National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

January, 2023 Newsletter
Provided by Leimberg Information Services

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Memoriam: A Tribute to Steve Leimberg - Sentiments From Our Community

On behalf of everyone at Leimberg Information Services, Inc., we would like to share all of the heartfelt responses to Steve Leimberg’s Tribute and Legacy. As we close out 2022 and look ahead to 2023, we hope that you find Steve’s principles and the many kind words from our community as inspiring as we do at LISI.

“I know that you were close to Steve, as was almost everyone who ever met him.  He was an amazing person and the world, as well as the profession, is reduced by his loss.

Steve was one of those people who never left a room without having made two new good friends.  Unlike most other people who say that they do that, Steve would always stay friends with his new more-than-acquaintances.  He was, as I think everyone who ever met him would agree, the nicest guy and the finest man in the world.

He and I have been friends since 1979, when I complimented him on a talk he had given at the NYU Institute on Federal Taxation.  (I was almost 30 at that time.)  From that day on, we were close friends.

Losing Steve is tough.”

-Howard Zaritsky

“I owe so much to Steve. We met at The American College almost 40 years ago. He was their star professor and I was an entry-level editorial assistant, but he saw something in me I didn’t know was there. He encouraged me to apply to law school and helped me believe that I could actually earn a JD. After we both left the College, our professional lives continued to cross. We collaborated on the Society of FSP’s Keeping Current publication for close to 15 years. And for the past 20 or so years, I have had the honor of being part of the LISI team. Through all these years, I was lucky enough to get an up close view of an extraordinary human being—a man who lived his life at full capacity—and shared the best of himself with those around him. He was smart, visionary, kind, generous, loving, thoughtful. He was a true friend. My heart is hurting, but I am forever changed—for good—because I knew him.”

-Anne Rigney

“On a crisp December day 22 years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Leimberg and Bob LeClair for the first time. The topic of conversation was my online current events project called LawThreads, and how it might fit in with Steve’s and Bob’s new electronic publication, Leimberg Information Services, Inc. It’s called “Lizzie”, Steve related with more than a hint of pride in his voice.

Soon, LawThreads joined the LISI family of services, and I began a long and fruitful relationship with Steve and the rest of the LISI team.

Steve was a font of enthusiasm, motivation and generosity. At a meeting, after hearing updates on the latest accomplishments, Steve would invariably ask “How can we make it even better?” But even before getting down to business, every conversation began with an exchange of the latest news of family happenings. A world-class photographer whose camera was always nearby, Steve eagerly shared tips on techniques and equipment as I pursued a hobby in photography.

As anyone who ever met him knows, Steve was an extraordinary human being. We will long remember Steve’s contributions to the professions as a speaker, author, and publisher, but most importantly as a friend.”

-Andy DeMaio

“This is a real loss to estate planners everywhere. What a treasure he was. He is irreplaceable and will be profoundly missed by us all. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”

-Duncan Osborne

“I never met Steve but always remember getting a call when I signed up for the newsletter over 20 years ago.

I was in my office and Steve calls he mentioned he saw my subscription stated that I was from Pittsburgh, and he too was from Pennsylvania. We had a very nice conversation. I always remembered this gesture and have told many people when LISI would be mentioned.”

-Emanuel DiNatale

“I am very sorry for this news and for your loss.  I recall it was just about a year ago when Steve introduced us via email (I think it was in his response to my “thank you” email for the annual thank you gift to contributors - the umbrella).

I can’t say it any better, then to simply say: Steve Leimberg was a great guy and a good friend.   He made us all better and happier because of his services to the estate planning community.  Steve’s treatise on Tax Planning with Life Insurance, written of course with the great Howard Zaritsky is a must have and still stands in our “library” of resources at my firm.  As we don’t have law libraries anymore, that means it is on a shelf in my partner’s office!! 

I was an early LISI contributor, with my first articles appearing in 2005 and 2006. I think I wrote maybe 5 or more commentaries in both of those first two years.  And I think I’ve written over 50 in total.   It was (and still is) so much fun to write for LISI. Also, Steve was a great people-person who found ways to put people together.  For example, he put me together with Howard Zaritsky to write a few articles, and with Randy Zipse to create some early podcasts with him.  And of course, via Steve I met Jim Magner, who is an amazing guy as well. 

