Why Caution Is Warranted When Transferring Title of Mortgaged Real Property

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 9, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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by Phoebe Stone, JD, MA (bioethics)

Transferring title of real property to an inter vivos trust is an extremely common practice for most estate planners. Many practitioners also engage in transfers of real property to ownership vehicles such as limited liability companies (LLCs). Practitioners must exercise caution when making these transfers if the property is subject to an existing mortgage, however, because such transfers can trigger the due-on-sale clause that is typically included in the mortgage contract.1

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Complex Concepts in Estate Planning: Planning for the $500,000+ IRA

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 2, 2021 10:04:03 AM

If you still have questions regarding the impact of the SECURE Act on your client’s individual retirement account (IRA) and estate plan, you are not alone. Planning for clients whose largest asset is their IRA was already challenging prior to the passage of the SECURE Act, but with new rules and exceptions to consider, planning for these clients is even more complex. Now more than ever, estate planning attorneys must understand the ins and outs of the SECURE Act and how it affects their clients’ plans.

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Three Ways to Boost Your Firm’s Marketing Efforts in 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 26, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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As we see the light at the end of the (COVID) tunnel, we are optimistic that in-person events will again be part of our marketing strategy in the not-too-distant future. However, if COVID has taught us anything, it is that a strong online presence and content marketing strategy is critical—and this reality is unlikely to change after the pandemic. 

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COVID-19 Relief Updates for Small Businesses

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 19, 2021 1:20:10 PM

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Although some states have eased COVID-related restrictions on small businesses, many businesses are still struggling. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) continue to issue guidance for small businesses that seek to benefit from the COVID-relief legislation passed in 2020. In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act, the new stimulus legislation signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as aid for certain business sectors that have been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Gift Reporting Requirements: Three Things To Keep In Mind

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 19, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Statistics of Income program, in a typical year, taxpayers file over two hundred thousand Forms 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, and pay hundreds of millions of dollars in gift taxes. Each calendar year, taxpayers gift billions of dollars to friends, family, charities, and trusts. Taxpayers file gift tax returns not only to report lifetime gifts to the IRS but also to allocate their generation-skipping transfer tax exemption to some or all of those transfers. In turn, the IRS uses the gift tax returns to impose gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes on taxpayers who have exhausted their lifetime exemptions and to keep track of a taxpayer’s remaining exemptions for taxpayers who may owe estate tax at the time of their death.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: March 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 12, 2021 10:00:59 AM

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From proposals for new inheritance taxes to new consumer privacy laws, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted some noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Representing Women-Owned Small Businesses: Help Them Achieve Success

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 5, 2021 10:14:54 AM

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If you have practiced business law for a decade or more, you may have experienced a noticeable shift in the demographics of your clients who own small businesses. Between 1972—the year the US Census Bureau began providing data on all woman-owned businesses—and 2019, the number of woman-owned businesses tripled. In recent years, this trend has accelerated. From 2007, the year of the Great Recession, to 2019, the number of woman-owned businesses grew by 58 percent. Forty-two percent of all businesses were woman-owned in 2019, compared to 4.6 percent in 1972. Nearly all (99.9 percent) woman-owned businesses are small businesses. Despite their growth in number and rate of success, woman-owned small businesses experience more challenges, such as less access to financing and slower growth, than businesses owned by men.

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How are LLCs Taxed?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 26, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: February 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 19, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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From electronic wills statutes to federally mandated reporting requirements for small businesses, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Trust Administration in Volatile Markets

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 12, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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“Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”

—Irving Fisher, New York Times, October 16, 1929

We all know what happened on October 24, 1929, just eight days after Professor Fisher’s bullish prediction, when the Wall Street Crash ushered in the Great Depression, ruining the great economist’s reputation. In hindsight, it is easy to spot the irrational exuberance exhibited in the run up to the greatest economic crisis in modern times. However, the fact remains that Professor Fisher was far from the only economist who expressed this opinion.

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4 Myths about Estate Planning in the African American Community

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 5, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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African American-owned businesses are on the rise: The US Census Bureau estimates that there were 2.5 million Black-owned businesses in 2020. As African Americans pursue economic success through entrepreneurship, they must also consider creating plans to pass their businesses down to the next generation and ensure financial security in the event of incapacitation. There has generally been a lack of focus on generational wealth in the African American community, but information on the importance of planning and encouragement from estate planning attorneys will encourage African American business owners and their families to plan for their futures. It is therefore important to address the common myths that may lead African Americans to believe that an estate plan is unnecessary.

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Legacy Planning: Engage Your Client on a Deeper Level

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 29, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Author: Stan Miller, JD

Based on my experience counseling estate planning clients, I believe they want us to engage with them on a level that transcends the trust and financial solutions we typically offer as attorneys and advisors. Our clients want us to engage with them on a legacy level. The conclusion expressed in the title of Daniel Scott’s article “Estate Planning is Dead” seems to be an overstatement. But Scott effectively showed that the work we do merely as planners does not address the deeper needs of our clients. According to Scott,

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RLT Drafting 101: General Concepts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 22, 2021 10:06:26 AM

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Revocable living trusts (RLT) are the bread and butter of most estate planners. If drafted correctly, RLTs can avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process and provide for a client’s spouse without disinheriting children—which can be important for clients who are in second marriages. RLTs can reduce estate taxes and protect inheritances from courts, creditors, spouses, divorce proceedings, and irresponsible spending.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: January 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 15, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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From the issuance of the Internal Revenue Service’s Priority Guidance Plan to new COVID-19 relief legislation, we have seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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The COVID-19 Relief Bill: What Business Owners Need to Know Heading into 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 8, 2021 10:15:40 AM

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On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act). Included among the Act’s nearly 5,600 pages are provisions related to COVID-19 pandemic relief. Key tax provisions include: (1) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) updates, including the allowance of deductions for qualified expenses paid for with PPP loan proceeds that are subsequently forgiven, the extension of the program, the introduction of “second draw” PPP loans, and the expansion of eligible expenses for which PPP loan proceeds can be spent; (2) the extension of paid sick and family leave and family credits for wages paid through March 31, 2021; and (3) the extension of the employee retention credit under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through June 30, 2021.

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Give Your Practice a Gift For The Holidays

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 25, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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A membership to WealthCounsel is the best gift you could give to your practice (and yourself!). WealthCounsel has everything you need to build and run a thriving estate planning or business law practice. 

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From Old to New: The Basics of Trust Decanting

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 18, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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It may seem surprising to use a wine analogy to explain a legal concept, but when discussing trust decanting, pouring wine is often a part of the conversation. When you take a bottle of wine and slowly pour the wine from the bottle into a different container, you are separating the wine from any sediments that may have formed in the bottle. This process is called wine decanting. Decanting ultimately makes the wine taste better as it removes the harsh taste of built-up sediment. Similarly, trust decanting allows a trustee to modify an irrevocable trust by “pouring” the trust assets into a new trust that has different, often more favorable terms. If a trustee has the discretionary power to distribute trust assets to and for the benefit of a beneficiary, decanting enables a trustee to use this power to dictate the terms of a new trust. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: December 2020

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 11, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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From changes in the tax assessments of inherited property in California to new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guidance regarding the nondeductibility of expenses paid by PPP loans, we have recently seen significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted some noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Proposition 19 Passed in California, Modifying Tax Assessments on Inherited Real Property

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 9, 2020 1:27:03 PM

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Proposition 19, a California ballot measure, modifies Proposition 13 (which limits increases of real property tax to two percent per year unless reassessed due to sale or transfer) and Proposition 58 (which allows property owners to transfer their primary residence to their children at the preferential property tax assessment and up to $1 million of assessed value of other real property, with a later proposition extending the benefit to qualifying grandchildren).

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21 Practice Success Tips for 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 4, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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  1. Acknowledge and reward your staff. Our legal staff makes us look good. Employees help us stay organized, remember important deadlines, and carry a larger load than we would like to admit. As the year ends, it is always a great idea to acknowledge your employees by giving them a bonus or gift. They will certainly appreciate the acknowledgement of their hard work, particularly in a year like 2020 where many have been juggling increased responsibilities at home. 
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Deducting Business Losses

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 27, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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by Steve Gorin, JD

Deductible business losses can lead to a reduction in—or refund of—income tax. This article will examine the various rules limiting the current deduction of business losses and a 2020 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) memo explaining the effect of these limits on the self-employment tax. In addition, this article discusses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), effective March 27, 2020, which temporarily upended the 2017 tax reform.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: November 2020

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 23, 2020 4:33:37 PM

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From the imposition of transferee liability for estate taxes to actions arising from the misclassification of workers, we have seen significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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FAQs about GRATs, Answered

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 13, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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A grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is an advanced estate planning tool used to reduce an individual’s taxable estate by passing assets to trust beneficiaries free of estate and gift tax. However, like any advanced estate planning tool, GRATs can be complicated and must be structured properly to be beneficial. Dive into the following questions and answers to develop a better understanding of how GRATs work and how they may be useful for estate planning clients.

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Planning for Business Owners: Do Not Forget a Buy-Sell Agreement

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 6, 2020 10:40:03 AM

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Entrepreneurship is currently on the rise, largely driven by individuals who either are seeking to become their own boss or have decided to turn a passion into a full-fledged business. But how many of these small business owners have taken steps to protect the future of their businesses or have considered the legacy of their businesses after they die or retire? How many of them have included buy-sell agreements in their estate and business succession plans? When approached by business owners who wish to execute an estate plan, it is imperative that estate planning attorneys help these business owners take the necessary steps to protect the future of their businesses by ensuring that a well-drafted buy-sell agreement is a component of their plans. 

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Timely Considerations for the Double Spousal Access Trust

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 3, 2020 6:39:53 PM

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Author: James G. Blase, CPA, JD, LLM, Blase & Associates, LLC, St. Louis, Missouri

Many clients are scrambling to implement significant gifting plans and trusts before changes are potentially made to the current estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax laws by a new Congress and president. Regardless of the outcome of the election, planning will need to take place before 2026, when the current $11.58 million lifetime gift and GST tax exemptions are scheduled to sunset, potentially being reduced to their previous $5 million levels, adjusted for inflation. For many high net worth married couples, the goal is to double the amount of this current gift to up to $23.16 million.

