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The Plain English Attorney

The Value of Professional Conferences

When it comes to estate planners, there’s always more information coming our way. It’s also not just about tax updates or changes to law, but it can often be just better ways to serve our clients through technological advancements and new platforms. While state-bar-sponsored continuing legal education courses can “convey information,” they often focus on the technical laws and legal/tax updates without the nuance or focus of serving clients. That’s why I often get most of my required continuing legal education credits each year through other means.

Here are the three main ways I keep on top of the estate planning world and find better ways to serve my clients through The Estate Planning Source.

Estate Planners Basic Institutes

As the name implies, this is a two-day course focused on the basics of estate planning using a revocable living trust. While this is mainly for attorneys and financial advisors just getting into estate planning, there are often veteran estate planners who attend and sometimes even help add to the discussion. The fact is there are always new ideas, tips, and tricks that I learn in order to improve not just the legal aspects of estate planning but also just providing value to my clients. For example, last May I attended a Basic Institute in Baltimore, and one of the other attendees suggested the e-newsletter service we are using now. (While I would love to think most of you are reading this because you jump on the blog every Monday, I know that most of you are getting the blogs as part of the newsletter.) That alone has boosted client satisfaction, and far more people open the newsletter now compared to previously when it was all legal and estate planning news. Depending on the state, there are also CLE credits available for attendance.

Estate Planners Advanced Institutes

Every year, The Estate Planning Source holds an Advanced Institute to cover specific areas of planning that are, well, more advanced than what you would learn at a Basic Institute. This is where the tax updates, and how to make use of tax loopholes for my clients, come to my attention. In addition, I also learn about new topics and opportunities to serve my clients. Last year’s Advanced Institute had a section on Gun Trusts, which my office is now able to offer. This is also where I get the majority of my CLE credits for not just attending but also teaching a course or two, and attorneys in North Carolina receive 6 hours of credit for every hour that they teach. This year, I am working with The Estate Planning Source’s staff on a way to utilize charitable remainder trusts after death to provide a tax-leveraged inheritance of retirement accounts to the next generation, spread out over more than the ten years allowed by an inherited IRA. Please look out for more information on that in the coming months.

Monthly Webinars

This is more of a bite-sized intermediate to advanced education every month open to members of the network. Through this series, I actually learned more about gun trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable gift annuities, and even taught about revocable living trusts and family limited partnerships. (Look for that video coming out in the next few weeks on YouTube.) These webinars also focus a lot on specific ways to boost business by providing better client satisfaction and support, but it’s only one hour per month.

Even more important than the actual information conveyed is the “mutual mentoring” that goes on at the live, in-person conferences. I can say that I have definitely gotten a lot out of working with this network over the years, and I hope I have contributed to the other professionals in the network just as much. To see the interview I did recently with The Estate Planning Source CEO Bobbie Setser, head over the YouTube video here.

If there are any attorneys or financial advisors interested in the Advanced Institute on September 23-25, 2024 in Pigeon Forge, TN check out the registration here.

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