Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Using a Story as a Sales Technique

Unknown-7When estate planning attorneys are trying to sell their services, storytelling can be a powerful sales technique.  Wealth Management suggests a basic structure for creating your own story relaying a past successful experience to aid in your selling process. 

1. Introduction: Slowly build and captivate your listener from the beginning of your story. 

2. Middle: Continue to build your story but don't let it go on too long. 

3. Conclusion and Moral: Finish your story with a moral to show why it is important that the client follow your advice. 

4. Check-in: After you made your point, check-in with your prospect to test their receptiveness to your story. 

While storytelling can be a powerful communication technique, you should save it for emphasizing key points. 

See Kevin Nichols and Stephen Boswell, The Power of Selling With a Story, Wealth Management.com, Dec. 27, 2012. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention. 

December 29, 2012 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Unexpected Consequences of a Joint Tenancy

MoneyThe common problem that most people face with joint tenancies is that they believe that a joint tenancy will not override the disposition plan established by their will. However, this is never the case. The joint tenancy operates outside the probate process. In fact, "the joint tenancy transfer at death results in what the law calls a 'non-probate transfer.'" What this means is that a joint tenant will take over any other person regardless of what the transferor's will states. So, if a client means to divide the amount that is located within his or her bank account, the best option for the client is to keep the account in his or her name and allow the will to determine the distribution of the account at the client's death. The costs of avoiding probate may not be worth the costs associated with a feuding family.

See Jim Flynn, Money & The Law: Joint Tenancy Can Have Unexpected Consequences, The Gazette, Dec. 16, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 29, 2012 in Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Planning For Non-Traditional Families

Wendy S. GoffeWendy S. Goffe (Stoel Rives, LLP, Washington) has recently published an article entitled, Planning For Nontraditional Families, American Bar Association. Provided below is a description of the article from the American Bar Association:

A “non-traditional family” is a catch-all phrase that includes unmarried couples (homosexual or heterosexual), with or without children, a stepfamily, children from the prior marriages or relationships of one or both of the partners, and the Living Apart Togethers, i.e., couples who maintain entirely separate residences. Wendy Goffe highlights important issues for nontraditional families that may not be applicable to the “traditional family.”

December 29, 2012 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 28, 2012

End of Year Gifting by Check

Gift TaxThe problem with using a check to gift money to take advantage of either the annual exclusion or lifetime gift tax exemption is that the donor can revoke the gift before the check clears the bank. The problem with this is that the gift is not considered complete until the revocability period ends, which can mean that a gift that was intended for 2012 might become a gift in 2013. The safest way to ensure that the gift is made in 2012 is to ensure that the check is delivered, the recipient deposits the check, and it clears by the end of this year. If a problem occurs, Revenue Ruling 96-56 provides a safe harbor.

See Charles Rubin, Last Minute Gifting By Check, JDSupra Law News, Rubin on Tax, Dec. 21, 2012.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) and  Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 28, 2012 in Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Is Taxing the Wealthy More, Fair?

IRS 2One of the primary considerations that face lawmakers about how the tax code should be reformed is the overall fairness of raising or lowering taxes on certain classes of citizens. The question that has arisen recently in this country is whether the wealthiest citizens in our country are paying their fair share. At the moment, it appears that leaders from both parties in this country agree that the amount that the wealthy should pay should increase. However, there is still much disagreement over how much is fair. According to Ray D. Madoff, "many argue that the wealthy are already paying a disproportionate share of taxes, a view that new data from the Internal Revenue Service appear to support. Missing from the conversation, however, is an appreciation of the way these data fail to accurately describe the true income of the wealthiest Americans."

Thus, to ensure that members of Congress have an accurate number when accessing how much the wealthiest citizens should pay, the tax code should be reformed to require all forms of income to be reported even income that is tax-free. Of course, the author's suggestion from his article is by no means an endorsement that traditionally tax-free income should be taxed. The author merely believes that we should track the income of all Americans to determine how much income the wealthiest citizens in our nation own. Only when we have this information, can we determine how much of tax is considered fair.

