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How is the Health of your Estate and Trust Planning?

August 11, 2016

Does the gross value of your estate exceed $150,000? If your answer is yes, then let’s talk! We understand that discussing your estate can be, well, uncomfortable. Our Estates and Trusts Team can help you see that creating a plan for what will happen after your death isn’t about passing away — it’s about the legacy you’ll pass on. With the right planning, your legacy will help others live their lives for years to come.

 Why Estate Planning?

Proper estate planning helps lay the groundwork for your family once you pass away, offering peace of mind for you and yours. It may be uncomfortable to begin the discussion, but your worries will ease once you know that your hard-earned money will be used according to your wishes. As CPAs, we’re always looking to minimize taxes and fees so your heirs receive the largest inheritance possible, and avoid probate.

Why Do I Want to Avoid Probate?

Probate is a public legal proceeding that is used to put a person’s financial affairs in order after death. In California, probate proceedings are conducted by the County Superior Court where the deceased person lived — and these proceedings can take months, even years, to move through the system. This process is a matter of public record. All of that time comes with a big price tag, too.

 Will or Trust: Which Is Better?

Anyone can write up a will. But if the gross value of your estate is $150,000 or more, it’s best to create a trust also. A trust will protect your heirs from entering probate, a series of court procedures that can be costly and emotional. A little advance planning will help your heirs retain more of your estate in the long run.

 Trust 101: The Very Basics of Setting Up a Trust

There’s a common misconception that trusts require prohibitive amounts of money to set up. The truth is, you don’t have to be rich to set up a trust. At Grimbleby Coleman, we make the process easy and will work with your attorney or help you find one to work with. We’ll take a look at your tax returns, create a plan to minimize income tax, and create a long-term strategy for asset distribution. Legally your trust, unlike a will, will remain private — a great advantage to the family you leave behind. Also, a trust is the perfect way to leave a legacy to children under the age of 18. Instead of receiving a court-appointed guardian to make financial decisions, you’ll be in charge of who will help your young beneficiary navigate his or her new inheritance.

 A Team With Compassion

We’re one of only two CPA firms in the region with a dedicated estates and trusts team. Not only do we know the ins and outs of this important practice area, we’re driven, passionate, and committed to staying current with the ever-evolving legislature. Our team members include:

What If My Estate Is … Well, Complicated?

We have experience working on difficult estate and trust planning scenarios, including Form 706 for clients with more than $5 million in assets, QTIP planning, portability, Schedule “R” generation-skipping tax planning, GST allocation, and special gift planning.

Further Reading

A member of our Estates and Trusts team looks forward to helping you with your upcoming challenges or trust maintenance.

Grimbleby Coleman Puts the Heart in Community – and I Love That.


We Won the STATEWIDE CalCPA Public Service Award!

I often get asked why I am no longer working in the nonprofit profession here in Modesto; that is subsequently followed by a probing question inquiring when I plan to return. The answer is easy! My role as Marketing Manager here at Grimbleby Coleman CPAs bridges this gap in the most fulfilling of ways — so I won’t be heading back soon!

After working in the non-profit world for more than 10 years, I’ve now managed to find a position where two of my passions — marketing and community activity — are encouraged to blossom simultaneously. I feel so strongly about this that I personally wrote the Grimbleby Coleman CPAs’ nomination for the Cal CPA Public Service Award. Each day I count my blessings that I found a place of work filled with inspirational, honest, and hardworking people.

CalCPA Public Service Award Recognition

This month, our firm was awarded the statewide honor of the CalCPA Public Service Award, exemplifying our commitment to firm-wide community support. The honor rewards visionary professionals, and the firms they lead, for extraordinary efforts in serving their communities. According to the award committee, we have demonstrated “firm-wide ethos exemplifying the community consciousness that all firms should adopt.” They went on to say, “We want to not only congratulate you for this achievement, but also hold you up as an example to others for adopting community service as a best practice.”

Grimbleby Commun — I Mean, Coleman

At Grimbleby Coleman CPAs, community service is more than just an opportunity to build relationships with the areas we serve, it’s part of our firm’s identity and mission statement: “Building success for and connections with our colleagues, clients and community … it’s the people behind the numbers.” Our commitment to social responsibility and serving people in our community is at the heart of everything we do. The “people behind the numbers,” is a constant theme that runs throughout our company; we care about one another and aim to support our associates with community involvement experiences.

