Last week, owner and Managing Attorney Jane Frankel Sims and Associate Attorney John Robinson attended the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in Orlando, Florida. The Heckerling Institute is “the nation’s leading conference for estate planners.” This was Jane’s third year and John’s first year of attendance.
Throughout the week, Jane and John attended lectures on many aspects of estate planning, including recent developments, financial assets, and taxation. In addition, the Institute gave both attorneys the opportunity to network with other estate planning professionals from throughout the United States and to add to our professional database used to serve our clients who have assets located in other jurisdictions, including Virginia, Florida, and California.
The most important aspect of this year’s Institute, in the opinion of our attorneys, was the emphasis on utilizing the federal $5 million gift tax exclusion before December 31, 2012. The gift tax exclusion amount was increased in December 2010 and is set to revert to $1,000,000 on January 1, 2013. Estate planning professionals do not expect Congress to keep the exemption amount at $5 million, but expect that it will be decreased. In the next year our office will be encouraging clients with assets in excess of this amount to consider gifts to utilize the exemption amount, which will also decrease the assets included in their taxable estates.
Jane firmly believes that “the Heckerling Institute is essential to our firm’s dedication to providing our clients with the most up to date and highest quality of estate planning possible.” We look forward to applying the knowledge our attorneys gained at the Institute to benefit our clients and help them create a practical and effective estate plan.