This past week I had the pleasure of attending Wealth Counsel's Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts. This annual conference brings together some of the best minds in the estate planning and business law field from around the country. This year's conference featured some of the top experts in their fields. It was a fantastic experience and, respectfully stated, I'm smarter than I was a week ago.
Symposium’s main focus of is to educate Wealth Counsel members on current topics in estate planning and business law. As you can probably imagine, there are also several sessions devoted to tax law and its impact on these practice areas. Over the 3 ½ days of the conference, there were more than fifty total presentations in five main areas: core trust and estates, advanced trust and estates, business law, specialty topics, and practice success. There was no way to attend all the sessions and each attendee was able to pick and choose their curriculum. Here are some of the highlights from last week.
- Attorney Bill Mandel spoke about business succession issues for closely‑held businesses. Mr. Mandel summarized his 40 years of experience in this area, particularly with professional practice type businesses. Notably, he pointed out that there are really only three ways of valuing a closely‑held business. The applicable method for valuing a business comes from the type of transaction that will occur. His insights and suggestions will make this area of our practice even stronger. Be on the lookout for our upcoming downloadable guide on business evaluation and succession! You don’t want to miss it!
- Attorney Steve Oshins, one of the foremost estate planning attorneys in the country, spoke to us about decanting trusts. This is a hot topic in Florida because of our new(er) decanting statute. Decanting means changing one irrevocable trust to another trust. He then presented about how to do estate planning for large estates. There are some interesting nuances in this type of planning that also apply to those of us with more moderate means.
- Also featured at Symposium was Jay Adkisson, who is one of the country's premier experts on breaking asset protection structures. He shared his decades of experience on challenging these types of structures. His most important point was that almost all asset protection schemes have some flaw, if not significant flaws. More or less, he provided a road map on how to create proper structures to ensure your assets are best protected. Interestingly, Florida has one of the best basic methods of asset protection and it's probably not what you think! We’ll be sending out more on this topic soon too. Stay tuned!
- The final presentation of Symposium was none other than the country's expert on IRA and 401(k) planning for estates, Attorney Natalie Choate. She provided us with one of the most entertaining and technical presentations on law and practice that I have seen in many years. Indeed, she could easily headline an evening at a comedy club. Ms. Choate gave her presentation by working through many case studies that have occurred in her practice. Because IRAs are one of the main assets for which countless people have the bulk of their estate, it makes sense that planning for these accounts become one of the focus areas for estate planning.
Of course, with any large conference like this, there were many opportunities to network and collaborate with my colleagues from around the country. Erin Prutow and I spent our time discussing how many of these insights and strategies can be applied to the equine business.
Symposium would not have been possible without the hard work of the entire WealthCounsel team. I am sincerely thankful to the founders and the professional staff (Yvonne, Heather, Temi, Jennifer, Henna, and Chad to name a few) for their hard work to put on this event. In addition to the master’s level education, they also provided some social time with a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and a lobster bake on Thompson Island. Having the conference in Boston gave many people the opportunity to explore the history of the city. In fact, Whitney Sorrell and his wife especially enjoyed the Freedom Trail tour because she has been studying for her citizenship exam! It was heartwarming to see the excitement on their faces to be seeing the historical places discussed in the study books.
Overall, it was a wonderful week in Boston! We are extremely excited to put some of these strategies and our newfound knowledge for the benefit of our clients. One of the pillars in our practice is continued education. We strive to be better than yesterday and continue to build our knowledge of the law so that we can be better attorneys for our clients. What do you do to be better than yesterday? We would love to hear what you do!