In late December 2012, Adam E. Carlin, a private wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley, got a call from a wealthy client: He needed to liquidate $5 million of assets to put into a family entity for estate planning purposes, and he needed to do it before the year ended.

Taking one look at the portfolio, Carlin realized that the client was likely to incur large capital gains taxes that would be due in a few months. "He was truly concerned that he wasn't going to be able to do it," Carlin remembers.

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