James Blazek Is the Name; Estate Planning Is the Game 1/4/16 01/03/16 8:30:44 PM
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– Photo By Michael Tran
James Blazek serves many clients who are farm families, often with “heirloom” properties.
James Blazek Is the Name;
Estate Planning Is the Game
By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
It was James T. Blazek’s boyhood dream to become an attorney. “It became a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said the founder and president of the Estate Planning Law Group of Blazek & Gregg, PC, LLO. “Like Steve Jobs says, ‘all of the dots line up when you look behind you.’ There were so many building blocks along the way.”
Blazek was born in Omaha. His father was a shop teacher for an Omaha junior high school and high school, his mother a stay-at-home mom. “I got my love of tools from my dad,” he said. “Today, I still love all things tools.”
After graduating from high school, he knew that he wanted to have a “marketable undergraduate degree,” so he majored in business administration, concentrating on finance, at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
But more than that, he wanted to “help people and make a difference in the world.” That’s why he chose to get his juris doctorate and, for that, he chose Creighton University School of Law.
“I have a lot of people who invested in me and who nurtured me,” he said. “Barbara Green was one of my law school professors, and she called on me almost every day in Federal Estate and Gift Tax class. I learned a lot about estate planning, trusts and estate taxation; I learned it from the best. I owe my career to Creighton, and to educators like Barbara Green, who make such a tremendous difference.”
For a short time following graduation, he was with a general practice law firm, he said. “It was a situation where it was difficult to make a living wage. I was married and, after two years, I was forced to go out on my own.”
Looking back, Blazek said that he is thankful for the challenges in his life, because every time he has gone out of his comfort zone, he has thrived. “I was fortunate because I was forced to face my fears,” he said. “I have had a blessed life.”
For the first few years on his own, Blazek shared office space in the Woodmen Tower with several other attorneys. In 1986, he moved to 11580 West Dodge Road, where the Estate Planning Law Group of Blazek & Gregg has officed ever since.
Even though he’s based in Omaha, he has satellite offices in Hastings and Sioux City, Iowa. He is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association and the Iowa State Bar Association.
“Less than half of our clients set foot in our Omaha office,” he said. “A large portion of our clients are farm families, and they have a unique set of circumstances.”
Most, he added, have “heirloom” properties, which means they plan to keep the land in their families for generations. Because of the complexity of sound estate planning he decided in 1995 that the law firm would limit its practice to estate planning and estate administration. He feels that clients want and deserve comprehensive, in-depth planning that goes beyond old-style “transfer” planning. As such, the firm delivers planning that is designed to save taxes and expenses and protect property while in the hands of the client’s loved ones.
“We found years ago that it was impossible for us to be very good at anything if we tried to do everything,” he said. “We feel our clients have benefited by our concentrated efforts. There is so much bad, outdated estate planning currently in place; primarily because people have not updated their plans as their lives and laws have changed.
“There are many attorneys doing estate planning – in addition to other practice areas – and they are spread too thin. They are well-intended but it’s better to have planning done by those who devote all their time to this practice area. Estate planning is a vast practice area of the law. After 35 years, I’m still learning.”
Blazek goes that extra mile for his clients, and this means helping clients to plan and structure their wealth and business affairs so they continue their standard of living, maintain full control of their affairs, provide for themselves and their loved ones in the event of a disability, and do this while reducing the costs to the family in professional fees and taxes.
“We put our clients first,” he said. “We offer a free, initial consultation so they can come and talk about their goals and their concerns without worrying about the clock. We have tremendous, world-class documents that we deliver to our clients. We assign our trust planning clients their own re-titling paralegal. We re-title our clients’ current assets and future assets to their trusts free of charge. We don’t charge for follow-up phone calls. We are always studying the relevant laws, and we let clients know of any legal changes that would affect their plans. We also let them know about new opportunities.”
To help make things even more accessible to his clients and the public, the Estate Planning Law Group of Blazek & Gregg conducts regular estate planning workshops and events that include discussions like “Discover New Tax Laws in 2013,” during which year, he explained, there were major tax changes, especially with respect to revocable trusts for married couples; “Discover the Benefits of Advanced Planning,” and “Discover How Better Planning Saves Money and Protects Property.”
James T. Blazek isn’t the only one in his family who loves the law. One of his sisters is an attorney. He has one daughter who’s a Creighton University School of Law graduate, and one son currently attending Creighton Law. And with eight children, ranging in age from 11 to 31, chances are high that another one will follow in his footsteps.
In his free time, Blazek is active in Christ Community Church. He is on the board of Omaha Youth for Christ, and a member of the Christian Businessmen Connection or CBMC.
“God has taken care of me,” Blazek said. “The right people have come into my life and have mentored me. We also have a tremendous staff; they are a wonderful group of people. A lot of people have trusted in me, and I’m just trying to pay that back.”
For more information regarding the Estate Planning Group of Blazek & Gregg, PC, LLO, please visit the firm’s website at: www.blazekandgregg.com.