Richard L. Harris, CLU, AEP®

Principal / Director of Advanced Planning

Richard is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable people in the life insurance-estate planning field. He is known for his pragmatism, creativity, integrity, independence, and helpfulness. He communicates complicated concepts in ways that clients understand. He helps and works collaboratively with professionals and their clients regarding life insurance. He knows that life insurance is a tool, and not “the” answer. If life insurance is appropriate, he helps in product selection, getting the best results when underwriting, and structuring the program to minimize total costs and maximize tax and other benefits. He does that on a contingency basis. Richard also does fee-only consulting regarding existing insurance portfolios and second opinions on new insurance.

With 50-years’ experience, Richard is an expert in life insurance products; uses of life insurance including estate, gift and generation-skipping, income tax deferral or elimination, business continuation and cross-border and international clients. His expertise also extends to estate planning and strategies using life insurance including split-dollar arrangements, premium finance - both from outside sources and privately, Private Placement Life Insurance and Annuities, business continuation plans and pension and IRA tax enhancement. He optimizes life insurance policy performance based on the individual’s goals and circumstances by managing premiums and gaining maximum tax-advantages. And he is involved in the valuation of life insurance policies and receivables connected to life insurance transactions for tax and/or fiduciary purposes.

He provides litigation support both forensically and strategically when a transaction is in dispute and serves as a consulting and expert witness regarding sophisticated life insurance transactions and standard of care, working for either the plaintiff or the defendant depending on the merits of the case. To date his success rate has been 100% in his clients’ favor. In the only two decided trials, his client got everything they asked for. All his other cases have been settled in the client’s favor.

Richard’s accomplishments include being Chair of the Insurance Committee, and Member, Editorial Advisory Board - Trusts & Estates; Contributor - Leimberg Information Systems Inc. email Newsletters; Member, Editorial Advisory Board - Wealth Strategies Journal; Contributing Editor - Private Wealth Magazine; Professional Expert - WR Newswire An AALU Washington Report; Member Expert Team - Elite Advisor Report; Board Member of both the Northern NJ & New York City Society of Financial Services Professionals; and he is listed in the 27th Edition, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry. He has earned the designations Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Accredited Estate Planner (AEP). He is a member of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU); Estate Planning Council of Bergen County, Inc.; Estate Planning Section of the American College, National Association of Estate Planning Councils; Purposeful Planning Institute, the Society of Financial Service Professionals; and the Yale Insurance Group.

He has authored and co-authored books, white papers and advisor-useful materials along with many articles including:

  • Advanced Planning with the Ultra-Affluent: A Framework for Professional Advisors; with Russ Alan Prince Institutional Investor, 2002
  • Recognizing the Opportunity: Wealth Management, Estate Planning & Life Insurance; with Hannah Shaw Grove, Brett Van Bortel and Russ Alan Prince Charter Financial Publishing Network, 2009
  • Split-Dollar Life Insurance Arrangements: What Estate Planners Need to Know (with Martin Shenkman), New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2009
  • Indexed and Annotated Split-Dollar Regulations: §1.61-22 and §1.7872-15 (with Martin Shenkman), 2009


He has been published in Trusts & Estates, Estate Planning, Steve Leimberg’s Newsletters, Journal of Wealth Management, e Report of American Bar Association Real Property Trust & Estate Law Section, Wealth Strategies Journal, Journal of Practical Estate Planning, Elite Advisor Expert Team Report, WR Newswire, an AALU Washington Report, and Financial Advisor. He also has spoken at numerous events and webinars on subjects including professional ethics, life insurance policy valuations, split-dollar arrangements and sophisticated life insurance strategies.

Richard is a graduate of Long Island University where he majored in Accounting and Literature. He lives in Montclair NJ with his wife Paula. Between them they have five children and eight grandsons. His interests include family, golf, skiing, reading, and he is a failure at growing hair.