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Customized Approach with an Emphasis on Trust Planning and Structuring Will Result in Effective Estate Plan

From a chapter published in "INSIDE THE MINDS: Best Practices for Structuring Trusts and Estates – Leading Lawyers on Drafting a Flexible Plan, Protecting the Client’s Assets, and Leveraging Tax Strategies."

I find the trusts and estates field extremely challenging and rewarding. The significant increase in the transfer tax exemptions in 2010 may have lessened the need for transfer tax planning for many clients, but there are still many aspects of wealth transfer and wealth planning that need to be addressed, and there is a great need for trusts and estates lawyers who are knowledgeable, practical, and good problem solvers. As with many things, there is more than one way to be a good trusts and estates practitioner, and you need to determine your focus and the way you plan to excel as a lawyer. I will share some of my best practices, and hopefully some of this insight will be helpful to others striving to improve their skills in the trusts and estates field.

This chapter focuses on three topics. First, I suggest some of my best practices for the estate planning process in general. Second, I discuss the importance of fully understanding the power and uses of trusts, which are frequently a central part of an estate plan. Third, I discuss current estate planning topics (other than the planning issues that are more likely to occur in everyday practice) that have been hot topics in my practice over the past year or so, and will likely continue to be hot topics for the next few years. As trusts and estates is a changing and evolving field (in large part due to constant changes in society and new laws), this last section would have been quite different had I been writing it just a few years ago. This underscores the nature of the trusts and estates field as a challenging and evolving field of practice.

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