business restructuring;
    • Debt restructuring;
    • Tolling and forbearance agreements;
    • Lease assignments and amendments; and
    • Asset and business sales.

Whatever your situation, we’ll help you get it worked out.

You have questions. Our creditors’ rights attorneys have answers.


Happy Holidays

Wishing you and yours a joyful and safe holiday season from the attorneys and staff of Jones Obenchain, LLP.

JO in Action – Giving Back

Part of the JO philosophy is a belief in giving back to the community. So besides participating in several events each year—our goal is one each quarter—JO participates in an Adopt-A-Family program each December. The attorneys and staff enjoy shopping for their adopted family and sharing the joy of the holiday season.