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Do Not Let These Revocable Living Trust Drafting Mistakes Haunt You

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 30, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Halloween is in the air everywhere we look. Even with all the frightening imagery of ghouls, ghosts, and goblins, to estate planning attorneys there are things even more terrifying: legal drafting mistakes! Drafting mistakes can lead to disappointed phone calls from clients, negative online reviews, and worst of all, demand letters from the attorneys of angry children of deceased clients, followed by that dreaded call to your professional liability insurance carrier. This is truly the stuff nightmares are made of.

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SBA Provides Simplified PPP Forgiveness Application and Relief to Borrowers of $50,000 or Less

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 28, 2020 4:02:05 PM

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On October 8, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) issued a new simplified two-page Form 3508S application, instructions for borrowers, and accompanying guidance aimed at benefiting small business owners who obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. Borrowers and their affiliates that received loans of $2 million or more may not use Form 3508S. The new application and guidance, effective October 14, 2020, provide much-anticipated relief for eligible borrowers, including forgiveness reduction exemptions and fewer reporting requirements. The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, legislation proposed by the Senate in July, would have provided automatic forgiveness (upon attestation of a good faith effort to comply with PPP requirements) to borrowers receiving $150,000 or less in PPP funds.

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Carpe Diem (Again): No Time Like The Present to Transfer Family Wealth

By Kevin Quinn, JD on Oct 23, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Right now may be the best time in a generation for significant family wealth transfers. The combination of a difficult recession, a low interest rate environment, the very real probability of future legislative change, and perhaps most importantly, a deep need for shared family wealth has created a perfect opportunity for families to transfer significant wealth.

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Demystifying Trust Administration: A Guide

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 16, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Many estate planning attorneys choose to expand into the practice of trust administration to provide additional legal services to their clients and increase profits in their law firms. As an estate planning attorney, you may initially encounter trust administration when a long-time estate planning client passes away and the family turns to you, as the trusted legal advisor, for help. Or potential clients may find you online while searching for a trusts and estates attorney because they need help handling the legal issues surrounding their deceased loved ones’ final affairs.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: October Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 9, 2020 10:19:41 AM

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From new SECURE Act guidance to the invalidation of a forum selection clause by a California court, we have seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law over the past month. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted some noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Three Ways to Make the Most of Estate Planning Awareness Week

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 2, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Estate Planning Awareness week is just around the corner. With so much going on this year—the coronavirus and the upcoming presidential election—attorneys need to educate their communities on the value of estate planning now more than ever. In addition to providing a complimentary marketing package to help you get started, below are three ways you can market your practice and get the conversations going. 

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Equal Justice under the Law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the United States Supreme Court, and Lasting Impact on the Practice of Estate Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 25, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known by her initials RBG, passed away last week leaving a long legal legacy in her wake. She will lie in state in the United States Capitol, the first woman ever to have been so honored.

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4 Election Year Tax Strategies You and Your Clients Need To Consider

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 18, 2020 10:00:00 AM

2020 Election Implications for estate planners

The 2020 election is almost upon us. The past has taught us that trying to predict the results of an election are futile at best. Still, estate planning clients need timely counsel as to how the election may impact their financial futures. Estate planning attorneys strive to help clients stay informed and suggest opportunities for clients to respond to changes. While we do not know exactly what the future holds, we do have strong clues as to what the tax laws may look like if the balance of power shifts in 2021 from Republican to Democrat hands. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: September Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 11, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Legal News

From a proposed wealth tax in California to the enactment of state business liability shield statutes, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Three Reasons Why Understanding the Federal Tax Code Makes You a Better Estate Planner

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 4, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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A client’s intentions in preparing an estate plan are as unique as that individual. Even so, some of the most common reasons for estate planning include the desire to

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2020 Insights: Advanced Estate Planning Strategies

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 28, 2020 10:50:51 AM

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2020 has been a year of change and adaptation. From learning how to practice law virtually due to COVID-19 to major planning changes under the SECURE Act and CARES Act, many attorneys are wondering how they are going to keep their heads above water and keep their practices viable. 

Gain new insights for your practice with the Advanced Estate Planning Summit — perfect for experienced estate planning professionals, the Summit is now on-demand and can be purchased through our Store. Featuring industry experts who delve deep into advanced timely topics, you’ll walk away with new legal strategies and practical takeaways to use immediately in your practice.

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Managing Risk in Trust Administration

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 21, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Offering trust administration services can be highly profitable and rewarding for your law practice. Attorneys providing legal services to fiduciaries in postdeath administrations can deliver more holistic “cradle to grave” care for estate planning clients and receive an additional steady source of income. However, this area of law is not without risks—the amount of time, attention to detail, and competence required in guiding fiduciaries through the administration process can leave an attorney vulnerable to malpractice claims and unhappy clients. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: August Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 14, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Legal News

From the issuance of Section 199A final regulations to COVID-19-related guidance under the Family and Medical Leave Act, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To help you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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A Taxpayer’s House of Cards? Second Circuit Finds Restored Historic Mansion Is a Capital Asset

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 7, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Real property used in a taxpayer’s trade or business is excluded from the IRS’s definition of a capital asset, enabling taxpayers to take advantage of the generally more beneficial ordinary loss deduction rather than the capital loss deduction upon its sale. As the petitioners discovered in Keefe v. Commissioner, 2020 WL 4032469 (2d Cir. July 17, 2020), however, the treatment of a sale of real estate as a sale of business property rather than a sale of a capital asset needs to be backed up by the facts, and an incorrect characterization on a tax return can be quite expensive.

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Avoiding Erosion of Testamentary Intent in Wealth Transfers: Best Practices for Contractual Transfers

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 31, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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By Mary E. Vandenack, founding and managing member of Vandenack Weaver LLC

Significant amounts of wealth are likely to be transferred over the next 25 years. The United States has an aging population in control of an estimated $59 trillion in assets. A growing area of case law in the United States has been that of tortious interference with inheritance. Tortious interference with inheritance occurs when an individual, by fraud or duress, or other tortious means, intentionally prevents another from receiving an inheritance or gift that he would otherwise have received. Tortious interference is rooted in and related to other concepts such as undue influence and fraud. 

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Concluding the Trust Administration: What to Consider Before Making Final Distributions to Beneficiaries

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 24, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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In a postdeath trust administration, beneficiaries are often most concerned with the distribution of assets. Who gets what and when? Trustees, and attorneys counseling trustees, must recognize the importance of when, or more importantly, when not to distribute trust property. The trustee’s proper timing of final distributions to beneficiaries can make all the difference in whether a trust administration concludes smoothly or becomes unnecessarily complicated. Generally, distributions should not be made until all debts and taxes have been paid and any remaining expenses of administration are reasonably accounted for with a reserve. 

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The Benefits of Basis Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Before the increase in the federal estate tax exemption amount, brought in by the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) in 2013 and raised by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, estate planning attorneys focused primarily on how to avoid the impact of estate tax.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: July Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 10, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Legal News

From the taxation of trust income in California to landmark civil rights decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Preservation of S-Corp Status in Trust Administration

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 3, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Author: Landon Long, Senior Attorney at Evans & Davis and WealthCounsel member

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Estate Planning for Intellectual Property Rights

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 26, 2020 10:34:23 AM

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Estate planning is widely recognized as a means of transferring wealth from one generation to the next while minimizing both taxes and the risk of loss to creditors. A comprehensive estate plan not only transfers cash, investments, real estate, and vehicles, but also less commonly considered assets, such as intellectual property. While clients in certain professions—for example, authors, artists, small business owners, and inventors—often recognize the need to protect their valuable intellectual property, every client potentially has intellectual property that could provide a stream of income for family members or loved ones after the client passes away. 

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The PPP Flexibility Act Explained: New SBA Guidance for PPP Borrowers

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 19, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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On June 5, 2020, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (the Flexibility Act), which changes several important aspects of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Small Business Administration (SBA) issued guidance on June 11, 2020, to modify the first interim final rule (issued April 2) to conform to the provisions of the Flexibility Act. Further guidance was published on June 17, 2020, revising the third and sixth interim final rules to conform to the Flexibility Act. In addition, further revisions to the first interim final rule were made on June 12, 2020, to promote the criminal justice reform policies underlying the First Step Act of 2018. The rules have been frequently changing and difficult for many borrowers to keep up with. The most recent updates are summarized below.

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3 Estate Planning Strategies in a Low Interest Rate Environment

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 16, 2020 8:26:09 AM

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With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, the federal funds rate has taken a nosedive, dropping from 1.75% in January to 0.25% as of June 10th. With rates projected to hover around 0% for the foreseeable future, now is a great time to leverage low interest rates in your estate planning strategies and help clients to maximize their wealth for themselves and their families even in times that are economically challenging. Below are three wealth transfer strategies to consider.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: June Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 5, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Legal News

From modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program to temporary IRS procedures allowing the electronic submission of requests for advice, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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To Reopen or Not to Reopen? Businesses Grapple with Liability Concerns

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 29, 2020 10:22:17 AM

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After more than two months of being in lockdown due to the coronavirus, states across the country are slowly starting to reopen (see NYT's interactive map). With restrictions lifting, many businesses are itching to return to physical workspaces. But with federal, state, and local safety guidelines to contend with, resuming “business as usual” is just not possible (at least for the foreseeable future). 

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New Guidance Issued Regarding Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Process

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 27, 2020 12:49:59 PM

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On May 22nd the Small Business Administration (SBA), in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury, issued a new Interim Final Rule providing additional information for borrowers planning to apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness. Here are some highlights from this long-awaited guidance for borrowers. 

