Estate Planning Stands at a Critical Juncture

Why Estate Planning Attorneys are More Valuable Than Ever

Words by Britt Shearin, Lawyers with Purpose Legal-Technical Attorney

Few areas of law carry universal relevance and enduring importance as estate planning. Unlike specialized fields that may cater to select circumstances or unfortunate events, estate planning exists as a necessity, touching the lives of virtually every individual. In a world where asset ownership, mortality, and taxation are inevitable, Estate Planning Attorneys are now more valuable than ever.


Beginning in July 2026, the National Conference of Bar Examiners is expected to debut its new “NextGen Bar Exam” for graduating law students. The new, and supposedly improved, bar exam will be three hours shorter than the current Uniform Bar Exam, and it will focus on more practical skills a newly licensed attorney needs in their first few years of employment.

So, what does the NextGen Bar Exam have to do with estate planning attorneys?

By decreasing the amount covered on the exam, the NCBE decided to cut a couple areas of law that were less likely to be encountered by newly admitted attorneys: Conflict of Laws, Secured Transactions, and you guessed it, Trusts and Estates.

By eliminating the Trusts and Estates portion from bar exam, naturally there will be a tendency for fewer law students to enroll in trust and estates courses during their limited time in law school, and instead focus on learning the other areas of law covered on the bar exam. This will inevitably lead to fewer new attorneys entering the realm of estate planning.

Current estate planning attorneys are nearing retirement

Current estate planning attorneys are nearing retirement age and are looking to transition out of their law firms. They may not have enough new attorneys with whom to share their knowledge and skills, and ultimately replace themselves in the industry, resulting in diminished supply of estate planning services. Decreased supply, coupled with the projected increase in demand for estate planning services discussed further below, makes it an ideal time to go into the field.

…and Demand.

Despite Millennials and Gen Z both realizing the need for estate planning and acting on it sooner than previous generations, still more than half of them do not have an estate plan. Concurrently, the aging Baby Boomer population (age 60 through 78 as of 2024), is now hitting retirement and will soon confront their own mortality. This will result in an unprecedented transfer of wealth.

Financial Services research and analytics firm, Cerulli Associates, projects $84.4 trillion dollars will be transferred from the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers to their heirs and other beneficiaries. As transferors and recipients each begin to handle the complexities of wealth distribution, the need for astute estate planning guidance becomes paramount.

Complexities and Nuance in Estate Planning

Estate planning is ever-changing, thanks to new and transformative legislation. There have been changes to planning for retirement accounts with the passage of the SECURE Act, and new business reporting requirements with the Corporate Transparency Act. Medicaid laws are constantly evolving, and more people are relying on it for financial coverage as they age. Additionally, the upcoming sunset of the estate tax exemption to its prior Tax Cuts and Jobs Act threshold forebodes an uptick in the number of taxable estates requiring adept handling by legal professionals.

Further, the industry is helping more and more blended families and same-sex couples; handling the rise of digital assets and cryptocurrencies; providing for ongoing care of pets and animals; and navigating the ever-evolving labyrinth of tax legislation. In an era defined by rapid technological advancement and shifting family structures, the importance of a thorough estate plan cannot be overstated.

Estate Planning Stands at a Critical Juncture

In sum, as the legal field adapts to evolving demands, estate planning stands at a critical juncture. There is a potential lack of new attorneys entering this essential practice area, even as the demand for estate planning services continues to grow.

With significant generational wealth transfers on the horizon and increasingly complex legal and financial landscapes, the need for skilled estate planners is more pressing than ever.

Addressing this gap requires a proactive approach to ensure that future attorneys are well-prepared to meet the enduring and universal need for effective estate planning. The convergence of changing legislation, demographic shifts, and technological advancements underscores the importance of this field, making it an opportune time for attorneys to transition to and specialize in estate planning and secure their place in a vital and dynamic area of law.

Transitioning Attorneys into Estate Planning: Join Lawyers With Purpose

Thinking of transitioning to estate planning, or have you recently done so? Lawyers With Purpose is a practice management community, who can help you bring your practice purpose and profit. Lawyers with Purpose offers everything you need to achieve success as you define it. We’ll work with you to explore what it is you truly want from the practice of law. Then, together, we will design a roadmap detailing the precise steps you need to take to reach your identified goals.

