The Natural Segue between Tax Compliance & Estate Planning: Jennifer Tolsky Promoted to Partner at Gould & Ratner
Jennifer Tolsky was recently promoted to partner with the law firm of Gould & Ratner in the Tax & Wealth Transfer Group. Tolsky is a CPA whose tax knowledge augments her legal practice, giving her a heightened awareness of tax concerns with estate planning, wealth transfer strategies and business succession planning. Tolsky blends experience in tax compliance with an understanding of the personal nature of estate planning to provide nuanced and well-rounded counsel to clients of Gould & Ratner.
The Importance of Tax Compliance to Estate Planning
Although “technically” Tolsky received her law degree first, she points out that she began her career as a CPA. For Tolsky, her work as an attorney is built on a foundation of tax compliance knowledge. The recession of 2008 influenced her career trajectory, and she says, “My dad, who is also a CPA, urged me to pursue an advanced degree in accounting due to the job shortage.” This led to work in tax compliance, and she was able to marry the two by becoming an associate at Gould & Ratner. Tolsky says, “Tax law is ever changing and evolving, and I enjoy the challenges it brings. My accounting background, and specifically, my tax compliance background, informs my legal practice on a daily basis.”
Tolsky sees her current area of practice in the Tax & Wealth Transfer group as a “natural segue” from her previous experience in tax compliance. She says, “I always consider how an issue I am reviewing or a provision I am drafting will impact a tax return, as well as how items will be executed once implemented . . . because of my previous role in tax compliance, I was able to see many of the issues I deal with currently manifest themselves in the ‘real world’.” This practical familiarity is ideal in such a personal area of law such as estate planning, where there is a premium on tax efficiency and clients appreciate an in-depth understanding of the nuances of their individual situations.
With tax laws constantly changing, the challenges confronting estate planning clients continue to evolve. Tolsky sees her role as an advisory one, helping her clients understand how the changes can impact them on multiple levels. For example, the increased federal exemption on estate taxes, which has increased steadily since 1997, and according to the Tax Policy Center, the federal estate tax impacted the tax returns of less than 0.1 percent of the 2.7 million people who passed away in 2018. However, other issues are still in play for clients. Tolsky says, “Although the increased exemption may allow an individual’s estate to pass estate tax-free, there are other issues, such as probate, creditor protection, and ensuring that your assets pass according to your wishes.” While the playing field is constantly changing, a strong foundation in tax compliance provides real-world expertise for Tolsky as she guides her clients through these issues.
Value of Relationships with Estate Planning, Wealth Transfer and Business Succession Clients
Estate planning is an area of the law that can get very personal for individuals, and Tolsky knows how important it is that client concerns are addressed with an eye to all the issues in play. She works to establish trust with her clients by understanding their concerns as well as their goals, and finding solutions that deliver on both as efficiently as possible. She says, “Due to the individual nature of estate planning, relationships are important, and I believe that’s the best way to invest in building your book of business.” John Mays, the Managing Partner of Gould & Ratner, says, “she [Jennifer Tolsky] brings a wealth of experience to the firm and is a pleasure to work with on matters very personal and thus very important to our clients.”