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Walny innovates in estate planning

As a 3L, Eido Walny dreamed of starting an estate planning boutique firm.

But first, he knew he’d need about a decade’s experience in the traditional bastion for estate planners: a large law firm.

Ten years and one week after graduating from Boston University School of Law, Walny opened Walny Legal Group LLC in May 2011.

Other small firms in Wisconsin offer estate planning. But to the best of Walny’s knowledge, he said, he’s the only one concentrating exclusively in the area.

He seeks to bring innovative practices to Wisconsin’s legal community, and learns to do so, he said, by spending a fair amount of time on the coasts and in Chicago talking with estate planners who serve some of the country’s wealthiest individuals, and who therefore tend to be on the cutting edge.

Walny drafted the first known beneficiary defective trust in Wisconsin, for example. With a grantor defective trust, he explained, the trust is effective for wealth-transfer tax purposes, but is disregarded for income-tax purposes, so that the assets transferred to the trust are taxed to the grantor as if he or she still owned them. With a beneficiary defective trust, the tax consequences similarly flow elsewhere, to beneficiaries.

Walny gravitated toward estate planning early in his career, he said, because it provides plenty of client contact with minimal conflict.

“I have a policy of ‘Smiles in, smiles out,’” he said. “My clients are happy to be at my office, and we’re doing positive work for them.”

There are several reasons for Walny’s client satisfaction, said John Weitzer of Wells Fargo Private Bank in Milwaukee, who often works with him.

“He’s got a great depth of knowledge,” Weitzer said. “He’s structured his firm so he can provide a high level of legal advice and guidance, while passing the savings of low overhead on to his clients. They appreciate that. He also does a lot of alternative billing, which clients like because they know
up front.”

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