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Two wealth planning industry leaders, Matsen and Voorhees, join forces to provide the ultimate service

Asset Protection, Business Litigation, Business Planning, California Trusts, Domestic Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Foreign Asset Protection, Living Trust, Offshore Trusts, Probate, Real Estate, Retirement Planning, Tax Planning, Trust Litigation, Uncategorized, WillsNo Comments


March, 2012


Orange County California


Attorney Jeffrey R. Matsen of Wealth Strategies Counsel, one of the Nation’s ”Top 100 Attorneys”, and Tim Voorhees, JD, MBA,  a 34-year veteran of the advanced planning industry, have merged to form the Matsen Voorhees partnership. This new entity will operate as Matsen Voorhees, part of Bohm, Matsen, Kegel & Aguilera LLP.  The Voorhees-Matsen relationship will offer a broad array of resources to clients and advisers on each planning team. The merged law firm will emphasize Estate, Business and Asset Protection Planning as well as Real Estate and Probate services. Voorhees Family Office Services will continue to offer Zero-Tax Planning workshops, Wealth Blueprinting, Wealth Counseling, and Tax-Efficient Asset Management Solutions through its “TEAMS” affiliate. The service mark of the revised firm is, “Maximizing Value with Zero Tax and Asset Protection Planning.”


Attorney Jeffrey R. Matsen has been designated by Worth magazine as one of “America’s Top 100 Attorneys,” by Los Angeles Magazine as one of California’s “Super Lawyers,” and by OC Metro Magazine as an “O.C.’s Top Lawyer. He is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America. The Nationally Renowned Attorney Rating Service, ‘AVVO’ has rated Mr. Matsen a perfect “10/10 Superb” and he has continued to achieve the highest “AV rating.“  He has been designated a “Preeminent Lawyer” by the only other prestigious attorney rating directory, Martindale Hubble. He is internationally recognized in the areas of Asset Protection, International Trusts and Offshore Business Entity Formation and has a myriad of world-wide legal, financial and business connections.

Matsen is the founding partner of Wealth Strategies Counsel (WSC), the Estate Planning and Business Transactions Department of the Orange County California premier law firm of Bohm, Matsen, Kegel & Aguilera, LLP with offices in Orange County California, Connecticut, New York City, Washing D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Monterey/Carmel California, San Diego and Honolulu.  With over 35 years of experience, WSC handles complex and sophisticated asset protection, estate and business planning matters locally, nationally and internationally.  WSC serves a variety of clients by providing integrated solutions through advisors they can trust.  The WSC process fulfills clients’ wishes using a proven and tax advantaged process.

Attorney Tim Voorhees has 34 years of experience as a Wealth Counselor.  In addition to a Juris Doctorate with a concentration in corporate and estate planning, Tim holds a BA in economics and an MBA in finance.  Since focusing on zero tax planning in 1990, Tim has had key roles in planning several hundred cases for clients with net worths ranging from $3 million to over $1 billion.  His planning staff integrates any of more than 300 tactical planning tools into comprehensive plans that reduce or eliminate taxes, increase transfers to heirs, enhance charitable giving potential, or achieve other personal or financial goals.  Tim has a well-developed and effective process for coordinating a client’s advisors to develop plans using proprietary software.  Tim regularly publishes in Estate Planning Magazine, the Journal of Practical Estate Planning, Insurance News, the elite advisor website of Financial Planning Magazine, and other leading publications.  Tim has spoken at national conferences of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, ALI-ABA, Kingdom Advisors, the Southern California Tax & Estate Planning Forum, etc. He has also presented at annual conferences for numerous financial advisory firms.

When interviewed, Jeff Matsen shared the following comments about the merger, “I am excited to partner with Tim!  The decision to merge our firms was made after considerable due diligence where I found Tim to be very professional and trustworthy with impressive knowledge, skills, connections and a talented team.  Perhaps the deciding factor is that I really like Tim and the way he conducts himself and his practice.  We have Co-counseled on a few clients and it was evident that we work well together and complement each other.  It is an honor and pleasure for me to be affiliated with Tim and to have a younger and vigorous partner who I know, not only can keep up with me and the demands of my practice, but will add considerable value to it.  Our combined expertise and resources provide a strategic advantage to our mutual clients,” stated Jeffrey R. Matsen, Founding Partner, Wealth Strategies Counsel.

