Tax and Estate Planning Attorneys

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Legal Re-Tooling in the Era of Healthcare Reform

[By Staff Writers]

As a tax, estate planning or bankruptcy lawyer, you already know that almost every legal magazine around has articles or advertisements proposing that you become a financial planning professional or business consultant to your physician clients. 

Moreover, lawyers of all stripes are being pushed toward interdisciplinary alliances by encroachment on their turf by the Big Four accounting firms. With audits of publicly held companies now a commodity, the giant accounting firms are getting more of their revenues from consulting, and that puts them into direct competition with attorneys, MBAs, actuaries and other management and financial service professionals. 

Of all careers, you know how absolutely onerous it is to practice medicine today, and are finally thankful that you did not take that career route many years ago. So, like your neighbor the accountant, you begin to explore that potential of developing a service line extension to your legal practice, in order to assist your medical colleagues who have been hit on hard economic times.  

2010 Estate Tax Reform Letter

The Epiphany 

In fact, you soon realize that more than 90,000 trust, probate and estate planning attorneys like yourself are interested in pursuing financial planning in the next decade. And, you reckon, advising physicians has got to be easier than law, or less stressful than the corporate lifestyle of your MBA trained brother-in-law, right? 

So, you set out to stretch your legal horizons and explore the basic legal nuances of those topics not available in law school when you were a student. Things like medical fraud and abuse standards; managed care compliance audits and Medicare recoupments, CPT® codes, OSHA, EMTALA, HIPAA, capitation and EPA standards; anti-trust issues; and managed care contract dilemmas or de-selection appeals; etc. 




The New World 

What a brave new world the legal profession has become! Even the American Bar Association’s commission on multi-disciplinary practice has recommended that lawyers be permitted to share fees and become partners with financial planners, money managers and other similar professionals. 

As a real life example, the venerated Baltimore brokerage firm of Legg Mason teamed up with the Boston law firm of Bingham Danna, LLC, to create one of the first marriages between a law and securities firm. 


If you want in on the challenge and bucks, you’d better acquire at least a working knowledge of healthcare administration, or perhaps help craft some new case law, or assist your doctor-clients in some fashion; otherwise, you will remain a legal document producer.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:


Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners(TM)



One Response

  1. Estate planning

    One of the reasons so many of us procrastinate when it comes to estate planning is a reluctance to think about death and dying. Another reason that may be even stronger is the need to make decisions. It’s not so hard to make an appointment with an attorney to draft a will. It’s much harder to decide what the provisions of that will should be.

    No wonder so many people take the simple approach of “leave everything to my spouse and kids.” That works perfectly well for many families. It’s also pretty much what the probate code provides for if someone dies intestate.

    But what if you don’t have a spouse or kids? Or your kids are stepchildren? Or your only biological family is a handful of cousins you haven’t seen in years? Or you own valuable heirlooms or artwork that no one in the family cares about?

    In cases like these, it’s especially important to stop procrastinating about estate planning decisions. Without a will, people close to you who are not blood relatives will inherit nothing. Possessions may be disposed of with little regard for their emotional, historical, or even financial value. Your assets may end up in the hands of distant relatives you’ve never met or even go to the state.

    If you don’t want that to happen, but you still aren’t sure what to do with all your stuff, here are a few ideas that might help you get started.

    1. Consider the people close to you that you regard as family even though they may not technically be relatives. Besides stepchildren and grandchildren, this might include longtime friends, caregivers, or anyone else who is important in your life. If you’d like to leave inheritances to any of them—whether that might be a few pieces of inexpensive jewelry or a large sum of money—you need to make your wishes known through a will or other estate planning tools.

    2. Make charitable giving personal and meaningful. Think about what type of giving is most important to you, whether it might be helping the homeless, funding education or medical research, supporting the arts, or any of hundreds of worthwhile causes. Then consciously choose organizations with goals that match your own.

    3. Feel free to be creative. Think about all the places where an unexpected bequest could help your community: libraries, community daycare centers, small museums, elementary schools, arts organizations, volunteer fire departments. Buy a park bench; give a piece of art to a hospital; donate your vintage record albums to a college music department. Have fun finding ways to leave small legacies.

    4. Build relationships with “emotional heirs” who share your interests in collections, antiques, tools, or other items or activities that have special meaning to you. This may give you a chance to pass your possessions on to someone who will appreciate them and who will also remember you through them.

    5. Don’t wait till you’re gone. Consider donating collections or antiques to museums while you’re still around to have some say in what’s done with them. Think about giving personal possessions you value but don’t necessarily use to someone who would appreciate them—while you are able to add to the value by sharing the stories behind those items.

    Finally, remember to use and enjoy what you have. Ironically, thinking through those tough estate planning decisions can make us more aware of what is important—and what isn’t—in the here and now. The most important question may be, not what to do with assets after we’re gone, but what to do with them while we’re still here.

    Rick Kahler MS CFP®


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