We are often told that the two things we cannot avoid are death and taxes. We may not be able to help you avoid the first, but we can help put your mind at ease by executing a well-thought-out estate plan that will ensure your wishes are carried out. We can definitely help with the second, by planning and administering your estate to accomplish your goals while minimizing taxes and maximizing the proceeds for your heirs.
It is important that your estate plan is created and maintained with ease of administration in mind. Building your estate plan with attorneys who also administer estates means your plan will be simpler and more cost-effective to implement both during your life and at the time of your passing. A clear and straightforward estate plan helps to diminish conflict among your beneficiaries and reduces the likelihood of litigation.
Our attorneys help individuals and their families, plan for the future and protect their assets. We help our clients in all aspects of estate planning in part by developing the documents to achieve their goals, including:
- All forms of trusts, including marital deduction and credit shelter trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs), qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), charitable remainder trusts, minor’s trusts, and intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs).
- Durable powers of attorney, health care proxies, HIPAA authorizations, and living wills
- Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations, working collaboratively with colleagues in our corporate department.
- Supplemental needs trusts for individuals with special needs and disabilities
- Specialized planning for individuals who are not U.S. citizens
- Documents needed to transfer real estate, stock, investment accounts, and other assets
Estate and Trust Administration
We provide a high degree of service assisting our clients in the administration of estates and trusts, including:
- Complete Probate and Trust administration services
- Preparation of gift and estate tax returns
- Representation of trustees, executors, and personal representatives
- Representation of guardians and conservators
- Representation of beneficiaries and heirs
- When conflicts related to estate planning or administration arise, we help resolve disputes both in and out of the courtroom. As necessary, we consult with colleagues within our firm who specialize in business litigation, family law, or real estate to address client needs.
Counseling Fiduciaries, Trustees and Beneficiaries
We work with our clients to:
- Obtain or document the appointment of fiduciaries, including Personal Representatives, Guardians of minors and of protected persons, Conservators, and Trustees
- Assure that assets are protected and properly managed, accounted for, and distributed
- Complete all necessary tax reporting and payments
- Address all matters concerning trust administration including the funding of trusts and subtrusts, tax planning, accounting to beneficiaries distributing assets
- Counsel fiduciaries and beneficiaries regarding their rights, duties, and responsibilities
Typical Conn Kavanaugh estate planning clients include:
- Professionals such as physicians, lawyers, dentists, engineers, and architects.
- Executives and owners of closely-held businesses who wish to transition the ownership of their business to family members or others participating in the business
- Trustees, Personal Representatives/Executors, and Beneficiaries of estates and trusts
- Retired individuals
- Individuals or couples who require sophisticated planning to accomplish tax reduction and asset protection
- Families with young children who wish to provide for them and each other in the event of a premature death
- “Blended” families with children from prior marriages
- Families with at least one spouse who is not a U.S. citizen and require special marital deduction tax planning
- Families, married or unmarried, same-sex or opposite sex
- Clients who wish to protect their assets from extraordinary nursing home and long-term expenses
- Parents of a child with a disability or special needs who they wish to protect with a supplemental/special needs trust
- Single individuals, divorced or never married, with or without children
Our experienced attorneys approach the needs of our clients with compassion and understanding. Personal legal issues can be emotional and stressful, so we work hard to take the weight off our clients’ shoulders with an organized, predictable, step-by-step approach to reach the best possible outcome.
- Assisted the Personal Representative in in an estate matter to resolve a dispute among the estate beneficiaries regarding the distribution, future ownership, and use of a valuable inherited vacation home.
- Counseled the Personal Representative of the decedent’s estate and the Trustee of the decedent’s revocable trust in administering the estate in the process of establishing discounted valuations for the decedent’s interest in a closely held company. We filed all required estate and income tax returns and funded the decedent’s marital and family trust in a tax-efficient manner.
- For an estate planning client, we leveraged the client’s federal tax exemption amount by establishing an Irrevocable Gifting Trust for the client’s children and funded it with closely held stock well before a corporate liquidity event.
- For a client with significant real estate assets, we gifted minority/non- marketable interests in LLCs to the client’s children in order to reduce the client’s taxable estate, while maintaining an income stream and control for the client.
- We counseled the Trustee of an Irrevocable Trust regarding the Trustee’s fiduciary duty when selling contaminated commercial real estate from the Trust in anticipation of a full distribution and termination of the Trust.
- In a contested estate matter, we represented a surviving spouse in establishing the decedent’s U.S. domicile when other beneficiaries alleged the decedent was domiciled outside the U.S.
- As a Trustee of an Irrevocable Trust, we oversee the ongoing management of trust assets and discretionary distributions to the Trust beneficiaries.
- In an estate planning matter, we assisted a client in determining the best and most tax efficient manner to own vacation property so that it will remain available and affordable for future generations of the client’s family.
- For an estate planning client, we utilized life insurance and trusts to remove the death proceeds from the client’s taxable estate and to provide liquidity to protect the client’s business and commercial real estate from a forced sale at death.
- For an estate beneficiary, we assisted the beneficiary in understanding and then asserting her rights to inherit property from a relative when a non-related party was claiming the right to inherit.
- For an estate planning client, we addressed client’s concerns about asset protection and the preservation of a closely held business and commercial real estate within the family by creating a dynasty trust and by educating client/client’s family about the effective use of prenuptial agreements.