The Danger and Opportunity Before Us
The danger is real. Prospective clients may think there is no need for them to plan because they are exempt from the estate tax, at least for now. They may be lulled into a false confidence that the estate tax does not affect them, when in reality it may in the near future. They may be forgetting that the current tax law is only a two-year deal that Congress made, and the law will change in 2013, or possibly sooner. Or they may be foolishly using "waiting to see what the Congress will do" as an excuse to postpone their planning. The opportunity is real, too. As estate planners, we need to give up the "addiction" of relying on the estate tax as a primary business driver. We need to re-think our approach and remember why we became estate planners in the first place.While some may view the new tax law as an end to estate planning as we know it, we can also see it as an opportunity to finally focus on what our clients really want.
What Clients Really Want
Essentially, clients want the same things we all want:For Themselves -- Protection and Control. They wantcontrol over their assets and health care decisions. They want financial security. They want to be protected fromthe risks of life, which include lawsuits, disability and thecost of long-term care. Most have some philanthropic goals. For Their Surviving Spouse -- Financial Security. They want to know that their hard-earned assets will not pass to a new spouse. And they want the surviving spouse protected from taxes, primarily from income tax. For Their Children and Grandchildren -- An Educationand Financial Security, including Asset Protection fromImmaturity, Divorce and Lawsuits. A big motivator for planning can be protecting assets from gift, estate and income taxes for as long as possible, even for severalgenerations. They want their family members to live successful lives that include a work ethic, integrity, faith,and appreciation and respect for family
While TRUIRJCA 2010 has provided us with challenges and has forced us to re-think our approach to estate planning, it has also freed us to be able to do the estate planning that our clients really want without regard to the need for estate tax avoidance. Trust planning remains an integral and valuable part of estate planning, and is beneficial for the client and the professional team of advisors.