Trust & Estate Groups and Committees

The Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law has nine (9) Trust and Estate Groups with Trust and Estate Committees that focus on trusts, estate planning, employee benefits, insurance, and probate and trust litigation.

Trust and Estate Division Substantive Committees

Continue to o learn more about each Trust & Estate Group and their Committees.

Business Planning Group

The Business Planning Group of committees covers choice of entity, estate planning, and estate administration for clients who own business entities or interests in farms or ranches. The entities may be active businesses or formed to hold investments. Entities include partnerships (general, limited, and/or limited liability), limited liability companies, and corporations (including those with an "S" election in place).

Business Investment Entities, Partnerships, LLC's and Corporations

This committee focuses on estate planning issues involved in the selection of entities for businesses, including C and S corporations, LLC's, LLP's, and general and limited partnerships. The committee also responds to legislative and regulatory changes, both tax and non‐tax, affecting entity selection, and monitors developments in evaluation of these entities as they affect planning for lifetime and testamentary transfers. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations affecting this area, publishes information for Section members and participates in or sponsors CLE programs or articles on these topics.

Estate Planning and Administration for Business Owners, Farmers and Ranchers

The committee focuses on estate planning, drafting and administration issues that arise in the context of owners of closely held businesses. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations affecting this area, publishes information for Section members, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs or articles on these topics.

Charitable Planning and Organizations Group

The committees of the Charitable Planning and Exempt Organizations Group are concerned with both sides of the charitable giving process. The various tax and non‐tax issues for the donor are addressed by the Lifetime and Testamentary Charitable Planning Committee, while the donor organization perspective is the focus of the charitable Organizations Committee.

Charitable Organizations

The committee focuses on charitable gift planning issues from the donee perspective such as, formation, governance and operation of charitable organizations, including choice of entity, qualification for tax‐exempt status and qualification as private foundation or supporting organization. It also follows, proposes and participates in legislation and regulations projects that effect the organization of different types of charitable organizations, including community foundations and donor advised funds. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations, responds to requests from the Service and Treasury for comments on current issues, publishes information for Section members on these topics and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs. The committees frequently join together on projects that impact donors and donees. Recent activities of both committees include comments to the Internal Revenue Service on donor advised funds and to the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Ways and Means of the United States House of Representatives on the impact of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

Charitable Planning

This committee is concerned with charitable giving as a component of estate planning, including planning, drafting and administration. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations, responds to requests from the Service, Treasury, and Congress for comments on current issues, publishes materials for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Legislative and Regulatory Issues

The committee focuses on federal and state charitable regulation and legislation that impacts charitable giving from both the donor and donee perspective. It addresses a wide range of issues, including federal and state income and estate tax, and state law issues relating to planned gifts, including donor restrictions and endowment spending, and more generally, the regulation of charitable entities.

Join A Committee

RPTE members can join a Group or Committee (or several) online. For questions regarding membership, contact the Section at (312) 988-5651 or e-mail rpte@americanbar.org.

Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Group

The Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Group consists of two committees that focus on legal concerns of the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Elder Law and Long‐Term Care

The Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Group Committee on Elder Law and Long‐Term Care focuses on the legal concerns of the elderly and issues related to long‐term care. Committee chairs and committee members are frequently asked to advise the Section leadership on policy positions to be adopted by the ABA House of Delegates. The Committees have been active in presenting CLE programs and in authoring articles for Probate & Property and the Real Property, Trust and Estate Journal. Interested committee members have numerous opportunities to participate in projects and to present their own ideas for projects. We invite you to meet the chairs, check out the webpages for the two committees, and use the numerous links provided. We encourage your participation in committee activities and hope you will join one or all of them.

Special Needs Planning

The Special Needs Planning committee focuses on legal and future planning for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Employee Plans and Executive Compensation Group

We are a group of lawyers who help businesses, their workers and other individuals understand and solve issues that arise in the operation of employee benefit plans and compensation arrangements. Our clients' plans are central to the economic wealth and well‐being of their employees. The plans also are an important part of our clients' efforts to recruit, retain and motivate employees. The plans are often involved in real estate and other common business transactions and create legal risks for businesses and others involved in them. Our Group provides great value to members by helping them to stay current on the many and changing legal rules that apply to their clients' plans, especially ones relating to qualified plans, medical and other welfare plans and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. Some of our Group members also focus on fiduciary responsibilities related to the operation of plans. Others focus on the formation and termination of benefit plans, and litigation involving this area of practice. The Group is a past Diversity Award Recipient from RPTE and has a strong commitment to diversity.

Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration and Litigation

This committee focuses upon responsibility of fiduciaries under ERISA and also reviews issues relating to the administration of employee benefit plans under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. The committee monitors and provides comments to the IRS, DOL, and PBGC with respect to the administration of the employee benefits laws by these agencies, and, as appropriate, prepares reports for publications on matters of interest to practitioners in this area. The committee also monitors litigation in the employee benefit area and meets periodically to discuss matters of practical significance to its members. The committee also publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

IRAs & Plan Distributions

This committee focuses on legislation, regulations and other developments relating to IRA contributions, distributions, rollovers and investments. It focuses as well on similar developments relating to distributions and participant loans from 401(k) and other retirement plans. The committee also publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Nonqualified Deferred Compensations

This committee concentrates on the issues relating to nonqualified deferred compensation, including methods of funding non‐qualified deferred compensation arrangements, the emerging trends in the executive compensation, stock‐based compensation arrangements and estate planning for executive compensation programs. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations, publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Plan Transactions and Terminations

This committee deals with events and actions that are major structural changes in retirement and employee benefit plans. Special emphasis is given to employee benefit programs in corporate acquisitions and dispositions, plan terminations and plan mergers or spin‐offs. The committee develops and submits comments on legislative proposals, regulations and rulings that are in the committee's area of responsibility. The committee also publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Qualified Plans

The committee considers income and transfer tax issues related to employee benefits and gathers, analyzes and disseminates information concerning planning for retirement in old age, with special emphasis on distributions from qualified retirement plans (including employee stock ownership plans or ESOPs), individual retirement accounts, and other such arrangements, including government programs. The committee monitors proposed and enacted legislation affecting qualified plans and also considers state laws that affect retirement and old age planning. The committee prepares technical comments on legislation and regulations, publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs. Recent activities of the predecessor committees include the preparation of detailed comments on the qualification of payments under employee benefit plans for the marital deduction, and an ongoing project to propose modifications to the regulations under IRC §401(a)(9) with respect to trusts as beneficiaries of qualified plans and IRA's.

Welfare Benefit Plans

The primary focus of this committee is the operation, funding and regulation of Employee Welfare Benefit Plans; including compliance with ERISA, COBRA and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. The committee has developed comments on regulations relating to OWBPA and has been monitoring the legislative proposals to restructure the nation's health care delivery system. The committee also publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Income and Transfer Tax Planning Group

This group concentrates on the three federal transfer taxes (estate, gift and generation‐skipping), the income taxation of trusts, estates, grantors and beneficiaries, tax litigation and controversy, and arts and collectibles. Because these taxes comprise the federal tax universe in which most estate planning instruments operate, this group seeks to assist trust and estate attorneys in their constant endeavor to improve their knowledge of these taxes, to stay updated on tax reform, and to play a role in the development of these tax systems. Group members work to improve the transfer tax system by preparing and submitting comments on proposed legislation and proposed regulations, and by suggesting legislative solutions to technical problems.

Art and Collectibles

This committee focuses on the interesting issues associated with arts and collectibles, including transfer tax issues, valuation and other items.

Estate and Gift Tax

This committee focuses on the planning techniques, drafting solutions, and administrative and compliance issues relating to all aspects of the federal estate and gift tax. This committee also follows the enactment of legislation and issuance of regulations and other guidance addressing such taxes and prepares comments for submission to Congress or the Treasury Department when deemed appropriate. This committee also publishes information for the Section and participates in and sponsors Section CLE programs regarding these topics.

Generation Skipping Transfers

This committee focuses on the planning techniques and drafting solutions for generation‐skipping transfers (GST), as well as following and participating in GST legislation and regulations projects. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations, publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Individual and Fiduciary Income Tax

This committee focuses on the income taxation of trusts and estates and beneficiaries and related tax areas, including the Kiddie Tax, deferred payment of estate tax, fiduciary income tax issues, and general postmortem income tax planning.

International Tax Planning

This committee's primary focus is estate planning and administration, including where relevant income tax issues, for U.S. clients with foreign property or contacts or non‐U.S. clients with U.S. property or U.S. beneficiaries. The committee prepares comments on legislation and regulations, publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs. This committee also considers the ways to improve the laws that affect international estate planning.

Tax Litigation and Controversy

This committee focuses on procedural and practice developments with respect to disputes with the Internal Revenue Service, including appellate procedures within the IRS, settlement techniques, litigation in the U.S. Tax Court, Court of Claims, U.S. District Court, and in appellate courts. The committee publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Guide to Committees

Read an in-depth guide to the various Groups and Committees associated with the RPTE Section. Download the Guide to Committees now.

Litigation, Ethics and Malpractice Group

The Litigation, Ethics, and Malpractice Group includes the Probate and Fiduciary Litigation and Controversy and the Ethics and Malpractice Committees. The first deals with all aspects of disputes, litigation and alternative dispute resolution involving wills and trusts, private and charitable trusts, and related controversies involving conservatorships and guardianships. The second deals with ethical and malpractice issues that arise in the estate and trust context.

