Do Client Maintenance Plans Really Work?

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Two of the major issues confronting estate planning attorneys are the commoditization of our “products” and increasing low price competition thanks to the do-it-yourself kits and internet trusts.  One way to combat these issues is to emphasize and show your prospects how your “product” is superior to what your competitors have to offer, such as by differentiating the services available to the client after the sale.  Think about it, when you purchase or lease a car, don’t you usually…

Poll Results: The New First-Tier Trust Jurisdictions

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) In May of 2021, I conducted a LinkedIn poll asking, “[w]hich of the following are the first-tier trust jurisdictions?” The choices were (a) AK, DE, NV and SD, (b) NV and SD or (c) NV, SD and TN. The purpose of the poll was to see if the general public still believes that Alaska, Delaware, Nevada and South Dakota make up the first tier. Or have Nevada and South Dakota distanced themselves enough from Alaska and Delaware to deserve their own tier? Or has Tennessee improved enough to join Nevada and South Dakota…

NING Trusts for California Residents: “Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) Late last year, the California Franchise Tax Board announced that it was planning to bring legislation to abolish the use of Incomplete Gift Non-Grantor Trusts, otherwise known as “ING Trusts”. The two states where most of these trusts are established are Nevada (“NING Trusts”) and Delaware (“DING Trusts”). However, since these trusts are non-grantor Domestic Asset Protection Trusts, this article will assume that the draftsman would select Nevada which is generally considered the number one asset protection trust jurisdiction. The legislation was to be effective for any taxable income earned on or after…

7 Common Mistakes When Disciplining and Terminating Associates and Staff

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Dealing properly with employees is yet another key challenge to running a smooth-operating practice.  And, once again, this is the kind of stuff we never learn in law school or any other continuing education course.  Unfortunately, I have made all of the following mistakes and have had to learn the hard way.  By reading this article, I hope that you will now be adequately warned and can hopefully avoid making the same mistakes! Mistake #1: Quick to Hire, Slow…

The Importance of Taking Time Off and Getting a Break from Work

By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach The concept of taking time off of work or stepping away from work seems like an obvious one, but for those that are super-dedicated to their job, this can actually be a difficult task to do sometimes. It took me some time, but it was something that I had to learn over a number of years of going full-steam, with very little to no breaks. I can recall when I was first hired by Phil back in 2004, I was an eager, freshly graduated college student. There were a lot of details to my…

Clearing the Bubble—The Transition To Fixed Fees

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law In the past, I have emphasized and reemphasized the advantages of utilizing a fixed fee structure rather than an hourly billing system. Here’s just a few of the main advantages for a fixed fee structure: Fixed fees avoid the need to maintain hourly records and keep track of every moment of your time. Fixed fees avoid having to go through the effort of preparing, reviewing and sending out billings. Fixed fees avoid you having to be a bill collector,…

Saving State Income Taxes: NING Trusts and Completed Gift Non-Grantor Options

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) Prior to the Trump Tax Act, state income taxes paid were deductible against federal income tax. However, the Trump Tax Act limits the amount of the federal income tax deduction for state income taxes paid, real property taxes paid and sales taxes paid to a cumulative (yes, cumulative!) total of $10,000 per year. The $10,000 is used up for property taxes only for many of our clients. Therefore, state income taxes paid are essentially no longer deductible! This is why state income tax avoidance planning has arguably become the hottest area of estate…

Reduce Your Number of No-Shows and Cancellations with a Proper Confirmation Process

By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach Having worked with numerous estate planning professionals over the years, one of the issues that a lot of people have struggled with are appointment and seminar no-shows and cancellations.  One of my first questions is always, “What does your confirmation process look like?” For some, they don’t have any process in place at all.  For others, they have a mixture of an e-mail that is sent or a phone call the day before.  While something is better than nothing, there is always room for improvement to help reduce the number of no-shows and cancellations….

Life Settlements Can Increase Policy’s Worth

By Richard E. Nottingham CLU, ChFC Recently, I helped a client sell a no-longer-needed life insurance policy for far more than its cash surrender value. The policy’s cash surrender value was $61,000. Instead, via life settlement, they received a check for $540,000. A life settlement is a transaction involving the sale of an existing life insurance policy by the policy’s owner to a life settlement company. The result of this strategy can net the policy owner a sum many times greater than the policy’s cash value and provide the policy owner substantially more than the total premiums paid for the…

The 2022 Biden Estate Tax Cliff: Preparing After the 1/1/2013 and 1/1/2021 Cliffs

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) If you are an estate planner, you likely had your best revenue ever in 2012.  Then you likely annihilated your previous revenue record in 2020.  This happened because of the so-called “fear of missing out” with different tax “cliffs” expected to occur at the end of those two years, thereby causing a commotion among the wealthy. JANUARY 1, 2013 FISCAL CLIFF Rewind back to the year 2012.  President Obama was in office and the $5 million estate and gift tax exemption was scheduled to expire and roll back to only $1 million at…