Lawyer specializes in succession planning

Dennis Goldberg could have been a CPA or a Financial Advisor – after all, he has an undergraduate degree in Business, an MBA in Finance, and a law degree, all from the University of Denver. But through the Goldberg Law Center, P.C., started in 1985, he is able to offer his clients the best of all worlds – legal advice aimed at protecting business assets and planning for eventual “exit strategies.”

“Basically, I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve only had a few traditional jobs in my entire life [one of which was as a minor league catcher for the Montreal Expos in the early 1980s],” says Goldberg, who specializes in the legal aspects of business formation, succession planning, asset protection strategies and estate planning. But his talents don’t stop there. He is also the co-author of three books including Strictly Business (released this month) which “Provides Strategies for Privately Owned Businesses”. The publisher, Quantum Books, says that Goldberg was selected for participation in Strictly Business for his accomplished career in the field of estate, business, and asset protection planning. “I met the other co-authors, David Cahoone and Larry Gibbs, through a national network of estate planning attorneys. We see the need to help business owners now with their exit strategies – before the issues of death, disability, retirement, or family/ownership conflicts arise,” Goldberg notes.

Strictly Business covers business owner topics ranging from starting a business to human resource programs and key employee compensation, stock and bonus plans to the ever-important chapters on exit strategies. Some questions Goldberg’s clients ask are, “What happens when a business owner is ready to retire and his children decide not to take over?” or “How is ownership and control determined when a first generation business passes to second generation siblings and their children? What if those children and grand-children are employees of the business?”

He admits that many business owners wait until there’s a problem to act – and as a result, several years ago, founded the Exit Strategies Institute. As he describes in Strictly Business, Goldberg’s Exit Strategies Institute is “a company whose mission is to help individuals and business owners create and implement an exit strategy for themselves that is properly and effectively coordinated with their estate plans.” Clients who sign up with Exit Strategies receive a package of essential planning tools, forms and instructions packaged in a coffin-shaped box; annual reviews of estate plans; and legal counsel along as well as invitations to twelve seminar/workshops each year. His client list includes retailers, a mobile home sales distributor, an auto dealer, a real estate investment firm and a variety of other firms and individuals.

Goldberg has also organized Business Keeper™, a program that helps clients develop techniques for structuring and formalizing business operations, while planning for eventualities. It is those eventualities – the untimely death or disability of a business owner or the conflicts and “gray areas” involved in transferring a family company to the second or third generation that often brings clients to Goldberg’s door. “We ensure that required meetings are held and business actions properly documented. We file required reports with the Secretary of State and make sure that our clients’ business records support tax returns and will pass an IRS audit – and we keep them informed of changes in the legal environment that may affect their businesses, “ Goldberg points out. “Our clients are prepared for all possibilities – audits, law suits or business transfers due to planned or unplanned circumstances.” Cost for membership in Business Keepers™ is $345 a year, renewable annually.

As Goldberg says in the introduction to Strictly Business, “Experience has taught me that people who own their own businesses think differently from those who don’t.” And according to the enterprising attorney, today’s business world is “a maze of laws, rules, and regulations revolving around issues like employees, taxes, lines of credit, creditors, cash-flow, management, marketing, inventory control, customer satisfaction, retirement planning, passing the business to children, and dozens of other concerns.” Goldberg’s goal is to streamline and simplify that maze through careful planning and focus on the end goal: protecting assets.

In addition to his Exit Strategies and Business Keeper programs, Goldberg has also developed a Trust Keeper™ and Will Keeper™ option for his clients, geared to staying current with changing tax laws, home refinancing, divorce, and other changing life elements that affect a client’s estate plans. To date, the Goldberg Law Center has helped over 100 clients create and use living trusts to avoid probate and to protect and control assets. Goldberg expects to have his next book, Giving: Philanthropy for Everyone ready for release later this year, and admits that he enjoys helping his clients of all ages and situations plan their eventual exit strategy. “I enjoy teaching and preparing people for the future,” Goldberg says as he heads out the door for a weekly radio program he and a colleague conduct on KGFT. “If individuals start early and develop strategies for their own personal situations, they will retain more assets and will avoid the conflicts and issues that drive families and businesses apart.”