Learning and camaraderie at the top of the academy


The Academy’s Spring Summit was from April 29 to May 2, 2021. Once again, for the third time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy Summit was “virtual” using Zoom meeting technology.

The Academy Summit is a bi-annual conference that presents the latest developments in estate planning and senior law to many of the attorneys who are members of the American Academy. This Spring Academy Summit was scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas. However, since most of the US was in lockdown, a virtual conference was a safer option. The Academy Summit will be in Austin in the spring of 2022, conditions permitting.

Here are some of the highlights of this virtual summit regarding substantive legal education:

  • Lenora Billings-Harris gave the keynote address on diversity and inclusion. She gave timely, easy tips on promoting diversity and inclusion.
  • Joan Marcus and Karen Donivan Konvica of the Commonwealth Community Trust gave a great presentation on pooled special needs trusts, in two parts: part one, the basics of special needs trust funds, and part two, the disbursement process and suggested best practices.
  • Tom Rogerson gave a great presentation showing how important it is for the family to prepare the money, not just plan how the money will pass. Presenting his presentation on building the legacy of generations an extraordinary and valuable perspective.
  • Sharon Klein gave a great presentation on the intersection of divorce, trusts and real estate. Sharon showed us how to navigate these choppy waters.

Finally, I gave two presentations at the summit:

  • Trust Management A to Z looked at a wide range of issues in trust management, from how to get business, to how to handle more complex tax issues.
  • “Dynasty Trusts and Document Changes in CouselPro”TMExamine ‘Dynasty Trusts’ and how they can be used to allow a family to pass wealth across generations while avoiding the risks of creditors and divorced spouses.

In addition to the substantive legal sessions, Academy members learned many tips related to marketing and practice management.

Finally, one of the most important aspects of the Academy’s events and the Academy Summit, both in person and virtually, is the camaraderie between the members. In addition to the networks available during the summit, the Academy hosted an online public information competition. About a dozen teams from the family of Academy members, their staff, and the Academy staff participated in the online Trivia competition through Sporcle. Each team consists of a random group of Academy employees, member attorneys, and team members from various legal offices from across the country. It was a great way for all of us to interact in an unusual environment.

Stephen C. Hartnett, JD, LLM
Education Manager
American Academy of Estate Planning Lawyers, Inc.
9444 Balboa Street, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
www.aaepa.com

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