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James D. Wegner

James D. Wegner


Jim’s practice focuses on corporate, business and tax planning. He helps his clients understand the tax considerations of how to structure and operate their organizations and transactions. Jim also helps many clients create wealth and legacy preservation plans. Along with his business acumen, Jim is also one of the foremost aviation experts in the region, having handled thousands of aircraft transactions. Jim is an ATP rated pilot, and has flown many of the aircraft he deals with.  His aviation experience gives Jim a unique perspective in advising aircraft owners and operators from coast to coast on all aspects of aviation law.  As an experienced advisor, Jim knows that the most important part of his practice is the trusted relationship he builds with his clients. Over the course of his counsel, his clients enjoy the benefits of his sophisticated, prompt and effective problem-solving ability built from an intimate understanding of the client’s specific needs.

Success Story:
Jim worked on an estate plan for owners of a private company. The client wanted to maintain the company and pass it down to his children and grandchildren. Jim and his team established a long-term estate and business succession plan that, through various estate freeze techniques, sales to grantor trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, and life insurance planning, passed more than $300 million from the patriarch to matriarch, and then from matriarch to children, without estate taxes. He also used post-death planning in the matriarch’s estate to pass a significant amount of the business and other assets to grandchildren exempt from generation-skipping taxes.

Over more than 30 years of representing the original owners, Jim became involved with the businesses, including tax and corporate consulting, structuring and implementing many significant transactions for their companies, acquiring other companies, purchasing and selling aircraft, structuring intercompany transactions to minimize tax, and disposing of lines of business that no longer fit their business model. During that time, he grew to know the dynamics of both the extended family and the business, and is now helping plan the children’s estates and business succession following the death of the original owners.

  • Creighton University (J.D., Cum Laude, 1980)
  • Creighton University (B.S.B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1977)
  • Nebraska (1980: Sustaining Member)
  • U.S. Tax Court (1980)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit (1980)
  • U.S. Claims Court (1981)

McGrath North's Team Receives Broad Recognition from The Best Lawyers in America® 2024







More Publications

McGrath North Recognized in Chambers High Net Worth Guide

McGrath North is pleased to announce that their Tax, Trusts and Estates practice group earned a top ranking (Band 1) in the 2018 Chambers High Net Worth (HNW) guide. McGrath North is one of two Nebraska firms to receive the Band 1 honor for private wealth law.  


Buying Or Selling An Aircraft? Begin Your Planning Well Before You Land The Deal

We received a frantic call from an aircraft buyer who had recently taken delivery of a beautiful plane. The buyer had been careful to follow the Internet “advice” he found that suggested he could avoid paying sales tax by taking delivery of his aircraft in a state that had no sales tax. The plane was then brought into the buyer’s home state, from which the plane was operated. A while later, the buyer received a letter from his home state’s taxing authority asking where the aircraft was hangared, and whether sales or use tax was paid to the owner’s home state. Unfortunately, the new owner was now on the defensive, calling us to attempt to mitigate the sales or use tax that may have been reduced or avoided had careful planning occurred before the purchase. The scenario is common and highlights the importance of tax planning well before an aircraft is purchased. Below are a number of tax considerations in planning for the purchase of your next aircraft (note that similar issues may apply to many other types of business assets).  

  • Omaha Bar Association
  • Nebraska State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association (Member, Sections on Taxation, Corporations, Banking and Business Law)
  • Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • National Business Aviation Association
  • Lawyer Pilots Bar Association
  • Certified Public Accountant Certificate
  • Listed: “Best Lawyers in America”, Aviation Law, Closely Held Companies and Family Businesses Law, Corporate Law, Non-Profit / Charities Law, Tax Law, Trusts and Estates
  • “Best Lawyers in America”, Omaha Lawyer of the Year, Nonprofit/Charities Law, 2019, 2021, 2023
  • “Best Lawyers in America”, Omaha Lawyer of the Year, Closely Held Companies and Family Businesses Law, 2022
  • Listed: Great Plains Super Lawyers (Tax, Aviation and Aerospace, Business/Corporate) 2018-2019
  • Listed: Chambers High Net Worth Guide 2018-2020 (Private Wealth Law-Nebraska - Band 2)
  • Lecturer: Nebraska CPA CPE Courses
  • ATP – Airplane/Helicopter
  • Alpha Sigma Nu
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Beta Alpha Psi
  • Listed: Martindale-Hubbell, AV/Preeminent Rating

Representative Aviation Projects

Jim’s aviation experience gives him a unique perspective in advising aircraft owners and operators on all aspects of aviation law.  
  • Advised on all legal and tax aspects of buying, selling, and financing aircraft including drafting and negotiating letters of intent and purchase agreements; advising on tax issues including 1031 like-kind exchanges (both forward and reverse exchanges), depreciation, and state sales and use tax planning; and establishing owner trusts for U.S. registered foreign-owned aircraft.
  • Represented clients purchasing and selling fractional shares of aircraft with all of the major fractional programs, including loan and lease documents, like-kind exchanges, and dispute resolution with respect to resale value of fractional shares.
  • Represented various companies in complex ownership and operating structures for aircraft with multiple owners.
  • Consulted with large and small companies in establishing commercial contracts for, and providing regulatory advice on, aircraft ownership and operational issues, including purchase and lease of hangars, management and crew arrangements, storage and maintenance, and aircraft modification.
  • Provided FAA regulatory advice to structure operations to comply with Federal Aviation Regulations while allowing for aircraft use by related companies, persons and entities through dry leases, interchange agreements, joint ownership agreements and time-sharing arrangements.
  • Negotiated agreements with charter management companies and advised aircraft owners regarding FAA’s policies on “wet leasing” aircraft for charter.
  • Advised public and private companies on personal use of company aircraft, and related income recognition, deduction limitation and SEC disclosure issues.
  • Drafted corporate aircraft use policies to cover personal use, carriage of political candidates, SEC reporting and related matters.