The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (the “Academy”) held its Spring Summit in the Lone Star State. It was fitting that we held this Summit in the Friendship State because more than anything else, the Academy celebrates friendship and camaraderie. When I deplaned in Austin, I knew that the upcoming conference would bring something special, and it did not disappoint! I could use a million cliches to describe the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm the Academy Team and Members felt being together, but those words would fall short in conveying the true spirit felt by all in attendance. To quote our keynote speaker, Doug Hanson, “you just feel better about yourself in this room.” It’s true; we did.
Academy founders, Robert Armstrong and Sandford M. Fisch, opened the conference with an inspirational talk about the future of the Academy and its Members. Our visionary leaders remain committed to the evolution of the Academy as the landscape of Estate Planning continues to change. The Academy requires its Members to earn 36 hours of continuing legal education (“CLE”) in Estate Planning, Tax, Elder Law, and Ethics. The Academy’s rigorous continuing education requirement ensures its Members know and understand the latest developments in these fields. Many Members earn significant hours at the two semi-annual Summit conferences each year at which they can create their ideal schedule by choosing sessions on marketing, practice management, technology, or education.
Day two began with the fast-talking millennial, Abigail Earthman, and her colleague, Bri Loughlin. They provided a spectacular overview of Estate Planning with Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency that had Members on the edge of their seats. Abigail suggested using cryptocurrency to fund a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust. Abigail and Bri left us with several other important takeaways allowing Members to have confidence in dealing with digital assets like cryptocurrency.
Energy remained high on day three when the incomparable Professor Sam Donaldson of Georgia State University took the floor and talked about trending tax strategies. Professor Donaldson’s delivery was wildly entertaining while being incredibly informative. He suggested the use of a long-term Grantor Retained Annuity Trust to reduce the chance of inclusion of the entire value of a large asset in the estate upon death. Academy Members had the good fortune to hear him give the Federal Tax Update as well.
I had the pleasure of joining the Academy’s Director of Education, Steve Hartnett, for three presentations. We spoke on the Fundamentals of Medicaid, providing a comprehensive overview of the area which continues to grow in importance as baby boomers face long-term care issues. Our second presentation focused on Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) and the Members tried their best to stump us with their questions. We reminded Members that they can access the FAQs anytime on our extensive Members’ Only Site. We closed Spring Summit 2022 discussing Advanced Estate Planning Techniques and noted that Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts and Sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts are similar techniques designed to freeze the value of assets and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Spring Summit 2022 was a smashing success. It was more than just the phenomenal programming and attention to detail that made the conference successful. It was the Members, themselves, who make the Academy what it is. It was the conversations in the hallways and the feeling that everyone there wants everyone else there to succeed and is willing to go above and beyond to make it happen. It’s the culture of inclusivity, a place where no one gets left behind, and every Member knows that every member of the Academy Team has their back. The Academy encourages Members to employ this mentality in their own offices and practices. The Academy provides the tools necessary to achieve this goal by delivering programming on developing Estate Planning techniques and coaching on practice management designed to put client needs first. Be sure that you have the resources to adapt to changes in Estate Planning while maintaining excellent client relations. Academy Members do.
Tereina Stidd, 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: (858) 453-2128