Private Wealth ServicesEstate Planning
Our approach in the estate planning area is determining the client’s objectives and applying all available techniques to achieve those objectives, in a creative, efficient and understandable manner. Usually, objectives include minimizing federal and state death and income taxes, avoidance of probate, protecting the clients’ assets against the claims of potential creditors and insuring maximum flexibility to the client and the client’s family. In addition to advising the traditional two parent family situation, our attorneys are extremely sensitive to the needs of non-traditional families, such as same-sex couples, single parents, and opposite sex non-married couples.
One of the primary concerns many of our clients have is protecting their assets from the claims of potential creditors. We normally take a holistic approach to meeting this concern, including advice regarding the ownership of assets, use of state and federal exemptions, family limited liability companies and domestic and off-shore asset protection trusts.
Business Succession Planning
One area which is critical to many of our clients is succession planning for the closely-held business. Our approach involves meeting with the business owners and often in the case of family owned businesses, with the family members involved in the business, to determine the short-range and long-range goals of the parties. Typically a written plan is drawn up and the parties are assigned specific responsibilities. We firmly believe in the team approach, utilizing the knowledge of the client’s CPA, insurance advisor, appraiser, banker, and often, investment advisor. As the client’s law firm, we normally draft the required documents, included a shareholder or operating agreement, employment agreements and appropriate estate planning documents. In some cases, the sale of the business is warranted and our attorneys can assist the client in carrying out the transaction in the most tax-efficient manner possible.
With respect to our clients who have charitable intentions, our attorneys are thoroughly familiar with different vehicles which, as a result of careful tax planning, will enable the client the amounts passing to the charitable organizations, and to the client’s beneficiaries. These techniques include charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, pooled income funds and private family foundations. In addition, our firm represents a number of publicly supported charitable organizations.
Estate and Trust Administration
Our attorneys have considerable experience in advising clients who are serving as executors, administrators, guardians, and trustees. These situations involve probate estates, disabled person’s estate, minor’s estates and living trusts, both revocable and irrevocable. In these situations, we counsel the fiduciaries through the administration process; including preparing court documents, appearing in court, transferring assets and preparing required estate tax returns. In most cases we work with the client’s CPA to make tax decisions which are most beneficial to the estate or trust. Finally, estate situations are not always amicable and routine. We are, therefore, prepared and have the expertise to represent both fiduciaries and claimants in will contests, estate claims and other disputes.
Contested Tax Matters
Our attorneys have considerable experience in contested matters involving income, employment, gift and estate taxes. We have represented clients in adversarial tax proceedings before the Internal Revenue Service, state administrative agencies and various courts, as well as administrative matters including collection issues and offers in compromise.