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An invitation to estate planners who work with closely held businesses:
I would like you to consider joining a new venture on the Internet.
You can participate, if you accept this mission, in the inauguration of the first truly virtual committee in the Probate and Trust Division of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Section. The idea of a virtual committee--along with four or five innovative Internet-based committee projects -- will be beta tested this coming year by the Valuation of Business Property Committee: a new committee in the new group of committees dealing with estate planning for business owners.
Because of the desire of many lawyers to position themselves to better serve the estate planning needs of closely-held-business clients, we should be able to gather under the banner of this new committee enough Internet enthusiasts who are interested in this area of practice to give the virtual committee a decent road test. In return for carrying out the committee's mission, we will simultaneously build our expertise in this growing subspecialty while learning how to apply Internet tools and resources to better serve our clients.
The committee will be presenting continuing legal education programs over the Internet on business valuation subjects. We have a fairly wide range to choose from including discount planning techniques, buy-sell agreements, freezes, installment sales, retained annuity trusts for business interests as well as how to work with business appraisers, handle IRS examinations and win litigation of business and entity valuation cases. The technology involved for some of these CLE programs could be as simple as using a list server to conduct a seminar by email just like the conversations here in ABA-PTL are handled.
As things progress and estate planners move on from email to the World Wide Web, we will also consider Web-based seminars using video slides and audio over the Internet. (We will have a prototype to follow from the Tax Section's audio/visual broadcast of a live panel discussion and slide show on LLCs & LLPs out over the Internet from the annual meeting in Orlando this August.) Of course, there are other committees in the new business planning group interested in the same topics so that we will likely be joint venturing many of these CLE programs with them.
The committee will also be setting up its own home page at the section's World Wide Web site. As the Web gains momentum we plan to (1) publish a Web-based newsletter with current developments that would also be circulated to committee members and other subscribers by E-mail, (2) establish a library on the Web for articles, outlines, forms and other practice aids on business valuation and planning techniques.
When the volume of traffic in ABA-PTL on the business valuation topic warrants, the committee will move to establish a more specialized discussion group on our topic or for the business planning group of which we are part.
We have some experience using the Internet for committee activities to draw upon. Almost two years ago, Tom Geu and I, as co-chairs of the section's LLC committee established the section's first E-mail-based discussion group. This discussion group, LNET-LLC, like DIRT our sister discussion group on the real property side of the section, maintains a discussion group Web page which links participants to a topically organized archive of prior message traffic, subscription, unsubscribe and other options for subscribers, a library of documents on LLCs and Partnerships, and links to other related resources on the Web. To get an idea of some of the possibilities here, you can take a look at the LNET-LLC home page at:
We will also get involved in joint venture programs involving both the Probate and the Real Property sides of the section. We have already established a bridge for our committee to the Real Property Division by inviting Rich Shapack, Chair of the Real Property Division's Federal Taxation Committee, to join our committee as one of its vice chairs. This helps to maintain an informal link between the committees on both sides of the section interested in business entities. The cooperating committees have fielded two or three joint inter-division CLE programs at each of the section's meetings over the last two years. Rich plans to establish a subcommittee as part of his committee on the Real Property side of the section to work with us on valuation and estate planning for real estate investors, developers and operators.
Another idea to be considered as a demonstration project by the committee will be the use of the Internet to offer mentoring services. This would involve a panel of lawyers with a fair amount of closely held business valuation and planning experience to answer inquiries from other members of the section. The mentor would generally point the lawyer in need of assistance in the right direction to get up to speed so that he or she handle the problem or, considering the inquiring lawyers available time and level of experience, suggest that he or she look into associating another lawyer with the required experience to assist. Similar mentoring programs have been successfully implemented by the Tax Section and, more recently by, the Law Practice Management Section.
Another related project is being proposed on the Real Property side of the section which involves the revision of the section publication, Law Office without Walls. This publication, very innovative for almost 10 years ago when it was produced, deals with co-counsel and other correspondent relationships between lawyers to better serve their clients. The virtual committee will encourage its members, along with the ethics and technology committees on the Probate side of the section, to become involved in this project and to take an active roll in the development of the virtual law firm and other lawyer to lawyer relationships over the Internet.
Of course the virtual committee will try to conduct most all of the committee's business by e-mail. While we will try to accommodate committee members who are not into e-mail (with hardcopy copies of our E-mail correspondence and newsletters), we will make a full-court press to get everyone who joins our committee on-line. Along these same lines, we will be translating our Internet CLE efforts into face-to-face programs at section meetings and our electronic publishing efforts into hardcopy articles in section publications for the benefit of the vast majority of the RPPT Section and other lawyers who are not on-line as yet.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in working with us.
John DeBruyn, Committee Chair
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Last update: December 10, 1996