“It was time to come back to the community where I was born and raised,” Kirksey said. Kirksey had always planned to come back to his hometown to help the people of Cleveland, and finally the time was right. “Before that, I worked with a large law firm in Chattanooga.”
There, he provided legal taxation and estate preservation services for clients ranging from individuals to non-profits and large companies.
He had been commuting back and forth to Chattanooga all that time, but continued to live in Cleveland with his wife, Kate. She is a dentist here in town.
Kirksey graduated from Walker Valley High School as its valedictorian.
As an undergrad in accounting from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, he graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Kirksey graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
Then he took an entire year’s worth of specialty tax training at Georgetown University’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., from which he received a master of laws or LL.M in taxation.
“But now I am totally back in Cleveland. Just like my family,” he said. His dad is a certified public account. His mom is a schoolteacher. His family has been a part of this community for generations — up to his great, great grandparents. His great-grandfather was a police officer in Cleveland. His grandfather did a broadcast show at Cleveland High School.
His law practice here in Cleveland continues what he learned at home from his CPA dad. Kirksey has seen first-hand through his father the ins and outs of working with a client’s tax issues.
“I knew going into college I was going to do tax work,” he said. As far as he knows, there aren’t many professionals in Cleveland who have specialized in tax and estate planning. “It’s what I went to school for.”
That’s why he concentrates on tax planning, helping his clients save taxes over a long-term period of time. Also, if a tax issue arises, such as failure to pay taxes, failure to file a return, or another tax problem, that’s when Kirksey can step in.
“Tax and estate planning work — this is my passion,” Kirksey said. “Most other attorneys in town don’t have this specialized tax and estate planning knowledge.”
Kirksey offers estate planning, estate administration, tax planning, business planning and charitable planning for individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations.
Estate planning means counseling clients on how to smoothly transfer their assets according to their wishes after their deaths. Extensive research to minimize taxes, as well as the preparation of extensive documents, such as wills, trusts, general durable powers of attorney, living wills, guardianships and conservatorships, are just some of the expertise required. Plans are tailored specifically to each client.
Estate administration involves helping executors and administrators with the transfer of assets to beneficiaries after the decedent’s death, including probating the will, transferring titles, notifying and paying creditors, counseling on Tennessee law, and administering trusts.
Tax planning means providing the necessary research, opinions and counsel on tax issues, as well as arranging individual or business financial affairs so as to minimize taxes.
Business planning includes preparing the necessary documents to form partnerships, limited liability companies or corporations, as well as succession planning for business owners.
Charitable planning means forming a charitable organization and qualifying the organization for favorable tax-exempt status. Advice is also available on permissible activities of a tax-exempt organization, as well as the preparation of the necessary IRS forms.
“There’s a lot I am asked to do when it comes to estate planning and passing an inheritance onto beneficiaries,” he said. For example, he is well-versed in in-depth conversions in forming a partnership, a corporation or a LLC, as well as succession planning for both businesses and to other family members. Kirksey also can work out financial retirement alternatives, as well as knowing the ins and outs of tax and liability consequences of each of these options for both businesses and individuals.
“The current estate laws affect everyone. It’s all up in the air right now,” he said. At the beginning of 2010, and for one year only, there is no estate tax at all. Estate and tax lawyers like Kirksey are waiting, just like the rest of the country, on Congress to determine what they are going to do for next year. If no new law is passed, the tax law will revert back to an exemption of $1 million only and then estate taxes would have to be paid over that amount.
Estate and tax issues have been dominating the news lately and probably will be dominating the lives of both individuals and businesses in the months and years to come.