Is the JEST Trust a Joke?

By Alan Gassman, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), Florida State Bar Certified Specialist in Wills, Trusts & Estates, AEP (Distinguished), and Christopher J. Denicolo, J.D., LL.M. Can a married couple in a non-community property state establish a joint revocable trust that will facilitate obtaining a date of death stepped-up basis on the death of the first dying spouse, and the full funding of a credit shelter trust (to the extent of the first dying spouse’s estate tax exemption) that can benefit the surviving spouse and descendants without being subject to federal estate tax on the surviving spouse’s death? After extensively researching these…

Life Insurance from the Estate Planning Attorney’s Viewpoint

By Steven J. Oshins, J.D., AEP (Distinguished) Estate planning attorneys are often known for “killing” life insurance sales.  Since the attorney owes the client a duty to do what is in the client’s best interest, if the attorney truly believes that the client does not need the insurance policy, then the attorney is arguably satisfying his or her ethical responsibilities to the client.  However, the attorney often automatically says “no” to the client’s detriment.  Perhaps the problem is that many attorneys just don’t understand the different life insurance products.  And human nature is often such that if you don’t understand…

Free Checkup Meetings Generate Lots of Revenue!

By Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law In our last article, we discussed the “free service package” alternative to an annual maintenance fee program.  The package included a free attorney checkup meeting every three years. You may be wondering, “How do you get your existing clients to come back in for these checkup meetings and actually generate additional revenue from them?” (Before I address these questions, let me first note that, even if you do have and decide to keep your current maintenance plan, periodic checkup meetings…

Should Your Clients Be Using the “OBIT” Instead of the AB?

By Edwin P. Morrow III, J.D., LL.M.(Tax), CFP®, RFC® For many taxpayers, the traditional trust design for married couples is now obsolete. Traditional AB trust designs risk incurring higher income taxes after the first death, and reduced basis increase at the second death.  New trust designs can not only mitigate against this risk, but create income tax advantages over outright bequests. Some practitioners advocate using a marital deduction trust, even if there is no need for the federal marital deduction, to allow the family to achieve a second step-up in basis with the asset protection and control of a trust….

Is Financial Planning Different for Women?

By Michelle A. Fait, MBA, CFP®, EA With the financial advisory industry turning its focus towards the 51% of the population that is female, many of whom will be directly responsible for an increasingly large portion of the nation’s personal wealth, there has been much discussion about the financial planning needs of women.  There are some obvious differences in demographics, including women’s statistically longer average life spans, the greater likelihood that they will take time out of the work force for care-giving (of children or parents or both), and that they will on average be paid less than men for…

Is It Time to Reevaluate Your Clients’ Trust-Owned Life Insurance Policy?

By Michael W. Halloran, CFP®, AEP®, ChFC®, CLU® Whether owned in a revocable or irrevocable trust, many practitioners have used life insurance over the years. Depending upon the type of policy as well as current economic conditions, some problems could arise with many existing Trust Owned Life Insurance (TOLI) policies. The majority of problems with TOLI policies lie in irrevocable trusts. Many times the trustee places the policy in the trust without checking with the company to see if the policy is sustainable for the intended purpose of the trust. The coverage needs to stay in-force until the death of…

Beneficiary Designation Problems with IRAs: More Than Just the RMD Rules!

  By Kristen M. Lynch, J.D., AEP, CISP, CTFA with Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, AEP (Distinguished) In the world of estate and retirement planning, I have been fortunate enough to have been cross-trained as both a trust officer and an attorney.  As a trust officer, I was charged with being the divisional manager and administrator for all of the IRAs within a large regional bank’s trust department.  In that role, I was responsible for ensuring that the bank’s IRA clients took their required minimum distributions (“RMD’s”), coordinated estate planning and post-mortem issues with the IRA client’s legal and tax…

How “Electronically” Organized Are You?

By Kristina Schneider & Megan DeLaGarza, Executive Assistants In last month’s newsletter, we discussed the top tips to get yourself more organized in your office space and through your daily workload, but your organization isn’t just about what’s on the outside.  How about your electronic files on the computer?  If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes looking for a file or trying to find an e-mail to respond to, then you might not be as electronically organized as you should be in order to be an effective and efficient assistant. As a follow-up to last month’s article, here are some…

Five Simple Tips for Being a More Organized Assistant

By Kristina Schneider & Megan DeLaGarza, Executive Assistants Being an organized assistant is important when supporting a busy professional advisor or attorney, especially one that may be meeting with multiple clients and managing multiple projects and priorities (like most professionals are doing).  Organization isn’t just about how your office looks, but it is also how you manage yourself and ultimately what can become your thoughts and actions.  However, sometimes just the act of organizing your surrounding environment is enough to help organize some of the rest of your chaos.  Staying organized with your paperwork, your desk or office space and…

Advise Clients to “Shift” Opportunities Rather than Grab It Themselves

By Jeremy Spackman, Esq. Opportunity Shifting is a technique where a client’s parent, grandparent or other person sets up a beneficiary controlled Dynasty Trust for the benefit of the client and the client’s descendants.  The client, as trustee of the Dynasty Trust, uses the gift made by the parent or grandparent to invest in a hot business or investment opportunity inside the Dynasty Trust, thereby protecting the opportunity from estate taxes, creditors and divorcing spouses for the duration of the trust. BENEFICIARY CONTROLLED DYNASTY TRUST Before explaining the steps involved in an opportunity shifting transaction, it is important to understand a beneficiary…