Strategies for Identifying, Settling, and Reporting Trust and Nontrust Liabilities

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 18, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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In the course of a trust administration, beneficiaries primarily want to know what will be distributed to them and when it will be distributed. Attorneys who represent trustees, however, must prevent trust distributions until the proper time—that is, until all liabilities have been paid or reasonably accounted for with a reserve. Otherwise, a trustee may face personal liability and need to seek indemnity from beneficiaries who may have already spent the funds distributed to them. In a postdeath administration, there may be trust and nontrust liabilities (or the decedent’s liabilities), including the decedent’s debts and various taxes. In addition, a trustee must pay the expenses of the administration or reserve funds for payment of those expenses. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: November 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 11, 2022 10:06:00 AM

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From the announcement of the 2023 limits on contributions to retirement accounts to a new proposed rule for classifying independent contractors, 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 practices.

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Planning for Blended Families: from Intake to Administration

By WealthCounsel Staff on Nov 4, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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The number of blended families is increasing, as more than 1,300 form every day. In these types of families, one or both spouses have children from previous relationships and they may have children together. Working with blended families will be a common scenario for you as an estate planning attorney (if it is not already), and each family’s plan will be different. The goals of individual family members may be at odds, as not all blended will look like an episode of The Brady Bunch or Modern Family

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6 Steps to Help Your Client Form an LLC

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 28, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Estate planning and business law attorneys often advise their clients to form a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC provides flexibility and protection from lawsuits for the LLC’s members. You can add value by helping your business-owner clients through this process. Your expertise will make a difference to the success of your clients’ businesses, especially when it comes to drafting their operating agreements. 

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Essentials for Funding a Revocable Living Trust

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 21, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Essentials For Funding - Blog

A revocable living trust (RLT) is often the best vehicle to preserve an estate planning client’s assets and avoid probate court. However, the process of getting all of the client’s assets safely into the trust (a process called funding) can be laborious. Leaving the process to the client or doing it yourself both have their pros and cons. Keep reading to find out whether you should handle the funding process and learn the best ways to fund your client’s RLT.  

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: October 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 14, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From the announcement of the projected 2023 estate and gift tax exclusion amounts to newly issued final regulations implementing the Corporate Transparency Act, 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 practices.

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4 Ways to Improve Legal Marketing and Build Your Client Base

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 7, 2022 1:11:07 PM

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Whether plagued by poor reviews or buried in search engine obscurity, many small law firms and solo practitioners need a marketing makeover. There are countless reasons why a law firm lacks exposure, but attorneys must overcome the 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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Pricing Strategies for an Estate Planning Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 23, 2022 3:08:00 PM

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The hourly billing model has become a thing of the past for many estate planning attorneys, who have shifted to more modern pricing strategies. Providing clients with a clear picture of the costs of retaining you makes sense, especially for solo practitioners and those in small firms. Many attorneys offer several value-based price points that move away from a time-based model to one that represents what is actually delivered to the client. Read on to learn the benefits of innovative pricing models and how to implement them in your law practice.

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3 Mistakes to Avoid When Transferring Title to Real Property

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 16, 2022 10:00:00 AM

3 Mistakes-Blog

Real property is the primary asset in many estate plans, and it warrants special attention. The distribution of cash and family heirlooms is relatively straightforward compared to real estate, which is often accompanied by a mortgage and insurance. As an estate planning attorney, you should use caution when transferring real property to a trust or to entities such as limited liability companies (LLCs) due to the many moving parts. Read on to learn about three mistakes to avoid when transferring real property.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: September 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 9, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) reversal of its position on estate tax deductions for certain unitrust interests of charitable remainder unitrusts (CRUTs) to newly enacted pay transparency laws, 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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What Crypto Winter Means for Estate Planners

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 2, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Crypto Winter - Blog

Cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature has changed the world of global finance. However, because it is so new and volatile, the crypto market’s dizzying ups and downs can be difficult to interpret. Is the recent “crypto winter” just one of these regular fluctuations, or does it indicate permanent problems with the viability of crypto? Virtual assets may now be a significant component of your estate planning clients’ portfolios, so keep reading to learn more about the future of these investments.

