Planning for the Generations

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2009 Wealth Counsel Symposium in Chicago

I just returned from a four day symposium on issues of concern to Estate Planning attorneys. The question of what will happen with the estate tax in 2010 seems to be overshadowed by healthcare issues. However, everyone is in agreement that Congress will not let the Estate Tax lapse in 2010. A big concern right now is Medicaid Planning as the recession has left many seniors without the assets to pay for long term care. Additionally, medical improvements have lengthened the time that seniors require assistance with their daily activities. The consensus is that our society needs to do more to help seniors continue to live in their own homes.

Ed Slott, PBS host of “Stay Rich Forever and Ever”, presented the strong argument for converting your IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010. Right now, Uncle Sam is a minority partner in your IRA and you have a chance to buy him out in 2010. Otherwise, tax increases will increase the government’s share of your retirement assets especially as we come out of the recession.

William Colby, a nationally known expert on end of life issues spoke on how medicine advances is effecting end of life decisions. The Baby Boomers are now facing these decisions and expect some changes. Mr. Colby’s point to families is to communicate your wishes and values to your families. You do need to have a planning document in place, but nothing can replace some frank discussion among family members.

Additional seminars on putting down personal values into wills and trusts can make bequests far more meaningful than just the money or personal property. Business owners need to have their buy-sell agreements reviewed and fixed to prevent death, disability, divorce, and a myriad of other factors that can destroy a viable business. Farmers and Ranchers need to have estate plans in place as their land really identifies the family and is more important than just the dollar value of their holdings.

Finally, we were able to take in some of the sights of Chicago. Valerie checked out the stores on Michigan Avenue, we listened to some jazz at the Shedd Acquarium, and we had some Chicago pizza and Vienna beef. I left feeling energized to take care of my clients and protect their legacy in this difficult financial environment.

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