With the mantra, “all good planning starts with goals,” Omaha native Jim Blazek knew from a young age that his goal was to become an attorney. His success, he says, can be attributed to some “happy accidents.” One of these was getting to know Creighton professor Barbara Pearlman, who pushed Jim to know all the ins and outs of estate and tax law by constantly calling on him for answers. In 1981, after Jim graduated from Creighton School of Law, he established Blazek Estate Planning.
Another happy accident is Jim’s partner, Jared Gregg. An attorney from Ogallala, Jared has now been with the firm for nine years. According to Jim, he complements the firm because “he was doing estate planning for farmers and ranchers long before he met me.”
A unique aspect of Blazek Estate Planning is that they specialize in estate planning only. Rather than diversifying their services, the firm is dedicated to the production of quality documents to serve future generations. Offering estate planning creation, maintenance, and administration, Blazek Estate Planning specializes in only this area, ensuring that every “t” will be crossed and every “i” will be dotted.
“Planning changes during the different seasons of our lives,” Jim notes. “A great tragedy is that people will start out with a plan and then never update it.” Large life events like marriage, parenthood, or significant accrual of wealth can change a person’s estate planning needs drastically. Being cognizant of life changes, of important updates, and of how your estate planning documents should grow with you is crucial to ensuring that you get precisely the protection that you need.
Many clients first come in for simple wills. This is what Jim refers to as the “starter will,” which makes sense for people who primarily want to name guardians for their minor children. However, for those with over $500,000 in assets, Jim recommends setting up a revocable living trust, rather than a will based plan, because it can better protect assets over time.
Unlike typical estate planning, which plans for the division of assets, putting assets in trust can protect the assets for future generations and protects them from anyone outside the intended beneficiaries. For example, Jim says, “if I die and my wife remarries, what can I do to make sure my assets go to my kids and not somebody else?” Living trusts and proper estate planning ensure the protection of assets, especially when a family member remarries. Trusts use a series of protective strategies that have an impact on succeeding generations. “That’s what’s really cool about better estate planning,” Jim says. “You can affect multiple generations.”
Jim tries to “foresee the main ways that people lose money and plan against those things.” When he initially sits down with clients, Jim stresses that all planning starts with goals. “It’s the attorney’s job to assess what the client’s goals are, because people have different goals. Some people want to come in and talk about disability or how to handle probate or capital gains tax planning. They’ll have multiple issues when they come in.” In some cases, he notes, clients need his help to discover what their goals really are. “It’s my job to identify those goals and figure out the best way of meeting them.”
“Everybody loves Monday” at Blazek Estate Planning, Jim shares. The three attorneys and five support staff members will be relocating to a larger space in the coming months. Their newest attorney is Jim’s son, Paul Blazek. Paul is pleased to be following in his father’s footsteps at a firm that innovates on traditional strategies, provides a personal paralegal for each trust client, and even conducts phone calls with clients at no extra charge. “When we give our clients good value, then we all win,” Jim says, and that supports his “everybody wins” mentality. He and his firm are proud to maintain relationships with families from one generation to the next.
The most rewarding aspect of Jim’s job is how his clients feel about the results they get from the firm. When clients walk out the door, saying, “This was so easy,” it makes the long days worthwhile. “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very rewarding,” Jim concludes. “We have clients who we’ve enjoyed years of relationships with, and so it’s just a very fulfilling, rewarding career.”
Has your life changed recently? Has your estate plan changed with it? If you are newly married, have recently had children, are gathering wealth, or simply need to consult with an expert in tax law, contact Blazek Estate Planning today by calling 402-496-3432 or visiting blazekandgregg.com.
Written for Women’s Edition October 2018: https://www.womensedition.com/omahainsidelook