Providing all the tools you need for a successful practice:

  • Cloud-based Software
  • Cloud-based Operations Workflow
  • Legal Knowledge
  • Marketing
  • Performance, Coaching and Mentoring
  • Live and Virtual Training
  • Like-minded Community
  • And so much more

Contact us today for a strategy call to learn about the LWP Difference.

Lawyers with Purpose is a leading membership organization committed to supporting estate planning attorneys in running successful and innovative law practices. For more information about Lawyers with Purpose membership, contact our Head of Professional Development, Briana Moriarty at

Scrabble letters spelling out the words gift tax

IRS Announces Potential Gift Tax Consequences

February 2024 — In the dynamic landscape of estate planning, staying informed about the latest IRS announcements is paramount. Recently, the IRS released Memorandum Number 202352018, shedding light on the potential gift tax consequences of modifying a Grantor Trust to include income tax reimbursement language.

In this scenario, Grantor sought to modify an irrevocable Grantor trust, with the consent of all beneficiaries, pursuant to state law. The Grantor wanted to add language allowing the Trustee the discretionary power to reimburse the Grantor for income taxes paid as a result of the inclusion of the Trust’s income in the Grantor’s taxable income.

The IRS concluded that this modification constituted a taxable gift by the trust beneficiaries, since they essentially gave up their right to a portion of their respective shares. The IRS further clarified that including such clauses in Grantor trusts from the outset does not trigger a taxable event.

At Lawyers with Purpose, we understand the intricacies of estate planning and the importance of navigating potential tax implications with clients. Our revolutionary Irrevocable Pure Grantor (iPug®) Trust already includes language enabling discretionary payments to taxing authorities for income taxes paid by the Grantor.

This IRS memorandum serves as a reminder to exercise caution when drafting modifications and restatements of irrevocable trusts. Our organization is dedicated to providing valuable insights and resources to help you navigate these complexities successfully.


Lawyers with Purpose is a leading membership organization committed to supporting estate planning and elder law attorneys in running successful and innovative law practices. For more information about Lawyers with Purpose membership, contact our Head of Professional Development, Briana Moriarty at


Improve Your Firm’s Efficiency One Keystroke at a Time

GettyImages-859129286Greater efficiency is one of the keys to greater profitability. As an estate planning and elder law attorney, if you want to become more profitable, your firm must be able to draft an asset protection plan more efficiently. The right software can help you accomplish this.

The improved workflow efficiency inherent in computer software is sometimes compared to the greater efficiency automation brings to manufacturing. Consider the automobile. Building a Rolls Royce, where many of the required tasks are completed by hand, requires six months. Compare this to a typical sedan. That process, which can be roughly divided into stamping, welding, assembly, painting, and inspection, takes less than 18 hours.

At this point you might say, “My firm is not a document mill, we design customized plans. Cookie cutter plans don’t work.” You’re right. Fortunately, using the proper software does not limit you to creating a Toyota Corolla-like plan, you can use it to produce the asset protection equivalent of a Rolls Royce. You’ll see how next time.


Seize the Day, Every Day: The Benefits of Cutting-Edge Asset Protection Software

Seize-the-dayGiven the amount of time and energy you put into running your law firm, do you feel like you should be making more money?

Do you wish you could spend more time with your family or on the hobbies and activities that interest you most?

Do you feel like there is simply not enough time in the day to accomplish everything you need to get done?

In short, does it sometimes feel like the sacrifices you make to own an elder law and estate planning firm outweigh the benefits?

We would never suggest that asset protection software is some kind of panacea, capable of eliminating all of the aforementioned challenges. However, it’s a great place to start. And the better the software, the greater your chances of seizing control of your time, your firm, and possibly, your lifestyle.

In the coming weeks we’ll discuss what the proper asset protection software can help you accomplish, starting with greater efficiency. Until next time.

