Estate Planning

Estate planning is all about helping your clients manage their money (for the present and for the future). To be an estate planner is to be part legal advisor, part financial advisor, part family advisor. It is this mix of skills that draws smart attorneys to the estate planning practice.

  • Estate planning requires a deep knowledge of state and federal inheritance law and tax law. Particularly in the current legal climate where the whole notion of inheritance tax is in flux, it requires a mix of close legal analysis and “reading of the tea leaves.”
  • Estate planning requires a thorough understanding of financial instruments. Different instruments are treated differently for purposes of income tax and inheritance tax. Some instruments grow “tax fee”, while others offer an annuity. Some are secure investments and others are risky. The estate planner is expected to be able to balance the risk and rewards in setting up an effective plan.
  • Estate planning require solid people skills, the ability to know your client, know your client’s spouse, and understand the dynamic between them and their family. Realize that estate planning is more than document drafting. More than likely, the estate planner will be involved in the administration of pre-testamentary trusts; the probate; and then supervision of estate administration. So getting to know “all your clients” is important.

A lawyer who can balance these different skills will garner the respect of his or her clients, and gain their recommendations to others. These referrals are the basis of a busy estate planning law practice. Combined with effective marketing, “you will work plenty.”