Estate Planning

Wills & Trusts

The primary goal of any estate plan is to identify the client’s objectives and prepare the appropriate legal documents to carry out those objectives in a clear and precise manner. We work as a trusted advisor with our clients to assist them in developing their estate plans in a manner that balances both how they want to dispose of their assets given the particular circumstances of their family and a seemingly ever-changing tax environment.

We also advise clients on the proper ownership of assets to achieve their estate planning objectives, including:

  • Titling assets in the name of revocable trusts to avoid the probate process
  • Ensuring that assets which pass according to beneficiary designations (such as life insurance and retirement accounts) are coordinated with the estate plan
  • Transferring assets at death via Transfer on Death (TOD) designations

As part of the estate planning process we prepare:

  • Wills
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Powers Of Attorney
  • Advance Medical Directives

Lifetime Tax Planning

We routinely advise clients about techniques for minimizing estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes through lifetime transfers.  While these techniques are many and varied, they all share the goal of accomplishing our client’s non-tax objectives in a tax-efficient manner.

Lifetime tax planning services include:

  • Annual exclusion gifts
  • Payments for education and health care expenses
  • Trusts for minors
  • Gifts and sales to irrevocable trusts, including with closely held business interests
  • Gifts of personal residences
  • Liquidity planning with life insurance
  • Transfers for spouses
  • Creating corporate entities such as limited partnerships and limited liability companies
  • Tax planning with retirement assets
  • Required tax compliance

Business Succession Planning

Many of our clients created their wealth through closely-held businesses, which often raises unique issues when it comes to their estate and tax planning. We regularly assist our clients in planning for the smooth transition of their business, whether during life or at death, in a manner that is both tax-efficient and consistent with their business and personal objectives.

Business Succession Planning Services Include:

  • Buy-Sell Agreements
  • Liquidity planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Business restructuring

Charitable Giving/Charitable Organizations

For those clients who are charitably inclined, we provide advice on maximizing tax benefits associated with charitable contributions and create vehicles to help accomplish charitable goals.

We implement a client’s charitable objectives through:

  • Forming charitable organizations
  • Representing organizations in fulfilling their charitable purposes
  • Creating private foundations and scholarships
  • Establishing donor advised funds
  • Drafting charitable trusts and providing advice about charitable gift annuities

Disability Planning

Clients young and old are concerned about the management of their affairs if they become disabled. Similarly, many clients have a disabled spouse, child or other family member for whom specialized planning is appropriate. Disability planning shares the twin goals of caring for a loved one during a difficult time and protecting wealth.

Our services in this area include:

  • Advance Medical Directives
  • Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Advice about guardians and conservators

Trust & Estate Administration

Fiduciary Services

One of the most important decisions a client makes is choosing the person who will carry out their wishes as executor and trustee. For many of our clients, a member of the family, friend or business associate is the appropriate choice. For those clients who need or prefer an independent fiduciary, our lawyers often serve in these roles.

Fiduciary Representation

Even when we are not serving as fiduciary, we frequently represent and advise executors and trustees who need guidance in the administration of the estate or trust.

Estate Administration

Whether we serve as executor or act as counsel to the executor, the following are some of the services we provide in connection with the administration of an estate:

  • Probate administration – including probate proceedings, inventories, accountings, debts and demands proceedings, and disclaimers
  • Asset administration – including collecting, safeguarding and preserving assets, arranging appraisals and valuations, and planning for tax-effective payments and distributions
  • Tax planning – including techniques for minimizing estate, generation-skipping transfer and income taxes
  • Tax compliance – including preparing estate tax returns, fiduciary income tax returns, and gift tax returns
  • Dispute resolution – including advice about aid and guidance court proceedings, will contests, and actions to remove and appoint executors


Trust Administration

Many of the services we provide for estate administration also apply to administering trusts, but the following additional services come into play when we serve as trustee or represent trustees:

  • Coordinating with investment advisors regarding asset management
  • Evaluating and making discretionary distribution decisions
  • Tax planning with respect to distributions and investments
  • Resolving disputes through nonjudicial settlement agreements
  • Modifying, decanting and terminating irrevocable trusts

Additional Services

Other Planning

Many of our clients have needs that do not fit squarely in the categories of estate planning or administration, but when those needs relate to the disposition of assets we regularly provide additional services for such things as:

  • Marital agreements – we prepare pre-marital and post-marital agreements relating to the efficient and effective transfer of assets upon divorce and death
  • Creditor protection – we advise clients on ways they can safely protect assets from dissipation by creditors including asset protection trusts, limited liability companies and limited partnerships, titling of assets and insurance planning
  • Nonjudicial settlement agreements – with willing parties, the vast majority of questions and disputes concerning the proper management and administration of trusts can be resolved by nonjudicial settlement agreements and we routinely assist clients in the negotiation and preparation of such agreements
  • Retirement accounts – retirement accounts often play an important role in a client’s overall estate planning and we provide advice about the income tax consequences associated with the transfer of retirement assets