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Practice Areas

Trusts & Estates

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Our trusts and estates practice advises and counsels clients regarding estate planning, probate administration, trust administration, guardianship, charitable giving, and federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax matters.  We advise and counsel personal representatives, trustees, guardians, agents and beneficiaries with respect to fiduciary law issues and we also assist fiduciaries with the discharge of their duties and responsibilities.

The firm’s estate planning, trust, and probate services include:

General Estate Planning

We work directly with the client, and, where appropriate, the client's advisors and accountants to develop an estate plan which achieves the client’s goals and preserves the client's wealth while transferring assets to family members and other significant individuals, as well as charitable organizations, in the most tax efficient manner.

A typical basic estate plan will consist of the following documents:

  • Wills
  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Financial Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Surrogate Designations
  • Living Wills

Depending on the circumstances, a client’s estate plan may include other documents such as charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, life insurance trusts, and grantor retained annuity trusts.

Advanced Estate Planning

Many times our clients require estate planning vehicles or mechanisms that go beyond those basic of general estate planning techniques listed above. Wealthy individuals use a variety of additional techniques to minimize the estate and gift taxes payable on their deaths. The main goal of estate planning isn't simply reducing taxes. More advanced goals include: making sure children develop a sense of values, ethics, and a desire to be productive members of society; providing for a smooth transition of management into the hands of persons who will effectively manage the business; arranging affairs so that the chance for disputes among heirs is minimized; and making sure that heirs can live with the estate plan.

The firm is experienced in establishing estate plans that meet these goals through a variety of techniques including:

  • Demand Trusts
  • Education Trusts
  • Life Insurance Trusts
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Qualified Retirement Plan Trusts
  • Generation-Skipping Trusts
  • Multi-Generation Planning
  • Private Annuities
  • Grantor Trusts
  • Split-Interest Trusts
  • Intentionally Defective Trusts
  • Asset Protection Planning
  • Inheritor’s Trusts

Charitable Planning 

For clients interested in interested in charitable giving, we provide advice to maximize the client’s tax savings.   Strategies can include the use of direct donations, charitable trusts, such as charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts, and donor-advised funds, among others.  During the planning process, consideration will be given to client’s financial situation, goals, and tax planning needs, to structure the most advantageous method for making a charitable contribution. Charitable planning may include any of the following:

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Charitable Annuities
  • Family Foundations
  • Supporting Organizations
  • 501(c)(3) Representation
  • Gifts of Highly Appreciated Assets
  • Charitable Distribution of IRAs

Tax Returns 

We counsel fiduciaries (trustees and personal representatives) on various tax strategies for minimizing the annual tax burden on trusts, estates, and beneficiaries.  We counsel and advise clients regarding the filing of the following tax returns:
 
Gift Tax Returns.  A gift tax return may be required to report taxable gifts or for compliance purposes.  For instance, a federal gift tax return may be required for gifts made to certain trusts, such as life insurance trusts, to ensure the gifts qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion.
 
Estate Tax Returns.  Even if an estate is not taxable for federal estate tax purposes, it may be appropriate to file an estate tax return to elect portability of a decedent’s lifetime unified credit against estate and gift tax.  
 
Fiduciary Income Tax Returns.  During an estate or trust administration fiduciary income tax returns must be filed.

In addition the firm counsels clients concerning the following:

  • Capital Gain Taxes
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Recovery of Previously Paid Taxes
  • Charitable Deductions
  • Retirement Plan Distributions
  • Post-Mortem Planning
  • Generation-Skipping Taxes
  • Off-Shore Trusts
  • Lifetime Transfers
  • Personal Residence Trusts
  • 1031 Exchanges
  • Sales of Highly Appreciated Assets

Estate and Trust Administration

We advise and counsel trustees regarding the fulfillment of their fiduciary duties, including the service of appropriate notices, the preparation and filing of accountings and fiduciary income tax returns, and making appropriate distributions to beneficiaries. Our Estate and Trust Administration team has experience with the following trust administration matters:

  • Trust Funding
  • Trustee Representation
  • Trustee Support Services
  • Post-Mortem Estate Tax Planning
  • Post-Mortem Income Tax Planning
  • Stretch-Out IRA Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Disclaimers
  • Estate Tax Returns
  • Gift Tax Returns
  • Inheritance Tax Returns
  • IRS Audits
  • Probate Proceedings
  • Guardianship Proceedings
  • Special Needs Planning

Probate Administration

We advise and counsel personal representatives regarding the fulfillment of their fiduciary duties, including the filing of an inventory, the payment of creditors, documentation of transfers, and the preparation of appropriate tax filings.

Business and Corporate Services

  • Acquisitions and Sales of Businesses
  • General Business Representation
  • Corporate Counsel Services
  • Business Compliance ProgramTM
  • Buy-Sell Agreements
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Corporate Recapitalizations
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Private Placement Memoranda
  • Corporate Finance Transactions
  • Asset Protection
  • Off-Shore Trusts
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Real Estate
  • Leases
  • Loan Transactions

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