Robin gordon Adam O'Dell photo

Introducing October 2019 Members of the Month, Robin Gordon & Adam O’Dell

Nashville Tennessee’s renown Music Row has been home to the Gordon Law Group for over 25 years, but its reach extends from Greenville, SC to Charleston, SC, to Nashville TN, and soon to Kissimmee, FL where a new office is about to open.  The firm offers exceptional legal services to those dealing with matters involving entertainment law, business law, intellectual property, family law, and estate planning, and prides itself on staying on top of the ever-shifting laws and keeping up with the latest in technological advances that will benefit its clients. LWP sat down with attorney Adam O’Dell to talk about the Gordon Law Group, which has been an LWP member since July 2017, and about his firm’s experiences with LWP and in his market.

Jenny Rivard photo

Introducing June 2019 Member of the Month, Jenny Rivard

Jenny Rivard photo

Located in Manchester, New Hampshire and serving all of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, American Wealth Protection has been an LWP member since the fall of 2017.  Owner and Founder Jenny Rivard began her legal career at just 14 years old when she worked typing documents and answering phones for the estate planning law firm where her mother worked.  After several years at that firm, she knew that she wanted to become an estate planning and elder law attorney.  She avidly pursued her career, obtaining her undergraduate degree in just 3 years, and in 2009, became the second youngest person to have passed the bar in the state of New Hampshire.  After a brief stint at another firm, she created her own a year later, and went on to innovate by being the only firm in her market to include financial planning among her firm’s offerings, providing seamless service to her clients.  Today, Jenny and her husband, Patrick, who is also an attorney and plays a key business development role at AWP, are focused not only on growing their business but also parenting their four beautiful children.

LWP sat down with Jenny Rivard to talk about her firm and the changes it’s experienced since becoming a member. 

What brought you to LWP? 

About six years ago, I had a client who came to see me because she needed a plan.  She had Alzheimers and could no longer do math, but prior to this, she had been a physicist!  We prepared all the standard documents, but she needed more.  “Who will help with the day-to-day things, like bathing?  What checkbook should my son use when he needs to take over the finances?” were among her many concerns.  I realized that despite having a lot of tools, in order to provide a real plan, I needed more.  I decided to get involved with Medicaid planning, and when I searched online for training, I found LWP. 

I knew I needed the Medicaid software, so I attended Practice With Purpose, and I joined LWP right then.  I’ve been a platinum member for two years. 

How tightly do you follow LWP’s systems and processes?

My firm definitely speaks the LWP language, but we’re a unique firm, so despite my strong inclination to want to follow the systems as strictly as possible and not change the workflows, I realized that my firm simply didn’t fit perfectly in the category.  We wanted one system that could handle all of the services we offer, including financial planning and insurance, while keeping all the notes for every file together.  There are confidentiality issues that get quite complex with that, so, we’ve had to adapt LWP’s systems to fit. 

What is the greatest success you’ve had since you fully engaged with LWP?

We’re on the brink of doubling our revenue within about a year to 18 months, but even so, I’d say that the biggest success was being able to see the 10,000-foot view so we could see what was to come next.  Before LWP, I’d done pretty well on my own, but I was working in the business.  Since joining LWP, we’ve gone from being a one-person to a five-person firm.  That was due to the coaching—the ability to get to the next steps that I couldn’t have achieved on my own.  Hands down, for me, the most valuable part of LWP has been the coaching with Mandy and Candace.  They help us stay focused and spent a good deal of time helping us tweak the software to fit our model.

To what, specifically, do you attribute your revenue growth?

It’s the coaching…more so than anything else.  I was too “in it” to see the 10,000-foot view of what was to come next.  My LWP coaches got me out of that.  I don’t think I would’ve gotten to this place without that coaching.

What do you believe sets American Wealth Protection apart from your competition?

Our unique model sets us apart.  It’s the fact that we have the financial advisors on staff, and we do both legal and financial seminars.  While we do have clients that have their own advisors, often times, they’re in separate buildings and not always on the same page in regard to the client’s needs.  Our model offers a more integrated approach.  Also, our approach to financial planning is to plan for the worst-case scenario.  We assume the highest inflation and taxes, and from that, we figure out how long our clients’ income will last.  Once that scenario has been created, we see what’s left to protect, which takes us into estate planning.  I think our model is pretty unique right now, but people will probably migrate to it over time.  A lot of attorneys think they need to bring someone in house, but in my case, I had both the legal and the financial planning licenses. 