Of course, the LISI world was much smaller back in 2005, and the list of contributors was also much smaller, but it was meaningful to me to be a part of it.   I recall the freedom Steve afforded us to write as we wished, without the need to footnote every word, sentence and paragraph – it was not required that we write like a law review article.   Instead, we could write on odd-ball and quirky topics (like celebrity wills, Scottie Pippen’s homestead exemption and the Anna Nicole Smith saga).  And more importantly, LISI allowed us to write on timely or “newsy” topics.  Not only was LISI lighter and more conversational in tone, but it was so much faster!!  If you wanted to share something with the estate planning community, there was no comparison – no publication and no other service was as lightning quick as LISI.  If Steve thought a subject was of interest to himself (and thus to the estate planning world), LISI could literally share it in days (or hours).    Writing for any of the journals, by contrast, took months of effort to publish.  

Furthermore, LISI offered an element of interactivity.   I remember writing a commentary on a case, and then the case was overturned, so I wrote a follow up on it.  And LISI loved it.  Relatedly, I had the interactive side of LISI occur in other ways.  For example, sometimes I would publish a LISI and other lawyers/LISI commentors would respond.   This happened many times.  For example, in 2012, I wrote about charitable lead trusts in “Is It Time To Talk About Taxable CLATs”.  Shortly thereafter, old friend Jonathan Blattmachr reached out to me, complimented me on the article, and highlighted an exception to the private foundation rules applicable to CLATs under section 4947(b), and together we felt it was worthy of a follow up commentary – which LISI published about two weeks later entitled “Follow-up on Taxable CLATs: An Oft-overlooked and Little-known Exception Makes Them Even More Attractive.”    What a value LISI provided to readers not by my article but by the sharing of ideas after my article leading to an even better article.

I recall another example, but this time in the opposite direction – this time a prior LISI made old friend, Jeff Pennell, and I really think about the strategy presented…..which led to a great “Gift-By-Promise” debate in a series of LISI commentaries in 2012, discussing whether one could use one’s estate and gift exemption via a simple promise to pay $5.12mm when you die.   We disagreed with a strategy shared in a prior LISI newsletter (authored by Austin Bramwell and Lisi Mullen – yes, that was her name), and we totaled 5 LISI commentaries (including a response by Austin, and a response by Kim Heyman, Carlyn McCaffrey and Pam Schneider, defending the use of the technique in PA – which had a unique statute) and Steve gave the “final word” to Jeff and me.   This discussion comes back periodically, whenever the estate and gift tax exemption was possibly going down – including in 2020 and again just last year. 

That sort of multipart commenting and that sort of interactivity (and sharing of knowledge) wasn’t available in other publishing formats.   LISI afforded and even fostered such debate.  And that is part of what made Steve and what makes LISI unique.

Finally, Steve was so special as he always appreciated what the contributors provided.  He was always respectful.  He was always thankful.   I recall fondly the annual gifts he’d send, including a terrific “fall-weather” jacket that I still wear to this day (although not too often, as I live in south FL).   I also recall his fondly telling me of his move to FL and his love for the weather and boating.   

Please send best wishes to the LISI team and to Steve’s family and friends.

Thanks for carrying forward.  Appreciate you all (y’all).”

-Jeff Baskies

“This is just one of many memories of Steve Leimberg - one that demonstrates his absolute professionalism, even in the face of conflict.

I ran advanced markets for a company that was having issues with its career field force over compensation and contract matters. As a way to show our agents we care, I arranged to have Steve come to town and do a half-day session on advanced topics. The first 90 minutes went great, and Steve called for a break. After the break, our chief marketing officer got up and made some remarks. The remarks did not sit well with our leading agent, and they got into a yelling match, igniting a general yelling match with the whole audience.

The CMO wisely realized this was getting out of hand and basically yelled “you all didn’t come here to hear me and Mr. X argue about compensation. Steve, the floor’s yours!”  I was with Steve in the back, and I ready to throw up or feint – or both. But Steve turned on his microphone and purposely strolled up to the front, calmly stating, “so where we left off is the challenges of Section 6166 for the inheritors of a small business, and why life insurance may be a better means of funding the estate tax liability…”  He never raised his voice, never cracked a joke, and never acknowledged the fight. He simply provided knowledge and information.  Within minutes, the crowd was mesmerized - taking notes and asking questions. Steve was the consummate pro!”

-Steve Parrish

“He was a great leader in our field who affected many of us in the most positive ways.”

-Jonathan Blattmachr

“Thanks for alerting me.  He was, indeed, a pillar.”

-Jim Tollerton

“This is very sad news. A nice person and he did so much for the industry.”

-David Handler

“I just saw the sad news. I have been a subscriber for 30 years and had the pleasure of dining with Steve. He will be missed!”

-Doug Tarlton

“I will never forget being at a meeting when someone connected me to Steve telling him I should write for him… and he encouraged me and published me for the first time in Leimberg two weeks later. His support meant the world to me.”