Our partners understand that being locally connected is more than just sponsoring a baseball team or having an annual employee food drive. They lead by example by serving as board members and lending their time, talent, and financial resources to many important local organizations. Our employees are encouraged to get involved in community organizations that speak to their individual passions; in fact, our employees are encouraged to take the time and flexibility they need to pursue volunteer opportunities through our policy of unlimited volunteer time off.

  • 1,680 hours of team-wide civic and community service participation!
  • 60+ events sponsored annually!

Proudly Supporting…

Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Stanislaus Business Alliance, Central Valley Business Center and Opportunity Stanislaus, Modesto Rotary, Community Hospice, Love Modesto, Modesto Chamber of Commerce, McHenry Mansion, Women’s Education & Leadership League, Downtown Modesto Partnership, Historic State Theatre, Modesto Sunrise Rotary, Toastmasters, Modesto Sunset Lions Club, Murals in Motown, Del Rio Country Club, Hope Haven International, United Samaritans, United Way of Stanislaus County, CPA Firm Management Association, Valley Medical Group Managers Association, Hope Haven West, Cambodia Impact, Stanislaus County Estate Planning Council, Stanislaus Community Foundation, CalCPA San Joaquin Chapter, Modesto Neighborhoods, Community Hospice, Salvation Army, Beyond Borders and numerous others!

 Let’s All Do Our Part!

There are always ways to be part of making our community better, and my hope is that everyone is doing their part! Whether it’s at church, at school, or giving an ear to a friend or a smile to a stranger.

New Case Study: An Ag Family Succession Story

February 4, 2016

"The facts vary such that no two situations are ever the same."  - Jeff Bowman, CPA, Partner and Ag Team Lead

A first-generation farmer in Stanislaus County wanted to pass on his individually owned business to his adult children. The second generation planned to maintain and enlarge the operation, which included farming and ag processing. Important to note, not all of the farmer's children were employed on the ranch.
  • The farmer wanted to ensure the children inherited equitably.
  • All parties wanted to limit the liability exposure posed to the farmer as an individual owner and operator.
  • The father and his children wanted to limit taxable income and estate taxexposure for the older generation.
  • The operation needed to be positioned for future growth.
  • Limiting tax impact on contributing operations to new S Corp and Limited Partnerships
  • Considering the benefits and burdens of an IC-DISC entity
  • Determining how and through which entity owners should be compensated
  • Cash-basis methods available for farm activities 
  • Important factors for tax planning:
    • Farm income averaging and qualifying types of income
    • Net investment income tax
    • Active versus passive investor treatment
    • Maximizing the domestic production activity deduction
    • Optimizing income for IC-DISC commission purpose
Along with the farmer's attorney, we recommended forming a new operating entity and a separate entity for holding the real estate, reducing risk and providing flexibility. The new operating entity is used to maintain the business services, equipment ownership, and labor for the farming operation. By forming the realty entity, the father was able to conveniently introduce ownership to the second generation. In the end, our Ag team developed a fair, strong succession plan for our client by working with his attorney and taking into account the current and future needs of the operation.
Forming entities and limiting liability exposure require a high level of legal counsel. We worked closely with the client's attorney while analyzing succession options. The attorney's estate tax expertise ensured the plans were consistent with future gifting and estate transfer intentions, while mitigating risk. 
*FYI: The attorney filed state articles of formation, obtained a federal ID number for each entity, drafted the crop share lease and farm management services agreement, formed the IC-DISC, and drafted the commission agreement. The attorney also created a deed for transferring the land.

