Thursday, February 18, 2010

Top Areas of Focus - based on Client Needs

I mentioned in an earlier posting the Third Annual WealthCounsel Survey of Attorneys in Estate Planning and promised to share some of the more relevant nuggets with my readers. Here is another nugget...

Attorneys were asked what areas they were seeing as the highest growth areas for their clients over the next five years. Based on feedback from their clients and the increase in demand, here is a listing of the top areas most estate planning attorneys will most likely be focusing on in the next five years:
  1. Business Entity Planning for Estate Planning Purposes
  2. Beneficiary Inheritance Asset Protection Planning
  3. Elder Law Planning
  4. Post Mortem Administration
  5. Business Succession Planning
  6. Lifetime Planning
  7. Tax Avoidance Strategies
Notice any patterns?  First, they are indicative of the aging population we will all be serving.  Second, there is a lot of "planning" that needs to take place.  Third, there are more "business" related issues than in the past.  Finally, and always on the list, how to I get to keep more of what I have and not pay as many taxes.

I'm seeing a very similar pattern in our geography as well and our clients are facing many of the same issues.  I guess the survey was pretty accurate.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Grandma won't leave...

I met with Frank and Joy the other day and they described a problem that is not only very common but more and more of my clients are wrestling with the same issue.  So I thought I would share their story.

Grandma is a feisty, spirited personality who has been living in her same home for that past 40 years.  It is what she knows and it is where she raised her kids and where she spent her best years with her now deceased husband.  She wants to stay in her own home.

The problem isn't the house - it is being able to function in the house on her own now that all her kids have grown up and started their own lives.  She unfortunately doesn’t really have the ability to function safely on her own, day after day. She isn’t necessarily a danger to herself at this point but there are things that go on that make this a difficult situation.  There is the issue of physical security, getting around to the store for food and supplies, basic upkeep of the house and a host of other day to day issues.  Not overwhelming - yet - but she is headed in that direction.

She has several children including Frank and Joy, who are trying to grapple with grandma's situation. They came to me looking for an experienced voice to give them a heads up on how to deal with this very sensitive and personal issue - not to mention the accompanying financial issues. And as with many in this situation, it is a a first experience for both the adult children as well as the Grandma.  Sound familiar??

In this case, Frank and Joy were able to put together a plan over the next few years, include Grandma in the planning and allow her time to "get used to" the idea of not being in her home.  There were a lot of emotions and issues to deal with but eventually Grandma moved out, one of the children took over living in and caring for her house and it had a happy ending. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The "Envelope" Please...

One of the largest and most respected attorney organizations  in the country is called WealthCounsel.  They just released their Third Annual Survey of Industry Trends and there were some "Ah-ha's" and interesting results that I thought you might be interested in hearing about.  Since this group is exclusively used "by attorneys" and "for attorneys" it isn't very often the general public gets to see this information.  Let's take a peak...

While many businesses are down, 40% of the attorney's said their business had increased - at least in the estate planning area.  Why?  More people were focused on updating and getting some plans in place to hold onto more of what they had after many had lost a bundle due to the economic crisis.  This was not only good for the attorney's but was very good for their clients to get an update and better plans in place.

Here is an "Ah-ha" from the study.  They asked the number one reason why clients plan - any guesses?  The number one reason was to "avoid probate" and minimize estate taxes.  Not the first response most would have thought.  Along the same lines, another major factor that motivates clients to do their planning is to answer the question, "What would happen if they don't plan?"  Most attorney's expect to see an increase in activity as the population of baby-boomers starts aging - which is happening right now.

Very interesting results from this years survey...I will share more in another post.