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Drafting Estate Planning Documents in a Post-SECURE Act Environment

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 22, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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One year ago this week, the House passed the SECURE Act with 417 yeas and 3 nays. Although this bill, Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, H.R. 1994, 116th Cong. (2019), had overwhelming bipartisan support, it languished in the Senate. Estate planning attorneys, financial planners, and industry experts watched the bill for the rest of 2019 with particular interest, in large part because of a provision in Title IV of the bill that proposed modifying the required minimum distribution rules for qualified retirement accounts by eliminating the “stretch” for all beneficiaries except those qualifying as “eligible designated beneficiaries.” By December 2019, it seemed that the SECURE Act bill was going to die with the year. However, in a last-minute move, the SECURE Act was attached to the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (FCAA) of 2020, H.R. 1865, 116th Cong. (2020), in a slightly modified form. This version of the SECURE Act, which Congress passed in mid-December, was signed into law on December 20, 2019, with an effective date of January 1, 2020, for most of its provisions. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: May Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 15, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Legal News

From case law approving an alternative pleading model for trust beneficiaries to avoid triggering a no-contest clause, to COVID-19 relief measures, we have  seen significant developments in estate planning and business law recently. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we have highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

Legal developments we will cover:

 

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Tax Relief Under the CARES Act

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 8, 2020 1:39:59 PM

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law on March 27, 2020, is designed to provide quick and substantial relief to individuals and businesses affected by the economic shutdown in response to the spread of COVID-19. Several CARES Act provisions provide temporary tax relief for individuals and businesses, as well as enhanced tax incentives designed to encourage charitable giving. 

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Private Decanting: A Do-Over Trust With Your Privacy Intact

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) on May 1, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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What is Trust Decanting?

For many years, practitioners have struggled to find ways to change the terms of an irrevocable trust. However, through common law and through the decanting statutes that have been enacted in many jurisdictions, it is now possible to modify an irrevocable trust. The rationale for allowing such a modification is that a trustee who has the power to distribute the trust property to or for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries should be able to make the distribution to them in trust and dictate the terms of that trust. Decanting is essentially a “do-over”.

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Marketing Your Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 24, 2020 10:23:26 AM

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Americans all over the nation are scrambling to protect themselves and their families from the coronavirus. One important factor that may be overlooked is incapacity planning. Estate planners have an important role in educating those within their community on the benefits of having updated healthcare directives. We've created a complementary marketing package that can help you engage clients and potential clients on this important matter. The package includes:

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: April Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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From sweeping federal COVID-19 relief legislation to state emergency orders, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Understanding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Does it Apply to Your Law Practice?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 10, 2020 10:07:33 AM

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On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed. The Act has two important new laws for employees, intended to provide relief, as most people’s lives have been impacted in some way by COVID-19: (1) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act; and (2) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. FFCRA also offers tax credits and exemptions designed to protect the viability of businesses during a time of economic stress.

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3 Ways to Adapt Your Law Practice to the Challenges of COVID-19

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 3, 2020 10:00:28 AM

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1. Implement new technology to operate remotely and conduct business in a virtual environment

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Paycheck Protection Program Application

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 31, 2020 4:06:00 PM

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The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. This program provides $349,000,000 in federally backed loans to businesses to meet financial operational costs like payroll, mortgage interest payments, rent, and utility payments as an incentive to encourage businesses to retain employees during this pandemic.

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COVID-19: The Impact on Small Businesses

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 27, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Small businesses are struggling economically in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses have closed as a result of shelter-in-place orders, and even in states less severely affected by the virus, many non-essential businesses have closed.  Further, companies that have remained open are dealing with the fallout stemming from the public’s fear of the spread of the disease. Due to the volatility of the stock market, home builders and others in the construction industry may experience a slowdown in customers seeking to build new homes or renovate as a result of their shrinking investment accounts. Likewise, many other industries are suffering from curtailed discretionary spending and decreased consumer confidence. Employees have also been affected, with businesses forced into schedule reductions, pay cuts and layoffs due to virus-related slowdowns, as well as mandatory or voluntary closures. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: March Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 20, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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From case law requiring notice for contingent beneficiaries to new federal rules applicable to joint employers, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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COVID-19 Prompts Fed to Delay Tax Filing and Payment Deadline

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 13, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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This article has been updated to reflect the U.S. Treasury announcement on 3/20. Readers should verify that no further changes have been made to the filing and payment deadlines. 



The 2020 tax season is underway, but millions of Americans have yet to start preparing their tax returns. Earlier this week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered taxpayers a 90-day reprieve on paying their income taxes. As of Friday, March 20, the deadline to file tax returns has also been extended by three months. Taxpayers will now have until July 15th to file and pay their 2019 income taxes (up to $1 million). During this time, filers will not incur interest on unpaid taxes or be subject to tax filing penalties. According to Wealth Management, “this reprieve amount would also likely apply to small businesses and pass-through entities. Corporate filers, on the other hand, would get the same length of time to pay amounts due on up to $10 million in taxes owed.”  As details continue to be hammered out, tax advisors and estate planning attorneys should expect questions from clients as the new tax filing deadline approaches.

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The Quarterly 2020 Winter Issue - Trust Administration: Successfully Managing the Moving Parts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 6, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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The Quarterly—WealthCounsel’s legal magazine for estate planning and business law attorneys—2020 winter issue is here! This issue focuses on trust administration—a logical and complementary service to add to any estate planning practice. Full of informative articles, this issue offers practical insights for estate planning attorneys either already administering trusts or wishing to expand the scope of their practice to include trust administration. 

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Six Considerations for Serving Women in Estate Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 28, 2020 10:20:32 AM

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By Libby Banks, The Law Office of Libby Banks, PLLC

In the course of developing my estate planning practice, I’ve realized that the majority of my clients are women. I also have found that when a married couple comes to see me, the wife is typically the driver of the meeting. As both a woman and an estate planning attorney, I have developed some ideas about why women are so often the initiators of the estate planning process and what they are looking for from us as estate planners. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: February Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 21, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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From no-contest clauses in Wyoming, to charitable deduction reporting to the IRS, to SALT deductions in New Jersey, there are a variety of recent developments in estate planning and business law. To help you stay abreast of current developments, here are a few highlights.

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To Halve or to Hold? Joint vs. Separate Trust Planning for Married Couples

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 14, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Revocable living trusts are an increasingly popular estate planning tool for married couples. They can be extremely useful for incapacity planning, probate avoidance (including the ability to avoid probate in other states so long as real estate in another state has been properly transferred to the revocable living trust), asset protection, and privacy. Depending on the married couple’s goals and circumstances, an estate plan can include either a joint revocable trust or separate trusts for each spouse. Both options offer advantages and disadvantages. Listed below are several client scenarios that explore whether a joint trust or individual trusts are better. 

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Multi-National Families: Advising Clients With Foreign Assets

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 7, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Many of our clients live in an increasingly mobile world, owning property or assets in multiple countries, or maintaining dual citizenship. They may also be United States (US) expatriates or a US person married to a non-citizen spouse. The estate planning process for these clients is likely to be more complex because each country has different laws or statutes regarding wills, trusts, and taxes. As a result, it is imperative that estate planning practitioners have a basic knowledge of the applicable US and foreign laws and rules, as well as commonly used estate planning strategies.  It is not enough to assume that a will or trust created in the US will be honored in another country. 

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Announcing Open Registration for Symposium 2020

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 31, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Get your conference pass!

Symposium is a one-of-a-kind gathering of the finest minds in estate planning and business law. Featuring top-notch and practical education from leading experts in trusts and estates, unparalleled (and unforgettable) networking opportunities, and modern techniques for growing your practice, Symposium has one goal in mind: helping you achieve the practice you want.

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Four Incentives the SECURE Act Gives Small Business Owners

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 24, 2020 11:14:40 AM

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The SECURE Act, which stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” Act, was signed into law at the end of 2019. The Act takes small but impactful steps towards addressing the country’s retirement crisis by incentivizing small business owners to sponsor retirement plans for their employees. It has also provided an excellent window of opportunity for practitioners to reach out to their small business clients in light of the new legislation. Below are four significant upgrades made by the Act that you should consider sharing with your business owner clients.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: January Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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From the passage of the long-expected SECURE Act to the establishment of paid leave for federal workers, we have recently seen some significant developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted four noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Spotting, Managing, and Reporting Risk

By Sterling Miller on Jan 10, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Written by: Sterling Miller, JD

It’s difficult to be part of any business and not hear about “risk.” It’s everywhere. If risk were a woman, it would be the Hollywood “It Girl” of 2019. Put another way, risk is the new black. It’s on the lips of every CEO, CFO, and board member, as it should be. And, anything that is important to the board and the C-Suite, is important to the Legal Department. In fact, over the past five or so years, one of the key responsibilities businesses are placing on in-house lawyers is spotting and managing risk. The business wants its in-house lawyers to be the ones who sniff through virtually every situation looking for risk (legal or otherwise). What this means is that, more and more, in-house counsel need to be masters of the company’s business operations and strategy (both short and long term), because you cannot successfully spot and manage risk unless you understand how the company operates and where it wants to go.

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A Crucial Component to a Successful Estate Plan: The Family Meeting

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 3, 2020 10:06:50 AM

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Congratulations! You’ve created a comprehensive estate plan for your client. Now that all documents are signed and handed over to the client, does that mark the end of an estate planner’s job? According to the book Estate Planning for the Post-Transition Period, the majority of estate plans that fail do so because of non-legal/non-technical aspects. These errors have nothing to do with your perfectly drafted estate plan. Rather, they are issues related to lack of communication and inaction on the part of your clients’ family. Today, the most common reasons for failure are:

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3 Tips to Streamline Your Drafting Process

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 27, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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According to the American Bar Association (ABA), drafting is a “mission-critical function” for all law offices. Your legal documents should capture your practice’s intellectual capital and set it apart from other competitors. While drafting methods have remained relatively unchanged for decades, the increasingly hyper-competitive legal market has forced attorneys to seek out and adopt new legal technologies to streamline their drafting processes. 

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What You Should Know About the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Dec 23, 2019 3:33:20 PM

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On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act). The SECURE Act, which is effective January 1, 2020, is the most impactful retirement legislation of the past decade.

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Happy Holidays

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 20, 2019 10:00:00 AM

 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: 2019 Highlights

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 13, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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From sweeping legislative changes to decisive judicial decisions—we’ve seen some impactful developments in estate planning and business law this year. To ensure that you close out the year successfully, we’ve highlighted six noteworthy developments of 2019 and analyzed how they may impact your law practice. 

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11 Year-End Planning Tips for Legal Practitioners

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 6, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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The end of the year is a great time to set goals for the coming year, reach out to clients, thank referral sources, invest in new tech (like automated drafting software), and conduct some housekeeping in your practice. To ensure you set your practice up for a successful new year, below are 11 year-end planning tips to consider. 

