Learning and Camaraderie at the Academy Summit

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

The Academy’s Summit is a semi-annual conference bringing the latest developments in Estate Planning and Elder Law to the many Member attorneys of the American Academy. This Spring’s Academy Summit had been scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas. However, as most of the United States has been in lockdown, a virtual conference was a safer option. The Academy’s Summit will be in Austin in Spring 2022, if conditions permit.

Here are some 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.
  • Joanne Marcus and Karen Dunivan Konvicka of Commonwealth Community Trust gave a great presentation on Pooled Special Needs Trusts, in two parts: Part 1, The Fundamentals of Pooled Special Needs Trusts, and Part 2, The Disbursement Process and Suggested Best Practices.
  • Tom Rogerson gave a wonderful presentation showing how it’s important to get the family ready for the money, not just to plan on how to pass the money. His presentation on Building a Generational Legacy taught an unusual and valuable perspective.
  • Sharon Klein gave a great presentation on The Intersection of Divorce and Trusts & Estates. Sharon showed us how to navigate those choppy waters.

Finally, I gave two presentations at the Summit:

  • “Trust Administration A to Z” looked at a broad range of issues in Trust Administration, from how to get the business, to how to handle more complex tax issues.
  • “Dynasty Trusts and Document Changes in CouselProTM” examined “Dynasty Trusts” and how they can be used to allow a family to pass wealth down the generations while avoiding the perils of creditors and divorcing spouses.

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

Finally, one of the most important aspects of the Academy and the Academy’s Summit events, whether in person or virtual, is the camaraderie among the Members. In addition to the networking available throughout the Summit, the Academy hosted an online trivia contest. About a dozen teams from across the Academy family of Members, their staff, and the Academy staff participated in an online Trivia Contest through Sporcle. Each team consisted of a random selection of Academy staff, Member attorneys, and the team members of various law offices from across the country. It was a wonderful way for us all to interact in an unusual setting.

Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128

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