2019 ABA Heckerling Reports from 53rd Annual Heckerling Institute

For the past 22 years, the American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law with the permission of the University of Miami School of Law, releases several extensive reports highlighting the various lectures and proceedings of the Heckerling Institute, one of the nation’s largest estate planning conferences, held every year in January. This week in Orlando, Florida, the 53rd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning took place.  To view, download and access these extensive reports (which are still being updated and added), see below. Further, at the above website, you can also access reports from prior Heckerling…

Top Mistakes Attorneys Make Marketing Their Seminars

By Kristina Schneider Many estate planning attorneys think that seminars don’t work—for a variety of reasons.  Some of these reasons may be valid, but the most common reason that I find when I talk to estate planning attorneys is they say, “I tried it and they didn’t work.” It’s then that we begin to have a discussion about how they went about marketing it and as we begin to look into things further, it is clear to me why they don’t think that seminars work.  Worse yet, for some attorneys, I have found that when we actually reviewed the return…

Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts for the Large Estate

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) The federal estate and gift tax exemption is at an all-time high, thereby leaving only a tiny percentage of people who have taxable estates.  This shift in demand for advanced estate tax planning has similarly reduced the number of estate planners who handle advanced estate tax planning, an expected result of supply and demand.  Even if an estate planner doesn’t personally practice in the high-net-worth area, the planner absolutely must be aware of certain estate tax-saving techniques such as the Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (“GRAT”). A GRAT is an irrevocable trust into which…

529 Misconceptions About 529 Plans

By Alan S. Gassman J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), Florida State Bar Certified Specialist in Wills, Trusts & Estates, AEP (Distinguished) Internal Revenue Code Section 529 was enacted in 1996 to allow interest, dividends, and capital gains that occur under mutual fund-like wrappers to be tax-free if the entire fund is spent on qualified educational expenses. The 2017 Tax Act expanded qualified educational expenses to include up to $10,000 per year for kindergarten through 12th grade tuition, beginning in 2018. There are many misconceptions and thousands of mistakes made with respect to 529 plans.  The following list and explanation should be helpful to many. #1. …

The Beneficiary Controlled Trust

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) The Beneficiary Controlled Trust name was first introduced to the estate planning industry by my father and I in our two-part article, “Protecting & Preserving Wealth into the Next Millennium,” published in the September and October 1998 issues of Trusts & Estates magazine.  [Portions of this article were taken from the 1998 article.]  Since that time, the Beneficiary Controlled Trust concept has been widely used by estate planners all over the country.  This article describes this philosophy. Background Most trust scriveners draft trusts that make mandatory distributions to the beneficiaries upon reaching certain…

How to Use Bonuses to Incentivize Your Staff

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law In this newsletter article, I talked about how to use bonuses to incentivize your associate attorneys.  In this article, I will address how to also incentivize your support staff. The principles are basically the same, but there are a few important items that are tweaked for support staff.  First and foremost, non-attorney staff members cannot receive some percentage or share of firm revenue or profit.  Virtually every State Bar’s Professional Ethics Rules (or state’s Business and Professions Codes) prohibit this. …

CHECKLIST: 2017 Tax Act & Recent Developments

By Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, PFS, AEP (Distinguished), J.D. Summary: The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act has changed almost every aspect of planning.  Consider the following. √ Sec. 199A: The 20% QBI deduction applies for 2018 – 2025. Consider the sunset of this tax bennie when evaluating the cost of planning to enhance whatever benefits you can get. Example: Before restructuring a business, will the payback over the years remaining be worth the cost? √ Charity: The new doubled standard deduction may eliminate any tax benefit from donations. Consider setting up a non-grantor trust to salvage that deduction. Example: You create an irrevocable…

Section 199A: Triple Net Leases Considered a Trade or Business?

By Alan S. Gassman J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), Florida State Bar Certified Specialist in Wills, Trusts & Estates, AEP (Distinguished) and Kelsey Weiss Introduction The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced the new, and sometimes problematic, Section 199A to the Internal Revenue Code. Section 199A was designed to provide taxpayers with a 20% deduction for qualified business income earned through qualifying trades or business. This deduction for business owners was added, most likely, in response to the significant tax cut the Act created for large corporations.1 Unfortunately, there is no single accepted definition of “trade or business,” so many taxpayers are in…

Dynasty Trust Situs Battle Royale

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) A “Dynasty Trust” is an irrevocable trust that continues for as long as the applicable state law allows.  For as long as it continues, the trust assets can be protected from estate taxes and, depending upon the choice of situs and how the trust is drafted, can also be protected from divorcing spouses and other creditors. The jurisdictional competition for Dynasty Trust supremacy is alive and well.  In this cut-throat industry where billions of dollars are being passed through Dynasty Trusts, the stage is now set for the Dynasty Trust Situs Battle Royale….

Blow Up Your Annual Client Maintenance Program!

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law In this article, I addressed the marketplace issues confronting estate planning attorneys, in particular commoditization of our “products” and increasing low price competition.  One of the ways that I discussed to combat these issues is to emphasize how your “product” is better than your competitors’.  Another way to differentiate yourself is to emphasize your “service after the sale.”  When someone purchases a car, he or she wants to know what kind of service or maintenance program is available and what…