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6 Tips for Smooth Trust Asset Allocation and Distribution

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 26, 2022 10:00:00 AM

6 Tips Trust Allocation-Distribution-Blog

Trust administration is a complicated process with many moving parts. As you represent the trustee, you must keep in mind the needs and demands of the trust beneficiaries. Though there may be pressure to make trust distributions as quickly as possible, your top priority should be to make sure all of the necessary tasks are completed—and in the proper order. Keep reading for tips on how to make the trust asset allocation and distribution processes go smoothly.

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Back to School: Helping Clients Plan for Adult Children

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 19, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Back-to-school is a busy time for parents, especially those who are sending their kids to college for the first time. As an estate planning attorney, you know that a person’s 18th birthday has even more implications than moving into a dorm room and registering for college classes. While this can be an emotional, life-changing time for both clients and their children, now is the ideal time for you to reach out to clients, leads, and referral sources to help families adapt to the new legal reality at the milestone of adulthood. Read on to learn more about how estate planning for young adults can give the entire family peace of mind.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: August 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 12, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From the Internal Revenue Service’s extension of time to use the simplified method for electing portability to the enforceability of modifications to click-wrap agreements, 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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Lessons from the Court: West Dakota Oil, Inc. v. Kathrein Trucking, LLC

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 5, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Lessons From The Court-Blog

Piercing the corporate veil is a legal concept that involves separating the business entity from its owner, allowing the owner to be protected from personal liability for the business’s debts. The applicable law can be nebulous, and protection against personal liability may not always be available, especially if a single owner of a business uses personal funds to run the company—or uses the business’s funds for their own purposes. A recent legal case from North Dakota illustrates some of the factors that determine whether the business is operating separately or merely as the alter ego of its owner. Read on to learn more.

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Requesting Portability Election Relief Just Got Easier

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 3, 2022 10:00:00 AM

SECURE ACT - IRS1The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently extended the time to elect portability of the deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount for estates not otherwise required to file an estate tax return. After getting swamped with extension requests from taxpayers who missed the two-year deadline, the IRS announced that it would allow five years to make a late claim on portability. Read on to learn more about this change and how it applies to your estate planning clients.

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The 5 Ws of Using Nonmember Managers

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 29, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Limited liability companies are typically run by a sole member or some or all of its members. However, sometimes it is best for a limited liability company (LLC) to be managed by a third party nonmember manager. Keep reading to learn how to advise your business-owning clients about when to consider using a nonmember manager. 

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Four Estate Planning Strategies for a High Interest Rate Environment

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 22, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Interest rates have been climbing steadily throughout 2022, as the Federal Reserve System continues to battle an inflation rate that recently reached a forty-year high. This economic environment lends itself to certain estate planning strategies that take advantage of high interest rates. Keep reading to learn which estate planning tactics are best when interest rates are elevated.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: July 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 15, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From the Internal Revenue Service’s Dirty Dozen tax schemes to the standard applicable to waiver in federal arbitration cases, 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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Are You Ready to Take Your Law Practice in a New Direction?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 8, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Practicing law can sometimes seem like just that: practice. You may wonder, when will the meaningful work begin? If you feel like you are simply accomplishing tasks and checking items off your to-do list, maybe your law career needs something new. Are you feeling burned out or longing to start your own practice? If you are looking for a future in which you get to perform work that matters to you while maintaining a life outside the office, estate planning may be a good fit, and it has several advantages if you need a new direction. Keep reading to learn more about this fulfilling area of the law.

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Top Client Estate Planning Goals for 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 1, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Top Client Estate Planning Goals 2022

As an estate planner, you should always be attuned to your clients’ goals, especially when estate and gift tax laws change. WealthCounsel conducted a survey with the help of Trusts & Estates magazine and Informa Engage of more than 500 estate planning professionals to gain insight into estate planning trends. The survey results revealed several popular goals for 2022, relating to large lifetime gifts, the upcoming sunset of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and the deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount. Read on to learn about clients’ estate planning goals.

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Tools to Boost Efficiency and Help Manage Your Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 24, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Running a law practice can be challenging, but fortunately, there are a variety of technological tools that can make it easier. These solutions can help you manage your client relationships, save time with scheduling, design email marketing strategies, automate webinars, and create consistent branding. Doing things the old-fashioned way may be comfortable, but you can gain time and money by taking advantage of business efficiency solutions. Keep reading to learn more. 

