Mediation Saves Family Business Enterprises
Hon. Sheila Prell Sonenshine (Ret.)
It is hard to find anything good to say about today¹s economy. The story is worse for family owned businesses. While they account for approximately 75 percent of all North American companies, only one-third survives to a second generation even in the best of times. Tumbling markets hit families and the businesses they own with a double whammy. Financial pressure ignites and fuels business disputes. In turn, those squabbles further accelerate family discord. reports business bankruptcies are occurring at alarming rates, increasing 50 percent from 2007 to 2008. The expectations for 2009 are the same or greater. Factors fostering this crisis include the worldwide scope of the debacle, its ill effects across all industries and the disastrous credit markets’ repercussions.
Read entire article.

How Should A Married Couple Title Their Assets?
Montgomery Knight, Jr.
Not long ago, a lady who had been recently widowed came into my office and informed me that she and her husband had owned a vacation home in southwestern Virginia. It was a valuable property and she was positive that she and her late husband had owned it jointly with the right of survivorship. Assuming that to be true, she would now have unlimited control over the property during her lifetime, including the unrestricted power of sale. However, when she brought in the deed, I saw that the vacation home was titled in the husbandís name alone. Since the husbandís will provided for his property to pass into a trust to benefit several children as well as his wife, the dynamics of the administration of his estate as well as the planning for the future of the vacation property vastly changed. The widow did not own the entire property by survivorship as she believed. Instead, the vacation home will have to go through the husbandís probate estate and the children will have to be dealt with on any decisions relating to the control, use or sale of the property.
Read entire article.

New Estate Planning Model Takes Care of Families
Vincent Bonazzoli, Esq.
Clients look to an estate planning attorney to create a plan so that their affairs are in order. They desire to leave their family in good financial condition, without difficulties and with family harmony intact. Clients do not come to the attorney to simply receive documents or technical legal advice. Instead, they come to the attorney with the intention and assumption that the plan will take care of their families when they die or become disabled. Rarely do traditional estate plans accomplish this goal.
Read entire article.

Special Considerations in Planning for Non-Traditional Families
Tanya D. Simpson, JD, MBA
In today’s rapidly changing legal, political and economic climate, non-traditional families are increasingly seeking the counsel of estate planning attorneys to help them navigate through the often conflicting federal and state recognition of their relationships. We as attorneys need not fear to tackle these issues, as we are particularly well equipped to design and build good, strong plans for these families. We have a very well outfitted toolbox, and we know how to use most of the tools already. Planning for non-traditional families is simply a matter of applying logic and our good knowledge of what each tool can and cannot do, and then structuring the pieces in a way that is most beneficial to these families.
Read entire article.

Market-Tossed Investors Still Find Value In Real Estate
Brandon Raatikka, Grant Chaput and Meredith Traudt
For market-tossed investors, seeking refuge in hard assets is a common theme during challenging economic times. For investors who are seeking the tangible and tax benefits of owning real estate, many ways to invest remain available, from buying an investment property like a small multifamily building to purchasing an undivided fractional interest in an institutional-quality commercial building.
Read entire article.

Art Succession Planning After The Financial Fall, Real Estate Collapse And The Madoff Mess
Michael Mendelsohn
Your clients are most certainly reeling from the effects of the financial turmoil the world is experiencing. By creating an art succession planning team you will now be in a position to revisit your client’s silent “touchable” assets of art, antiques and collectibles (such as wine, coins, gems, cars, etc.).  The majority of the advisory community has not focused in on these assets for a myriad of reasons.  The key reason being that you never fully understood all the aspects of the art world to allow you to make informed decisions.  An art succession planning group as part of your team can now put you into that position by creating for your clients an historical reference catalogue Included in this catalogue is a comprehensive inventory of the collection, which describes each piece, its cost basis, and provenance. Also included are color photographs, collectors’ past and current recollections and artist biographies. This document may also contain the ownership rights protection report which may mitigate future ownership issues.
Read entire article.

