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Estate Planning Strategies

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Closing Wealth Transfer Windows

Click on the link below to read our article in the December 2012 edition of the Journal of Financial Planning entitled The Closing Wealth Transfer Windows.  The article discusses one of the strategies outlined in our recently published book:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Book Release - Post-Election Estate Planning Strategies

Our newest book, The Closing Wealth Transfer Window: Post-Election Steps to Take Immediately to Protect Your Family Legacy, was released November 28, 2012, and is available at:


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Protecting Your Child's Inheritance: The Beneficiary-Controlled Trust

Read my article in the February 2011 edition of the Journal of Financial Planning entitled Protecting Your Child's Inheritance: The Beneficiary-Controlled Trust

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Keeping the Vacation Home in the Family

Read my current article in the Journal of Financial Planning for strategies to ensure your cherished family property (beach home, lake cottage, mountain cabin) stays in your family for generations:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Twelve Indicators You Need to Update Your Estate Plan

Read my recent contribution to the Journal of Financial Planning for indications you may need to update your estate plan.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Planning Opportunities in Our Economic Downturn

Click here to read my recent contribution to the Journal of Financial Planning about hidden treasures buried in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and other recent legislation:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

For Their Inheritances, Give Your Children the Gift of Lifetime Beneficary-Controlled Descendants' Trusts Instead of Outright or Staged Distributions

When drafting your estate plan, it is very important to consider giving your children the gift of lifetime beneficiary-controlled descendants' trusts instead of outright or staged distributions of their inheritances (e.g., 1/3 of the trust principal at age 25, ½ of the balance at 30, and the remaining balance at 35), a subject nicely covered in Chapter 88 of the new WealthCounsel© Estate Planning Strategies book, and  written by James N. Voeller, an estate planning attorney in San Antonio, Texas, re-printed here with his permission:

Beneficiary-Controlled Descendants’ Trusts
The majority of people who set up wills and revocable trusts leave their assets outright in equal shares to their children when they die. What most people don’t realize is that many times by leaving the inheritance outright, they may be unintentionally disinheriting their grandchildren! Suppose you die leaving assets to your son, and shortly after your death he passes away too. It is likely his will or trust leaves everything to his spouse – who may spend the inheritance on herself, or worse yet, give it to a new spouse – leaving your grandchildren with no part of the inheritance.
Instead of leaving your assets outright to your children, consider the potential advantages of leaving your assets to trusts for the benefit of your children, which you can design and create during your lifetime.
A descendant’s trust is created by you, today, within your revocable trust, naming your child as trustee and beneficiary when you die. For example, if your daughter is named Mary Smith, the trust would read, “Mary Smith, as Trustee of the Mary Smith Trust.”
There are a number of good reasons to leave assets in descendants’ trusts you create as a part of your overall estate plan for each of your children. These include the following benefits:
  • The assets will be protected from your child’s spouse in the event of divorce.
  • The assets can be protected from your child’s creditors in the event of financial hardship.
  • The assets are sheltered from lawsuits to which your child may become a party.
  • The assets will not be part of your child’s probate estate in the event of the child’s incapacity or upon his or her death.
  • The assets can be removed from your child’s estate so that no further estate taxes will be due when the property passes to the next generation.
  • Upon your child’s death, the unused assets will go to your blood relatives (such as grandchildren) instead of to in-laws or others who are not part of your plan.
The reality of a descendant’s trust is that it is much easier for your child to keep assets separate from a spouse when the assets have been left to the child in trust. At the time of your death, all of your assets are re-titled directly from your trust to your child’s trust. There is a world of difference between a child saying to a spouse “my parents left this money to me in a trust” and the alternative of having the child receive the inheritance “in hand” and needing to take active steps to keep those assets separate from a spouse, or trying to shelter them from an unexpected lawsuit.
A descendant’s trust may be drafted to provide that during your child’s lifetime he or she has complete access to the income and the principal of the trust – so that you are not necessarily giving a “gift with strings attached” or “ruling from the grave.” (If circumstances are warranted, however, you may elect to impose tighter control over the assets.) But when your child dies, you can ensure that the unused portion of the trust goes to your grandchildren or to a charity you would like to support. The trust can provide that until your grandchild reaches the age where he or she will likely be more responsible, say age 30, someone else will manage the assets, distributing so much of the assets as may be needed for the grandchild’s health, education, maintenance, and support. Once the grandchild reaches age 30, you may want the grandchild to be the trustee of his or her own trust. If one of your children dies without leaving children, the assets of that child’s trust could go to the trusts created for your other children.
The time to design these trusts for your children is now – when you are preparing your own estate plan. Upon your death, your plan will provide this important protection for your children. In the overwhelming number of states, once your children have inherited assets from you, it is too late for them to create their own protective trusts.
If you are going to leave it all to them anyway, consider leaving your children’s inheritance to them in a protected trust by doing some additional planning for them today. Your children will greatly appreciate what you have done to put them on the right track to plan for themselves and their families. Talk to your estate planning attorney about how to incorporate these ideas into your trust.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Estate Planning Strategies Book

