STEVEN T. O'HARA
601 West 5th Avenue, Suite 900
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
Steve O'Hara helps clients with estate planning, business planning, estate and trust administration, and tax planning and reporting.
Committed to Bill Bankston’s vision since 1982, Steve clerked for BGO during law school and joined the firm full-time in 1984.
With the belief that if you want to know a subject well, then write about it, Steve has authored a column on estate planning in every issue of the Alaska Bar Association’s publication The Alaska Bar Rag since August 1989.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Steve moved to Alaska in 1982. He has written his father’s story and explains why in this piece entitled Keep The Story Alive.
KEEP THE STORY ALIVE
If we are rich, we are rich in stories. Money, after all, is limited. But a story, now that is where we all can be rich in hope no matter our circumstances.
We all have stories. Today’s technology, on an ever-increasing basis, allows us to keep them alive. Using current technology for research as well as publication, I recently documented my father’s story. Technology allows for updates as research is completed as well as the addition of photographs and other media as they are discovered.
As lawyers we hear great stories from clients. One of my favorites is about a grandson whom here I call Joseph. Some years ago the client’s daughter, Joseph’s mother, died of cancer. Joseph was then in his teens or a young adult.
The client and his son-in-law, Joseph’s father, were in the kitchen planning the funeral when Joseph came in.
“I want to speak at my mother’s funeral,” Joseph announced.
The witnesses there humored him. “Sure, Joseph. That’ll be fine.”
Each day leading up to the funeral Joseph said the same, and everyone humored him. You know kids.
Soon the day of the funeral arrived. The service was at a big church and packed, I believe, and was going well when all of a sudden Joseph made his move. He was front and center, armed no doubt with a microphone.
Joseph, who has down syndrome, proceeded to hold everyone spellbound with his insight. He told his mother’s story like no one else ever could. Then he quietly returned to where he was seated.
Today Joseph’s grandfather, my client, finds himself a widower. His daughter and his wife have passed, and he has taken to writing his family’s story. He says all the work and the excitement generated by the story help him look forward to each day.
At this time I have not experienced anything like the pain of losing a child or spouse, but in 2002 I lost my father to cancer. When I no longer could see him in the flesh I considered whether it was possible that this person is indeed real or whether it is just a wonderful dream.
Lest it is a dream, I recorded The Jim O’Hara Story: Boxing, Dignity and Street Smarts, which may be read at www.60yearsofboxing.org.
Writing anyone’s story is an exercise in scratching the surface, but it certainly helps with the pain.
As estate planners we ought to remind children and siblings and certainly parents and widows and widowers to consider recording the story. The record need not be in writing. Hopefully someone taped Joseph’s story of his mother.
I can verify that regardless of the number of people who will be interested in the story, the exercise is fun and beneficial. My father certainly never thought of himself as somebody.
Dave Rosen, remembered in Alaska and beyond as an outstanding husband, father, Trust Officer and Certified Public Accountant, dedicated himself in his later years to recording the stories of U.S. veterans and others. He interviewed his subjects with a tape recorder and then shared the recordings.
Rosen had a gift. He was genuinely interested in your story. He found it fascinating to visit with you and draw out the story. He was always so kind in listening to me or reading about my father and sharing his thoughts.
Rosen has been an inspiration. His gift can be learned by intentional listening and then, as we are able, by taking action to keep the stories alive.
Steven T. O’Hara, July 17, 2013
Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1984
- Editor (Notes & Comments), Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business
University of St. Thomas, B.A., 1979
- Accounting Reports in Trusts & Estates
- Business Formation & Governance
- Business Succession Planning
- Buy-Sell Agreements/Shareholder Agreements
- Buying & Selling Businesses/Mergers & Acquisitions
- Complex Estate Structures
- Estate Tax Return Preparation & Audits
- Estate & Trust Litigation
- Generation-Skipping Tax Return Preparation & Audits
- Gift Tax Return Preparation & Audits
- Life Insurance Due Diligence
- Trust Reformation/Modification
COURTS ADMITTED TO PRACTICE
- State of Alaska, 1984
- United States Tax Court, 1985
- United States District Court for the District of Alaska, 1985
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1986
- Fellow, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
- Past Chair, Alaska Bar Association Section on Estate Planning and Probate
- Frequent speaker before estate planning groups. Faculty member, Springing the Delaware Tax Trap: Drafting Limited Powers of Appointment to Increase Income Tax Basis, June 28, 2016, a live webinar with interactive Q&A, Strafford Continuing Education Webinars, Atlanta, Georgia
- 2016 Lawyer of the Year, Trusts & Estates Law, Anchorage, Alaska, Best Lawyers in America