Tim Voorhees shared the following comments about the merger, “We needed a world-class team of lawyers and paralegals to help us implement strategies in our Family Wealth Blueprints®.  While we have been honored to serve many of the top law firms and CPA firms around the country as a back office during the last 20 years, ultimately, our success depends on implementing our blueprints most effectively with support from a highly experienced legal team that knows our process.  We are honored and thrilled to tell our clients about the deep and broad capabilities now available through the Matsen Voorhees partnership.”


jeffmatsen small Use Two wealth planning industry leaders, Matsen and Voorhees, join forces to provide the ultimate serviceJeffrey R. Matsen of Wealth Strategies Counsel helps his clients structure their personal and business assets in the best way possible to preserve, protect, and transfer them in the most efficient and tax saving manner.


Tim Voorhees1 Two wealth planning industry leaders, Matsen and Voorhees, join forces to provide the ultimate serviceTim Voorhees of Family Office Services helps advisors plan for high-net-worth individuals, with a focus on zero tax and charitable planning issues of concern to individuals with estates of $3million or larger.

Contact us today and let our Newport Beach law firm help you with all your financial planning needs.

“Nations Top 100 Attorney” Publishes Insightful New Book

Asset Protection, Business Litigation, Business Planning, California Trusts, Domestic Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Foreign Asset Protection, Living Trust, Offshore Trusts, Real Estate, Retirement Planning, Tax Planning, UncategorizedNo Comments

New Book Helps You Plan for and Protect Your Assets

Book RGB online1 e1334601969431 “Nations Top 100 Attorney” Publishes Insightful New Book Orange County, California (March 29, 2012) – There are few things in life more certain than death and taxes and perhaps, in today’s society, Law suits.  However, the fact is few people actually plan for them.

In the New Book The Ladder of Success: An Asset Protection Planning Primer, Attorney Jeffrey R. Matsen (“Top 100 Attorneys in U.S.” Worth Magazine) has provided a straightforward and elementary description of what Asset Protection really is and demonstrates how it can be effectively implemented by taking various steps, like rungs on a ladder, to truly climb the ladder of success.

“The one constant over the many years of my practice and among the hundreds of different clients I have served is the imbalance of, on the one hand, their profound concern regarding Asset Protection, and on the other, their lack of understanding as to how to implement it,” says Attorney Matsen. “I have dedicated my career to assisting these clients in planning the fortification of their resources to ensure their financial security in the face of taxes, liability and creditor attacks.”

The Ladder of Success: An Asset Protection Planning Primer explains:

  • Why Plan?  The Need for Asset Protection
  • The Limitations
  • The Operating Business Entity
  • Basic Estate Planning
  • Bankruptcy Considerations, Exemptions and Marital Planning
  • Liability Protective Entities for Investment Assets
  • Domestic Asset Protection Trusts and Modular Planning Utilizing LLCs
  • The Offshore Asset Protection Trust and the Modular Planning that Accompanies It
  • Advanced Estate Planning Techniques
  • Special Issues and Strategies for Physicians and Dentists
  • Climbing the Ladder and Putting It All Together

Chock full of authoritative information about estate planning and asset protection, The Ladder of Success: An Asset Protection Planning Primer is one book every conscientious person should own.  “Nobody understands the nuances and practicalities of this area better than Jeff Matsen.  His unique ability of making issues clear for clients and their advisors is a gift.  This book is required reading for any layperson or professional who wants to learn more about asset protection and more importantly, take action,” says Bill Deitch, Leading Estate Planning Attorney, Chicago.

“Jeff Matsen is an expert to the experts in the asset protection field.  Those seeking asset protection often share common characteristics—such as wealth, business ownership, real estate ownership, considerable income and estate tax exposures, as well professional practice ownership—and I recommend they read Jeff’s book to protect their families,” states Joseph J. Strazzeri, Fellow, Southern California Institute; Co-founder, Laureate Center for Wealth Advisors.

Tim Voorhees, JD, MBA President, Family Office Services;  Principal, Matsen Voorhees, Orange County, CA. explains “Because of Jeff’s broad, multi-disciplinary experience, he knows how to integrate protection from lawsuits with protection from taxes. Jeff’s ability to combine creditor protection with tax planning helps clients accumulate more wealth and maximize upside potential.”

“Jeff Matsen is one of the best estate planning and asset protection attorneys in the country.  His knowledge, wisdom and direct experience have truly made him one of the elite group of top experts in his field. If you are concerned about protecting your assets and want to leave a legacy for future generations, I highly recommend you read this book,” says Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, The Nation’s Largest Law Firm Marketing Company.

Marc Selden, Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, New York City, states “Jeff is widely recognized in the legal community as an asset protection guru.  In this book, Jeff does a wonderful job of explaining the principles and strategies of complex asset protection planning in a very clear and easy-to-understand way.”