Real Estate Woes Create Wealth Transfer Opportunities
Alex Espenkotter
The recent decline in residential real estate values and the fall home sales is well documented. The feverish pace of new home and condominium construction that typified the early years of the new millennium created housing inventories that far exceed current demand. The euphoric investors who capitalized on rapidly increasing real estate values by "flipping" residential properties have sobered to the reality that real estate prices are heading downward and that the housing market is moribund. Credit, that until recently flowed freely from mortgage lenders, has dried up amid the sub-prime lending debacle. Despite the bad news, opportunistic individuals can capitalize on the fallen real estate prices by implementing several estate planning techniques through which they can transfer real estate at a reduced transfer tax cost. The Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT) is one tried and true structure that can be used in this manner.
Read entire article.

Variable Annuity Living Benefits: An Income Hedge For The Everyday Investor
Mark R. McManus
Despite the tumultuous times on Wall Street, one investment product can soothe the jitters of retirees. Providing a guaranteed investment value or income payment, a variable annuity with a “living benefit” provision is an excellent hedge for the everyday investor. This investment tool also protects against inflation, and is a way to provide income flow for retirees with longer life expectancies.
Read entire article.

Wading in Turbulent Waters for Investment Opportunities
Clifford L. Caplan, CFP
Any discussion about possible investment opportunities in 2009 must be prefaced with a warning: fundamental analysis is not pertinent for investment decisions until the economy shows signs of stability. With that caveat in mind, for patient investors, with an intermediate to long-term horizon, there are compelling values to be found across a broad investment spectrum.
Read entire article.

What Now? Estate Tax Planning in an Uncertain World
Jonathan M. Forster and Jennifer M. Smith
Under current law, the federal estate tax will disappear next year (2010) but reappear in 2011 with a much lower exemption amount and a much higher tax rate. Congressional action could avoid this situation, but the timing and content of any new tax legislation remain unclear. Accordingly, individuals and their advisors should implement key planning strategies now that will ensure a flexible and tax-efficient estate plan in the face of an uncertain future.
Read entire article.

Don’t Rely Upon Templates When Constructing Buy-Sell

Z. Christopher Mercer, ASA, CFA
This short article is a warning against the blind use of legal forms, or templates, for developing buy-sell agreements. Parties to each and every buy-sell agreement need to take time to agree on the key business and valuation aspects of their agreements, then have a qualified attorney (who can also be involved in reaching agreement) draw up the document.
Read entire article.

Regulation and Legislation Update - March 2009
Dana Fitzsimons, Jr., and Kristen Hager
     As provided in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the estate tax unified credit applicable exclusion amount increased from $2,000,000 to $3,500,000 as of January 1, 2009. The estate tax rate remains at a flat rate of 45 percent. The 2001 Tax Act purported to abolish the federal estate tax as of January 1, 2010, but this abolition will only occur if Congress acts to override the sunset provision that in 2011 automatically reinstates the law as it was before the 2001 Tax Act ($1,000,000 exemption and a top estate tax rate of 55 percent).
Read entire article.


How Should A Married Couple Title Their Assets? - August 2009
New Estate Planning Model Takes Care of Families - July 2009
Special Considerations in Planning for Non-Traditional Families - July 2009
Market-Tossed Investors Still Find Value In Real Estate - May 2009
Art Succession Planning After The Financial Fall, Real Estate Collapse And The Madoff Mess - May 2009
Real Estate Woes Create Wealth Transfer Opportunities - May 2009
Variable Annuity Living Benefits: An Income Hedge For The Everyday Investor - April 2009
Wading in Turbulent Waters for Investment Opportunities - April 2009
What Now? Estate Tax Planning in an Uncertain World - March 2009
Donít Rely Upon Templates When Constructing Buy-Sell Agreements - March 2009
Regulation and Legislation Update - March 2009
Best Practices for Life Settlement Brokers - March 2009
Preserving A Legacy, Protecting A Tax Deduction - February 2009
Regulation And Legislation Update - February 2009


© 2009, France Publications Inc.
3500 Piedmont Road, Suite 415 • Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 832-8262 • fax (404) 832-8260