The novel “coronavirus” (also called “SARS-CoV-2”) causes the disease “COVID-19.” It first appeared in late 2019 and was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019. Here’s a link to the WHO’s site for the latest global information. COVID-19 has impacted the lives of millions of people and countless events around the world.
The Academy’s Summit is a semi-annual conference bringing the latest developments in Estate Planning and Elder Law to the many members of the American Academy. This Spring’s Academy Summit was scheduled to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. However, as most of the United States had been in lockdown, a physical conference was no longer an option. Since the show must go on, the Academy kept the dates of the conference and moved it to a “virtual” Summit using Zoom meeting technology.
The Virtual Summit brought the latest legal developments and practice management techniques to members of the Academy.
While I was unsure how a virtual conference would work, it went off without a hitch!
- The members were able to communicate with each other in the chat feature in Zoom,
somewhat like bumping into each other in the lobby or hallway.
- Members could submit questions using the Q & A feature on Zoom in sessions.
- In some sessions, members could “raise a hand” and be called upon to have their mic unmuted and ask a question or provide an answer in real-time.
As I mentioned, we had a phenomenal lineup of substantive legal education speakers:
Three sessions with a renowned expert on retirement benefits, Natalie Choate:
- Estate Planning for Retirement Benefits after SECURE: The New Planning Landscape and What to Do with Existing Plans…Plus CARES’ 2020 Suspension of RMDs and Virus-Related Distributions,
- IRA Mistakes and How to Fix Them, and
- Can You Roll Over in Your Grave?
A great session regarding modifying trusts with Susan Bart, a partner with Schiff, Hardin in Chicago:
- Is Any Trust Really Irrevocable Anymore: All About Decanting
A look at the new landscape in Estate Planning with Matthew Brady, Regional Managing Director at Wells Fargo private bank:
- Not Your Parents’ Estate Plan: Planning Considerations for Next-Gen Clients
Medicaid expert Dave Zumpano presented two sessions regarding Medicaid at the Virtual Summit:
- SECURE Act and Medicaid, and
- Medicaid Crisis and Pre-Planning Opportunities in the Age of COVID-19
And I presented on three topics at the Virtual Summit:
- Planning for Clients Without a Taxable Estate,
- Basics of Medicaid Planning: CSRA, MMMNA, DRA, and Other Terms You Need to Know, and
- Quiz Show: Solutions to Common Estate Planning Questions
As usual, perhaps the best part of the summit was interaction with the members. Of course, nothing can beat meeting in person. But we had wonderful interactions. I think the highlight was a Friday evening virtual “Happy Hour” where Academy members and staff joined on Zoom for a casual get together. Professionals from coast to coast joined to share their thoughts on what they’d learned earlier in the week and developments in their own lives. We watched as the sunset in the Eastern time zone and then worked its way across the sky in members’ own backyards.
It was a nice change to be able to join with members in their homes and see them joined with family and pets who don’t normally get to attend.
The Academy’s Summit was virtually perfect, and proved how we will get through this pandemic…together!
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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