Texas Tech Estate Planning & Community Property Law Journal CLE and Expo

121198591On Friday, March 4, 2016 I had the pleasure of speaking at the Texas Tech Estate Planning & Community Property Law Journal CLE and Expo in Lubbock, Texas.  This is a fantastic event created by Professor Gerry Beyer at Texas Tech School of Law and hosted/put on by students of the law school who are involved with the Estate Planning Journal.  They do a first-rate job with all aspects of the conference.

I was first up on Friday morning to speak on the topic “Care and Feeding of Private Foundations and Public Charities.”  Because my practice is primarily charity facing (as opposed to doing planning for the donor), it is always interesting to speak to estate planners.  I am always trying to find a way to make what I am talking about relevant to that community.  For this conference, I began by explaining that there seems to be a commonality among all people wanting to help their fellow man, though the breadth and scope of that help is certainly different depending on the person.  This is particularly true in America, as we see individuals helping their neighbor, grassroots efforts to provide help for a community, and even larger philanthropy.  In fact, this is not new to the current generation.  In his extensively researched book, America’s Nonprofit Sector: A Primer, 3rd Edition, Lester M. Salamon cites to a visit Alexis de Tocqueville made to America in 1835 when writing about democracy.  De Tocqueville wrote that “wherever at the head of some undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States, you will be sure to find an association.”  This remains true today, and whether it is very wealthy donors influenced by family philanthropy or The Giving Pledge or folks who are not independently wealthy who simply want to make a difference in their neighborhood, school, community, or world, lawyers and other professional advisers are uniquely positioned to come alongside to help those helping others.  However, to most effectively do that, all of us (especially estate planners) have to understand the basic concept of the independent sector.  This presentation is intended to provide those basic contours.  The paper can be accessed here and the PowerPoint slides can be accessed here.

People’s Law School: Keeping Your Church Out of Court

78617312 (2)Over Valentine’s weekend while my wife and kids ran around the Baylor campus and saw the sites (including the bears, which my seven year old surmised were the reason for the cemetery on the edge of the campus), I had the pleasure of teaching two class sessions at the People’s Law School, a program offered by Baylor Law School for the local community.

In my first session, I taught a program called Keeping Your Church Out of Court.  Several of my law firm partners developed this program in the late 1990s to assist church leaders in understanding risks and how to mitigate those risks in the operation of a church.  Obviously in a 60-minute session there is a limit to how many of those can be discussed, but we had a nice group and a good discussion.  The paper is available here and the PowerPoint deck is available here.

People’s Law School: Selected Pitfalls in the Life Cycle of a Charity

153702798 - CopyOn Saturday, February 13, 2016, I presented a session called Selected Pitfalls in the Life Cycle of a Charity at the People’s Law School at Baylor Law School.  As I mentioned in my session, I was originally asked to speak on “pitfalls for nonprofits,” which seemed awfully broad.  If we are looking at pitfalls for nonprofits, we would need to decide whether we were talking about the nonprofit universe (which includes both taxable and tax-exempt nonprofits) and, if we are talking about the tax-exempt sector, whether we are talking about charitable organizations or all tax-exempt organizations, etc.  To narrow the focus, I chose to speak on certain pitfalls for charitable organizations and to organize my talk around the lifecycle of a public charity.  Keep in mind that many of the pitfalls for charitable organizations are no different than pitfalls for any other organization.  Specifically, employment issues trip up employers whether they are taxable or tax-exempt, as do many liability issues.  As a result, I chose to focus on issues that are specific to charitable organizations, including satisfying the organization and operational tests, applying for 501(c)(3) status, proper governance and the attorney general’s oversight in relation to governance, the handling of restricted gifts, and like issues.  It is a broad overview, as any of those topics could be presented as a standalone.  For those interested, the paper is available here and the PowerPoint is available here.