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Estate Planning Essentials: Community Clauses

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 29, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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Adding customized clauses and provisions to a legal document is a great way to tailor a document to a client’s specific goals and circumstances. However, creating a new provision or tailoring an existing provision for a new client can be time-consuming, not to mention risky. To cut down on time and reduce the inherent dangers of simply editing an existing document, attorneys often make the mistake of using boilerplate provisions. 

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How To Make The Most of Your Clients' Retirement Account

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 22, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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For many estate planning clients, retirement assets will be the largest asset they own at their death. Passing retirement accounts to intended beneficiaries requires special knowledge and careful planning.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: November Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 15, 2019 10:15:00 AM

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From long-awaited guidance on the tax treatment of cryptocurrency to the banning of forced arbitration agreements for workers in California—we’ve recently seen some impactful developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted five noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice. 

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Helping Business Clients Navigate Revamped Privacy Laws

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 8, 2019 10:25:00 AM

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When consumers experience a “breach” of certain categories of information, state laws have required organizations to notify those affected and, in some instances, to also notify state agencies, consumer reporting agencies, and the media. A growing number of states—including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas, and, most recently, New York—have gone a step further, requiring organizations to develop and implement “reasonable safeguards” to secure the personal information they collect and use. 

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Trust Decanting Do’s and Don’ts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 1, 2019 11:36:32 AM

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Decanting can be a great way to add flexibility to irrevocable trusts. Beyond correcting scrivener’s errors, resolving ambiguities, or clarifying trust language, decanting allows trustees to change some provisions of an irrevocable trust by pouring the assets into a new trust with modified terms.

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Estate Planning Essentials: Survivor's Trust

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 25, 2019 12:10:32 PM

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When planning for married couples are joint trusts more advantageous or are separate trusts the way to go? Many married couples have their assets so intertwined that separate individual trusts might not be the best estate planning tool for them. However, joint trusts often don’t provide the same level of flexibility as separate trusts. A Survivor’s Trust, on the other hand, provides the surviving spouse with the same kind of versatility at first death that he or she would have had if the couple had used separate trusts at the outset.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: October Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 18, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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From sweeping employee classifications changes in California to uncertainties regarding the future of New Jersey’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act—we’ve seen some impactful developments in estate planning and business law. To ensure that you stay abreast of these legal changes, we’ve highlighted five noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice. 

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4 Considerations for Your Law Firm’s Contingency Plan

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 14, 2019 11:28:08 AM

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You help your clients plan for the unexpected, but have you done the same for your law firm? To ensure that your law firm stays healthy and profitable during a disruptive event (whether it’s a recession, unexpected health event, or natural disaster), attorneys should make sure they have a well thought out contingency plan for their business. 

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Adding a New Practice Area to Your Law Firm

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 4, 2019 10:01:00 AM

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There are many reasons why an attorney should think about adding additional practice areas to their law firm offerings—it helps improve your client experience, having multiple streams of income protects your business from market volatility, and it increases your bottom line! However, adding another practice area can be a big ask for you, your office staff, and your budget. 

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Marketing For The Busy Attorney: How To Make The Most Of Estate Planning Awareness Week

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 3, 2019 9:31:50 AM

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Estate Planning Awareness Week, October 21-27, 2019, is just around the corner. With a reported 60% of all adults not having an estate plan, now is the perfect time to educate your community why comprehensive estate planning is critical—and why you’re the perfect professional for the job!

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Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act: On Hold in the Senate

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Sep 26, 2019 2:30:24 PM

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The SECURE Act (“Act”) passed the House on May 23, 2019, with overwhelming bipartisan support (417-3), and the same was expected to occur in the Senate. Following Congress’ August recess, however, the bill remains stalled in the Senate, with some sources questioning whether it will ever become law. This update will provide a brief overview of key provisions of H.R. 1994 – the version of the Act approved by the House and received by the Senate on June 3, 2019 – and will discuss the provisions said to be causing the holdup in the Senate.

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The Good Apple: Helping Clients Pick the Right Fiduciary

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 20, 2019 10:03:00 AM

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Fiduciaries can hold a lot of power when it comes to the successful execution of one’s estate plan—they make crucial financial decisions, act as advocates for a client’s wishes,  make sure an estate’s debts are settled, and ensure that each beneficiary gets what they were intended to receive. As such, helping clients choose the right individual to carry out these duties can be the difference between successfully carrying out a client’s wishes and complete calamity.   

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: September Review

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 13, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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A bankruptcy attorney sues Square, Inc. for discrimination; a Florida law firm learns an expensive lesson on negligent drafting—last month saw a few cases offering cautionary tales. So you can stay abreast of these legal developments, we’ve highlighted three recent cases and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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U.S. Recession Looms: How You Can Help Your Business Clients Prepare

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 6, 2019 10:01:00 AM

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Recession indicators, such as the recent inversion of the yield curve (which has accurately predicted all U.S. recessions in the last 60 years) are pointing towards a possible recession. With the topic garnering so much public attention, these fears of an impending national recession could become a self-fulfilling prophecy—particularly if enough people believe it’s going to happen and subsequently pull back their investments and slow their spending. 

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What You Missed: Symposium 2019 Highlights

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 29, 2019 8:55:28 AM

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Symposium is the nation’s leading estate and business planning conference. This year, Symposium offered over 50 learning sessions with 5 learning tracks, 45 speakers, our new Paraprofessional Symposium, and explored some exciting new services and products. If you weren't able to attend, check out what you missed in the highlights below!

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Meet WealthCounsel's Learning Team

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 10, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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As busy practitioners, it’s hard to juggle it all: meet with clients; manage and grow busy law practices; stay on top of current developments in our field; satisfy our CLE requirements; and find time for self-care, family, and friends. Luckily, WealthCounsel has a staff of industry experts whose roles are dedicated to making sure our members are supported with educational opportunities and current development updates, enabling you to focus on practicing law and living your life. 

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4 Ways WealthCounsel Peer Groups Can Enhance Your Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 26, 2019 10:03:00 AM

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A Peer Group is an advisory group specific to your business and career. WealthCounsel’s Peer Groups are tailored to meet your needs as an estate planning attorney by focusing on developing your business plan, growing your client base, optimizing your billable hours, and showing you how to utilize technology for high-performance results. 

Here are the four ways our Peer Groups can help your practice:

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3 Ways to Market to Millennials

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 19, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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According to the Pew Research Center, one-in-three American workers are millennials—making them the largest generation in the US workforce. Today, millennials range in age from 23 to 38. Compared to previous generations, millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse; they are marrying later in life if at all; they are better educated with millennial women completing their bachelor’s degree in greater numbers than men; and, they have less wealth and more debt than baby boomers did at the same age.

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The Family Farm: Strategies for Surviving and Thriving

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 12, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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WealthCounsel Stands with Girls Who Code

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jul 5, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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The charities we’ve chosen to work with this year pursue causes close to our heart—building strong communities, empowering individuals using technology, promoting education, and accessible legal services. As a company, these beliefs are what guide us in not only how we serve our members, but also how we strive to serve our greater communities through WealthCounsel Stands.

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4 Recent Developments in Estate Planning

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jun 26, 2019 9:49:30 AM

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There have been significant legal developments in recent months—from two rare Supreme Court cases in our practice area to an uptick in litigation over no-contest clauses—we’re here to help you grapple with and learn from these cases. Read our break down of just a few of the most impactful developments so far this year.

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SCOTUS Issues Ruling in Kaestner: No Taxation without Minimum Connections!

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jun 25, 2019 8:51:50 AM

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On June 21, 2019, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, No. 18-457, 2019 WL 2552488 (U.S. June 21, 2019) that the presence of in-state beneficiaries alone does not permit a state to tax trust income that has not been distributed to the beneficiaries where the beneficiaries have (1) no right to demand the income and (2) no guarantee that they would eventually receive the income from the trust. Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the Court; Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch, filed a concurring opinion.

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WealthCounsel Stands with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jun 21, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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The charities we’ve chosen to work with this year pursue causes close to our heart—building strong communities, empowering individuals using technology, promoting education, and accessible legal services. As a company, these beliefs are what guide us in not only how we serve our members, but also how we strive to serve our greater communities through WealthCounsel Stands.

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A House Divided: Deadlock in a 50-50 Partnership

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jun 14, 2019 10:06:00 AM

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Business planning and estate planning often go hand in hand. Businesses started by parents are frequently passed down to their children, and in the absence of adequate forethought, the new relationships that are formed can quickly disintegrate, causing damage to both the siblings’ personal bond and to the business.

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How to Make Money in Trust Administration

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jun 11, 2019 9:02:00 AM

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Attorneys who work in trust administration know that revenue streams can be volatile—up one month and down the next. Not only does unreliable cash flow make running a practice stressful, but it can also hinder a firm’s’ long-term growth. So, how does one create a profitable, yet steady, revenue stream in trust administration? One attorney has some advice. Jessica Pannell, JD, of JM Law, PLLC in McLean, Virginia, has been sharing her practice’s challenges and successes in trust administration with colleagues all over the nation.

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Addressing the HIPAA in the Room: How New HIPAA Penalties May Affect Your Clients

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jun 7, 2019 10:01:00 AM

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Last month, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would be capping, and in some cases, lowering the fines for HIPAA violations. HHS released a Notification of Enforcement Discretion Regarding HIPAA Civil Money Penalties describing the new tier structure. According to HHS the new structure better reflects a covered entity’s “level of culpability.” Going forward, HHS will now use annual limits based on the four culpability levels of whether an organization has no knowledge, reasonable cause, willfully neglected and corrected, or willfully neglected without correcting HIPAA violations.

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SECURE Act: How It May Change the Face of Retirement Planning

By WealthCounsel, LLC on May 30, 2019 10:43:15 AM

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On May 23, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1994, also known as the SECURE Act, by a vote of 417 to 3. The SECURE Act is now headed to the Senate, where a nearly identical bill (the Retirement Enhancement Savings Act, aka RESA) is pending. Due to its overwhelming bipartisan support, experts believe the SECURE Act, perhaps with minor adjustments made in the Senate, will easily become law.