-Mary Vandenack

“I enjoyed seeing NAEPC honor him in 2020 with its Hartman Axley Lifetime Service Award.”

-Steve Gorin

“Sorry to hear this news…I never met Steve personally, so he didn’t know me.  Back over 40 years ago when I was in my 20’s, I started to build my financial planning practice in Atlanta and being a young woman and moving from the north to the south (those d___Yankees), it was very difficult to gain respect and trust.  Thankfully, women in our industry have it much easier… I do not know exactly when I signed up for his newsletter, but it was a long time ago.  It was (and still is) my touch every Sunday as to what went on the past week and what is a reflection of to come… I have worked very hard over 40+ years and am planning to retire (or at least cut way back) January 1, 2024 at age 68.  In fact, my birthday is September 11th just like his!  It is a birthday that is never forgotten, that’s for sure.  I have had a very successful career with hundreds of clients and management of now over $1 billion.  I am very thankful for all the resources of all the very smart people in our industry, including Steve’s.  May he rest in peace…Lee”

-Lee Van Leuvan

“I am so sorry to hear about Steve's death.  I have been a subscriber to LISI for 20 years, and I can truly say that it has made a positive difference in my professional career.  One of the many things I admired about Steve was his responsiveness.  Regardless of where he was or how busy he was, he always responded to me when I reached out to him.  Our industry owes Steve a deep debt, and it is much better because of him.”

-Jim Weller

“I was saddened to learn this morning that Steve died.  It has been many decades since I first met Steve.  I have been in the life insurance business my entire 61 year career (so far).  I majored in life insurance at Indiana University and graduated from the Indiana University School of Law in 1965.  I have heard Steve speak at many venues.  I have been an avid supporter of NumberCruncher and LISI and I have valued the information above all others.  In the early 90’s I donated  $1M to the IU School of Business to fund The Barton L. Kaufman Chair of Life Insurance and my first choice to fill the Chair was Steve.  He was very courteous but had no interest leaving Philadelphia for Bloomington, IN.  Steve belongs on the Mount Rushmore of life insurance professionals along with Ben Feldman, John O. Todd, and Peter Mullin.”

-Bart Kaufman

“I was saddened to hear the news.  Steve was a friend of mine for many, many years, practically since I got out of law school when I first met him through my father.  He has always been one of my idols in the estate planning industry and taught me a lot about marketing.  Steve flew to Las Vegas to attend my wedding celebration which I always thought was really nice since he came all the way from the east coast and went out of his way to be there for me.  He brought his large professional camera and I found out that he was not only an estate planning wizard, but also a professional-level photographer!  That’s the kind of guy he was --- always doing things for others and making the world a better place!  I will miss him as will a whole lot of other people.”

-Steve Oshins

“Please accept my deepest sympathies on the loss of Steve. When I heard from Howard Z. that Steve passed, I was speechless.

Interesting how we don’t think of the loss of some of the people we love but don’t see often until they are lost. We then want them back even for a moment so we can tell them how fond we were of them and give them a last deepest heartfelt hug. Steve and I were friends for decades and had the greatest of respect for one another.

I am mentally telling that to Steve and giving him my warmest embrace. He will always be a special friend to me.

My very warmest regards and sympathies to you.”

-Alexander Bove

“Steve was always incredibly kind and supportive to me over the last 20+ years of my career. My wife and I had the pleasure of getting to know him personally at a MassMutual life insurance conference many years ago. He helped me get articles published and helped to promote my name in the insurance industry. I remember the first time I saw the expression “Warmest regards” was in an email from Steve. He also taught me something very important in marketing – “perpetually project a positive image” - the three P’s. It has stayed with me for many years.  It is hard to believe he’s not with us physically, but he is certainly with us in his spirit and values and kindness and support. We will miss him deeply.”

-Lee Slavutin

“I first met Steve in 1980 at a symposium. That meeting and my ensuing relationship with Steve helped shape my career and contributed to my success.

Steve was often called on to be an expert witness. He referred some of those attorneys to me, which led to my success in that field.  He recommended me to be on the AALU Washington Report Expert Panel, for which I wrote several articles. He also published many of my articles in LISI, sometimes asking me to write on a specific subject. As a result of that exposure people in the industry learned about me and my expertise. That became an important part of my credentials.

I have two personal stories regarding Steve. My son was studying for the estate planning part of the CFP exam. He asked me if there was an easy to understand book he could use. I recommended Steve’s book. My son said that was the book they were already using. He also taught me a lesson about  teaching grandchildren good values. He told me he would give his grandchildren money specifically to give to charity. He would ask them to write to him which charity they gave to and why they gave to that charity. I subsequently did that with my own grandchildren.

