Estate Planning and Probate
EDUCATIONLL.M. (Taxation), New York University Law School
J.D. (honors), University of Michigan Law School
Post-graduate studies, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland (recipient of Fulbright-Swiss University Fellowship)
B.A. (honors), Wayne State University
HONORS & AWARDS
- Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).
- Michigan Super Lawyers
- Best lawyers in America (Trusts and Estates)
- Member of the Advisory Board of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan
- Martindale-Hubbell Rating: AV Preeminent 5
Bob concentrates on estate planning, tax counseling, wealth preservation, and planned giving. He is thorough and analytical, while giving great personal attention to his clients.His practice includes estate planning, wealth preservation, and planned giving, for estates of all sizes. In addition to the traditional drafting of wills and trusts, he and his group specialize in sophisticated wealth preservation techniques, succession planning, probate and trust administration, post-mortem planning, as well as estate tax return preparation, gift and estate tax audits and appeals, and estate-related claims and litigation.
He is also heavily involved in charitable and planned giving techniques, to permit his clients to identify and meet their charitable objectives with maximum tax benefit.
Bob also serves as the Chairman of the Tax, Estate Planning & Probate Group.
After earning his law degree at the University of Michigan, Bob began his legal career as an associate with a U.S. law firm in Brussels, Belgium, serving a multinational corporate clientele. He later returned to the United States to pursue advanced studies in tax law at New York University, where he earned a Master's Degree in Taxation. He then joined Barris, Sott, Denn and Driker.
- Successfully implemented sophisticated wealth transfer technique including self-canceling installment note ("SCIN"), removing over $5 million in value from client's taxable estate, free from estate or gift tax
- Successfully defended against IRS audit in sophisticated wealth transfer program, persuading IRS to change its position from $5 million taxable gift to no gift ("no change")
- Effectively employed post-mortem planning techniques (disclaimers, Probate Court reformation of a Will), and obtained favorable IRS Private Letter Ruling, to reverse effects of poor planning by decedent's attorney, saving widow over $300,000 in estate taxes
- Recommended and implemented reallocation of personal injury award between decedent's estate and family members, saving family members over $250,000 in estate taxes
- Implemented charitable trust for client owning a large concentration of highly appreciated publicly traded stock, permitting him to diversify his holdings into mutual funds without triggering capital gains, significantly increase his lifetime income, and receive charitable income tax deduction. The company whose stock he previously owned subsequently declared bankruptcy
- Member and past Chairman of the Professional Advisory Committee of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the mission of which is to provide continuing education on topics related to wealth preservation and charitable giving techniques to lawyers, accountants, and financial professionals.
- Member, Professional Advisory Committees of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Foundation, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Institute of Arts, and other major charities.
- Member, Board of Directors of Planned Giving Round Table of Southeast Michigan, and Past Chairman of its LEAVE A LEGACY® Southeast Michigan Speaker's Bureau.
- Past member of the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan Foundation, French-American Chamber of Commerce
ARTICLES & COURSES TO PROFESSIONALS
- Member of the faculty for the ICLE post-graduate seminars in estate planning for the Certificate Program in Estate Planning and Administration (seminars presented in 2005-2011)
- "Common Mistakes in Estate Planning for Pet Owners", Leimberg Information Services (LISI) Estate Planning Newsletter #1821 (June 16, 2011)
- "Business Succession Planning," Michigan Association of CPAs Closely Held Business Forum, May, 2011
- "The Basic Tax Rules Governing Estate Planning" (ICLE Fundamentals in Estate Planning Course, 2009)
- "Turning Out the Lights: Succession Planning for Your Retirement, Disability, or Worse" (ICLE 6th Annual Solo & Small Firm Institute, 2009)
- "Dynasty Trusts: Is Anything Forever?" (ICLE 49th Annual Probate & Estate Planning Institute, 2009)
- "Planning for the Future of the Estate and Gift Tax" (ICLE/State Bar of Michigan After Hours Tax Law Series: Hot Topics in Estate and Gift Tax, 2009)
- "Turning Out the Lights: Succession Planning for Your Retirement, Disability, or Worse" (ICLE 48th Annual Probate and Estate Planning Institute, 2008)
- "Basic Rules Governing Estate Planning" (ICLE Fundamentals in Estate Planning Course, 2005)
- "Creative Uses of Charitable Gift Annuities" (ICLE Annual Probate & Estate Planning Conference, 2005)
- "Marketing and Running the Successful Estate Administration Practice" (ICLE Annual Probate & Estate Planning Conference, 2004)
- "Post-Death Administration: A View from the Trenches" (ICLE After-Hours Tax Series, 2002)
- "Effective Estate Planning Devices after the 2001 Tax Act" (ICLE Annual Probate & Estate Planning Conference, 2001)
- "Advising Clients in a Climate of Possible Repeal of the Estate Tax" (ICLE Annual Probate & Estate Planning Conference, 2000)
- "Prepaying Your Kids' or Grandkids' Tuition...:" Women's American ORT National Reporter, Spring 2000. Article discussing possibility of obtaining unlimited gift tax exemption for prepayment of tuition
- "Transfer of Wealth in Blended Families" (ICLE Conference on Estate Planning for Second Marriages, 1999)
- "What Every CPA Needs to Know About Probate," (MACPA Income and Estate Tax Conference, Spring, 2004, and in November, 2004 for the MACPA Personal Financial Planning Conference)
- Frequent speaker on topics related to estate planning, charitable giving and taxation, for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), Michigan Association of CPA's, civic and religious groups, and major national, international and local charities
RADIO/TV PRESENTATIONS; MEDIA REFERENCES
- Bob has appeared on CNN/CNN Financial, on local cable television (including a 2-hour presentation on estate administration), and in radio interviews around the country on the topics of estate planning (including estate planning for pet owners), and estate administration
- He has been quoted in the Detroit News, Crain's Detroit Business, and other local newspapers, and his publications have been referred to in Bottom Line Personal; Probate & Property, a publication of the Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law of the American Bar Association; and the Journal of the Michigan Funeral Directors Association
- Kass, R.E., Downie, R.H., and Kim, Y.S., "The Executor’s Companion: A Practical Guide to Estate Administration” (347 pp, Carob Tree Press, 2013), http://www.carobtreepress.com. This book (and its predecessor, “What Do We Do Now? A Practical Guide to Estate Administration for Widows, Widowers and Heirs”) have been used as course material in estate administration throughout the State of Michigan. It is distributed by law firms, accounting firms and banks to estate administration clients, and has readers throughout the United States and as far away as Guam and the United Kingdom.
- Kass, R. E., and Carrie, E.A., "Who Will Care When You're Not There? Estate Planning for Pet Owners" (Carob Tree Press, 2011)
- Fluent in French; working knowledge of Spanish