“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 effective, strategic estate planning solutions are the result of a very personal process. And in today’s post-ATRA environment, the business of estate planning is more personal than ever before.
The 2012 American Taxpayer Relief Act marked a real paradigm shift from transfer tax planning toward income tax, capital gains, succession planning, etc. With permanent transfer tax relief now codified, new challenges have emerged, issues that by their very nature demand an approach designed and tailored to the individual client. These include technical issues such as reducing federal and state income tax liability, fairly complex issues like asset protection, and “softer”, client-specific issues like family legacy and business planning succession, to name a few.
With the New Year upon us, now is the ideal time to connect with your clients. Remind them that while their estate tax matters may be simpler, less volatile than they were a few years before, there are other important estate planning issues that deserve careful review and consideration. Get to know the family and their priorities. What kind of legacy does the client want to create and be known for? What are the 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 the 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.