Rather, as a result of our expansive entrepreneurial services practice we also have a strong clientele base of younger entrepreneurs, executives and professionals who are planning their personal affairs in anticipation of their future successful endeavors. We believe that our approach to this type of client is different from our peers – we have an integrated approach that combines tax and estate-planning fundamentals with our extensive understanding of how business actually operates. This approach allows us to focus both on lifetime benefits and planning for succession. We know that there is nothing more important to our clients than their families and businesses and work with them to ensure that their goals and objectives for their families and businesses are properly designed and implemented. We have substantial experience in all aspects of estate and private wealth planning and the administration of trusts and estates and are skilled in the complicated tax and probate laws governing the transfer of assets. That said, we are also sensitive to the many family and personal issues that are an inherent part of this area of the law. We represent clients from a variety of backgrounds, across all walks of life. Our extensive representation of corporations and other businesses has resulted in a special and focused emphasis on estate planning for business owners. This area of our practice focuses on planning strategies for crucial “transition events” in the life of a business owner, including sales and reorganizations. Our lawyers practicing in this area of law also help business owners with “succession” planning, looking to the eventual passage of the business on the owner’s death or retirement.
Although historically the gift and estate tax rules were fairly consistent and not subject to any substantive change, in more recent years, they have been subject to frequent change and certainly the topic of heated Congressional and public debate. As a result of the numerous changes to the gift and estate tax system and rates, strategies continue to be developed for reducing taxes. Today’s most important planning tools, such as family partnerships and limited liability companies, grantor retained annuity trusts, life insurance trusts, split dollar life insurance plans, perpetual (dynasty) trusts, and grantor trust sales were virtually unknown a mere decade ago. Further, recent significant tax law changes, the implementation of portability, and the possible repeal of the federal estate tax have created material uncertainty concerning the future of the transfer tax system. To effectively respond, clients must now consider the use of creative new provisions in their wills and estate planning documents. An important part of our practice in this area of the law is to identify which of these tools and responses is appropriate for a particular client and to aid in implementing them.
A client’s plan could involve simple wills and powers of attorney or could be a more sophisticated plan with a variety of trusts and entities. We recognize that there is not one plan that fits all clients, and we won’t begin to try to fit our clients into a cookie-cutter plan. In all planning that we do, we strive to tailor a plan that addresses each client’s unique goals for their family, passes ownership of business and real estate and minimizes the tax obligations and risk exposure for our clients and their descendants. Techniques and services that we often provide to our clients include:
Additionally, we also have extensive experience for clients who have accumulated significant balances in their 401(k) and profit sharing plans and IRAs. Although the rules in this area can be complex, proper planning can result in the preservation of the tax-deferred aspects of these benefits over multiple generations.
We also have assisted executors in overseeing the administration of large estates and handling the frequent legal, tax and accounting work required with such estates. We are prepared to assist in carrying out various executional functions, such as collecting, valuing and disposing of assets and maintaining all estate records. In these projects, we are typically assisted by an experienced group of fiduciary accountants, investment advisors and administrators.
Frequently, our practice in this area of the law includes the representation of existing trusts and their trustees. Important steps can be taken to reduce taxes and preserve wealth, as well as to ensure that the needs and desires of trust grantors and beneficiaries are effectively served over time. For example, the effective exercise of powers of appointment over “grandfathered” generation-skipping trusts may postpone the imposition of tax for an additional generation.
Our lawyers who focus their practice in this area of the law are experienced in reducing the effective rate of estate tax through lifetime planning. A significant aspect of our work involves helping our clients transfer an increased portion of their assets to beneficiaries on an after-tax basis and developing the appropriate legal structures, such as trusts and partnerships, to hold and manage wealth over time.