Think Big Movement Podcast - Jon Dwoskin Interviews Randall Denha, President of Denha & Associates

Randall A. Denha, J.D., LL.M. is the founding member of Denha & Associates, PLLC. Mr. Denha, a former partner at one of the most prestigious estate planning firms in the country, specializes in the areas of estate and personal tax planning, business and succession planning, family wealth planning, asset protection planning and integrating all of the foregoing into a truly comprehensive plan. Mr. Denha counsels high net worth individuals and families on a daily basis and is frequently called upon by these same individuals and families to assist in developing business policies and structures that will succeed to the next generation. Mr. Denha attended Wayne State University and graduated with honors with a degree in Corporate Finance. After college, Mr. Denha then went to University of Detroit School of Law where he graduated with honors with his law degree. Feeling that he still needed more education, he then attended the University of Miami School of Law and completed his masters in law (LL.M.) in estate planning. The University of Miami is regarded as the premier school in the country for its program in estate planning. During his career he lectured extensively for many groups, some of which are UBS, Wells Fargo, Met Life, Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA), State Bar of Michigan, Michigan State Medical Society, Detroit Medical Society and its affiliates and Michigan Osteopathic Association to name a few. Mr. Denha continues to be called by many groups and associations to lecture and provide insight into the rapidly changing environment of estate planning. Mr. Denha continues to not only lecture to the life insurance industry, CPAs, financial advisors and specialized groups, but he is a frequent contributor of articles to many publications and is often called on to provide opinions and insight into the areas in which he specializes.

Mr. Denha has written articles for or contributed to many of the following, to name a few: Succession Planning chapter of Advising Closely Held Businesses in Michigan for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education; Forbes Magazine, Senior Living and Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Mr. Denha has hosted and continues to be interviewed on both television and radio programs on the importance of planning. Additionally, he is a former faculty member at Oakland University’s Personal Financial Planning Program where he has taught estate planning for those wishing to obtain a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Mr. Denha also serves as General Counsel for both local and national organizations and served as a past member of the Bank of Michigan’s Board of Directors. Mr. Denha has continued to be selected by his peers as a Michigan “Super Lawyer” in estate planning; a “Top Lawyer” by Dbusiness magazine in Trusts and Estates and Tax Law; Five Star Wealth Manager award; and a New York Times Top Attorney in Michigan.

In addition to the estate and succession planning areas of law, Mr. Denha also specializes in an area commonly referred to as Asset Protection Planning (APP). As an APP attorney, Randy is frequently encountering those clients who are fearful of creditor claims that lack merit and for no other reason are brought into litigation because the client has “deep pockets”. Typical clients in this area are physicians, business owners, builders, and real estate developers. APP is concerned with establishing entities and rearranging assets so that, in the event of a lawsuit, a creditor would have a difficult time attaching to the true asset because of the way such assets are arranged. Corporations, partnerships, LLCs, domestic trusts, and offshore trusts are commonly used in this area.

*E – explicit language may be used in this podcast.
Read the transcript

Jon Dwoskin:
Hey, everybody. I’m Jon Dwoskin, an executive business adviser and business coach. I work with successful business people who are stuck and want to take their company to the next level. Today, though, get ready to grow your business big, very big. In just a few seconds you’ll meet a dynamic business owner, executive, or sales person willing to share the best practices that fuel their growth and success. Each interview is no more than 15-ish minutes long, so you can quickly learn effective tools to put into your business today. Please listen with new ears and let’s get to learning, let’s get to growing, and let’s get to thinking big.

Hey, everybody. Welcome back and thanks for listening and taking time to listen to The Think Big Movement Podcast. I appreciate it. Today, I’m really excited to have Randy Denha as a guest. He’s not only a close friend, but he’s also a founding member of Denha & Associates, and he is a prestigious estate planning attorney. He’s going to share with us a lot of insights on why we need an estate plan, and why and how he started his own business, and how he caters to his clientele. The level of experience and service that he gives them is just incredible. He’s got a phenomenal reputation, and I couldn’t be happier to have him on the show. Randy, welcome. How are you doing, my friend?

 

Randy Denha:
I’m well, Jonathan. Thank you, and thanks for having me.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Yeah, of course. Fill in the gaps about you and your business. Tell us how it sprouted, and tell us about your company.

 

Randy Denha:
Well, I’ve been practicing now tax and estate planning, well, I’m specializing in estate planning, business succession, asset protection and a few other areas, really to the high net-worth market. But, quite honestly, I never turn down a case. They could be worth a dollar or a billion dollars. It doesn’t matter because you never know who they know and who they might refer to you. But, generally speaking, I pretty much interact with people of high net-worth caliber that have the need for estate planning.