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SECURE Act Proposed Regulations: Key Highlights for Estate Planners

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 22, 2022 1:34:27 PM

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While the SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act became law in late 2019, the Internal Revenue Service has only recently proposed how to implement it. The 275 pages of regulations have not yet been finalized, but their publication affects many estate planning clients.  These rules are a moving target, so it is important to learn about them from the source rather than relying on the expertise of custodians or financial advisors.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: June 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 17, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From the unenforceability of arbitration clauses in trusts to the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act to small businesses, 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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Estate Planning Trends 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 10, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Estate planners have needs and concerns that change each year. That is why WealthCounsel teamed up with Trusts & Estates magazine and Informa Engage to conduct an annual survey of more than 500 estate planning professionals. 

This year’s major topics included cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens (NFTs); referral sources; and the upcoming sunset of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Read on for details about the survey results.

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Estate Planners: How You Can Help Your Business-Owning Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 3, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Many participants of the Great Resignation decided to not only leave their jobs, but to also start their own businesses. Business startups surged 53 percent last year to 5.4 million, the highest number on record of any year. These new business owners need help with legal documents and business planning, providing attorneys with a new source of clients. Even if estate planning is your focus, understanding how to help new and aspiring business owners can grow your practice. Keep reading to learn more about how to reach and serve these potential clients.

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Estate Planning for Military Families

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 27, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices that members of the armed forces and their families make every day in service to our country. Military families are a unique demographic; however, they have estate planning needs like everyone else. Due to the nature of their work, military families often experience frequent moves, and while they have access to several forms of government benefits, they can also be subject to some unusual tax rules. Additionally, their risk of deployment into active combat presents a heightened level of urgency and necessity for wills, trusts, and other pertinent planning documents. For these reasons, estate planning for military families can be more complicated than for other types of families. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: May 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 20, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From new anti-clawback proposed regulations to pay transparency statutes, 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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Trust Decanting: Top State Jurisdictions for 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 13, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Trust Decanting in 2022

While there are many ways to change the terms of an irrevocable trust, decanting proves to be one of the most effective methods. An irrevocable trust does not necessarily mean that it is unchangeable, as the terms can be altered after it is poured (decanted like a bottle of wine) into a new trust. Trust decanting is a useful tool for estate planning attorneys who are striving to make a trust better fit the needs of the client. The authority to decant a trust can be included in the original trust, or it can stem from the decanting statutes in more than thirty states. 

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A Primer on Business Succession Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 6, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Business owners can be so concerned with day-to-day operations that they fail to prepare for the inevitable day when they are no longer able to run their business. There always seems to be time until there is no more time. Business succession planning may be the “single-most neglected aspect of running a company. Further, this issue is relevant to business clients as well as to attorneys who run their own practices. Whether plans to depart the business are imminent or far-off, it is important to act now, as proper business succession planning can often take several years to implement.

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Improving Estate Planning with Hybrid DAPTs

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 29, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Protecting assets is a major goal of estate planning, and as of March 2022, nineteen states have statutes that allow the creation of a domestic asset protection trust (DAPT). A DAPT is an irrevocable trust designed to protect trust assets from beneficiaries’ creditors. An even better version of this trust is the hybrid DAPT, which can offer another layer of protection for your client. Read on to learn how it works.

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5 Tips to Get More Clients and Grow Your Estate Planning Practice

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 22, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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While you may have a strong handle on the substantive estate planning law required to effectively run your practice, it is natural for new and transitioning practitioners to experience difficulties acquiring clients. Law school prepares you to pass the bar and begin practicing law, but it does not prepare you to operate and market a business.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: April 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 15, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From a taxpayer’s win in a split-dollar life insurance arrangement case to the reinstatement of a Trump-era independent contractor rule, 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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Buy-Sell Agreements: Top Drafting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 8, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Business can become personal for entrepreneurs who own a small business. Life changes such as divorce, disability, or death can affect not only the partner but also the ownership of the business. To retain stability when major changes occur, a business should have a comprehensive buy-sell agreement in place at its outset. Because life events will undoubtedly affect your clients’ businesses, you should be aware of and avoid common drafting mistakes in buy-sell agreements. 