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Planning for Clients with Noncitizen Spouses

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 24, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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According to a US Census Bureau report, couples in which one or both spouses are foreign-born account for 20% of all marriages in the United States. Of these foreign-born spouses, approximately 60% are naturalized and 40% are noncitizens. The Bureau links this trend to both the growth of the US immigrant population and the increased number of Americans traveling and living abroad. This demographic faces unique estate and tax planning issues.

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Game of Trusts: Establishing Proper State Taxation of Non-Resident Trusts

By Jennifer Villier, JD on May 17, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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The United States Supreme Court rarely addresses trusts and estates issues. The purview of the states, issues arising in intergenerational wealth transfers, are generally outside federal jurisdiction. To reach the U.S. Supreme Court, trusts and estates cases typically involve federal preemption or the constitutionality of a state’s law; the latter has brought the most recent trusts and estates case before the Court.

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The Importance of Unplugging

By WealthCounsel, LLC on May 10, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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The number one struggle reported by attorneys is the lack of a work-life balance. Whether an attorney is pulling long hours out of necessity, trying to meet their firm’s billing hour requirements, or simply because they enjoy their work, overworking isn’t helpful or healthy.  On the contrary, there are numerous studies that show an increased in work hours doesn’t mean an increase in productivity or even profitability.

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Top 3 Marketing Mistakes that Attorneys Make

By WealthCounsel, LLC on May 3, 2019 10:04:00 AM

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For many attorneys marketing is seen as a necessary evil. Popular or not, strategic marketing is crucial to the success of any business. It is a key tool in establishing your business’ identity within your community. It helps maximize revenue potential by generating new leads. Marketing also builds trust, converts leads to clients, and helps establish fruitful, lifelong relationships.

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WealthCounsel Stands With Legal Aid at Work

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 26, 2019 10:04:00 AM

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As a company dedicated to helping attorneys understand and utilize the law to better the lives of their clients and larger communities, we believe that all individuals, regardless of wealth, should have an equal opportunity to protections under the law and to legal representation.

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Basis Basics: A Lesson From the 8th Circuit

By Jennifer Villier, JD on Apr 19, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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In an article by Professor Douglas A. Kahn published by the American Bar Association, Mr. Kahn contends that the increase in experiential learning in law schools is leading to a decrease in law student enrollment in core doctrinal classes, such as tax courses. According to Professor Kahn, only one-third of the students who recently graduated from Michigan Law School took a tax class, and less than 10% of those students took either partnership or corporate taxation.  Sadly, the situation at Michigan Law School is not unique.

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10 Things You'll Miss If You Don't Attend Symposium 2019

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 12, 2019 10:06:00 AM

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Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity to learn, network, and grow your practice. Visit our website to register, read the full agenda, and choose the symposium pass that works best for your budget. See you in Boston this July!

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3 Lessons From the 2018 Tax Season

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 5, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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This past tax year has been one for the books. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has brought about sweeping tax reform, the likes of which we’ve not seen in decades. Despite numerous articles on how to anticipate these changes, taxpayers and professionals alike are still reeling from how the 2018 tax season played out.

Advisors should not take too long to catch their breath, though. Before you know it, clients will call you, asking how they can maximize their tax savings for 2019. Before you advise these clients, check out these five takeaways from this past tax season.

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The Savvy Attorney: Adding Business Planning to Your Estate Planning Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 29, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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There are many reasons an estate planning attorney should consider expanding their legal practice to include business planning. According to the Census Bureau, there were 32 million businesses owners in the US last year. So, chances are that you probably already have clients who have business planning needs. Additionally, since many business owners are still reeling from the changes brought on by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they'll be looking to legal professionals for advice on redeveloping their business planning strategies.  

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What Type of Symposium Attendee Are You - Quiz!

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 28, 2019 6:03:08 PM

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Want to Come to Our Paraprofessional Symposium? Use This Letter to Convince Your Boss!

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 22, 2019 9:03:00 AM

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Paraprofessionals have always been the backbone of any successful law practice. To help them continue to be their firm's greatest asset, WealthCounsel is launching its inaugural Paraprofessional Symposium where paralegals can come to learn from industry leaders about the latest tips and tricks to streamline workflow processes, enhance customer service, and implement smart technology. 

If you're a paraprofessional and want to grow your professional skills by coming to our Paraprofessional Symposium in Boston, we've written a letter for you to give to your boss explaining how Symposium will benefit you and your law firm. All you have to do copy and paste the letter into your own Word document and fill in your own information in the brackets below. Then print or email the letter to your boss. Don't forget to let them know that alongside our Paraprofessional Symposium, we're also hosting Symposium 2019 for estate and business planning attorneys, so they can come along, too.

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Announcing Paraprofessional Symposium: A Conference for Your Whole Office

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 15, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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In the practice of law, paraprofessionals are indispensable. They can, and often do, assist attorneys with a myriad of tasks—from marketing to case preparation, and anything in-between. Today a paralegal must be a consummate juggler, proofreader, planner, and organizer. Essentially, they must do whatever it takes to help a law firm run smoothly.

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3 Signs of Undue Influence

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 8, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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When it comes to helping clients who may be the victim of undue influence, it can be difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to recognize the signs of its existence. This is mostly because undue influence is a process rather than a single event, and one that occurs in private between the influencer and influenced person. While undue influencers can exert their will through outright threats, more often than not, their influence is through subtle manipulation. Because of these factors, cases of undue influence rarely have clear, direct evidence. As such, litigators tend to rely mostly on circumstantial evidence to prove its occurrence.

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Make your own luck with Estate Planning Essentials

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 1, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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Having a successful legal practice has nothing to do with chance. When it comes to running a practice, attorneys often focus too much on working in their business rather than on their business. What do we mean by this? When you’re working in your business, you are focused on clients’ legal matters and wearing your attorney hat. Working on your business, you’re focused on entrepreneurial activities and wearing your business owner hat. Many attorneys struggle with this balancing act. And, when we forget to work on our business, then practice growth can stagnate and client satisfaction can erode.  

To face the mounting challenges of today—like market unpredictability, inefficiency, and competition with other attorneys and non-traditional legal service providers—working on your law firm and how it will address these issues is paramount. While this may seem like a daunting task, the answer might well be a simple one: business diversification. By diversifying your business offerings to include more than one legal service, attorneys can protect their business from an unstable/unpredictable market, add value to their practice, and increase their competitive edge.

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Foundational Tax Concepts for New Estate Planners

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 22, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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In estate planning, tax issues are pervasive, and mitigating their effect on a client’s estate is a major component of an estate planner’s job. In order to effectively spot issues and provide more comprehensive advice, estate planners need at least a basic understanding of tax concepts. Having knowledge of tax issues may be the difference between representing a client entirely “in house” and losing the client altogether by referring them to the tax attorney or CPA down the street.

Let’s begin with three important foundational tax concepts—income tax basis, transfer basis, and stepped-up basis. Understanding these terms is key to determining any income tax consequences on the sale or transfer of the asset.  

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IRS Sets Final Regulations on 199A

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 15, 2019 1:33:36 PM

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When Congress enacted tax reform in 2017, the new tax law permanently lowered the tax rate for corporations from 35% to 21%. To make sure that other business owners weren’t left behind, Congress provided a new deduction—Section 199A—for sole proprietors and owners of pass-through businesses. Section 199A offers eligible business owners a lower effective tax rate  by allowing for a deduction of up to 20% on qualified business income (QBI) for tax years 2018 - 2025. Due to a lack of initial guidance, there has been much difficulty and speculation regarding how this deduction works.

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Finding Inspiration For Innovation In Unexpected Places

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 8, 2019 10:02:00 AM

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Article originally published in the Quarterly V12-I2, 2018. Author: Patrick Carlson, JD, LLM. Get all your business and estate planning information by becoming a Quarterly subscriber.

Sadly, many attorneys do not approach their client development efforts with an eye towards creating lifetime value. When you transition your mindset, it can have far-reaching – and valuable – implications for how to approach your marketing efforts, initial intake, client service, and the cultivation of additional legal service opportunities with those clients.

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Tools to Run a Virtual Law Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 1, 2019 12:59:22 PM

virtual-practice-toolsWith the ability to learn almost anything and buy whatever you want at your fingertips, it’s hard to fathom that the internet’s role in our daily lives will diminish. On the contrary, more and more consumers are turning to the internet to shop for goods and research the best service provider. To survive the times, many law firms are turning to the power of the virtual world to attract more clients and run more efficiently.

Unlike a traditional firm, virtual firms have much smaller start-up costs. In ditching the old brick and mortar office for a virtual one, the list of tools an attorney needs to run a successful practice fall into two main categories: hardware and software.

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Legacies For All: Announcing Our 2019 Charities

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 25, 2019 9:00:00 AM

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We believe legacy-building isn’t just for an elite few—it’s for everyone. Through the charitable arm of WealthCounsel, WealthCounsel Stands, we hope to empower local communities to create their own legacies by creating a lasting impact that extends beyond document drafting.

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How Qualified Disclaimers Make Estate Planning More Flexible

By WealthCounsel Education Staff on Jan 18, 2019 9:00:00 AM

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A key element of estate planning is to remember that things change. Assets today might not be available down the road. At the same time, assets might grow and require money to be moved around or reallocated when a spouse passes away.

The best estate planning strategies offer flexibility so that loved ones can analyze situations and make decisions when someone passes away. Rather than adhering to stiff plans with complex trust structures, estate planners can add flexibility and achieve significant tax advantages through the use of qualified disclaimers.

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Why You Should Add Estate Planning to Your Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 14, 2019 11:00:00 AM

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Estate Planning Essentials

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 7, 2019 1:56:17 PM

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Learn how to boost your practice’s revenue

Now that 2018 has come to a close and you're looking over your financials for the year, did your practice make as much money as you wanted it to? If you want to bolster your revenue stream in 2019, make plans now to attend an Estate Planning Essentials event near you. 

Estate planning is the perfect addition to your practice’s service offerings and here’s why:

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Keeping Your Clients' Estate Plans Drama-Free

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 28, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy family traditions and catch-up with relatives over the dinner table. With family already on their minds, December is a perfect time to remind those within your community that while they might be able to avoid family drama this year by staying at home, their estate plan might not be as lucky.

