Estates & Trusts

Overview

Many individuals require legal advice that is as varied and sophisticated as their business and investment interests and never loses sight of their goals. Maintaining, maximizing and transferring wealth and exploiting opportunities, while minimizing complications, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our Estates and Trusts practice group. Our advice reaches beyond just minimizing taxes and we work with individuals and families in all stages and circumstances of life. We work on ensuring practical and effective solutions to complex issues while maintaining flexibility to accommodate unforeseen events and family situations. We offer a broad range of tax, estate, personal planning, business succession planning and charitable advisory services to individual clients, family groups, fiduciaries, and charitable organizations. We advise professional fiduciaries, represent parties in fiduciary litigation, and counsel fiduciaries in the administration of trusts and estates.

Estate Planning

Tax considerations are of paramount concern when addressing issues of estate planning. It is vital that business owners, corporate executives, physicians, retirees and other individuals who have accumulated significant wealth properly plan for the distribution of assets to future generations to minimize tax implications and maximize the benefit for family members. In order to address these planning concerns and ensure effective succession, distribution and tax minimization plans, we offer sophisticated will and trust drafting; income, estate and gift tax planning; charitable planning; insurance, retirement and employee benefit planning; planning for families with special needs; elder law planning; Medicaid planning; estate and gift tax preparation; and a wide variety of creative wealth transfer techniques. We have worked with numerous individuals and families on how to efficiently transition their assets and helped clients effectively manage the tax consequences of their desires for future generations.

Trust & Estate Administration

Effective administration is a crucial component of estate and trust planning. Our sophisticated experience with crafting individualized estate plans gives us a solid perspective for administering those estates upon death. Effective estate administration is a function of many factors, including federal and state income and estate tax laws as well as any potential implications of a particular plan’s provisions. Time and again, our Estates and Trusts lawyers have been trusted during emotionally difficult times to ensure the efficient and orderly administration of substantial estates and trusts.

Trust & Estate Litigation

Litigation sometimes is unavoidable when dealing with wealth transfer techniques or during the emotional events surrounding the administration of an estate. Litigation can involve representing a client before the Internal Revenue Service and Tax Court with respect to gift and estate tax matters or representing individuals in contested trust and estate matters in state court. Our extensive experience with creating trusts and estates and preparing estate and gift tax returns means we are well versed in successfully representing clients on estate and gift tax matters and on issues involving estate planning and estate and trust administration. Particularly when controversies arise between family members, sensitivity to familial dynamics is crucial. Providing clients with consistency and continuity to bring estate and trust controversies to successful and amicable conclusions is one of our greatest strengths.

Personal Planning and Guardianships

Wealth transfer planning often calls for more than a traditional will or trust to protect and distribute an estate. We have experience in personal planning areas which are related to our Estates and Trusts practice, including special needs planning, planning for elderly and terminally ill clients or family members and planning for blended, mixed and nontraditional families. We frequently advise clients on the need and use of durable powers of attorney, powers of attorney for health care and health care directives (also known as living wills). When an individual or family situation requires a formal court guardianship or conservatorship, we counsel the appropriate parties on the legal issues involved. We have extensive experience in the commencement, as well as other matters related to the ongoing administration and termination, of court appointed guardianships and conservatorships. Further, marital property rights often affect estate planning. We have developed comprehensive experience in the negotiation and preparation of premarital and post-marital property agreements to identify separate and community property and provide for rights of each spouse upon death or divorce.

Tax-Exempt Organizations

Tax-exempt organizations provide immeasurable benefits to our communities, ranging from the provision of food, shelter, clothing and medical care to needy individuals, to the education of our children, to the support of our cultural institutions. It is important to recognize, however, that there is a complex, and often imposing, array of state and Federal laws and regulations that must be strictly followed in all aspects of the administration of these organizations. In certain cases, the failure to adhere to these laws and regulations may result in substantial penalties upon the individuals (board members and staff) who are responsible for these organizations, as well as the loss of the organization’s tax-exempt status. We have extensive experience in representing or working with a number of different types of tax-exempt organizations, including private non-operating foundations, private operating foundations, public charities, supporting organizations, university endowments, hospital endowments, corporate foundations and community foundations. We have extensive experience with all aspects of their governance, including formation, administration, grant-making, fundraising, planned giving, tax planning and compliance.

Charitable Plans, Charitable and Deferred Giving

Passionate giving for clients is about the vision and mission of a charitable or tax-exempt organiz sation. Generosity should be tempered only by a desire to have the greatest impact. Like our clients, we are dedicated to ensuring the effectiveness of philanthropy. Our experience with charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts has made it possible to provide our clients with outstanding legal advice and service in this area. We have developed a strategic approach to philanthropy to help individuals and businesses frame, develop, and fulfill their charitable goals so that they can truly make a difference.

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