Are You Fitting Jobs to People?

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Hiring, training, and managing employees have certainly not been easy things to learn when it comes to owning my own law practice.  I say it time and time again, but these are the things that we never learned in law school, but yet seemingly take up a great deal of time (and expense) if not done well. One common mistake that I am guilty of making in the past, but that I’ve seen come up quite a bit lately…

What to Do When Everything is Urgent & Important?

By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach Too often for most people, there’s far too much to do and not enough time to do it.  This requires a balancing act of figuring out how to prioritize your work. For most people, the work that gets set aside are the non-important, but also sadly, the non-urgent and important items.  The things that you know you need to get to, but that don’t have a looming deadline to be met.  Those tasks will constantly be backburnered into an oblivion, perhaps for eternity. We implement what is known as the “Urgent & Important” (or…

Why Not To Use Incentive Clauses in Trusts

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) Many attorneys draft incentive clauses into trusts. An incentive clause generally makes additional distributions to the beneficiary upon reaching certain milestones. Probably the most popular incentive clause is one which makes mandatory distributions based on matching the beneficiary’s salary. That sounds great until you actually think through a real-life example and the disastrous results. A REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE Assume that Client has three young children. Child A grows up to be a top surgeon earning $3 million per year. Child B becomes a stay-at-home parent to three wonderful children and is one of the…

The Art of Confirming an Appointment

By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach Knowing the steps of how to properly confirm an appointment – – any kind of appointment, including a phone appointment, client meeting, lunch meeting, etc. – – is extremely valuable to any office looking to continue to operate efficiently and effectively. However, I have found that a lot of people don’t do this (or don’t do it properly) and this can result in a lot of disruption in the office. Whether or not you are the one responsible for confirming appointments, if you know that your office could benefit from a makeover in your…

Multiple Financial Advisor Referral Relationships May Be a Big MISTAKE!

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Does that sound crazy to you? Probably! But, hear me out. (By the way, if you’re a financial advisor, what I’ll say applies equally to you having too many estate planning attorney relationships.) Over the years, I have consistently heard fellow estate planning attorneys tell me all of the reasons why the dedicated, single-financial advisor referral relationship (or a relationship with only one company or group of advisors) that I use in my practice doesn’t work or why it…

The Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (“ILIT”) is a trust that owns one or more life insurance policies and is designed to avoid estate taxes on the death benefit. The trust must be irrevocable in order to accomplish this. The general plan is to create the trust prior to the purchase of the life insurance and have the trustee of the ILIT purchase the insurance and elect to have the ILIT named as both the owner and the beneficiary of the policy. However, in the event that the life insurance policy is owned outside…

The Floating Spouse Provision and More: Designing a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust for Maximum Access and Maximum Divorce Protection

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (“SLAT”) is an irrevocable trust for the benefit of the settlor’s spouse and descendants. The settlor makes transfers to the trust that must come from the settlor’s separate property. If drafted properly, the trust assets are protected from the creditors and divorcing spouses of the settlor and of the beneficiaries and aren’t subject to estate taxes (if using a completed gift version) when the settlor and settlor’s spouse pass away. THE KEY IS IN THE DRAFTING A general fear that many clients and advisors have is that they…

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…

Top 10 E-mail Etiquette Rules for Estate Planning Professionals (and Their Assistants and Staff)

By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach Electronic mail (otherwise known as e-mail) plays an important part in any business these days. It’s helped make communicating and doing business far more efficient and simpler. However, as with most things in business, there are certain rules that professionals should follow when it comes to using e-mail. If not done correctly, it can actually create unnecessary confusion, chaos, and an unnecessary amount of miscommunication (and maybe even legal liability!). Below, you will find what I consider to be the ten most important e-mail etiquette rules to live and work by. (NOTE: These are…

Effectively Managing Your Boss’ Busy Calendar

By Kristina Schneider, Practice Success Coach Whether your boss is an estate planning attorney, CPA, financial advisor or life insurance agent, chances are, he or she has an overwhelmingly busy calendar.  From client meetings, phone calls, seminar presentations, conferences and CE programs to numerous projects to be completed, goals to be reached, and endless obligations to be met. How do you organize, prioritize and manage it all while getting everything scheduled and done? Ask for Assistance with Prioritizing First, ask for assistance in prioritizing your tasks (and your boss’ tasks).  Thankfully, most executives acknowledge that their assistants are juggling several…