Most importantly, Steve and I saw eye to eye on the least discussed part of the life insurance business - ethics. He was constantly promoting the highest standards for practitioners.

My wife and I had the pleasure of spending time with Steve and Joann, two of the warmest and most sincere people I have met.

Apart from the loss to the legal and financial services communities, we have lost a mensch - a person of integrity and honor. I have also lost a friend.”

-Richard Harris

“I truly admired Steve and all that he has done for our profession and indeed the world.  I invited Steve to address the board of directors of Beloit College regarding Charitable Giving.  Two of the directors at that time were early in their wealth and since have become immensely charitable,  to the college, the community, and the country.  I am forever grateful for his remarkable influence and contributions to all of us who relied upon his professional word.    My sympathies and prayers to his family.”

-Prudy Harker

“Please, accept my condolences on the passing of our wonderful Stephan Leimberg. To put my admiration and appreciation for Steve in perspective… apart from my father, I do not believe anyone else surpassed Steve significance to the success of my law practice. He cut to the chase, was very inclusive and was directed by a kind heart.”

-Keith Schiller

“I learned the sad news of Steve Leimberg's passing yesterday. I will sorely miss him, as will so many.  He was brilliant, and always gracious.  I had the pleasure of meeting him at Jerry Kasner's 71st birthday celebration, shortly before Jerry died.  I'm attaching a couple of photos evidencing Steve's talents as a photographer.

May we all aspire to such graciousness and brilliance.”

-Michael Jones

“I was so very sorry to hear about Steve’s passing. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to write messages to pass on to his wife and family.

While I never was able to meet Steve in person, we worked together on projects for over 15 years and he was, without exception, a joy to work with. He was always extremely kind and a true gentleman. His passing will leave a huge void in the estate planning community. I also recently enjoyed viewing his photography and was very impressed with his artistry. He will be greatly missed – my condolences go out to his wife, family, and friends.”

-Michelle Ward

“As you know, he was not only a wonderful person, but he helped educate so many professionals and provided a pathway for experts to scale their knowledge and earn income form that. He was a brilliant marketer too, which is rare for tax and planning professionals. A real loss.”

-Ed Morrow

“When I first signed up for the Leimberg Newsletter, Steve personally helped me with questions I had and made me feel important, even though I truly was not.  He even shared his photography with me and we exchanged back and forth a bit on his love of photography, etc.

I always thought how special it was that he treated me with such care and kindness.  Obviously, I was impressed by his many talents, as well!

My condolences to you and his entire extended family.”

-Ruth George

“Steve Leimberg lived a rich and full life. I am honored to have known him as an author published by his Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI) Estate Planning newsletter, one of his many contributions to this field of practice. I was also touched by his thoughtfulness and generosity toward others, including his writings on giving back to those who are less fortunate.

We are all fortunate to have had him with us, for the time he was on this earth. Sending wishes for God’s peace to his family, colleagues, and friends.”

-Linda Kotis

“What a magnificent tribute to Steve that today's newsletter was.  Witty, interesting, I learned many things I didn't know from the letter.  I admired Steve professionally but didn't know he was such a special human being.  thanks for sharing and may his legacy continue.”

-Carrie Seligman

“I am totally shocked and extremely saddened to hear of Steve's passing. This terrible loss came with no warning to this major SL fan.

You have asked for tributes and memories to share.

In addition to being, like so many others, a long time NumberCruncher customer and LISI reader, I had a personal history with Steve who was a major help in launching my career as a writer on the topic of estate planning for retirement benefits. When I wrote the first edition of my self published book "Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits," I was following the directions of the "Self Publishing Manual" by Dan Poynter. I followed Poynter's recommendation for marketing my book by seeking a way to communicate with estate planners. With that in mind I sent a copy of the book to a total stranger, Stephan Leimberg, and asked if there would be a way for me to market the book to his mailing list.

I figured he would either just say no or quote me a price for using his mailing list. Instead, he read the book and enthusiastically endorsed it and HE "marketed" it to his mailing list by recommending it to them. He did not seek any payback from me and from thenceforth treated me as a colleague in estate planning. We met many times over the years when we were both speaking at the same estate planning conference, to discuss the state of the world in general and of the estate planning profession in particular. In addition to his incredible and irreplaceable contributions to our profession, Steve was a warm and kind person and an amazing photographer. I am one of the many who will miss him.”

-Natalie Choate


The LISI Team


LISI Estate Planning Newsletter #3004 (December 31, 2022) at Copyright 2022 Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI).  Reproduction in Any Form or Forwarding to Any Person Prohibited - Without Express Permission. This newsletter is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information regarding the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that LISI is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or services. If such advice is required, the services of a competent professional should be

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