Many clients don’t consider visiting with an estate planning attorney until they reach their 60s, 70s or even 80s. That’s a shame because younger clients could benefit from such a relationship in any number of ways.
During the Savings & Loan crisis back in the 1980s, for example, an entrepreneur by the name of Sam Idelson teamed up with David Band, a Sarasota estate planning attorney to create some of the most dynamic wealth on the west coast of Florida. Together they purchased distressed commercial real estate, renovated it, and then sold the properties once the economy recovered.
Their complimentary skills, Sam with his business and real estate acumen, David with his legal expertise and connections to lenders, enabled them to together achieve what neither could alone.
Not every estate planning attorney/client relationship will be as lucrative. In fact, Bar Rules prevent attorneys from entering into business transactions with their clients without full disclosures of conflict of interest and the requisite steps to both waive and release the conflict.
Even without entering into business deals together, many in their 30s, 40s and 50s don’t realize the beneficial impact that developing a relationship with an estate planning attorney could create now and into the future. Here are just a few ways that an estate planning attorney might help a younger client:
Financial & Insurance Planning
While attorneys are not expert financial planners, they often do know what asset categories create wealth and which ones benefit financial firm selling the products more so than the client. As a lawyer, I have no “skin in the game” in the form of commissions, for example, when reviewing a client’s intended purchase of insurance or financial products. Consequently, I can often provide a clear-eyed, unbiased view of whether an intended course of action makes sense.
A physician client once came to me after purchasing several insurance and annuity products. She had been sold these products based upon their asset protective value under Florida law. I had an independent advisor look into the commissions and management fees associated with these investments and described to her the tax treatment upon her retirement. She said she’d wished that she visited with me before she bought them.
Real Estate Investments
We also tend to understand the benefits and risks of owning commercial or rental property inside of a partnership, LLC, or corporate entity. I have outlined the legal and tax consequences of entity selection and the effects of non-cash expenses like depreciation to many clients before they bought a property, so that they could make clear decisions. An ongoing relationship with a trusted advisor might save you from making major mistakes that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over your working career;
A good estate planning attorney makes all sorts of connections in the business world, from bankers and lenders to property management companies to developers and other business people. In my thirty years of practice, for example, I’ve developed relationships that I’ve kept in my electronic rolodex, connecting clients with others who can help them achieve goals;
Children, Adolescents & Young Adults
Having raised three daughters, the youngest of which is now in college, I’ve navigated the emotional and financial issues associated with raising a young family. As an estate planning attorney, I’ve also created silos of trusts and other vehicles to provide for my family in the event of my disability or death. Who should serve as your children’s guardian and whether that same person should control the purse strings in the event of your death merits serious discussion. How to properly save for higher education (including investigating the plethora of scholarships and financial aid offers available), whether to title the car in a young driver’s name, and how to best purchase liability insurance are all things that I’ve had to deal with not only for myself but have also assisted my clients during my professional career. Those clients who are in the middle of these life cycle decisions can benefit from an ongoing relationship with a trusted advisor.
They don’t call those in their 30s, 40s and 50s the “sandwich generation” for nothing! When my mother developed leukemia fifteen years ago, and needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant, I learned how to investigate doctors, clinics and research hospitals that were needed to save her life. Moreover, my parents had real-life financial and medical insurance issues, that without my background would have been next to impossible to deal with. Most of us in this age group deal with failing loved ones. My experience with Hope Hospice was also invaluable when my mother needed those services as well. I’ve gladly assisted hundreds with many of these same issues for their loved ones.
Even younger clients who don’t feel that they need a complicated estate plan can benefit from developing a relationship with a competent estate planning attorney. It worked for Sam and David a generation ago, and will work for you now. If interested, I offer a workshop on these topics. If your group would want me to speak on these topics, please contact me at 239.334.1141.
© 2019 Craig R. Hersch. Originally published in the Sanibel Island Sun.