Estate Planning and Administration
The firm's trust and estates attorneys work with clients to help them minimize, if not eliminate, estate taxes, and to meet their important personal testamentary goals. We develop and implement highly sophisticated estate plans that use an array of tax planning and asset protection strategies. Typical clients include business owners, executives, professionals and a wide variety of individuals. These clients are often similar in that they have been very successful, and thus have built a significant net worth. At the same time, these clients are very different in terms of their individual wishes regarding the distribution of their assets at their death, which may include various charities.
In addition to assisting clients with their estate planning as described above, our attorneys are also experienced in advising fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the administration of trusts and estates, and when necessary, assisting in related litigation matters.
Our trust and estates attorneys provide confidential estate planning advice to clients from all walks of life, with estates of all sizes, and with varying testamentary objectives. In each case, the objective is to structure and implement the plan that fits the client's personal, family and estate planning goals. The plan may include the use of vehicles such as wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts (including life insurance trusts), family limited partnerships, grantor retained interest trusts, or perhaps private foundations and charitable remainder trusts, if the client is charitably inclined.
Estate plans are very client specific, with some plans more tailored to family businesses and thus including aspects which focus on business succession planning required to pass businesses from one generation to the next. The primary focus of some estate plans might be on how to best transfer significant amounts of tax-deferred retirement assets. Other estate plans might involve married couples where one is a non-U.S. citizen, thus requiring the use of a qualified domestic trust, which is necessary to insure the availability of the marital deduction.
While almost all estate plans include documents which deal with incapacity, such as general powers of attorney and advanced directives for health care, some must be tailored to deal with unique situations, such as a child who has special needs. Some clients with significant assets want to transfer assets to their intended beneficiaries prior to death, and our attorneys are experienced in assisting with lifetime transfers and ways to accomplish their clients' goals while maximizing the use of the various gift tax exemptions and exclusions allowed under the tax laws.
Finally, our attorneys understand the importance of having the assets properly titled in order to fully utilize both spouses' estate tax exclusions, and having properly completed beneficiary designation forms, especially for life insurance and retirement benefits, which mesh with the client's estate plan. In this regard, they often work hand in hand with the client's other advisors to insure that everything works together in a cohesive fashion.
In addition to the wide variety of estate plans, our trust and estate attorneys help create and implement as mentioned above, they are also very experienced in assisting fiduciaries with the administration of their trusts and estates. While the administration of most trusts and estates runs smoothly, others do not, such as where there are conflicts between the fiduciaries and the beneficiaries. In these cases, our attorneys are experienced and able to represent either the fiduciaries or the beneficiaries in such matters, including will contests.