Read the news release about the newly published WealthCounsel (R) Estate Planning Strategies book - edited by Leslie Daff and Randy Gardner - at the end of this entry.  The book is available on or by contacting our office at or (949) 497-5056.

Reviews of the book:

“Estate planning today is a dauntingly complex challenge. The experts in this book cut through that complexity to offer useful insights into trusts, taxation, insurance, and many other estate-related topics.” 

Kenneth Silber

Senior Editor, Research magazine

Hoboken, New Jersey


“WealthCounsel has brought together a collection of articles that should be read by both the professional adviser and the theoretician who wants to understand how the financial concepts discussed can be used in practical applications.  This collection of articles is both timely and relevant and will prove to be a valuable resource for consumers, financial planners, and estate planning professionals.”


Robert J. Lindner, ChFC, CFP, AIF

CEO of Lindner Capital Advisors, Inc.

Marietta, Georgia


“This book is a great tool. It can help you gain an easy understanding of the many estate strategies available. The information discussed throughout this book is invaluable. It is a “must have” for advisors that work with high net worth clients.”


Jeffrey A. Carbone, CFP®

Cornerstone Financial Partners

Cornelius, North Carolina

“WealthCounsel's new book, Estate Planning Strategies, clearly shows the reader who has an interest in preserving and protecting his or her hard-earned wealth the procedures to make sure those dollars and benefits go to the ones they love.  Written and edited by experienced estate planning experts, it flows, is easy to follow, and has good illustrations and flowcharts to boot.”

John J. Checki Jr.  CPA, CFP®, CRC®

Richardson, Texas


“This book is a treasury of wisdom, usable suggestions, and resource information that will be of great benefit to readers.  Its broad coverage will appeal to the novice as well as the seasoned professional.”


Burk Rosenthal, CFP®, ChFC®, CRC®, CFS
President of Rosenthal Retirement Planning, LP

“This is a state-of-the-art, best practices compendium of estate planning tools and thinking. Estate planning continues to be, if done properly, a priceless gift to the ones we care about and this publication can greatly enhance that gift.”


Gary L. Myers, J.D., LL. M. in estate planning

Family Investment Center, Inc.


"This book could create the 'new' state-of-the-art of estate planning, written at the intersection of a high level of expertise and practical client application.  A critical reference tool for the client looking for unbiased planning tools based upon multiple lifetimes of experience (and ‘written in English’ for non-lawyers), this work contains a plethora of useful material for the practitioner in the financial planning, legal, and accounting fields as well. What makes this work so fascinating is its approach in the delivery of dozens of experts over multiple topics, complete with enough overlap to create an inherent second opinion."

Andrew Samalin
Samalin Investment Counsel, LLC
Mount Kisco, New York


“A remarkably practical and useful book! Think of it as Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Estate Planning, But Were Afraid to Ask. Short and to-the-point chapters, clear definitions, abundant worksheets, and (best of all) many practical examples to help us get our heads around this arcane but vitally important field. I especially appreciate the inclusion of unexpected topics such as: transferring your values and ideals (and not just your stuff); non-traditional relationships and evolving definitions of marriage; “modest philanthropy” (i.e., expressing your values with small gifts); and Pet Trusts. WealthCounsel® Estate Planning Strategies lives up to the promise of its subtitle: “Collective Wisdom. Proven Techniques.” A great reference for financial planners and their clients!”