In order to help individuals navigate family dynamics and protect their estate plans, attorneys need to make sure they are aware of all potential issues. This means educating oneself on the issues, as well as creating a process by which a client is able to openly and honestly discuss these emotionally-charged topics.

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3 Year-End Planning Strategies

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 21, 2018 6:00:00 AM

 

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The holiday season may be the busiest time of the year for estate planners. With family on their minds, your clients may be reaching out to you for last-minute estate plan changes, or to make good on a promise to update their estate plan. It’s also the perfect opportunity to make sure your clients’ estate plans are designed to take advantage of current tax law and proposed regulations. Here are three year-end strategies (beyond the most common strategies) to help you meet your clients’ needs.  

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3 Tips to Help Clients Avoid Probate

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 16, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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There are many reasons to help clients avoid probate—it’s costly and time-consuming, not to mention it has the potential to make a public spectacle of a very private matter. More often than not, probate disputes can arise in response to unequal treatment of siblings and other close family members in an individual’s estate plan. Since the loss of a loved one already spikes heightened emotions, adding the uncertainty of what their loved one’s estate was worth, who is playing what role in the administration of their will, and who inheriting what assets can easily aggravate old family divisions, provoking costly family feuds in probate court.

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The Most Profitable Estate Planning Talk to Have With Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 9, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Much of life follows the 80/20 rule. Also known as the Pareto Principle (named for the Italian economist who devised it), this formula calculates that 20% of your conversations are responsible for 80% of the profitability of the relationship. That holds true whether it’s business or personal.

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The Business of Estate Planning: Now, More Than Ever, It’s Personal.

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 2, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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“Sonny, it’s business. Not personal.”

Most of us remember The Godfather and that classic piece of counsel from Tom Hagen to the hot-headed Sonny. While separating “business” from “personal” may have been a worthy approach for the Corleones, estate planning professionals know otherwise.

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Beating GST Tax With HEETs

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 26, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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The generation-skipping transfer tax (GSTT) often impedes clients who wish to leave assets to their grandchildren. The GSTT is the IRS’s way of ensuring such gifts—as well as the grandparent’s estate—do not escape taxation.

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Planning for the Unexpected

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 19, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Helping clients plan for life’s unexpected events—whether it’s welcoming a new family member, coming into an inheritance, or dealing with an illness—is at the heart of what estate planners do. As we recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves how we can continue to help our clients plan for the curve balls that life throws us.

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Does the Billable Hour Need a Refresh?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 12, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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The traditional hourly billing method has long been a contentious topic among attorneys. But, with the increasing demand for better cost predictability and transparency, does this billing method need a refresh or should it be ditched for other billing strategies?

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Is a Virtual Law Practice Right for You?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 5, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Thanks to advances in technology, working virtually has become a reality for many small practices and solo attorneys. Whether working from a home office, coworking space, or hotel room, many attorneys are embracing technology and ditching the traditional law office space for a completely web-based one. This style of working can have many benefits, such as: an increase in productivity, a more attainable work-life balance, and the ability to target clients in an ever-expanding mobile world. But, it can have it drawbacks, too.  

With the right technology and business plan, any attorney can take their practice virtual. The question becomes: Is it right for you?

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Nobody Likes a Trust Fund Kid: Here’s How to Prepare Them

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 28, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Trust fund kid: the term conjures up images of entitlement, snobbery, and pastel golf shirts. Daddy’s spoiled little brats account for only a little more than 1% of the U.S. population (there’s that maligned 1% again). When compared to the approximately 22% of Americans who inherited money, those who did so via a trust fund are an especially small minority.

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The Key to Creating Happy Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 21, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Tolstoy said, “all happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Since families and estates are so intertwined, Tolstoy’s maxim holds true in some degree for estate planning purposes. When planning for the distribution of their assets, no one wants to feel as if they’re involved in some type of legal mass production—being processed through an uncaring machine. Would you?

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The 3 Biggest Mistakes When Setting Up A Trust Fund for Children

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 14, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Trusts are technical legal instruments that require a keen eye and foresight on the part of the attorney drafting them. Should an estate planner fail to make certain considerations, not only can they undermine their practice’s integrity but also jeopardize a beneficiary's financial security. To avoid falling victim to their snare, below are a few common mistakes to avoid when drafting trusts for minors.

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Asset Alignment: Critical in a Client Care Program

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 28, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Ask any estate planning attorney—what is the most important thing that we need to know after someone dies? Their answer: we need to know the assets! This includes knowing what their assets are, who has legal authority over the assets, what the values are, and who will receive these assets. 

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Back to Basics: What is a WealthCounsel Membership?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 24, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Summer vacation is almost over and as we get back into work mode, it’s a good time to refresh your memory and refocus your professional goals. There’s no better way to do this than to join the WealthCounsel community. Not only will you be a part of a nationwide community of professional attorneys, but you’ll also have access to unrivaled practice support and, of course, our intelligent document drafting software.

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Tips on Building Your Estate Planning Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 17, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Running your own legal practice can be daunting for any attorney, but it can be especially difficult for new and transitioning estate planners. This may be due, in part, to the knowledge gap between what attorneys learn in law school and what they need to know in order to run a law practice. To fill these gaps, it’s important to educate oneself on what the current best practices are (so they can be implemented), as well as what the common pitfalls are (so they can be avoided). Here are some basic tips for fresh-faced law graduates or transitioning attorneys looking to build their own estate planning practice.

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Why you should consider a client care program

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Aug 14, 2018 8:00:00 AM

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The number one reason that estate plans fail is because they are outdated.

As attorneys, we know that the law and our clients’ lives are constantly changing, and our ability to solve client problems is better when we regularly monitor, maintain, and adjust estate plans. An effective plan goes beyond documents and includes a thorough understanding of the assets owned, family relationships, client’s wishes, and health and personal circumstances of the client and their beneficiaries.

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3 signs you need to update your clients estate plan

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 10, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Estate plans are only effective when they accurately reflect your clients’ circumstances, as well as current state and federal tax law. Neglected estate plans not only jeopardize your clients’ estate planning wishes but may also negatively impact their loved ones, not to mention themselves. The unintended consequences of an outdated estate plan can result in issues such as, unintended income and/or estate tax consequences; disqualify a special needs beneficiary from receiving benefits; increased fees and costs associated with settling an estate; leaving less for your clients’ spouse and heirs; forcing loved ones into court; disinheriting desired beneficiaries or including unintended beneficiaries.

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Getting Up to Speed on Estate Planning Basics

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 3, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Once you decide to start an estate planning practice or expand your existing practice into estate planning, you need to make the time and effort to learn the basics, including vocabulary, strategies, and documents. Without a basic understanding of these estate planning principles, you’ll struggle to present your value to potential clients and implement estate plans for the clients you do win.

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How Wealth Docx® Can Free Up Your Time

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 27, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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When it comes to practicing law, time is money and time saved is not only money saved, but also potentially earned. In order to effectively run a law practice, attorneys must learn how to streamline legal processes if they are going to have enough time to promote their services, stay on top of continuing legal education requirements, grow their practices, and have enough time to spend with friends, family and pursuing personal hobbies.

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Save time and expand your practice with these legal technologies

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 13, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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It’s amazing how technology has been transforming the estate planning industry. What was once a maze of paperwork is now mostly digitized, with organized, easy-to-use online files. If you’re curious about which legal technologies can help you the most as an estate planning attorney, this blog is for you.

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Wealth Docx® New Enhancements to Include Incentive Trust Provisions for Revocable Living Trusts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 29, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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When it comes to transferring wealth to younger generations, not all beneficiaries are responsible enough or prepared to handle a large inheritance. This is where incentive trust provisions come in. They can be used to discourage bad behavior and motivate beneficiaries to make responsible life choices, so that they are ultimately better prepared to handle their inheritance.

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Same-Sex Marriage: Estate Planning Tools to Consider

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 22, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), same-sex marriages now enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages in the United States. However, as same-sex couples still face unique estate planning issues, attorneys should be wary of assuming they can plan for them in the same way as their heterosexual counterparts.

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Joint vs. Separate Trusts for Married Couples

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 15, 2018 6:00:00 AM

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Deciding between joint and separate trusts for married couples has been a conundrum within the estate planning community for a long time. While many attorneys swear by one trust over the other, there are many factors—such as, the state in which the couple resides, the total of their marital estate, and the couple’s relationship itself—that contribute to the decision of which trust is more suitable.

Historically, joint trusts have been popular among married couples due to their cheaper start-up costs, ease of management, and the fact that a joint trust reflects the traditional view of a marital estate as a singular unit. However, separate trusts, have some great (and often superior) benefits for a married couple in regards to asset protection, management flexibility, and cost savings after the death of the first spouse.

To aid in this decision process, we've compared the strength and weaknesses of each trust type for various situations. The check mark signifies which trust is the better option for that category.

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Creating Urgency in the Newlywed Market

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 8, 2018 7:00:00 AM

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Newlyweds have a lot on their plate. With all the pre and post wedding activities and acclimatizing to married life, it’s no wonder that estate planning is often a low priority for newlyweds. As estate planners, we know that marriage signifies a major lifetime event, which requires the creation of a new estate plan, or updates to an existing one. In order to capture the attention of the newlywed demographic, it’s crucial to create a sense of urgency around your service offerings.

Potential clients are most often lost due to their own mental friction—agonizing over something until it is utterly forgotten. Urgency is an important conversation tool in marketing, where trigger words and phrases (act fast, limited time only, buy now, etc.) compel a consumer to suspend caution and act quickly. Estate planners can capitalize on this tactic by creating this sense of urgency both within how they discuss and promote their services.

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3 Ways to Convince a Millennial to Start an Estate Plan

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 1, 2018 6:30:00 AM

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Millennials are estate plannings’ next major demographic. However, to acquire them as clients, estate planners must overcome several hurdles. The biggest obstacles attorneys face are the misconception that estate planning is only for older/wealthier individuals, and the wariness millennials have of spending money on things they deem unnecessary.

In order to convince millennials they should be financially prioritizing estate planning, it’s important to educate them why an estate plan is not only a worthwhile investment, but that it’s fundamentally necessary for the future well being of their families. Below are some basic talking points for engaging millennials.

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Getting HEET-ed with Wealth Docx®

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 25, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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As tuition and health care costs continue to soar, clients will be looking for ways to mitigate these financial burdens on their loved ones.