- 2013 Lawyer of the Year, Tax Law, Anchorage, Alaska, Best Lawyers in America
- Selected over 20 Consecutive Years to Best Lawyers in America, including for Tax Law; Trusts and Estates Law; Corporate Law; Non-Profit/Charities Law; and Litigation — Trusts & Estates
- Super Lawyers, Estate Planning & Probate
Bankston Gronning O’Hara, P.C., 1982 to Present
- Pro Bono Counsel to Numerous Nonprofit Organizations
- Past Member, Alaska Pacific University Foundation Board of Directors
- Past Member, Southcentral Alaska Chapter of the American Red Cross Board of Directors
- The Jim O’Hara Story: Boxing, Dignity & Street Smarts, www.60yearsofboxing.org
- Column, Estate Planning Corner, The Alaska Bar Rag, 1989 to Present
- Thinking Outside the Code, 116 (No. 8) Tax Notes 679 (August 20, 2007)
- Working In A World With The GST Tax, 137 Trusts & Estates 47 (1998)
- Using Ascertainable Standards for Distributions from Trusts, 10 The Audio Estate Planner (Summer 1994)
- In Search of the Meaning of Income: Glenshaw Glass Revisited, 127 Trusts & Estates 50 (1988)
- The Creation, Operation and Dissolution of a Limited Partnership in Alaska, 2 Alaska L. Rev. 271 (1985)
- Worker Adjustment Assistance: The Failure & The Future, 5 Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 394 (1983)
Following is a sampling of the types of articles Steve writes for The Alaska Bar Rag. If you would like a copy of any one or more of them, please call Karen Burgess at 907.276.1711 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Taxes Applicable in Alaska
- Understanding the Gift Tax Exclusion
- There’s a Major Disadvantage to Gifting
- The Community Property Advantage
- Transfers for Educational or Medical Expenses
- Beware of Retroactive Legislation
- Determining the Federal Estate Tax
- Estate Planning is Not Wasting Opportunities
- Equalize Assets
- “Per Stirpes” Defined
- The Gift Tax is Tax-exclusive
- Defining a Gift for Tax Purposes
- One-Pot Trust vs. Multiple Trusts
- Personal Guarantee May be a Taxable Gift
- Securities Laws
- “Simple” or Basic Will
- Term vs. Cash Value Life Insurance
- The Federal Generation-Skipping Tax
- Disability Insurance
- Taxes: “Enjoy” Them While They’re Low
- Buy-Sell Agreements
- Forms and Publications
- Life Insurance Ownership
- The Qualified Disclaimer
- Estate Planning is More Than a Will
- Who May Make A Will?
- More on Stepping Up Tax Basis
- New Estate and Trust Tax Rates
- Calculating the Federal Gift Tax
- Trustee Removal and Appointment Powers
- Pitfalls in Using the Ascertainable Standard
- Shifting Trustee’s Distribution Power
- Tax Considerations in Trustee Selection
- The Ascertainable Standard
- Powers of Appointment
- Consider Skipping Generations
- Deathbed Planning With Retirement Accounts
- Selecting an Estate’s Tax Year
- Creating a Nonprofit Organization
- The QTIP Trust
- Life Insurance on Children
- Give Personal Effects by Specific Bequest
- GST Tax Exemptions and Exclusions
- Working In A World With The GST Tax
- Direct Skips vs. Taxable Distributions & Terminations
- $1,000,000 GST Exemption
- A Disadvantage of Retirement Plans
- Generation Assignment Under The GST Tax
- Will Congress Abolish the Estate Tax?
- The Alaska Asset Protection Trust
- The Grantor Trust Rules – Part I
- The Grantor Trust Rules – Part II
- The Cost of a Simple Will
- The Four Legs of Estate Planning
- The Predeceased-Parent Exception
- The Alaska Community Property Act
- The Creation of Alaska Community Property
- Creditors and Alaska Community Property
- Exceptions To Step-Up In Tax Basis At Death
- Second-to-Die Insurance
- Tax Deferral Can Be Costly
- Life Insurance Trusts – Part I
- Life Insurance Trusts – Part II
- Update on Trustee Removal and Appointment Powers
- The Cost of a Simple Will in the New Millennium
- Who Benefits From Retirement Plans?
- Who Benefits From Retirement Plans? Part II
- LLCs and Selected Tax Issues
- Taxes Will Never Die
- Tax-Free Transfers
- Family Limited Partnerships
- Family Limited Partnerships Part II
- Gifting Can Increase Taxes in Certain LLC Conditions
- “Repeal” of Estate Taxes
- The Gift Tax is Here to Stay
- Will Congress Abolish Basis Step-up?
- Tax-Free Transfers in 2002 and Beyond
- Documents Have Never Been More Complicated
- Avoid Greed In Planning
- Self-Settled Trusts
- Beneficiary Designations
- Quality Over Quantity
- Gifts In Trust May Be More Valuable
- Alaska’s Advance Health Care Directive Changes in 2005
- The Future of the Federal Estate Tax
- Aircraft and Watercraft Liability
- The Future of the Federal Estate Tax-2006 Edition
- Full and Fair Disclosure of Assets and Intent
- Some Sample Estate Planning Letters
- Estate Planning Letters – Part 2
- Thinking Outside the Internal Revenue Code
- Estate Planning Letters – Part 3
- The Future of the Federal Estate Tax – 2008 Edition
- Turning Things Upside Down
- The High Cost of a Simple Will in 2009
- The Future of the Estate Tax-2009 Edition
- The Estate Planner’s Business Plan
- Sizing Up Life Insurance
- Leading a Horse to Water
- The 2001 Tax Act is Here
- Disinheriting Language
- Estate Planning Letters – Part 4
- Plan for Harmony
- The 2010 Tax Act
- Tax-Free Gifts in 2011
- 2.1 Million Reasons to Gift in 2012
- 2012 May Be Unique
- 2012 Is Significant
- Dignity & Sportsmanship
- Transfer Tax Law Comes to Rest
- Keep the Story Alive
- Beware of Income Tax Rates & Trusts
- Is the Practice of Law a Business?
Copyright 2014 by Bankston Gronning O'Hara, P.C. All rights reserved.