I just wrapped up the American Academy’s Spring Summit event in Houston. In many sessions, including the Keynote Address, we discussed how leaving a legacy is more important than tax issues or other issues. When people are in their final days, few regret that they did not earn enough money. They cherish the things which have become important in their lives, including the relationships they have built and the legacy they will leave.
As the World War II generation gives way to the Baby Boomers, there is a shift in how people do estate planning. This shift was discussed recently in the New York Times. The World War II generation focused primarily on wealth transmission. The Baby Boomers tend to want to transmit some wealth to loved ones, but also want to help their favorite causes in order to leave a legacy, not just wealth.
I’ve blogged before about the many ways that charitable giving can help the client during life. At the final session of the Academy’s Summit event in Houston, I spoke about the changing nature of estate planning. Estate Planning is becoming more complicated for many reasons. First, the strategies that work vary from state to state because of the practical elimination of the estate tax for the vast majority of clients. Second, our clients are not just concerned with themselves, but also with their children or other beneficiaries. So, state asset protection and income taxation of the children or other beneficiaries becomes an issue. Finally, with the decreased emphasis on estate tax planning, income tax planning has become increasingly important.
This all dovetails with the increasing desire on the part of clients to leave a legacy to their children, not just financial wealth.
Later this week I’ll be traveling to Atlanta for meetings at the Carter Center, on whose national Planned Giving Advisory Board I am pleased to serve. The Carter Center is four-star rated by Charity Navigator. The Carter Center improves the lives of millions of people in very tangible ways by “Waging Peace, Fighting Diseasing, and Building Hope.” Their work in monitoring elections and brokering peace has helped free millions from oppressive regimes. Their work in fighting little-known tropical diseases has spared millions of the least fortunate in the world from the agonies of disability and pre-mature death. The Carter Center is one way that former President Jimmy Carter and Roslynn Carter have chosen to leave their legacy.
Assist your clients in leaving their legacy in the manner in which they choose to leave it.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555