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Generation Z: The Next Estate Planning Demographic

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 18, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Generational differences play a big part in the construction of estate planning strategies, as well as how attorneys should communicate the importance of those strategies to potential clients. In regards to younger generations, much has already been said about Millennials. But, quietly emerging into the marketplace is another demographicGeneration Z. If estate planners are going to continue to evolve their practices in terms of marketing their services to potential clients, then learning about this generation is key.

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WealthCounsel: Empowering New and Transitioning Estate Planners

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 11, 2018 12:32:28 PM

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Law itself is a demanding industry. It requires practitioners to constantly keep abreast with, and adapt to, legislative changes. It demands a keen eye with an attention to detail, as well as the ability to see how strategic plans fit within clients larger estate planning goals. Unlike other businesses, attorneys have strict advertising ethical guidelines to adhere to, hampering their ability to advocate for their services and compete with cheaper do-it-yourself legal solutions.

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5 Things to Have Your Clients Take Care of Before Their Kids Go Off To College

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 4, 2018 8:00:00 AM

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May is graduation month. This is a time when many of your clients may be celebrating their children’s academic achievements, and even getting ready to send them off to college. During this hectic and emotionally tumultuous time, parents may be all-consumed with helping prepare their soon-to-be college student for the next phase, causing them to overlook important estate planning matters.

This is where youthe estate plannercome in. Now, is the perfect time to help remind your clients that there are a few important things they should add to their to-do list as they get ready to send their kids off to college.

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5 Most Common Charitable Giving Mistakes

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 27, 2018 12:59:04 PM

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When it comes to practicing law, mistakes can and do happen. Despite our best efforts, they can sneak into even the most thoroughly reviewed document or estate plan. Most clients can forgive the occasional errorattorneys are human after all. However, when it comes to big mistakes, especially those that cost clients money or don't meet their estate plan goals, can result in ruined client relationships and even negatively impact your practice's integrity.

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Charitable Giving – Shifting Focus From Estate Tax to Income Tax Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 20, 2018 9:13:08 AM

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Good news for the world of philanthropy: charitable giving is not dead. With the recent changes to the tax code, it’s an appropriate time for estate planning professionals to revisit charitable giving with a view toward identifying these new opportunities and assessing how a charitable giving plan works within the broader estate planning strategy. 

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Adding Charitable Planning to Your Law Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 13, 2018 5:03:09 PM

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Nonprofits have always been regarded as important social safety nets, providing for individual and community needs that are not met by the US government. It’s no wonder charitable giving has been steadily increasing since the Great Recession. According to Giving USA, the combined donations of individuals, foundations, and corporations in 2016 exceeded $390 billion.

It’s highly likely your clients have already donated to charities and may wish to incorporate charitable giving into their estate planning legacy. Luckily, with some legal know-how and the proper resources, any estate planner can easily add charitable planning into their practice.

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Charitable minds. Legacies of compassion. Introducing WealthCounsel Stands.

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 6, 2018 11:28:43 AM

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Crafting lasting legacies is what estate planning is all about. At WealthCounsel, we help attorneys draft legacies to have a steadfast, positive impact on their clients and their clients’ loved ones. But legacies aren’t just legal papers dictating the transfer of assets. At their root, they are the means by which we pass on our stories and take care of our families.

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One Attorney, Two Hats: Balancing the Practice of Law with Running a Successful Business

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 23, 2018 9:50:07 AM

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Every courageous attorney deciding to open their own practice will eventually find they are no longer just an attorney but also a business owner. While this career choice can be as exhilarating as it can be lucrative, it can also feel downright impossible at times. When it comes to wearing more than one hat, solo practitioners may find that they struggle with the constant balancing act of running a small business and practicing law.

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Marketing to Millennials: Learning About Estate Planning’s Newest (and Largest) Demographic

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are currently the largest living generation, surpassing baby boomers, and accounting for more than a quarter of the U.S. population. As they have become the most valuable demographic, estate planners need to learn how to tap into this new market if their businesses are to evolve. Understanding who millennials are and what they value should be the priority in any estate planners marketing efforts.

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One for All, All for One: How Wealth Docx® Empowers Attorneys and Paralegals

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 9, 2018 9:50:59 AM

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Law firms are constantly looking for ways to maximize efficiency without sacrificing quality and
paralegals have always been instrumental in helping attorneys meet these needs. This short article
discusses how Wealth Docx is not only a great resource for attorneys but how it is also a powerful tool for
paralegals.

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The Forgotten Family Member: Advocating for Pet Trusts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 2, 2018 6:26:57 PM

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Whether as a friendly companion or a fully-fledged family member, pets have become an intrinsic component to many households. According to the American Pet Products Association, 67% of American families own a pet today. Not only is pet ownership up from 56% in 1988, but Americans are also spending significantly more on their pets. In 2016, the pet industry raked in roughly $66 billion in pet-loving profits, a 74% increase from 2006. An explanation for this spending increase could be because most pet owners﹘about 95%﹘consider their pets to be part of the family.

It’s a wonder then, why the estate planning field often overlooks pets. While pet trusts can claim a small fraction of the pet industry profits, only about 12% of cat and dog owners make financial stipulations for their pets in their estate plans.  This underutilized market has significant business potential for estate planning attorneys and provides an opportunity to serve clients better.

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Wealth Docx Estate Planning Software for Attorneys Now Integrates with Clio

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 23, 2018 3:02:38 PM

 Use Wealth Docx and draft accurately and efficiently.

Many legal practices rely on a patchwork of different legal software solutions to run their business – one for practice management and another for document prep. However, when your systems don’t talk to one another and you have to re-enter client information, time can be lost and accuracy jeopardized.

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What the New Tax Plan H.R.1 Means for Estate Planning Attorneys

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 30, 2018 12:06:22 PM

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H.R.1 provides an opportunity for estate planning attorneys to capitalize on the new rules for tax exemptions. This article highlights some of the most important changes and provide strategies for maximizing your clients’ legacies.

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How Attorneys Can Adapt in Our Era of Mass Customization

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Jan 2, 2018 2:43:01 PM

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One-size-fits-all is over. Want a week's worth of customized menus for your picky eaters or reading list based on your preferences? There's an app for that. From technology to consumer products to services, today's consumers have a wider array of individualized options than ever.

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Round Up of Promising Legal Technology that Could Transform the Practice of Estate Planning Law - Part 3

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 16, 2017 2:08:19 PM

Learn more about how WealthCounsel takes smart legal tech to a whole new level.

From artificial intelligence and encryption apps to intuitive software, estate planning attorneys should be excited about what technology will be able to offer their practice of law. We’ve tackled a few top trends in Parts 1 and 2. Now let's discuss two more must-have technologies for the tech-savvy estate planning lawyer.

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4 Ways to Improve Legal Marketing and Build Your Client Base

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 8, 2017 4:00:00 PM

Whether plagued by poor reviews or buried in SEO obscurity, many small law firms and solo practitioners need a marketing makeover. There are countless reasons why a law practice lacks exposure, but attorneys must overcome these obstacles to gain online exposure and build a client base. With the right tools, attorneys can improve their marketing presence, even if that means starting from square one.

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Estate Planning for Blended Families

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 3, 2017 4:00:00 PM

Blended Families choose WealthCounsel

Attorneys face unique challenges when working with blended families. When planning for blended families, attorneys must take into account property that each spouse owns from their prior marriages as well as property that is jointly owned by the spouses in the current marriage. This requires an understanding of the nuances of each case and special tools to address client needs.

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Round Up of Promising Legal Technology that Could Transform the Practice of Estate Planning Law: Part 2

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 30, 2017 1:40:09 PM

Learn more about how legal technologies are quickly transforming the practice of estate planning law

From user-friendly smartphone apps to sophisticated artificial intelligence chatbots, legal technologies are transforming the practice of estate planning law. Let’s explore more innovations that could help your firm.

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Innovative, Cloud-Based Document Drafting Software Gives Estate Planning Attorneys Flexibility, Security

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Oct 27, 2017 8:00:00 AM

  • Accessible, cloud-based document drafting software lets attorneys draft securely from anywhere, on any device, providing a “virtual office”

  • Improves collaboration, eliminates common drafting errors, and simplifies editing, saving attorneys time that they can spend focusing on client relationships

  • Includes ancillary documents specific to each U.S. state

  • Document Set View lets you see all ancillary documents in one place

  • Add-a-clause feature enables attorneys to create their own clause libraries

SALT LAKE CITY — WealthCounsel, the nation’s leading provider of document drafting software for estate planning attorneys, today announced Wealth Docx® online, an enhanced, cloud-based version of its traditional software solution. Now attorneys throughout the country can draft estate planning documents more efficiently and securely while improving collaboration and gaining real-time access to ancillary documents specific to every U.S. state.

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Pet Trust Dos and Don’ts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 25, 2017 4:00:00 PM

How to incorporate pet trusts into estate planning, and why this will add value to your practice

For many people, animals are part of the family. Dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, birds, and other pets are important members of millions of households, and yet they are not always accounted for when planning for the future. Many people overlook pets when embarking on estate planning and are unaware that these loved ones should be accounted for in the event of owner death or incapacity. As an attorney, adding pet trusts to your legal repertoire can add value to your law practice and potentially capture a whole new client base. Pet trusts can be easily and quickly added to an existing estate plan. Still, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure pet owner intentions are honored in the event an animal outlives them.

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Round Up of Promising Legal Technology That Could Transform the Practice of Estate Planning Law (Part 1)

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 23, 2017 10:41:26 AM

If you’re curious about which legal technologies can help you the most as an estate planning attorney, this three-part series is for you.

It’s amazing how technology has been transforming estate planning. What was once a maze of paperwork is now mostly digitized, with organized, easy-to-use online files. If you’re curious about which legal technologies can help you the most as an estate planning attorney, this three-part series is for you.

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At a Standstill? 4 Things You Can Do Now to Expand Your Estate Planning Services

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 18, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Signing important legal documentsToday’s attorneys face a number of challenges that require a fresh approach to estate planning. Trying to balance the need for time-saving, automated processes while also growing a client base leaves many attorneys stuck in the middle — unsure whether to prioritize productivity or client relationships. There’s good news: you can maximize both efficiency and client satisfaction. You can better tailor estate planning services to your clients and improve practice efficiency by knowing your audience and making use of online tools.

