I recently had the chance to sit down with three top estate planners for a question-and-answer session. Here's what they had to say about the estate tax outlook, today and in the future.
Q. With a lot of the heated political discussions concerning potential changes in the estate tax now apparently simmering on the back burner for awhile, how do you find your estate planning business? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about your business in 2012, and why?
Q. Where you do you see the biggest opportunities for your estate planning business this year and in the years ahead? And what are you doing to position yourself to take advantage of those opportunities?
Harriman: Opportunities have never been better because many family businesses being run by baby boomers are searching — silently perhaps — for someone they can trust to help them sort out their family, business and financial legacy. We are positioning ourselves to be the firm capable of building a team to make their legacy come to pass and, equally important, we are making sure the receiving generation knows what we do and how we have helped make these transitions happen, which benefits them — the receiving generation.
Q. Likewise, where do you see the biggest threats to your estate planning business this year and in the years ahead? And what are you doing to protect yourself from the downside?
Heckert: Tax code changes every year, but liquidity issues are permanent. Life insurance and planning help reduce or eliminate issues surrounding the lack of liquidity, no matter the tax benefits. The tax advantage helps increase the benefit of life insurance, but it does not change the premise that life insurance brings in cash, when it is needed the most, at a small annual cost versus borrowing money.