Alternate Dispute Resolution

This committee was formed in recognition of the importance to our practices of the quickly evolving world of ADR, with emphasis on the role it plays in resolving trust and estate disputes. The committee also addresses the drafting and use of specific provisions for arbitration and mediation in estate planning documents and other family agreements. The committee creates and promotes CLE programs and publications which focus on or involve developments in ADR related to probate and fiduciary disputes. The committee tracks emerging trends as well as practice pointers, and is a forum for the discussion of the resolution of disputes, either before or after litigation has commenced, whether through mediation, arbitration or otherwise.

Ethics and Malpractice

This committee reviews the changing role of the lawyer in modern estate planning, and evaluates the potential liabilities of the estate lawyer to clients and others arising out of a modern trusts and estates law practice. The committee assesses insurance or other methods of financial protection for the practitioner and focuses on the changing developments in the ethical rules affecting both the estate planner and the probate litigator.

Probate and Fiduciary Litigation

This committee reviews developments related to estate and trust litigation, including will contests, surcharge litigation, contested guardianships and conservatorships and alternative dispute resolution. It studies selected issues, such as the right to a jury trial and the availability of punitive damages. The committee also analyzes specific evidentiary questions (for example, attorney‐client relationships, attorney‐work product and ethical and conflict of interest issues in the field). The committee publishes information for Section members on these topics, and participates in or sponsors Section CLE programs.

Non‐Tax Estate Planning Considerations Group

This group is comprised of committees that focus upon estate planning and estate and trust administration issues other than taxation as well as on wealth planning issues and includes committees on financial and insurance planning and asset protection planning. Probate and trust attorneys who want to under‐ stand their clients'entire financial situation and protect their clients' families against more than probate and death taxes will find the information these committees provide crucial to their practice. This group also assists the practitioner to develop estate and trust plans that are sustainable over time.

Asset Protection Planning

This committee focuses on the planning techniques available to preserve and protect accumulations of wealth from the multitude of potential claims arising from future litigation, government expropriation and other threats. The committee members utilize domestic as well as offshore planning tools to accomplish clients'objectives. The committee's agenda includes educating members of the bar as to the legitimate objectives, propriety of and need for asset protection planning. The committee monitors domestic and foreign legislative litigation developments in this area, participates in CLE programs and publishes information for Section members on these topics.

Financial Planning and Risk Management

This committee focuses on insurance issues of all kinds, including life insurance, disability insurance, long‐term care insurance, health, property, and casualty insurance (with primary emphasis being on life insurance). The committee has endeavored to educate lawyers concerning each type of insurance. A major project of the committee has been the initiation of the "Insurance Counselor" series, which is a series of primers on various insurance topics. Other projects include preparation of a standard form for the assignment of life insurance policies to irrevocable trusts. In addition, the committee frequently participates in programs at the Section meetings.

Non‐Tax Issues Affecting the Planning and Administration of Estates and Trusts

The committee discusses any non‐tax issues relating to trusts and estates that are of interest to its members. Activities of the committee have included sponsoring CLE programs at various ABA meetings, publishing articlesin Probateand Property andother ABApublications, and commentingonproposed legislation.

Time Committment

Your level of involvement in a group or committee is entirely up to you. You can become very involved, or you can stay on the sidelines and still have access to the latest information and developments in your group or committee's area of expertise.

Trust and Estate Practice Group

The Practice Group consists of four committees that focus on unique issues regarding the way trusts & estates lawyers practice the law. The group's overarching goal is to assist our members in managing a legal practice that effectively assists the modern client and is personally rewarding and profitable.

Digital Property

The Digital Property Committee addresses the planning and administration of client's digital property and how the trusts & estates practice must evolve to accommodate a more digital focused client.

Emotional and Psychological Issues in Estate Planning

The Emotional and Psychological issues in estate planning committee prepares trusts & estates lawyers to manage the multi‐faceted human vulnerabilities surrounding the estate planning and administration process and the emotional effects of wealth.

Free Conference Calls

Another benefit to RPTE membership is the option to listen free of charge to a Group/Committee conference call!

Join or Start a Discussion Topic in RPTE Connect

RPTE Connect is a community made up of our Group and Committee members to share resources with others through discussion threads and a shared library. Our Group community has such features like a Group community blog, member created events for recurring conference calls, document sharing, impromptu meet-ups and much more. All within a member-only community.

RPTE Connect - Join the Discussion

Join A Committee

RPTE members can join a Group or Committee (or several) online. For questions regarding membership, contact the Section at (312) 988-5651 or e-mail rpte@americanbar.org.

Guide to Committees

Read an in-depth guide to the various Groups and Committees associated with the RPTE Section. Download the Guide to Committees now.

Time Committment

Your level of involvement in a group or committee is entirely up to you. You can become very involved, or you can stay on the sidelines and still have access to the latest information and developments in your group or committee's area of expertise.

Free Conference Calls

Another benefit to RPTE membership is the option to listen free of charge to a Group/Committee conference call!