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Insights from Trump’s First Months to Serve Your Estate-Planning Clients Better

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 16, 2017 12:10:44 PM

As president, father, and real estate magnate, President Donald Trump should give estate planning attorneys much food for thought.

As president, father, and real estate magnate, President Donald Trump should give estate planning attorneys much food for thought–and that's true even in these early days of the administration. So let's consider one idea that relates to President Trump as father and real estate magnate, and another on policy writ large.

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Your Small Business Clients Need Systems to Run at Their Best

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 10, 2017 9:47:11 AM

 

The reasons small businesses prosper or fail are legion, the right technology is a critical component.

Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.” – Author unknown

The reasons small businesses prosper or fail are legion. Customer service, management, quality control, the overall economy and many other factors come into play, but the right technology is a critical component.

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Talking to Your Clients about Stand-Alone Retirement Trusts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 19, 2017 10:54:56 AM

Learn more about how an SRT can protect beneficiaries' futures–from financial to personal.

For many clients, their retirement accounts emerge as a major part of their estates. But what if there are concerns about how to best protect a naming beneficiary as the direct inheritor of an IRA? 

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What Do You Look for Most When Choosing a Legal Conference to Attend?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 15, 2017 10:32:00 AM

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Legal professionals share why subject matter, practicality, and relevance are top considerations

There are countless factors that go into deciding which legal conference to attend. Whether it’s travel, cost, or content, there are several considerations to keep in mind when making arrangements.

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How to Strike Gold in the Initial Client Consultation

By WealthCounsel, LLC on Sep 8, 2017 10:00:00 AM

One of the most beneficial tools for estate planning practices is often the most underutilized: the personal information form. The information collected on this intake form sets the stage for a successful initial client meeting and a fruitful and satisfying long-term relationship between attorney and client. A completed form helps attorneys guage clients’ values, concerns and goals which can guide discussion during an initial consultation and yields optimal asset protection planning.

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Creating Health and Education Exclusion Trusts (HEET) for Your Clients & Their Beneficiaries

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 5, 2017 2:42:26 PM

Learn more about how, with sufficient funding, a HEET can pay the educational expenses of your client's grandchildren.The generation skipping trust tax (GSTT) trips up the plans of clients who wish to leave assets to their grandchildren. The GSTT is the IRS’s way of ensuring such gifts—as well as the grandparent’s estate—do not escape taxation.

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Getting up to Speed on Asset Protection

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 30, 2017 8:00:00 AM

One of the primary goals for establishing an estate plan is to ensure that your client’s assets ultimately transfer to their heirs and other intended parties. For individuals engaged in business or with sizeable wealth, an asset protection plan could be essential in reaching that goal. A carefully crafted plan can help clients preserve their tangible property and other assets from creditor threats.

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5 Resources to Help Your Overwhelmed Business Law Clients (And 1 Bonus Resource for You): Part 3

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 28, 2017 9:51:29 AM

Learn more about the best resources, like Business Docx®, that you can have in your business law toolbox.As we discussed in our last couple posts, for your more harried clients, books about a better way to think about their role in their business, and timesaving applications that may be a huge boon to their work.

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5 Resources to Help Your Overwhelmed Business Law Clients (And 1 Bonus Resource for You): Part 2

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 25, 2017 10:28:56 AM

Learn more about technological solutions that are surprisingly easy to use, but may streamline your day-to-day, from an operational perspective.

In our first post, we talked about empathizing with business clients who may feel overwhelmed by the business of running a business, and we suggested a couple books to help them reframing their thinking about small business ownership.

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5 Resources to Help Your Overwhelmed Business Law Clients: Part 1

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 21, 2017 9:31:18 AM

Consider these resources for your business law client. Even the most enthusiastic business owner may become overwhelmed with the business of running a business.

As attorneys, you've heard many reasons why people start a business. People start businesses because they have an idea they're passionate about. They see a need, and they know how to fill it. 

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Using the 80/20 Rule to Transform Your Estate Planning Law Firm Into Your Dream Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 14, 2017 10:55:05 AM

Learn more about using the 80/20 rule to boost the success of your estate planning law firm.

You know about the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, but do you know how to leverage it to the benefit of your law firm? The majority of attorneys will say no. If you’re one of them, make a change today to boost your success and profitability.

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Creating a trust is the first step, but what if the trust isn't funded?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 9, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Young couple sitting in an office talking to a Estate lawyerYou probably recommend trusts over wills to many of your estate planning clients because revocable living trust-based estate plans provide a comprehensive solution for many of your clients’ needs. Of course, it’s not necessarily an either/or scenario. Your clients should also use a will to take care of any assets not in their trust and to name a guardian for any minor children.

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Understanding Your Weaknesses and Strengths as an Attorney (and Law Firm Owner)

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 7, 2017 10:09:48 AM

Learn more about how Wealth Docx® helps you focus on what matters most as an estate planning attorney or law firm owner.

Are you of the mindset that you should work to improve things you aren’t good at? While you’re not alone, you’re wasting time. As an attorney, your time is money. 

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The Importance of Income Tax in Estate Planning Strategy

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 2, 2017 9:30:00 AM

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Income tax rates play an increasingly important role in estate planning strategy as the federal estate tax exemption rises. In the late 1990s, the estate tax exemption applied to many more people than it does today. Today, it applies to only 0.2 percent of estates.

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Theory of Constraints for Estate Planning Attorneys

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 31, 2017 1:34:44 PM

Learn more on how the Theory of Constraints relates to your estate planning practice and your ability to achieve your goals.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Unbeknownst to you, there could be several weak links right in your office. These weak links are “bottlenecks,” or practices that gum up the works of your firm. Another word for them is “constraints.”

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How to Hire & Train Your Estate Planning Staff

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 31, 2017 8:30:00 AM

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Your staff is critical to your success whether you’ve recently opened a solo estate planning practice with a part-time assistant or run an established firm with attorneys, paralegals, and administrative support. If you can’t seem to get your legal marketing plan to work effectively or you’re struggling to maintain high levels of client satisfaction, the underlying cause may be your inability to hire and train the right people.

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Getting Up to Speed on Retirement Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 26, 2017 11:30:00 AM

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Everyone dreams of retirement, especially those who hope to retire early. Unfortunately, few of us make financial plans for retirement. The typical American family only has about $5,000 in retirement savings. Some Americans are fortunate enough to have a pension or an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan or smart enough to set up their own individual retirement account (IRA). For them, the concern is less about saving for retirement and more about how to manage retirement savings as part of an estate.

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Why Millennials are Essential to Growing Your Estate Planning Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 24, 2017 9:00:00 AM

It’s no secret Millennials are a little different. Most don’t prioritize the same traditional values as their parents and grandparents. The stereotypical Millennial is tech savvy, entrepreneurial, and socially conscious. On the downside, many people associate Millennials with job hopping, instant gratification, and sometimes poor work ethic.

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Getting Up to Speed on Estate Planning Basics

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 20, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Once you decide to start an estate planning practice or expand your existing practice into estate planning, you need to make the time and effort to learn the basics, including vocabulary, strategies, and documents. Without a basic understanding of these estate planning principles, you’ll struggle to both present your value to potential clients and implement estate plans for the clients you do win.

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What to Expect When Adding Estate Planning to Your Firm

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 18, 2017 8:33:00 AM

Only about half of Americans have a will or living trust in place. The advantages of a will or trust might seem obvious to estate planning attorneys, but the statistics show that a sizeable portion of the American population doesn’t recognize the value of an estate plan.

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The Major Consequences of Minor Typos in Estate-Planning Documents (Part 2)

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 17, 2017 11:16:19 AM

Learn more about how Wealth Docx excels in preventing typos before they cause problems for your estate planning firm.

The most costly typos historically haven’t been in estate planning–but you don’t want to be the first attorney to make the list. An extra zero in the valuation of an asset, the wrong name on a document, a misspelled street name in an address… all these typos could wreak havoc for your clients.

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Don’t Let Your Law Firm Turn into the Jerry Springer Show (How to Avoid Family Disputes)

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 10, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Whether it’s fighting over a complex multi-million-dollar estate comprised of multiple homes and exotic assets or simply a prized family heirloom, family disputes aren’t uncommon in the world of estate planning. These disputes can be complicated by sibling rivalries, beneficiaries of varying economic standing, and poor communication.

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Does Your Estate Planning Practice Offer These Key Trusts?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 3, 2017 11:13:27 AM

The more trusts you have in your firm’s product arsenal, the greater your ability to tailor the right plan for your client

Do you have the tools to develop the best estate planning solution for your clients? As an estate planning lawyer, you need to be able to navigate the nuances of each case while still delivering accurate estate planning documents in a timely manner. How can you strike this balance? With document drafting software such as Wealth Docx®  it’s easy to account for the variety of trusts that clients might require.

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Why the Legal Industry’s Future Matters to Your Estate Planning Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 30, 2017 9:00:00 AM

It’s easy to to relax a bit when you have years of experience as an attorney. While your legal experience has helped you win clients and grow your estate planning practice in the past, today’s legal industry is evolving faster than ever — and attorneys who fail to adapt risk losing clients rather than winning them.

New technology and new competition are just two of many areas where attorneys need to adapt in order to retain clients, win new business and sustain a thriving practices. Refusal or failure to evolve with these trends in the industry will likely result in significant consequences for legal practices across the country.

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The Most Profitable Estate Planning Education Talk to Have with Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 30, 2017 11:04:49 AM

Learn more about how the Pareto Principle applies to your estate planning practice.

Much of life follows the 80/20 rule. Also known as the Pareto Principle (named for the Italian economist who devised it), this formula calculates that 20 percent of your conversations are responsible for 80 percent of the profitability of the relationship. That holds true whether it’s business or personal.

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How to Easily Get All Your CLE Credits Without Added Stress

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 26, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Most states and territories require continuing legal education (CLE) for attorneys. Some specific practice areas and specialties also have their own CLE requirements. It can feel overwhelming when you first see the CLE hours required by your state bar. However, with a little preparation you can efficiently meet state CLE requirements while also accumulating new skills and techniques to enhance your estate planning practice. Here’s how:

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