What is your marketing model?

I have over 2,000 clients I’ve gathered in the last 9 years, so we get a lot of client referrals.  Other than that, there are a few referrals from other places, and of course, we do the workshops.  We would like to start more traditional advertising, but we’re not doing it yet.  For now, we’re continuing to work on our infrastructure.

Do you attend LWP’s TAPER events, and if so, what wowed you there?

We attend one TAPER per year, and the IMQ (In Marriage QDRO®) presentation was amazing.  But, our firm’s TAPER “aha” moment is really just that it keeps us centered and moving in the same direction, and we really need that by October of each year.

What is your favorite LWP tool?  It’s a tie between the dashboard and the Medicaid software.  The dashboard is an easy way to see what happened all month—what we should have earned vs. what we actually collected.

What kinds of changes, if any, are you currently seeing in your market?

In our market, we’re seeing a trend among widows whose husbands had handled the finances.  They’ve suddenly found themselves in a situation in which they don’t know who to call.  There’s an unmet need there. 


Share something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

I’m a “little old lady at heart.”  I really enjoy crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles.  I grew up on a farm, so now I can my own vegetables, and I love all kinds of outdoor activities, like fishing.

What is your favorite book, and how did it impact your life?

I love to read.  The book that taught me how to adapt my personality to that of the person with whom I’m speaking so we’re connected was Jeffrey Fox’s Rainmaker.  It has nothing to with law at all.  It’s super small, easy read, and the reason I could bring in business.  I found it when I was starting my own firm and googling every sales book I could to try to figure things out.




Use the Proper Software and System to Build a More Efficient Team

TeamworkUsing state-of-the-art software within an effective system allows you to build a highly efficient team and firm. Each workflow is comprised of a series of steps with a defined set of tasks to be completed at each step. Many of the steps are designed to do things automatically, like assign tasks to staff, send emails to update your clients on progress, and much more. Your staff can easily see the work assigned to them and what they need to do next, while you get a crystal clear picture of the workflow throughout your whole firm. You will see every matter’s progress, who is working on what, the steps that need to be taken next, and what might be holding things up. Armed with information like this, you’ll be able to better hold members of your team accountable and improve overall efficiency.

As we have seen, leading-edge software allows you to generate accurate, customized planning documents following a single client interview. Over time, and with proper training, you may even be able to turn this task over to a paralegal. And in the process, free up more time to pursue new clients and generate new revenue, or to simply work less and live more. The possibilities are limited only by your priorities.

From Efficiency to Proficiency: Automatic Alerts about Potential Planning Mistakes

State-of-the-art asset protection software can alert you to potential problems. Case in point: During the interview, LWP software will display “light bulb” icons offering built-in practice tips and pointers that provide background and help you make informed choices. For example, there is a light bulb that displays information about required minimum distributions, which can help you select the best option for how to treat income from retirement accounts. These practice tips can include the language that would appear in your documents based on the selection you choose, references to case law or other legal authority, and sometimes just a simple explanation of the legal concept to help you make the proper selection for a particular client’s needs.

Light bulbs are just one of the safety nets you’ll find in LWP’s cloud-based software. A big, bold warning appears if one of your selections could impact your client’s Medicaid eligibility. It reminds you to use your best judgment to determine whether the warning applies in your jurisdiction and in your client’s particular situation.


Improve Your Efficiency Further with the Power of Dynamic Interviews

ThinkstockPhotos-873806068Another powerful component of some software is the ability to do dynamic interviews. Let’s say John and Jane Sample want separate revocable living trusts and you collect the information needed to do each one. But what if they change their minds and want a joint revocable living trust? The software can help you make the adjustment. When you change the parameter the software then “knows” you are only creating a single joint trust for both John and Jane and it no longer requires you to ask questions for Jane’s individual trust, or enter that information, thereby saving time.

So just how much time can you save with the right software? With the simple click of a ‘Finish’ or similar button, all of a client’s relevant information will be assembled into customized WORD documents specifically tailored to meet your client’s needs. In effect, you’ll have turned 15 to 20 hours of document drafting into less than two hours of work.

Next time we’ll discuss how the proper software can enhance document accuracy and coordination.