What is estate planning? Estate planning is really the organization of all of your affairs in a way that minimizes taxes, minimizes the impact to the family in terms of the wealth transfer, while also protecting your children or beneficiaries from the creditors and predators, or in-laws and outlaws. The outlaws used to be in-laws. The idea is we want to have Mom and Dad or whoever is creating these specialized trust vehicles to have control, maybe not from beyond the grave, but at least have control so they could be assured that what happens is exactly going to be in keeping with their objectives.

Over the last 20 years of my practice, this is what I have been doing. I have started in law firm in Michigan, and about almost eight years ago, branched out on my own and I’ve loved it, absolutely loved it.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Right. Can you imagine working for anybody else at this point?

 

Randy Denha:
No, no, at this point, but quite honestly, these were times that I needed it so that I could forget learning how to play.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Yes. Well said.

 

Randy Denha:
Now we say that practice makes perfect, but if you practice enough, pretty soon you have a game, so I’d like to think that I have the game now.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I love it. Well said. Let’s talk about something you said as far as making sure that everything is in place from the grave, but really having control and really taking control of your estate and your life. I think a lot of people don’t, and it’s something that they don’t think about it because sometimes people don’t like to think about the grave. So how do you get people, like people who are listening, who don’t have a proper estate plan? There’s a lot of horrible things that can happen after if you don’t have things in place, so talk about what people should be thinking about, and why they should be thinking about an estate plan if they don’t have one, and what can happen if you don’t have one.

 

Randy Denha:
Sure. There’s, also with the last question, if you don’t have a plan in place, the government has a plan in place for you so, usually, that’s enough to disturb somebody to action.

The second method that I use, it’s really not a method. It’s really the truth. All I’m simply stating is the fact that you can leave all of your hard work to two of the following three parties: children, charity, or congress. It’s true. Unfortunately, people leave it all too often with the failure to plan, or the failure to hire the right planner to congress because Uncle Sam is your silent partner. Unless you plan for all of your affairs effectively and efficiently, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. That’s the tax side.

From the non-tax side, really, quite honestly, it’s more problematic and more of a reason to plan. You never want little Johnny to get a million dollars when he’s 18 or 25. You want little Johnny to perhaps go to school, maybe to go to grad school, maybe marry well, as opposed to not flunking out, maybe developing a habit, or hanging around the wrong people. We want to have controls in place, and a trust or some other vehicles allow for that control, whether it’s incentive-based or if little Johnny makes 100 dollars, the trust will match 100 dollars for him. Or if Johnny doesn’t have a job, guess what, Johnny may only be relegated to a certain allowance in the trust.

All of these controls can only be had with a properly drafted plan. This is the process I’ve taken people through to help them understand that if you’re no longer here, the government doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Their role is simply to clear the docket quickly and move the assets to whatever detriment it causes your family.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I’m dropping the mic for you right now. Everything you just said … If people who are listening don’t have an estate plan, who don’t have one and don’t reach out to get one, whether or not it’s with you, which I would recommend calling you at minimum, foolish. Uncle Sam is your silent partner. I think this has got to resonate with people when you say that to them at a very deep level.

 

Randy Denha:
It certainly does. It certainly does, and it gets people to say, “You know what, why am I working?”

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Correct.

 

Randy Denha:
Again, the whole point is you want your money to last your lifetime and, hopefully, even longer. So people can set up a generous skipping trust, which is really setting up a trust for the benefit of people two or more generations below you – so think grandkids, great-grandkids – and you don’t have to have a ton of money.

For example, I first created my estate plan when I just got out of law school. I was 27, I had a job at the law firm I was with, and I had more debt than I had assets. But I have life insurance, and I wanted to make sure that if I passed away, that that money would have gone to my intended beneficiaries, and if those beneficiaries had passed away, it was meant to go to A, B, and C. Well, guess what? If you think just by having a life insurance policy you’re going to be named a beneficiary? That’s where it stops. If the person you named is no longer there, what happens? You may not want it to go to that person’s kids, or you may not want it to go to the estate. Well, that’s what happens if you don’t take control.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Amen. Well articulated and thanks for sharing that because that was some powerful information. Let’s move a little bit to, and something you talked about, as far as your typical clientele. You never turn down a client, but a lot of your clients are high net-worth individuals who are putting things in place that you just talked about and there’s a level of service that they expect. Can you talk a little bit about the Randy Denha experience as far as what do you got to do to attract these types of clients and to service these types of clients, so you can influence them and give them the experience that they need?

 

Randy Denha:
Well, I’m the son of a grocer. My father immigrated to this country back in the late ’50s, so when he came to this country without an education, it’s a classic immigrant story, he worked. He didn’t have anything, but worked and worked and worked and really developed the concept of grocery stores and other convenience stores. We, at a young age, began working with him, so we learned the importance of hard work, family, but most importantly, we learned about the customer experience.