The Ladder of Success: An Asset Protection Planning Primer,  $19.95, Paperback 179 pages, ISBN 978-0-9852041-1-2, is published by Wealth Strategies Counsel, and is available by calling 714-384-6527 or by visiting .



JEFFREY R. MATSEN, JD, received his law degree with honors from the UCLA School of Law and served as a Military Judge with the rank of Captain in the US Marine Corps.  Matsen has been a Professor of Law in Business, Estate Planning and Advanced Taxation. He is a highly sought-after and respected speaker and educator and has published numerous legal articles.  Matsen is the founder of “Wealth Strategies Counsel,” the Estate Planning and Business Transactions Department of Matsen Voorhees and Bohm, Matsen, Kegel & Aguilera, LLP, in Orange County, California.  His practice areas include: Business and Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Probate and Trust administration and litigation, Real Estate and Offshore structures.  Matsen has been designated one of the Nation’s “Top 100 Attorneys” by Worth Magazine, A “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine and he is listed in The Best Lawyers in America.  The Nationally Renowned Attorney Rating Service, AVVO, has rated Matsen a perfect “10/10 Superb.” Besides continuing to achieve the highest “AV rating,” he has been designated a “Preeminent Lawyer” by the prestigious attorney rating directory, Martindale Hubble.

Let our Costa Mesa law offices help you get started by contacting us today.

Bill Seeks to Amend Estate Tax Code to Benefit Farms and Ranches

Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Real EstateNo Comments

ranch e1323296693631 Bill Seeks to Amend Estate Tax Code to Benefit Farms and RanchesA bipartisan bill to amend the estate tax code in order to keep American farms and ranches intact has been introduced in Congress by U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado).

Currently, 40 percent of the value of land used for conservation purposes can be exempt from estate taxes, with a cap of $500,000.  The proposed American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act seeks to raise that cap to $5 million, as well as increase the exclusion to 50 percent of the total value of land.

Udall said the purpose of the new legislation is to help American farm and ranch families avoid the pressure of having to sell, divide or develop their land when bequeathing it to the next generation, and to encourage more “robust conservation of our open spaces.”

The bill was first introduced in July of 2010, but died in committee, so had to be reintroduced.  It is being co-sponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The legislation is supported by the American Farm Bureau, U.S. Cattlemens Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Land Trust Alliance and the Nature Conservancy.

Help is available to you by contacting your Southern California financial planning experts today.

New Bill Encourages Foreigners to Purchase U.S. Homes

Real EstateNo Comments

Capitol Hill e1320874966155 New Bill Encourages Foreigners to Purchase U.S. Homes A unique piece of legislation that aims to help solve the residential real estate market bust has been introduced in Congress to give foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. residential property a visa that allows them to live in the U.S.

Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT-USA Act, which would create a new “homeowners visa” that would be renewable every three years.  To receive this visa, a foreigner would need to spend a total of $500,000 on residential real estate in the U.S., which would need to include a primary residence with a value of at least $250,000.

The purchase would have to be made in cash and the price paid would have to be more than the most recent appraised value for the home.  The foreign buyer would have to live in the home a minimum of 180 days each year, and pay U.S. income taxes on foreign income.  To hold a job in the U.S., they would have to apply for a work visa.

A Santa Monica-based international real estate broker that caters to foreign clients was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying that the states that stand to benefit most from the new bill include California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Hawaii and Texas.

Contact us today for individualized planning strategies to meet your unique needs.


Is Failure to Disclose That a House is “Evil” Cause for Action?

Real EstateNo Comments

slide 16568 230372 large 150x150 Is Failure to Disclose That a House is “Evil” Cause for Action?An interesting post today at the PropertyProf blog by Tanya Marsh, an assistant professor at Wake Forest Law School, in which she tackles the issue of whether or not a TV real estate agent should be held accountable for not disclosing that a house was “evil” prior to purchase.

The house in question is the Rosenheim Mansion in Los Angeles, which is the new home of a family that moves to L.A. from Boston in American Horror Story on the FX network.  The 1920s mansion has been fully restored, but what hasn’t been restored is its past as the site of a number of murders over the years.