See Ray D. Madoff, Tax Fairness and the Wealthy, Washington Post Opinions, Dec. 26, 2012.

December 28, 2012 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

CLE on Construction Contracts

CLE ImageThe ABA Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law will host a teleconference and live audio webcast entitled, Construction Contracts: Why the Forms Are Not Enough, from 12:00 to 1:30 pm on January 23, 2013. Provided below is a description of the event:

Use of the AIA family of construction documents is easy, but many times is not well-suited to the client or its project. It is important to know when or when not to make changes to the forms, or when to use something totally different. During this presentation the panel will discuss:

  • Changes to the standard form that are most often necessary;
  • Situations when a non-standard form should be used;
  • Practical and useful guidelines for advising clients as to the sophistication of construction contract that is needed; and
  • The degree that custom-tailored provisions are appropriate.

Written materials will include a matrix of AIA A201 general conditions clauses where changes are often recommended, along with suggested changed language.

December 28, 2012 in Conferences & CLE | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on the Ethics of Providing Financial or Insurance Products

Jay AdkissonJay D. Adkisson (Riser Adkisson, LLP, California) and Richard S. LeVine (Withers Bergman, LLP, New York) have recently published an article entitled, Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Who Offer Financial or Insurance Products, American Bar Association. Provided below is a description of the article from the American Bar Association:

Jay Adkisson provides an overview of the ethical and technical issues faced by attorneys who provide both legal and financial services to their clients, including potential liability for attorneys who engage in non-legal planning transactions.

December 28, 2012 in Articles, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Gold Anniversary of Gavels

Court FightIn Lucas County, Ohio, adoptees are given a small gavel to commemorate their adoption. This particular tradition has a little more sentiment to one presiding judge of Lucas County because he is an adopted child himself. Judge Time Krego now owns a much larger gavel; the one he now uses when he presides over the court. Yet, he still owns the one he first received 40 years ago when he was adopted by his mother's new husband at the time. To make the gift even more special, his newly adopted daughter now owns one too. Judge Krego's story of the gavel is not unique to him. Judge Krego stated for The Toledo Blade, "'I still run into people on a monthly basis who say they were adopted 40 years ago and still have the gavel.'" To commemorate this special anniversary, Toledo City Councilman Rob Luderman, the son of one of the probate judges in Lucas County, passed a resolution recognizing the judges and the court "'for their love and dedication to the children and parents who so wanted to become a family.'"

See Erica Blake, Adoption Rite Reaches Milestone, toledoBlade.com, Dec. 25, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 27, 2012 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Governor Signs Self-Settled Asset Protection Statute Into Law

TrustsThe Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, signed HB 479 into law on December 20, 2012. The law will go into effect 90 days from the date that the bill was signed into law. The newly passed statute "includes several miscellaneous asset protection and trust provisions, such as fixing IV QTIP issues as well as the Ohio Legacy Trust Act (5816.01 et seq)."

See Steven Maimes, Ohio's Self-Settled Asset Protection Trust Statute Signed Into Law, The Trust Advisor, Dec. 19, 2012.

Special Thanks to Scott Martin (Senior Editor, The Trust Advisor) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 27, 2012 in Current Events, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fiscal Cliff Creates An Unsurprising Amount of Work For Attorneys

IRS 2As we move into the final days of 2012, the fiscal cliff talks and the end of Bush-era tax cuts have created a great amount of work for attorneys whose clients are looking to take advantage of more favorable tax rates. As one attorney noted, while there is are usually end of the year tax planning, this year is a different because of the uncertainty created by the fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, without clear guidance, attorneys must plan for the worst.

According to a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery in New York, Henry Christensen III, attorneys are "working around the clock and on the weekends to help their clients finish transactions before the year's end." Mr. Christensen noted "that the lack of guidance on state income tax reduction has been disruptive for businesses." He believed that the uncertainty here will likely cause some businesses to move to states without an state income tax, which could adversely affect states like New York and California, who still have a state income tax.

See Matthew Huisman, Fiscal Cliff Uncertainty Creates Flood Work For Attorneys, The National Law Journal, Dec. 14, 2012.

December 27, 2012 in Estate Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)