“Sonny, it’s business. Not personal.”
Most of us remember The Godfather and that classic piece of counsel from Tom Hagen to the hot-headed Sonny. While separating “business” from “personal” may have been a worthy approach for the Corleones, estate planning professionals know otherwise.
The truth is that effective, strategic estate planning solutions are the result of a very personal process. And in today’s environment, the business of estate planning is more personal than ever before.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has marked a real paradigm shift from estate tax planning toward lifetime planning. With the increase in transfer tax exemption amounts, there is a significant opportunity to help clients mitigate estate tax liabilities by gifting wealth outright to beneficiaries or to a trust for the benefit of future generations. With the loss of the local and state income tax deduction, clients in high-income tax states, like California and New York, should consider making gifts to trusts that are not grantor trusts for income tax purposes. However, since the increase in the exemption amounts for federal estate, gift, and GST tax are temporary, estate planners should take advantage of these opportunities before they sunset on January 1, 2026.
With 2018 winding down, now is the ideal time to connect with your clients and let them know of these gifting opportunities. Get to know the family and their priorities. What kind of legacy does your client want to create and be known for? What are your client’s views on personal responsibility, life issues, family values, and stewardship?
By capturing the essence of the family’s personality, creative solutions can be found to meet your client’s unique estate planning needs. It takes time and a lot of careful listening, but the rewards for your client—and for you—will make it all worthwhile.
Learn how Wealth Docx® and Business Docx® can help you take advantage of recent tax law changes and draft high-quality estate and business planning documents that meet all of your clients’ needs. See what kinds of documents you could be drafting here.