This is the eighth in a series of blogs on How to Practice in Estate Planning. I’ll sprinkle this series in among my typical timely blogs. This series is designed for attorneys who are currently practicing in another field and wish to transition to Estate Planning and Elder Law. However, many of the suggestions in this series will be equally applicable to a new attorney who is not transitioning from another area.
Step One was learning how to approach the practice of law as a business. Step Two was learning the basic substantive knowledge you need to practice in the estate planning area. Step Three is having forms upon which you can rely and a person or people whom you can consult for counsel. Step Four is avoiding analysis paralysis and actually applying what you’ve learned. Step Five is joining local Estate Planning and Elder Law chapters and attending those events. Step Six is to subscribe to estate planning publications and follow blogs that will help you in your estate planning practice. Step Seven is learning other subject matter which is integrally related to estate planning. Step Eight is things that could change every year, even when you are a seasoned estate planning or elder law attorney.
Many items of relevance to estate planning attorneys are adjusted for inflation each year. The IRS publishes a Revenue Procedure in late October or early November each year detailing all these adjustments. For example, in Autumn 2015, the IRS released Rev. Proc. 2015-53, with the inflation adjustments for 2016. The Revenue Procedure sets forth the applicable exclusion ($5.45 million in 2016) and many other relevant inflation-adjusted numbers.
Another great resource to have on hand is the U.S. Master Tax Guide from Wolters Kluwer (CCH). It is published each year and it is a handy resource, especially for those areas with which you may deal less frequently.
You will want to keep an eye open for any developments in your state laws, particularly those affecting trusts and estates. If you are a member of the trusts and estates section of your state bar, that section should update you on relevant state law developments in its publications or email.
If you practice in the Elder Law area, you will also want to stay current on changes in Medicaid/SSI. You’ll want to know the annual changes for SSI, such as the indexed maximum exempt home value and MMMNA. You will also want to know state-specific information, such as your state’s average private pay rate (APPR) for nursing facilities and other state-specific information. (The APPR is the divisor used to calculate a penalty for uncompensated transfers.)
In the next blog in this series, Jennifer Price will discuss the logistics of starting your own practice.
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