The family in the television series purchases the home from an agent who tells them of the murder-suicide of the previous owners that had occurred there within the past three years.  The agent does not disclose any prior murders, undoubtedly following the California Civil Code sec. 1710.2 that provides in part:

“a) No cause of action arises against an owner of real property or his or her agent, or any agent of a transferee of real property, for the failure to disclose to the transferee the occurrence of an occupant’s death upon the real property or the manner of death where the death has occurred more than three years prior to the date the transferee offers to purchase, lease, or rent the real property…”

Marsh contends that although there is no affirmative requirement to disclose deaths that occurred at the house beyond the prior three years, there is a more general requirement to disclose information that could impact the value of the home…like that the home is evil.

While this is only a television horror story, there are real real estate horror stories that afflict people every day.  You can bypass all evils of any real estate transaction by having a California real estate attorney review your transactions. Help is available to you by contacting your Southern California financial planning experts today.

Steve Jobs Transferred Properties Into Trusts in 2009

Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Probate, Real EstateNo Comments

steve jobs2 150x150 Steve Jobs Transferred Properties Into Trusts in 2009Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died last week at the age of 56, placed at least three properties owned by him and his wife into trusts in 2009 and legal experts are speculating the move may have been made to keep his assets from being disclosed upon his death, according to a Reuters article.

By placing real estate and other assets into a trust, one can keep them from being publicly disclosed during probate as well as minimize estate taxes.  If it is done correctly, both those goals can be accomplished.  Placing assets into a trust can also help shield them from creditors, although that is an unlikely unless done by a competent firm such as Wealth Strategies Counsel.

Reuters reports that Jobs and his wife co-owned their Palo Alto home as well as two other properties in nearby Woodside.  These properties were transferred to two different trusts in March of 2009, two months following Jobs’ second medical leave of absence from Apple.

In addition to his holdings in Apple, Jobs received 138 million shares of Disney stock when he sold Pixar to Disney in 2006.  Last month, Forbes estimated his total wealth at $7 billion.

Contact us today and let our Newport Beach law firm help you with all your financial planning needs.

Why Use Family Limited Liability Companies – By Jeffrey R. Matsen

Estate Planning, Probate, Real EstateNo Comments

Insights From California Probate Lawyers and Estate Planning Specialists Who Preserve Your Wealth

Estate Planning experts and professionals often refer to Family Limited Partnerships (“FLPs”) and Family Limited Liability Companies (“FLLCs”). Most professionals now utilize FLLCs instead of LPs because FLLCs are less complicated to form and the manager of the FLLC is not personally liable whereas the general partner of a limited partnership is. Because the general partner is personally liable, another liability shielded entity like an LLC or a corporation has to be formed to be the general partner. This is an additional expense, inconvenience and complication that the FLLC avoids. The following explanation helps to understand why the use of Family Limited Liability Companies can be so advantageous.

