Estate Planning

ESTATE PLANNING

Proper estate planning helps individuals and their families reduce taxes and provide for the long-term best interest of their families and favorite charities.  However, decision-making is not always easy when it comes to managing and planning. Some of the tax issues involved can be technical and complicated, and there can be serious consequences if assets pass in the wrong way to a beneficiary who is too young, or has too many problems, to receive it outright. Likewise, proper long-term charitable planning often involves private foundations and other charitable vehicles that may be subject to complicated tax and anti-abuse rules.  Our attorneys will work hand-in-hand with you to develop an effective long-term plan for your estate and make sure that plan is properly implemented when the time comes.

Our estate planning services regularly include one or more of the following:

​We also represent taxpayers in estate, gift, and fiduciary income tax audits and litigation, fiduciaries and beneficiaries in estate and trust disputes, and fiduciaries in actions brought by or against estates and trusts.

​Asset protection is an important component of estate planning for anyone with personal or professional holdings, especially those in professions with elevated risks of personal liability, such as physicians, attorneys, and business owners. The ultimate goal of asset protection is to shield the client and his or her family members from unknown potential claims and lawsuits, both from inside and outside the family.

​After obtaining an inventory of a client’s assets and liabilities, our attorneys develop sophisticated techniques, personalized to the client’s overall objectives and goals, that serve to protect the client’s individual and business assets. Specifically, we strive to create liability protection from professional malpractice claims, business-partner lawsuits, personal liability as a corporate director or officer, liability from personal malfeasance, divorce proceedings, and personal injury claims. Utilizing state and federal exemptions for assets, including annuities, life insurance, homestead exemptions, and retirement plans, tax and entity planning, marital property planning, and lifetime marital, dynasty, and children’s trusts, we not only strengthen our client’s defensive position, but can maximize potential estate and tax benefits as well.

SUCCESSIONS

Our attorneys regularly advise fiduciaries of estates, trusts, curatorship and tutorship of various sizes.  We take great care to make certain that the last wishes of the decedent are carried out and that property is transferred at death or during life in the most cost efficient and tax wise manner. Our attorneys take pride in providing extremely high-quality estate planning and administration services at competitive and reasonable fees.

​Succession and estate administration is a complex process that unfolds during the most difficult of times. Our dedication to understanding our clients and the needs of their family enables us to navigate them through this difficult time with as little interruption and frustration as possible. Our attorneys handle all filings before the courts and are able to oversee the asset evaluation process, including obtaining valuations and preparing the required inventories. We also assist with creditors’ claims and estate distributions, and are equipped to handle both federal estate tax returns and state death tax returns.  When necessary, we represent estate beneficiaries in contested matters and negotiate settlements.

BUSINESS SUCCESSION PLANNING

Proper business succession planning is vital for privately-held business owners, especially owners of family-owned businesses, to ensure the business survives the death or incapacity of the current owners.  Our attorneys work with owners of privately-held businesses of all sizes and in many different industries. There are multiple issues for owners to consider in developing a plan, including future leadership, family dynamics, fairness among family members, estate taxes, liquidity, and provisions for key employees. We utilize various strategies to assist our clients in meeting their goals, including buy-sell arrangements, life insurance planning, recapitalizations, employment contracts, and appropriate estate tax planning techniques (such as sales to grantor trusts, GRATs, and family limited partnerships). We understand that each business and family is unique, and we base our advice on our clients’ specific needs and goals.

TRUST, TUTORSHIP ADMINISTRATION AND INTERDICTIONS

Trusts are an important aspect of estate planning and asset protection, and are often key to maintaining harmonious family relations. We work closely with clients to construct the proper trust arrangements to meet their needs.  We are then available each step of the way to see that the administration and distribution of the trust are handled smoothly and effectively.  Our attorneys advise trustees as well as beneficiaries on both the legal and tax aspects and implications of trust administration. We provide guidance on construction, interpretation, revocation, and reformation of the trust in accordance with the trust agreement and compliance with state and federal law.

​We often assist beneficiaries in understanding and, if need be, enforcing their rights to distributions, accounting information, and any additional information they are entitled to receive, particularly when there has been a breach of one or more fiduciary duties. We also advise on adjudication and dispute resolution when issues arise between beneficiaries and can assist in identifying and recovering trust assets when necessary.

​Our attorneys also establish and administer tutorships and continuing tutorships.  Depending on the situation, we can assist with drafting powers of attorney and supported decision-making agreements, representation of the tutor, and the opening and closing of the tutorships for minors and incapacitated adults (Interdictions).

Estate and succession planning can be a complex matter, especially in light of the continually evolving policies enacted by Congress. Our team has developed plans that simplify and personalize the process to the needs of each client.