Unfortunately, in the world of law, there are a lot of smart lawyers, many of which are smarter than me. But one thing that I have over many of these lawyers is I can articulate the actual sale process. I can articulate what the reason is why you need exactly what you need, and most importantly, look them in the eye. So it’s these sort of intangible qualities, I would say that there are certain proofs. You have to have that in order to move somebody to action. Unless you do, and show they can believe you and trust in you, then you’re not going to do anything.

In terms of the service, that’s one thing I pride myself on, is I am like 7-Eleven. I never close. 24/7 I’m available. I was one of the very first attorneys at my old law firm with 85 attorneys for the first 14 years, and I started back in 1997, where I put my mobile phone on my business card. Why did I do that? Because I was promoting Randy Denha. I wasn’t promoting the law firm. The law firm was the by-product of Randy Denha. Most people do it the opposite way. They promote the law firm, and they’re simply just a spoke in the wheel. I didn’t do that. I did it my way and when I left, every client came with me, and I took thousands with me.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Wow.

 

Randy Denha:
Because they know the level of service and they know the level of commitment and I happen to also know what I’m doing.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Yeah, I love that. I have always put myself or a phone number on most everything that I do, a lot of what I do, and some people will say to me, “Well, why do you do that? You don’t want people calling you 24/7.” But I have the same philosophy. I am 24/7 and the idea is that – the fact is that – most people will not call you all the time. They’ll be respectful, but the idea that they have your phone number in case they need you in those moments is what it’s all about. It’s those moments of them feeling safe that you are there has been a huge part of my career as well. Do you find the same? I mean, people don’t take advantage of it, but they know you’re there if they need you.

 

Randy Denha:
Yeah, and the one distinguishing feature of my sales pitch and it’s well meaning. I truly believe it. As I tell my client when we’re done with whatever engagement they’ve hired me for, “I want you to call me for whatever you need.” And when I say “whatever you need,” I always follow it up with the same words. I say, “If you need a plumber, an electrician, a lawyer, doctor, it doesn’t matter. You call me. You keep me on speed dial and you call me.” That right there resonates because, guess what, if they have any legal matter, they call me. But they also know that I can provide non-legal services or at least a referral to.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
That is outstanding, outstanding. Randy, you have shared so much wisdom and so much phenomenal information today. Is there anything as far as a favorite book, an article, a podcast, thoughts, a piece of wisdom that someone shared with you, any one thing that sticks out that you can share with the listeners in our last minute or so together?

 

Randy Denha:
Yeah. It’s like the old quote. It says that, “You live life forward, but you learn backwards.” Going back and really seeing where I’ve been and the people that I’ve interacted with and networked, even through you. Our lunches, for example. You learn so much, but you can take a favorite quote, you can take a favorite saying, and they all come together to really shape the person you are.

For example, I always learned to get the ball out of your court. In other words, move the product. I’ve always learned be humble. If you don’t like the environment, change the environment. Whatever it might be, you need to be controlling, take control of your environment, while still being kind to others. But just know that if you ever feel rejected, or if you ever feel like you’re not being accepted, or that you’re slow to learn, simply give yourself a kick in the tush and move forward. Don’t lament and it will change.

I’ve always believed in the glass being half-full. It’s never partly cloudy. It’s always partly sunny, and you know what, it’s your attitude that determines your altitude. These are all the things that just affect me day by day and allow me to progress. I love TED Talks. I love anything that I can pretty much listen to because it is difficult for me to pick up a book. I got a busy household with four young kids under the age of eight, but whatever I can do to really stay grounded and have a positive outlook looking forward, that’s what I’m into.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I love it. I’m going to end with two things. One, tell everybody that one of the mailing lists I’m on is the Randy Denha Quote of the Day. So every morning I start my day, and I know you have a big mailing list, where I just get a simple quote that I read that really kind of just gets me going and I love it. So thank you for that, and I want to thank you for being part of the podcast. You’re so talented, you’re so great at what you do, and you’re a good friend and I want you to tell people how they can get a hold of you.

 

Randy Denha:
Sure. The name of my law firm is Denha & Associates, and I’m in downtown Birmingham, Michigan. My phone number is 248-265-4100. If you go to my website, www.denhalaw.com, all my information is on there, including my mobile phone.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I love it. I love it. Randy, thanks for being part of the show. It was incredible. You shared some great advice. I would suggest that people listen to it again, especially if you don’t have an estate plan, and if you need one, give Randy a buzz. Randy, thanks a billion.

 

Randy Denha:
Thank you, Jonathan. Thank you, all.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
All right. Have an amazing day.

 

Randy Denha:
Bye-bye.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Talk to you. Thank you for listening to the Think Big Movement Podcast. For show notes and links to anything we talked about, please visit jondwoskin.com. For additional best business practices, you may enjoy my latest book, the Think Big Movement: Grow Your Business Big, Very Big. Lastly, if you want to talk to me about advising and coaching your business, please email me jon@jondwoskin.com. Text or call me at 248-535-7796. Have an amazing day, an amazing week, and as always, think big.

 

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