Top 5 Keys to Succession Planning

As Harvest Comes to a Close, Now is the Time to Focus on the Big Picture: Succession Planning
Jeff Bowman, Ag Team Leader
At some point, all family farming operations face the same challenge: "What do we do if something happens to Dad? Who gets what?"
Succession planning is never a favorite topic. It can be rife with emotion and conflict, but it also is a challenge and a reality that all family businesses need to prepare for. 
Is this the year that your family is going to tackle succession? For ag families, the alternative to proper succession planning oftentimes is grim and involves losing most or all of the family farm. Sadly, this is a fact. As families grow, so does the potential for conflict.
Let us help.
Jeff Bowman, Ag Team Leader, says the first step he takes when working with a family on its succession planning is to learn what the long-term goals are for the farm and the next generation. "It's an open conversation where I can learn their thoughts and big-picture goals," he says.
Here are five starter tips to help get the ball rolling*
  1. Don't avoid "The Talk" because it is a touchy or fight-triggering subject.  
  2. Obstacles like greed, family disharmony, control freaks, self-interest, and lack of contribution are tricky topics to air. Speak candidly and nip them in the bud with new solutions. 
  3. Write down both small and major goals that every person can agree on.  
  4. Schedule regular meetings with the entire family during the year and be sure that notes or recordings are taken at every meeting.  
  5. Commit and execute the plan!
Back in October of last year, we invited agriculture succession planning expert Kevin Spafford to join us for a luncheon presentation. He shared the helpful tips he has gleaned after working with hundreds of ag families. Click here to learn more.
Grimbleby Coleman is a trusted ally when it comes to assisting ag families with succession planning. We want each family member to accomplish his or her individual long-term financial goals. There's no time quite like the present when it comes to the matter of succession planning - make plans with your family today. We can help you navigate the conversation.
*These reminders are thanks to Kevin Spafford, Legacy-By-Design.


Featured Article

Ag Software Case Study
GC NICHE: Ag and Cloud Accounting Services Team GC TEAMMEMBERS INVOLVED: Tami Davis (CAS); Jeff Coleman and Jeff Bowman (Ag Team) TYPE OF INDUSTRY: Almond and walnut family farming operation DATE PROJECT COMPLETED: 2015    SITUATION: Two brothers and one sister, members of a third-generation farm, were unable to keep up with the business management and bookkeeping processes for their expanding operation. The sister took on bookkeeping tasks to help fill the need, but had no training or accounting background. Farm equipment, cultural and labor costs were often in question and cash flow was a constant struggle, as was accurate bookkeeping.  GOALS/CHALLENGES: Track expenses across three entities and four orchards. Access accurate information easily. Raise awareness about the skills each member of the business needs to demonstrate. Manage cash flow carefully due to recent plantings. Transition the sister (at her request) away from day-to-day business responsibilities. Identify and track profitability by entity.  ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS & TACTICS: Each sibling has a unique skillset and interest in the business; however, each sibling does not invest an equal amount of time in the business, which requires careful valuation. Early on, it became clear that each sibling is adept at technology and open to using it across a variety of devices to manage the business. The siblings are also open-minded and welcoming of regular outside counsel. OUR RECOMMENDATION After much discussion, the final recommendation was four-fold:        I.          Adopt and integrate and cloud accounting software technologies.      II.          Utilize Grimbleby Coleman’s Managed Service department with an outsourced Accounting Manager to assist with ongoing, high-level bookkeeping controller needs.    III.          Set up a dashboard with auto-generated reports for each sibling’s review.    IV.          Conduct a monthly meeting to review income and expenses for the entire operation, orchard development costs per acre, financial results compared to budget by acre and crop by year, and impacts on cash flow.  FINAL OUTCOME – SUCCESS! After much discussion, the four recommendations were adopted and have been very helpful from an operational and financial perspective. The siblings now have the ability to: Continuously manage the business anytime, anywhere. Review financial results across all entities in a single report. Remotely approve payments, sign checks, and manage cash flow. Analyze planting, cultural and harvest costs by year, acre, or other criteria. Use tools to compare financial results against budgets and industry standards, as well as analyze the effectiveness of irrigation, spraying, and harvest equipment. Allocate expenses between orchards and entities. Use an outsourced controller to implement protocol and increase accuracy. The ongoing presence of an “extended” accounting and bookkeeping expert has helped facilitate and develop accurate data.  The siblings are now making business decisions with confidence and the family business is thriving. To learn more about this case study or other ag related managed services capabilities please contact Jeff Bowman ( or Tami Davis ( 

Featured Staff

Karen helps the partners at Grimbleby Coleman with scheduling, coordinating client luncheons, and organizing special events. She's the one you'll want to butter up several weeks before your birthday.

When asked what she enjoys most about working with clients, Karen says, "Before I started working with Grimbleby Coleman, I was afraid of even the initials IRS. Now, I feel comfortable when clients are worried and scared. I can reassure them with confidence that we will assist them in whatever the issue might be."

She's active in several community programs and charities, including the Relay for Life Fundraiser and the children's ministry at First Baptist Church. She also loves swimming and working in her yard.

Karen's favorite number is 7. "For its significance of God's promise to us."

Karen Green Administrative Assistant read more

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