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Retirement Planning: Five of the Most Common Accounts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 1, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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The road to retirement is different for everyone. Workers have many paths to help save for retirement as they travel toward the same goal. Since retirement funds are an important part of many estate plans, you should understand the most common types of retirement accounts. Read on to learn more about these accounts and their various tax implications.

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NFTs and Estate Planning: The Latest Digital Asset

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 25, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are gaining popularity at an exponential rate. Trades of these unique digital assets increased by an eye-popping 21,000 percent in 2021, for a total value of $17.6 billion. Because your clients are increasingly likely to have NFTs in their portfolios, it is important that you understand them and know how to include them in an estate plan. 

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Four Ways to Use Technology to Improve Your Communication with Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 18, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Do you consider yourself comfortable with technology? If so, you can help clients who are not. Our communications methods and preferences have changed drastically in just the past few years. The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.4(a) requires that attorneys keep clients well-informed, and improving your communications skills through technology will assist your clients immensely. You can augment your communication skills using four types of technology: smartphones, Zoom meetings, document solutions, and social media.  

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: March 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 11, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposed regulations relating to required minimum distributions to a new federal law ending forced arbitration for claims of sexual harassment and assault, 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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Communicating the Value of SRTs to Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Mar 4, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Retirement funds are likely one of the main components of your client’s estate plan. A standalone retirement trust (SRT) is a useful tool that can protect these funds by allowing your client to direct the manner in which they are distributed after the client dies. You can serve your clients well by explaining how an SRT works and how much value it can add to their estate plans.

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LLC Formation: Which State Is Best?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 25, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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When your client starts a limited liability company (LLC), they are not confined to forming it in their home state. Because all fifty states allow “foreign LLCs” to operate within their borders, your client can shop around for the state with the most advantageous rules. Your client can then operate the LLC under the law of the state where it was formed. Keep reading to discover the best states to form an LLC.

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5 Typos that Could Affect Client Trust

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 18, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Mistakes happen in all forms of writing, including the drafting of estate planning documents. Even a small typographical error can have big consequences for you and your clients. If these errors are not rectified before the documents are signed, they can hurt your credibility with clients or worse—lead to malpractice claims. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: February 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 11, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) life expectancy tables for required minimum distributions to lowered reporting thresholds for third-party payment networks, 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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Top 5 Tax Questions About Powers of Appointment, Answered

By WealthCounsel Staff on Feb 4, 2022 10:00:00 AM

FAQ

Powers of appointment are useful estate planning tools that allow the grantor of the power to choose someone they trust to instruct the fiduciary in control of the assets to redirect the distribution of the assets from their estate or trust. This distribution can take place many years after the grantor’s death.

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10 Strategies to Reduce the Value of a Client’s Estate

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 28, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Clients want their estates to grow until it is tax time—when they want to give the Internal Revenue Service as small a target as possible. While the federal wealth transfer tax exemptions run into the millions of dollars, some clients’ estates exceed these amounts and result in large estate tax bills. Fortunately, several methods are available to reduce the amount of a client’s estate for tax purposes. Here are ten strategies to limit your client’s exposure.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: January 2022

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 21, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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From an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Chief Counsel Advice affecting GRATs to decisions regarding the deduction of business losses, 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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Cryptocurrency and Estate Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 14, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Cryptocurrency may be the “next big thing” on the level of the personal computer and the internet. The market has already reached a total value of $3 trillion. Investors are attracted to its anonymity and freedom from centralized control by banks or governments. Understanding virtual assets and how they differ from traditional currency can help you serve your estate planning clients. Read on to learn how cryptocurrency will affect your law practice.

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Adding Right of Occupancy to a Revocable Living Trust

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jan 7, 2022 10:00:00 AM

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Family dynamics can change drastically when one member passes away. In particular, if a surviving spouse remarries, the question of what happens to the family home can make dynamics among the children and the new spouse even more complicated.

