Megatrends is a name given to important changes in the economy or in the behavior of many people. People write books and articles about megatrends, hoping to identify them before others do and to benefit in some way (usually by selling more books). There are several megatrends that have a definite impact on trusts and estates work, and that will be discussed in future blogs:
- People are becoming wealthier, even with the current stock market setbacks. This is a worldwide phenomenon and contributes to the international flavor of much estate planning.
- A large number of people (the always demanding baby boom generation) are getting close to retirement and to a "final" disposition of their assets.
- There is a strong interest in business succession planning, particularly in this part of the country, where there are so many family-owned businesses. To deal with these issues, trusts and estates lawyers often have to act like psychologists, or at least hire them.
- People want to protect their assets against litigation and divorce, among other threats.
- There is and will continue to be a need for increased tax revenues, which leads inevitably to more complex tax laws and the need to plan for them. When Congress talks about tax simplification, tax lawyers go car shopping.
The combination of these megatrends demonstrates the growing importance of the broad practice area of trusts and estates, often referred to by more general names such as personal wealth, private client or wealth transmission, and ensures that this will be an area of growing importance for lawyers, one that focuses not on death but on the enjoyment of life.
In the next blog, we'll review the campaign to repeal the federal estate tax and the likely future of the tax and the exemption from tax, as well as efforts to repeal the Pa. inheritance tax.
Robert H. Louis