  1. What is a FLLC?
    A FLLC can be utilized in your estate plan for making “leveraged” or “discounted” gifts to your children. A FLLC is simply a partnership arrangement between family members. Typically, the FLLC is established by parents or grandparents for purposes of making gifts to junior family members, while allowing the senior family members to maintain full control over the management and investment decisions relating to all of the underlying FLLC property.
  2. How Do You Organize and Set Up a FLLC?
    To establish a FLLC, the parents would transfer property to the FLLC in exchange for a 100% member interest thereof. Typically, the parents would hold the member interest as Trustees of their Family Trust. The parents in the beginning would be the managers of the FLLC with sole control over the FLLC and its property. At some point in time, the parents would begin gifting a portion of their 100% member interests in the FLLC to their children, but the parents can retain complete control over the day-to-day investment and management decisions relating to the property. The children members do not have to have any voice in the management of the FLLC.
  3. What are the Asset Protection Features of the FLLC?
    One of the strongest reasons for creating an FLLC for real estate is that the FLLC protects the real estate owner’s personal assets from attack by the creditors of the FLLC. The FLLC itself is liable for its debts and claims against it and the asset that it holds, but the owners of the FLLC are not liable for these claims. For example, if you personally own a rental duplex and someone is injured at the duplex and if the injury claim is not covered by insurance either because the insurance amount was insufficient or the claim was excluded from coverage, the person asserting the claim can not only go against the rental property, but all of the owner’s other personal and business assets. However, if the duplex is owned by an FLLC, the claim can only be made against the FLLC and the property which the FLLC and the other assets of the owner cannot be attacked. There are also some other asset protection feature to FLLCs which are beyond the scope of this article. We are preparing an article on “Asset Protection Planning and the Use of FLLCs” and reference is made to that article for further explanation of the foregoing.
  4. How Does the FLLC Save Estate Taxes?
    The FLLC can also be drafted to provide that the children members will not be allowed to transfer their member interests during their lifetime without the consent of the other members. This restriction on the transfer of the member interests will discount the value of the gifted FLLC interest for gift tax purposes by reducing its marketability (“marketability discount”). Because the children members will not have any voice in the management of the FLLC, the value of the gifted FLLC interest will be discounted to reflect this lack of control (“control discount”). Combined, these two discounts are sometimes referred to as the “minority discount” and typically reduce the value of the transferred interest for gift tax purposes by 20%‑60% (and the taxes by 10‑25% or more), depending on what type of assets are held by the FLLC (a greater discount is typically allowed when the assets held by the FLLC are not readily marketable, e.g., closely-held securities, interests in real estate, etc.).
  5. Senior Family Members Retain Control Over FLLC Property.
    The parents can maintain control over the FLLC property for as long as they like. This plan can be drafted to make the parents the manager with sole management control over the FLLC. The children can have as much or as little control as the parents want them to.
  6. Does the FLLC Allow Me to Transfer Control to My Children?
    The FLLC is an ideal vehicle to transfer control of the family business or other property to your children as quickly or as gradually as you wish. Often the first step to developing responsibility in children is to provide them with a small share of the family business or family investment property that will attract and develop their interest. The FLLC is flexible enough to allow you to transfer control and responsibility of the business or investment as you see fit.
  7. Why and When Should I Start Making Gifts to My Children?
    After the FLLC has been established, your FLLC could be used as part of your estate plan to make “discounted” lifetime gifts to your children. Alternatively, the interest in your FLLC could be held until the first of your deaths, after which time the surviving spouse could then begin making gifts of the FLLC interests to your children. This second use of a FLLC has a double benefit; the survivor will receive a full step-up in basis of the underlying FLLC assets for income tax purposes after the first death, and following the survivor’s death the FLLC interest could still be discounted for estate tax purposes.
  8. How Can the FLLC Help Me Make Discounted Lifetime Gifts?
    If you establish an FLLC and subsequently make lifetime gifts of the FLLC interests to your children, the FLLC interest would entitle your children to all of the economic benefits from their gifted FLLC interest, but without any management authority relating to the FLLC property. Because of the restriction, as discussed above, the FLLC interest has a reduced value. The value of any FLLC interest you give to your children during your lifetime will be removed from your estate for estate tax purposes. Following your death, only the value of any remaining FLLC interest you still own will be includible in your estate for estate tax purposes.The restriction on transfer referred to above, has an added benefit when the FLLC interests are gifted to your children, since the restriction will provide some protection from a child’s judgment creditor (such as a divorced spouse). A child’s creditor will not be allowed to reach the underlying FLLC assets to satisfy a judgment, but rather will only be entitled to the child’s economic interest in the FLLC – i.e., the right to FLLC distributions, if any.
  9. How Does the Reduced Value Help With Annual Giving?
    The minority discount of the value of the FLLC interests allows you to effectively make larger annual tax fee gifts. For example, if for gift tax purposes a 40% discount is allowed for the FLLC interest (due to the minority discount), you could transfer FLLC interests representing up to $20,000 in “underlying” FLLC assets without exceeding your annual gift tax exclusion of $12,000 per donee ($20,000 X 60% = $12,000). Under current law, your annual gift tax exclusion allows you to transfer up to $12,000 per year to each individual without such transfer being subject to gift tax; together you and your spouse can transfer up to $24,000 per year (in the above example, your combined annual gift tax exclusions would allow for a transfer of $40,000 in “pre-discount” FLLC interests). As can be seen by this example, the discount associated with your gifted FLLC interests will allow you to transfer a greater amount of “underlying” FLLC assets, without exceeding the amount of your annual exclusions from gift tax.Continuing this example, if you wish to use your unified credit to shelter the gift tax on FLLC interests in excess of your annual exclusion amount, $1,666,667 in FLLC interests could be transferred without exceeding the $1,000,000 amount sheltered from tax by your unified credit ($1,666,667 X 60 = $1,000,000). Under current law, your unified credit will shelter the first $1,000,000 of transferred assets (whether during your lifetime) from gift tax. If both you and your spouse wish to use your unified credits to transfer FLLC interests to your children, using the above example of a 40% discount in the value of the FLLC interests, up to $3,333,334 in underlying FLLC assets could be transferred without paying any gift tax ($3,333,334 X 60% = $2,000,000).

We trust that the foregoing explanation will assist you in better understanding the Family Limited Liability Company (“FLLC”) as a vehicle in your estate and tax planning.

Contact us today for individualized planning strategies to meet your unique needs.