WealthCounsel and Trusts & Estates Magazine Release Findings from the Fourth Annual Industry Trends Survey

Jan 10, 2011, 08:30 ET from WealthCounsel, LLC

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- WealthCounsel, a nationwide organization of estate planning attorneys, and Trusts & Estates magazine today released a report summarizing the key findings from the Fourth Annual Industry Trends Survey.  As the industry's only source for comprehensive insight on emerging trends, the survey drew participation from 831 estate planning attorneys from nearly all 50 states and carried a margin of error of +/-3.4%.

In addition to appearing in the January 2011 issue of Trusts & Estates magazine, copies of the survey report are available this week at the WealthCounsel and Trusts & Estates exhibit booths located in the exhibit hall at the 45th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in Orlando, FL, or may be downloaded at www.wealthcounsel.com.

Despite the recent economic downturn, 46 percent of respondents experienced an increase in business during 2010, up from 40 percent the previous year.  Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) expect business to increase by 20 percent or more over the next five years, up six percentage points from last year's survey.  

Another key finding dealt with concern over the fact that most Americans do not have an estate plan or even a basic will.  When asked why most Americans fail to plan, 67 percent believe consumers lack awareness of the benefits and negative consequences.  Sixty-two percent indicated that Americans are under the erroneous assumption that estate planning is only for the wealthy, and 51 percent indicated that consumers fail to realize the legal limitations of joint tenancy and beneficiary designations.  

"No matter your age or net worth, not having a trust-oriented estate plan leads to the door of the probate court," said WealthCounsel attorney Hugh Crossland of Dedham, MA, as quoted from the survey report.  Crossland, a senior lecturer at Northeastern University, said it is time that we "hold up to public scrutiny the fact that most Americans are failing to care for what should be their most prized possession – their personal legal health and financial well being."

Other findings summarized in the report include the average age and net worth of clients, key challenges attorneys face in their practices, continuing education needs, document drafting systems, reading preferences, billing practices, primary revenue streams, usage of social media and opinions regarding the federal estate tax.

"Despite the lapsed estate tax in 2010 and uncertainty over the future of the estate tax, the Industry Trends Survey indicates that 46 percent of attorneys reported an increase in business over the past 12 months. By staying on top of cutting-edge estate planning strategies, attorneys can tap into the need for smart wealth management and grow their businesses," said Rich Santos, Publisher for Trusts & Estates.

About WealthCounsel, LLC

Established in 1997, WealthCounsel is a membership-based organization of more than 2,200 attorneys and the creator of the WealthDocx® estate planning drafting software used by attorneys in all 50 states.  WealthCounsel shares ownership in ElderCounsel, LLC, and The Advisors Forum, LLC.  Visit www.wealthcounsel.com.

About Trusts & Estates Magazine (Penton Media, Inc.)

Published since 1904, Trusts & Estates continues a long tradition of editorial excellence and credibility in the high-net-worth arena. Monthly issues focus on new tax legislation, ethics, investment strategies, financial planning, elder law, charitable giving and financial services. Visit www.trustsandestates.com.

SOURCE WealthCounsel, LLC