Meet Attorney Ted Vicknair
Attorney at Law
I am a CPA and attorney. I have been a CPA since 1994 and an Louisiana attorney since 2000. The Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization has designated me as a Board Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialist (since 2008), as well as a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist (also since 2008).
I started my career as a CPA because I wanted to help clients keep more of what they earned and saved, rather than letting their wealth be frittered away to the government as taxes and fees. Maximizing client wealth is what has motivated me since the very beginning of my career. While working as a CPA as a tax accountant for a large oil and gas company, The Louisiana Land & Exploration Company (LL&E), I earned my master’s degree in accounting in the evening at UNO. In 1996, I knew that if I wanted to fully advance my clients’ financial and estate planning interests, it was imperative that I maximize my education in the tax and legal fields. That is why I decided to become a tax and estate planning attorney. I didn’t just fall into this area of law; becoming an estate planning attorney was very deliberate.
In 1996, I enrolled in Loyola University New Orleans School of Law’s evening program while working as a CPA for LL&E during the day. I graduated in three (3) years in 1999. After graduating, I earned my Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in taxation from the University of Florida in 2000. The University of Florida was regularly ranked second in the nation for all Graduate Tax Programs in the United States.
My interest in estate planning and business planning was a natural outgrowth of my career as a CPA and a tax practitioner, since tax planning is naturally an important component of overall estate planning and financial well being. When I first began my career as an attorney, there were many estates that were subject to the Federal Estate Tax and the Louisiana Inheritance Tax. Today, fortunately, the Federal Estate Tax only impacts clients owning assets worth over $11 million or more at death.
Although the Federal Estate Tax only impacts a fraction of my clients today, I am notably qualified to help clients due to the many skills I learned as a lawyer helping high net worth clients achieve their wealth planning goals. In many ways, helping middle income clients with their estate planning goals is a “walk in the park” by comparison. But I never treat my clients, or their needs and goals, as insignificant. The client whose estate is valued at $300,000 is just as important to that client (and to me), as the client whose estate is valued at $30 million.
Even for the simplest estate plans, I am able to look at a client’s estate and overall financial situation through a tax lens and help them achieve tax efficiency and asset protection efficiency, even if tax and asset protection planning is not a primary motivator for a client. For example, I routinely help clients achieve several thousand dollars in yearly tax savings on their income tax returns, even when they come to me for something as seemingly disconnected as medicaid long-term care planning, or a Last Will and Testament. That is why I always suggest prospective clients to not only bring with them a copy of their current estate plan (will or trust, if any), but also their tax returns from the previous year.
Since approximately 2010, my practice has focused more strongly on the needs and issues particular to middle income clients and small business owners. These include issues such as medicaid long-term care planning, special needs planning (for clients with family members who are disabled or incapacitated in some way), VA Aid & Attendance planning (for veterans and their spouses), asset protection planning, and small business protection planning.
Plans I regularly recommend and personally draft for my clients include revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts (for long term care qualification), special needs trusts, probate avoidance plans, last wills and testaments, asset protection trusts, litigation avoidance plans, VA trusts, charitable trusts, income and estate tax savings plans, and various legal entities such as limited liability companies (LLCs) and S corporations. I also have a steady probate practice.
I regularly qualify clients for medicaid long-term care benefits who have not engaged me for pre-planning and who find themselves having to go into a nursing home. For these clients, I regularly achieve savings in excess of 50%+ off their nursing home costs, even though these same clients are routinely told by others that they have to spend down their assets to $2,000 or less.
On a personal note, after Hurricane Katrina, I moved to Alexandria and currently live there and which is where my main office is. Because I am originally from New Orleans, I also maintain an office in Mandeville. I have home and a place to lay my head in both areas, and I am regularly in both locations. Depending upon my client calendar and how it fills, I am usually in one office one week and in the other office the next. Feel free to contact me to get on my calendar for either location.