Trusts & Estates

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Our attorneys know that preserving family wealth begins and ends with understanding a family. They also have the knowledge and expertise to achieve client goals.

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Business Succession Planning

We assist individuals and their families with the transition of business interests from one generation to the next. We work with clients and their other professional advisors to understand tax and non-tax goals. Business succession planning frequently includes gifting strategies, sales of business interests, valuation discount planning, and much more.

Charitable Planning

We structure charitable gifts and assist in planned giving through a variety of techniques to help clients achieve their charitable goals. Our charitable planning expertise includes:

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs)
  • Charitable Lead Trusts (CLATs)
  • Private Foundations
  • Donor-Advised Funds and Agreements
  • Conservation Easements

Estate And Gift Tax Services

We advise executors and trustees in preparing and filing federal estate tax returns, and individuals in preparing and filing federal gift tax returns. Our estate and gift tax services include:

  • Preparing Estate Tax Returns
  • Making Use of Available Estate Tax Elections (i.e., Special Use Valuation, Six Month Alternate Valuation Date, and Deferred Payment of Estate Taxes)
  • Use of Valuation Discounts
  • Use of Graegin Loans to Finance Payment of Estate Taxes
  • Preparing Gift Tax Returns
  • Reporting Non-Gift Sales of Assets
  • Handling Estate and Gift Tax Audit Controversies

Premarital And Post Marital Planning

We advise individuals contemplating marriage and married couples with respect to their marital property rights. We also advise clients who are contemplating entering into registered domestic partnerships. Our pre and post marital planning includes:

  • Premarital Agreements
  • Postmarital Agreements
  • Cohabitation Agreements
  • Planning for Registered Domestic Partners
  • Planning for Blended Families
  • Lifetime Marital Trust for Spouse (QTIP Trust)

Retirement Benefit Planning

Retirement benefits often make up a significant portion of a person’s estate. Planning for the disposition of retirement benefits is critical. It is important to coordinate the beneficiary designation of the retirement benefits with the participant’s estate plan. Following a participant’s death, beneficiaries have important elections to make that can have significant tax ramifications. Our expertise with retirement benefits includes planning for:

  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Conduit Trusts as Designated Beneficiary
  • Charity as Designated Beneficiary
  • Spousal Rollovers
  • Inherited IRAs
  • Required Minimum Distributions

"I help clients make a roadmap for their future. We organize the decisions that need to be made, but we also look at how relationships can impact the success of their future plans."

– Kent Silvester

Revocable And Irrevocable Trusts

We create a wide variety of revocable and irrevocable trust structures, including:

Revocable Trusts

  • Wills
  • Financial Powers of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directives

Irrevocable Trusts

  • Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)
  • Generation-Skipping Trusts (Dynasty Trusts/GST Planning)
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs)
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)
  • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs)
  • Special Needs Trusts (SNTs)
  • Qualified Domestic Trusts for Non-U.S. Citizens (QDOTs)

Trust Administration And Probate Services

We advise and assist trustees, executors and beneficiaries in connection with the post-death administration of a decedent’s trust or estate. We can assist with disclaimer planning and fiduciary income tax planning. In addition, our post-death trust administration and probate practice includes:

Trust Administration

  • Trust Funding and Asset Allocation Agreements
  • Appraisal Support
  • Trust Accountings
  • "Heggstad" Petitions

Probate Administration

  • Formal Probate Proceedings
  • Spousal Property Petitions
  • Small Estate Affidavits
  • Other Summary Probate Proceedings

Trust And Estate Litigation

We advise fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the course of trust and estate litigation. Despite the best intentions and efforts, disputes do arise. We work to resolve those disputes between the parties. Our trust and estate litigation services include:

  • Challenges to the Validity of Estate Planning Documents (Will Contests)
  • Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Fiduciary Accountings
  • Negotiating Final Distribution Agreements
  • Mediation