Sunday, July 25, 2010

Breaking News -- Release of My Contributory Book!

Last week the Collaborative Press released The Complete Guide to Estate & Financial Planning in Turbulent Times, a 300-page hardcover book that provides answers to commonly-asked questions on estate and financial planning topics.  I was privileged to be one of 24 professionals from all over the United States who was invited to participate in this project.

While I'm obviously biased,  I believe that readers will find the book an informative read that provides a wealth of information regarding a wide-range of topics including the proper use of revocable and irrevocable trusts, retirement planning, long-term care and Medicaid planning, charitable planning techniques, the best ways to pass-on a vacation property to heirs, the importance of buy-sell agreements for business owners, and business succession planning

Click here to learn more about both the book and each of the contributing authors.  Readers of this blog who would like to receive a copy can contact me directly at

Wisdom During Trying Times

I never knew Rob Jaffee, but he appears to have been the type of client any estate planning attorney would enjoy working with. As described in this article written by Rob's brother, Chuck Jaffee, Rob had the wisdom to convince his reluctant wife to meet with an estate planning attorney to design and implement their estate plan. Two years later, Rob died at 57 just weeks after being diagnosed with a rare disease.

I was moved by these comments Rob made to his brother as the end came near:

Eileen [Rob's wife] didn't want to go meet the lawyers and set everything up, because it was focusing on death and dying at a time when everything was good and happy. But focusing on death and dying while you are living, that's easy; having to focus on death when you are dying, that would be unimaginable. ... Tell people not to let that happen.
People often ask me, "when is it the right time to 'do' my estate plan?"  My standard (and somewhat flip) response:  "six months before you know your going to die, give me a call and we'll get to work."  Coming from an estate planning attorney, my recommendation that people get their estate planning done now may come off as self-serving.  But perhaps reading Rob Jaffee's profound thoughts of the benefit to he and his family of putting together an estate plan before a crisis struck will strike a chord with some people who know they need to do an estate plan, but always find an excuse not to find the time. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Be an Enabler for Your Children's Poor Financial Decisions

I frequently counsel clients about how, if at all to provide assistance to their financially irresponsible adult children or grandchildren. This past week's Parade Magazine included this excellent article summarizing the "do's and don't's" for parents considering providing financial assistance to an adult child. Bottom line: a little assistance for a financially strapped child is ok; but don't become an enabler for their poor personal financial habits!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Will Geroge Steinbrenner Get The Last Laugh Over the Tax Man?

It appears that George Steinbrenner has outsmarted everyone again. While many people thought his fleecing of CBS in 1973 when he purchased the Yankees for the paltry sum of $10,000,000 could not be topped, his sudden death yesterday may save his estate from paying millions of dollars in federal estate taxes. As is widely known, the federal estate tax has been repealed in 2010 only; had Steinbrenner died in January (absent the enactment of new legislation), then his estate, which is estimated to exceed $1 billion, would have been subject to a federal estate tax of 55% for all assets in excess of $1 million.

Estate planning experts quoted here speculate that Steinbrenner likely had engaged in various estate planning techniques that would have minimized the estate tax hit had he died in a year when the federal estate tax was in force. I too would be surprised if Steinbrenner hadn't put in place GRATs, sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, Charitable Trusts and other planning tools to lessen the estate tax hit. But unless Congress retroactively reinstates an estate tax for 2010 (which appears less likely the further into 2010 we get), then any such advanced planning may prove to have been unnecessary in this instance.

Aspatore Book Project

I apologize for not having posted the past couple of weeks. Intertwined with the July 4th Holiday, I've been working on a chapter for a book to be released this coming winter by Aspatore Publishing, a division of Thomson Reuters. Titled Inside the Minds: Strategies for Trusts and Estates in New York, 2011 ed., the book is part of Aspatore's "how to" series geared to allied professionals. Aspatore's legal series feature contributions from attorneys at some of the most prominent law firms in the United States, and I am honored that I was recruited to participate.

My submission, which has grown to over 11,000 words, is due tomorrow. When published this winter, the book will be available at book stores and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other on-line line booksellers.

I'll keep readers of this blog posted as to the release date.