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Estate Planning in 2022: Considerations for the 99%

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 24, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Like 2020, this year has been one for the record books. For the first time ever, young Americans (aged eighteen to thirty-four) are more likely to have a will than their older counterparts (aged thirty-five to fifty-four). The COVID-19 pandemic has forced younger Americans to consider the importance of estate planning and realize that it is not just a need of the ultrawealthy. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: December 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 17, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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From the announcement of the increased annual exclusion and gift and estate tax exemption for 2022 to the release of proposed regulations implementing the Corporate Transparency Act, 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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How to Transform Social Media Followers into Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 10, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Gathering social media followers can help your law practice, but only if you know what to do with them. Social media followers have shown that they are interested in you by following you, but there are additional steps that you must take to transform them into paying clients.

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Lessons from the Court: Ginsburg v. United States

By WealthCounsel Staff on Dec 3, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Business lawyers should be aware that advising partnerships can be tricky: the federal partnership tax rules can be quite complicated. Partnerships should be formed for a legitimate business purpose—not just to avoid taxes—and partners should take care to avoid overstating their losses and underpaying taxes. In addition, if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposes a penalty, any defenses must be raised at the proper stage: otherwise, they will be unavailable. As we examine the recent decision in Ginsburg v. United States, we can learn lessons about how the federal government handles tax issues relating to business partnerships. 

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The Great Resignation: What It Means for Attorneys

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

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Millions of Americans have walked away from their jobs this year. This mass employment exodus is noticeable, as is evidenced every day by conversations with people and signs outside retail stores and restaurants begging potential employees to work for them.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: November 2021

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

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From revisions to the Build Back Better Act to restrictions on noncompetition agreements, 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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Top 5 Tips to Avoid Malpractice Claims

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

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Dealing with a malpractice claim can be very stressful and take a lot of time away from your business and clients. In addition to lost revenue, you may have to pay a settlement, court costs, and your own attorney’s fees. Your reputation as a lawyer could also suffer permanent damage. 

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Yours, Mine, or Ours?

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

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Helping Clients Plan for Community Property in a Separate Property State 

If you are an estate planner, chances are you practice in a separate property (or common law) state. After all, there are only nine community property states. But that does not mean that community property will not appear on your radar.

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4 Tips for Drafting Income Tax-Sensitive Trusts

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 22, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Trusts have significant income-tax implications because their tax brackets are compressed: they can reach the highest income tax bracket with much less income than an individual taxpayer. 

Flexibility in the drafting of trusts will be even more important in 2022, when tax brackets are likely to be affected by rising inflation, the cost-of-living adjustment, and President Biden’s stimulus package. Income tax planning may not always be the first thing that comes to mind when drafting a trust, but the current political climate is causing clients to be concerned about rising income tax rates. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: October 2021

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

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From the release of the Build Back Better Act to the expansion of the federal COVID-19 economic injury disaster loan program for businesses, 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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Everyday Estate Planning and The Build Back Better Act

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 8, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Many estate planning attorneys are following the news about the Build Back Better Act (the Act) and how it could affect their clients. This news story is a moving target, as Congress is likely to make changes to the legislation, and there is no guarantee that it will even pass.

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Young Adults Increase Demand for Estate Planning Services

By WealthCounsel Staff on Oct 1, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Estate planning services are in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Surprisingly, young adults are more likely than their middle-aged counterparts to have a will. This demand presents a unique opportunity to offer estate planning services to the eighteen to thirty-four year old demographic, as well as their older counterparts whose planning efforts are lagging behind.

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Year-End Planning with SLATs: 5 Key Points For Planning, Drafting, and Funding

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 24, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) doubled the federal gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount (referred to here as “exemption”) from $5 million to $10 million (adjusted for inflation). In 2022, the federal gift and estate tax exemption is $12.06 million, which generally means that an individual can transfer $12.06 million of assets before having to pay a gift or estate tax (at a maximum rate of 40%). Unless new legislation is passed, this exemption will reset to $5 million (adjusted for inflation) on January 1, 2026. 

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Work-Life Balance: Is It Really Possible?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 17, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Work-life balance sounds like one of those goals that everybody strives for but nobody can achieve. The stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic have stretched us to the point where work-life balance seems like a pipe dream—or even a cruel joke. But what if you really can achieve it?

