Earlier this month I spent a week attending an estate planning conference in San Diego with many of my colleagues from across the country. No magic formula or big changes were touted. Much of the conference focused on relating to our clients, listening to their desires, and taking care of their families.
The rise in income tax rates while the increase in the estate tax exemption has changed the emphasis of estate tax planning. A talk by Kerri Kesam pointed out the need for good planning to protect our seniors. Plans need to be drawn up that account for the worst case scenarios. Estate planning is more than how your assets will pass upon death. Trusts, advance medical directives, and powers of attorney are designed to protect the client in the event they cannot make their own decisions. Everyone needs to have a plan in case they are temporarily or permanently disabled. Too many times the spouse or trusted relative is not able to help when your needs are the greatest. It is a challenge to look ahead twenty years when drafting documents, but it is a necessary perspective.
The view over the bay in San Diego helped us appreciate an area that attracts many retirees who want to enjoy the fruits of their working years. Our job is to ensure that those years can be carefree knowing that the plans are in place to protect against the worst scenarios. I returned to Maryland reinvigorated with a better sense of my purpose as an estate planning attorney.