Ed Jacobson, Ph.D.

Author of Appreciative Moments: Stories and Practices for Living and Working Appreciatively


“This book is an invaluable resource and "must-have" for both professionals and consumers who are interested in maximizing their wealth through estate planning. It makes complex estate planning strategies easy-to-read and comprehend for virtually anyone...which is quite an accomplishment!”


Deborah Price

CEO and Founder of The Money Coaching Institute

Author of Money Magic: Unleashing Your True Potential for Prosperity and Fulfillment

“Fantastic!  It’s like a "Chicken Soup for the Wealth Advisor's (and their clients) Soul!" This book is smart, easy to read and full of great ideas.  I love the variety of estate planning insights and the geographic diversity of the attorneys who present them.  It’s a "first step" resource I can use to help my clients understand what can often be challenging concepts.”

Lisa Dickholtz, CFP®
President of Dickholtz Wealth Management
Northbrook, Illinois  

“This book is the perfect book for the lay person.  Confusion melts away as the reader reviews the simple examples and clearly written chapters.”


John L. Jenkins, AEP, EA, CFP®

Fellow, Esperti Peterson Institute

President and CEO of Asset Preservation Strategies, Inc.
San Diego, California


“By far, the best book on estate planning I've ever seen.  It offers everything consumers and allied professionals need:  it's comprehensive, authoritative, up-to-date and clearly written, answering all the common questions people ask about estate planning, and then some.  I can't wait to give this book to my financial planning clients.  They're going to love me!”


Peter W. Johnson, Jr.

Principal of PWJohnson Wealth Management

Host of Pro Money Talk

Founder of The Financial Literacy Project

“The WealthCounsel Estate Planning Strategies book will be one of those publications you keep within reach as a comprehensive, search-here-first resource for all of your estate planning questions.  Nearly 100 estate planning attorneys and experts give you brief, to-the-point guidelines for every imaginable estate planning scenario, complete with worksheets and information tables.  And this book isn't just for advisors’ clients; with chapters like 'Business Succession Planning' and 'Limited Liability Companies,' you'll find it essential in running your own business, too.” 

David J. Drucker, MBA, CFP
Columnist for Morningstar Advisor and frequent contributor to Financial Planning, Research, Wealth Manager and Financial Advisor magazines
Author of three books including Tools and Techniques of Practice Management (National Underwriter Company, 2006)
President of Drucker Knowledge Systems and Principal, Virual Office News, LLC 

"A great resource for financial advisors and anyone wanting a robust, easy-to-use guide to the ins and outs of estate planning.  I highly recommend this book to professional financial advisors and anyone wanting to take control of his or her personal financial life and legacy."


Sheryl Garrett, CFP®

Founder of the Garrett Planning Network

Author of Just Give Me the Answers


“You need not be threatened by estate planning any longer; this book introduces straight-forward, easy to understand answers to life’s questions about crafting continuity for your family’s legacy. In today's complex world, simplicity is a welcome gift.  Tie a bow around this book.” 


Marc S. Freedman CFP®

President and CEO of Freedman Financial

Author of Oversold and Underserved:  A Financial Planner's Guidebook to Effectively Serving the Mass Affluent

Peabody, Massachusetts


“If you’ve ever received advice you didn’t understand, or had a question about any estate planning matter, this book will give you clear answers.  This is one of the most valuable estate planning resources I’ve seen, and shall serve as a great resource on the book shelf of any professional or high net worth family.”


John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP®

Chairman and CEO of U.S. Wealth Management

Editor of

Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Personal Financial Planner 


January 15, 2009 News Release about the New Estate Planning Strategies Book:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Planning Opportunities for January 2009

The current low Section 7520 rate provides tremendous opportunities for a number of planning techniques, including Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, Self-Canceling Installment Notes, and Charitable Lead Trusts.  See here.   

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Best Estate Planning Strategies in Our Current Low Interest Rate Environment

Click here to read my current contribution to the October 2008 edition of Journal of Financial Planning about estate planning strategies that are especially attractive in  today's low interest rate environment Best Estate Planning Strategies In Low Interest Rate Environment

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