A comprehensive estate plan should take into account far more than just what gifts you want to make upon your death. Your estate plan should also take into consideration the tax implications of those gifts as well as any gifts made while you are alive. The best way to ensure that your estate plan does this is to work with an estate planning attorney who is also a tax attorney.
Contrary to what many people believe, attorneys do not pick a specialty while in law school. Law school provides a broad overview of all areas of the law as well as provides a graduate with the research skills to investigate subjects in depth after graduation; however, a law school graduate usually chooses his or her area of practice after graduation. Some attorneys, however, choose to continue their education by enrolling in a Master of Laws, or LL.M, program. This is typically an additional year of post-graduate study in a specific area of the law, such as tax law.
The obvious benefit to working with an estate planning attorney who has his or her LL.M. degree is that you have the assurance that your attorney is capable of understanding all the potential tax implications of estate planning decisions and concerns. Your attorney can provide you with advice on how to reduce your estate and gift tax exposure as well as advice on how best to protect your estate assets. Although all attorneys are licensed to advise clients on estate planning, hiring an estate planning attorney who has an LL.M. degree in tax law offers an extra level of assurance that taxes will not derail your estate plan.