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: September 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 10, 2021 11:59:49 AM

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From an extension to elect out of automatic allocations of the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption to alternative business structures for legal services, 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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Tax Apportionment 101: Planning with Retirement Assets

By WealthCounsel Staff on Sep 3, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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When the federal estate tax exemption is high, the issue of how to apportion death taxes is of less concern to many families. But this issue can cause controversy with taxable estates, blended families, and certain types of assets. If the decedent’s will or trust is silent on the issue of tax apportionment or the decedent died intestate, state law provides default rules that determine which interests or assets in a decedent’s estate bear the burden of paying death taxes. If a certain interest is insufficient to pay the net tax attributable to property passing under the terms of the trust, state law often also provides an order of priority for payment of the balance of the tax owed. However, the terms of the decedent’s will or trust can override these rules; that is, everyone has the opportunity to direct how taxes (and expenses, for that matter) will be paid. In a taxable estate, this may be the most important provision in the testamentary instrument.

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Protecting Assets for the Next Generation

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 27, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Fall is often associated with back-to-school time, when many clients focus on their children’s educational future. This makes fall the perfect time for estate planning attorneys to remind their clients how important it is to take steps to secure their children’s financial future as well. By incorporating asset protection in their estate plan, clients can not only provide an inheritance for their children but also protect the inheritance from creditors, a soon-to-be ex-spouse, and poor money management that can quickly deplete hard-earned assets. 

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Top Four Concerns Estate Planners Hear From Clients

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 20, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Earlier this year, WealthCounsel, in conjunction with Trusts & Estates magazine, surveyed over 500 estate planning professionals to see what opportunities and challenges they and their clients face. The results indicate that, while there is stability within the industry overall, there are growing concerns from clients regarding proposed legislation that could have wide-ranging implications if passed. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: August 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 13, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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From penalties for the nonwillful failure to file reports of foreign financial accounts to new consumer privacy legislation, 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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Considerations for Administering Closely Held Business Assets in Trust

By WealthCounsel Staff on Aug 6, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Written by: REBECCA KLOCK SCHROER, JD, & MORGAN WIENER, JD

Trustees face a number of complexities when administering a trust that owns interests in a closely held business. This article focuses on two of those complexities:

(1)  Which standard of care applies to the trustee’s business decisions: the fiduciary or the corporate standard of care?

(2)  What is the trustee’s obligation to produce information about the business to the trust’s beneficiaries?

Because there is no national consensus on either of these issues, this article will first provide an overview of each issue and then review leading cases exemplifying the different approaches taken by courts.

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Advanced Estate Planning Fall Summit

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 30, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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The Virtual Conference for Experienced Estate Planners Returns

WealthCounsel’s Advanced Estate Planning Summit is returning this fall with some exciting new speakers and sessions that will give you fresh insight for your law practice. Whether you are hoping to stay ahead of the tsunami of proposals coming from the Hill, learn groundbreaking planning strategies for your clients, or gain practical skills regarding document drafting—this Summit has something for everyone.

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Capital Gains and Gifting: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 23, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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With the 2021 federal estate tax exemption amount at $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for couples, many estate planning attorneys have shifted to other financial savings objectives to plan for their clients whose taxable estates fall below these thresholds. Because of this high exemption amount, the federal estate tax has impacted less than 1 percent of the US population, and thus the planning focus has shifted towards reducing income tax liability for clients. More specifically, the focus has been on how to strategically and effectively reduce a client’s capital gains tax liability. Although these strategies may eventually need to change given new proposals by the Biden administration, there are several important rules regarding capital gains taxes that currently apply to gifts made during a client’s life or at death that legal counsel must consider when advising clients. 

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The Family Business Lawyer: Steering Clear of Ethical Troubles

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 16, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Lawyers who represent family businesses often also represent the business owners, serve as a trustee or fiduciary on the business’s board, and provide personal estate planning for the owners and other family members. While fulfilling multiple goals  for clients may seem effective and efficient, it is important that the attorney consider potential ethical complications and the potential need to narrow the representation, obtain clients’ informed consent, or withdraw from a particular matter.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: July 2021

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

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From new state statutes designed to attract wealthy residents to the validity of employer vaccine mandates, 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 a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Breaking It Down: Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jul 2, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Among confusing legal concepts, the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax is at the top of the list. Because of its complexity, many attorneys lump it in with concepts such as the rule against perpetuities—topics taught in law school that they never quite fully understood and wish to forget. However, for estate-planning attorneys, understanding the GST tax is vital to helping their clients effectively plan to avoid it if possible. As with any concept that causes confusion, breaking it down is the key to better understanding.

