Trusts & Estates Magazine: Educating Clients Before It’s Too Late

By Avi Z. Kestenbaum

It seems to me that this publication, as well as others, has recently started to place more emphasis on the “softer side” of the practice, by which I mean the non-tax-related issues, such as the psychological and emotional aspects. For example, in “Filling in the Gaps,” Marvin E. Blum encourages clients to create a “red file” that contains their wishes for future care, financial intentions and a list of personal information in the event of incapacity.1 After all, transfer taxes before and after death, with inclusion of potential federal and state gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, will at most help evaporate approximately 40 percent to 50 percent of an estate, but estate disputes, waste, greed and the destruction of the family business could wipe out much more and leave behind terrible family scars and relationships that will never totally heal. The industry is now recognizing the importance of non-tax issues because of: more frequent and bitter estate disputes; lower transfer tax rates and higher exemptions; greater potential for estate tax repeal; and a more enlightened society regarding dealing with personal and family psychology and dynamics. It seems we live in this age of entitlement in which many of us deal with our own family members who feel everything is deserved and coming to them, yet these same individuals don’t have the ability to handle or appreciate what they’ll receive.

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