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Lauren Detzel has been blazing the trail for women in the legal industry for 42 years. She began her practice in Florida during a time when female lawyers, let alone female tax lawyers, were rare. When she first started practicing law in 1977, there may have only been 10 women lawyers in Orlando in any field and only five female tax attorneys in Florida.
Lauren is the Chair of Dean Mead’s Estate and Succession Planning Department. She helps her clients by developing techniques to reduce or avoid paying estate tax such as family limited partnerships, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), sales to intentionally defective trusts, charitable trusts, lifetime gifts and generation skipping trusts. In her practice, she places a particular emphasis on planning for the succession of closely held or family businesses. She also handles many contested tax matters in the transfer tax area, ranging from audits of returns and administrative appeals within the IRS to Tax Court and Federal District Court litigation.
Her peers all agree she is a dynamo when it comes to all things related to her field of expertise. Lauren has brought tremendous visibility to the tax profession through her leadership in Florida and throughout the country. She has worked tirelessly for years on legislation that affects us all and she has been instrumental in effectuating positive change for our nation’s tax system.
On March 21, 2001, Lauren provided testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee of Congress at its hearings on the President’s Tax Relief Proposals That Affect Individuals. Lauren was asked by the House Ways & Means Committee staff to testify at the hearings with respect to proposals to either repeal or substantially modify the estate tax and gift tax provisions of the Code. The 2001 Tax Bill was the biggest change to the transfer tax system since the 1986 Tax Act and was the culmination of years of negotiations. Lauren’s testimony emphasized the likely impact that a repeal of the estate and gift tax laws would have on the revenues collected for federal income tax purposes. As a result of her testimony, a number of changes were added to the final Bill to blunt the possible impact of the federal gift tax changes to the income tax system.
Lauren has played a major role in assisting the Florida Legislature in drafting specialized legislation, requiring thousands of volunteer hours. Examples include the passing of Florida’s elective share legislation, effective in 2001, where she worked three years to address Florida Supreme Court concerns regarding spousal rights, giving Florida spouses a measure of protection and security when inheriting property. She also was instrumental in drafting legislation that passed in 1998 when she was the Chair of the Tax Section of The Florida Bar, removing the corporate income tax from limited liability companies, allowing them to quickly become the most-used entity for doing business in Florida. When the utility of the LLC was seriously questioned by a Florida Supreme Court case in June 2010, Lauren rallied her team to get legislation passed in 2011 to correct the problem, thereby saving the LLC in Florida.
As a member of the executive council of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section (“RPPTL”) of The Florida Bar, Lauren is often called upon to chair legislative projects relating to Florida and Federal estate planning matters. Specifically, Lauren led a RPPTL committee in 2010 when the federal estate tax was repealed that drafted and secured the enactment of emergency legislation to provide Florida residents relief from technical federal tax issues in wills and trusts that resulted from the repeal. In addition, she was instrumental in drafting Florida’s Private Trust Company Statute, its decanting statute, the expansion of the rule against perpetuities to 360 years, and creditor protection legislation for inherited IRAs, just to name a few. She currently co-chairs two RPPTL committees that are preparing legislation to rewrite and update Florida’s elective share statutes governing spousal rights and discretionary trust statutes governing protections afforded to assets held in third-party irrevocable trusts.
Lauren is Board Certified in Wills, Trusts and Estates by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization. She is a frequent speaker on tax and estate planning topics and has spoken at numerous national, state, and local tax and estate planning programs including the University of Miami Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, the Southern Federal Tax Institute, the Practicing Law Institute, ALI-ABA, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (“ACTEC”), The Florida Bar, and numerous other institutes and programs. She is also a prolific author and her bylined articles have appeared in the Journal of Taxation, the Estate Planning Journal, and The Florida Bar Journal, to name a few.
Driven by her passion for mentoring young lawyers, Lauren co-founded the Florida Tax Institute – one of the nation’s top symposiums featuring prominent speakers from throughout the U.S. on tax, business and estate planning issues. She is a founding Board Member of the non-profit organization that was specifically created to present this unique, three-day conference which is co-sponsored by the University of Florida Tax LL.M. program and she also served as the conference chair for the first two years.
Since its inception, the Florida Tax Institute has made significant financial contributions to benefit students in the UF Graduate Tax Program by way of scholarships and to meet student needs. All students in the Graduate Tax Program are invited to attend the institute for free and they receive a stipend to cover their expenses.
Nationally, Lauren has been named an “Outstanding Trusts and Estates Lawyer” by Best Lawyers in America. She is consistently top-ranked in Private Wealth for the Eastern Region of the United States and Private Wealth Law in Florida by Chambers High Net Worth Guide.
At the regional level, Super Lawyers Magazine has given Lauren the distinction as one of North Florida’s “Top 25 Female Attorneys” and one of Florida’s “Top 50 Female Attorneys” and “Top 100 Attorneys”, in addition to regularly being named one of the regions’ “Outstanding Estate Planning & Probate and Tax Attorneys”. For the past 16 years, Lauren has received Florida Trend magazine’s “Legal Elite” designation in the wills, trusts & estates category and was selected as an inductee of the Florida Trend Legal Elite Hall of Fame. She has also been recognized as one of “Orlando’s Best Lawyers” by Orlando Magazine.