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Complying with Ethical Duties While Working from Anywhere

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 25, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Inconvenience resulting from COVID-19 restrictions or other issues related to remote work are not an excuse for failing to meet ethical duties. The rules of professional responsibility, including the duty of confidentiality and duty to avoid conflicts of interest, still apply in the virtual environment. In fact, attorneys may need to implement extra safeguards to avoid violating their ethical obligations.  

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Estate Planning Strategies if the Gift Tax Exemption Amount Is Reduced Retroactively

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 18, 2021 10:01:56 AM

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With the Democrats in control of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, there has been a plethora of new proposals that could have sweeping effects within the estate planning industry. Some of the most notable proposals include increasing the capital gains tax rate to 39.6 percent, ending stepped-up basis, and making sweeping modifications to the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions. 

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: June 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 11, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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From the Department of the Treasury’s issuance of a new “green book” to the Biden administration’s withdrawal of a proposed Trump-era independent contractor rule, 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 a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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Creating a Legacy for Your Client's Pet

By WealthCounsel Staff on Jun 4, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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By PEGGY HOYT, JD, MBA, BCS

Planning for four-legged loved ones (kids in fur coats) can be just as challenging as planning for two-legged loved ones (minor children). Clients typically ask, “Do I need a trust or a will?” The answer, of course, is, “It depends.” 

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The Often Forgotten Fiduciary Income Tax Obligations of Trusts

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 28, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Although trusts are effective estate-planning tools used to avoid probate and minimize estate and gift taxes, their income-tax implications must also be considered to ensure that there are no unintended tax consequences. The drafting attorney should point out the advantageous and disadvantageous fiduciary income-tax implications for the type of trust being considered and then determine which trust is the best fit for the client. 

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Navigating the Trust Administration Journey

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 21, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Navigating a postdeath trust administration can be daunting, and attorneys must have the necessary skills, knowledge, and competence to diligently and effectively provide legal services to fiduciary clients during this process.

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: May 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 14, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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From the proposed elimination of stepped-up basis to new grants for restaurants and live venues harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 a few noteworthy developments and analyzed how they may impact your estate planning and business law practice.

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One Size Does Not Fit All in Estate Planning

By WealthCounsel Staff on May 7, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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One-size-fits-all estate plans are impracticable due to the differences and varying complexities in each person’s estate. It is imperative to tailor an estate plan to meet each client’s needs and goals, so the drafting attorney must understand the character of the assets in the client’s estate and the planning options best suited for each client. Because high net worth clients are often very protective of their assets, planning objectives and recommendations for clients with large estates will almost always differ and be more complex than those for other clients. When estate planning attorneys understand the different planning techniques appropriate for larger estates, including the advantages and disadvantages of each, they can help high net worth clients create a plan that not only facilitates a smooth transition of assets to beneficiaries after death but also helps to sustain the longevity of assets.   

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2021 Document Management Buyers Guide For Attorneys

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 30, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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We are excited and honored to announce our participation in the 2021 Document Management Buyers Guide! The e-book, released by Legal Tech Publishing, spotlights innovative legal technology products for attorneys.

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The Corporate Transparency Act: What Estate Planners Need to Know

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 23, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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The Corporate Transparency Act of 2020 (CTA), passed on January 1, 2021, is designed to prevent malign actors, i.e., companies that seek to conceal their ownership of businesses in the United States in an effort to facilitate illicit activity such as money laundering, financing of terrorism, tax fraud, and other acts of foreign corruption, from harming the national security interests of the United States and its allies. But why should this be of any interest to estate planners?

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Current Developments in Estate Planning and Business Law: April 2021

By WealthCounsel Staff on Apr 16, 2021 10:03:00 AM

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From sweeping new tax proposals to an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, 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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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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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 increase 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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