All of us, at one time or another, need help planning for the future of our loved ones and our property. Yet, discussing personal information with a stranger and trusting that person to provide guidance on private matters can be unnerving. In addition, numerous questions surface, such as How do I conserve my property for those I love? How do I ensure the best outcome for my family? How can I give my assets to my loved ones during my lifetime? How can I make sure people and charities I care about receive what I intend to give? While it can be sobering to realize that you must speak with and trust someone now to be certain your intentions will be honored both during life and after death, relief is often the stronger feeling.
The attorneys on Taft’s Private Client and Domestic Relations team provide peace of mind during the planning process. We work closely and confidentially with our clients, forging lifelong relationships. Our clients depend on us, from birth to death, through marriage, family and transitions in finances and businesses. We support our clients, new and longstanding, with personalized, attentive and comprehensive counsel and care.
We work with clients on a private and personal basis to help them pass their property to their families and to charities both during lifetime and upon death. Our extensive counsel includes an analysis of each client’s personal, business and tax needs and intentions. Considerations include generation-skipping transfer tax and income tax issues, closely-held businesses, planning involving second marriages, asset protection, special needs of children or other heirs, possible disability, life insurance and more.
As a part of each estate plan, we prepare the needed legal documents, such as:
- Revocable living trusts.
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts.
- Generation skipping and dynasty trusts.
- Trusts for education of children and grandchildren.
- Asset protection trusts.
- Trusts for minor or disabled children or other beneficiaries.
- Personal residence trusts.
- Family LLCs and FLPs.
- Financial durable powers of attorney.
- Health care powers of attorney and living wills.
- Mental health directives.
- Charitable planning, including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and private foundations.
Business Succession Planning
We counsel owners of closely-held businesses in establishing organizational structures that satisfy their current and long-term needs. Our attorneys draw on the experience of those in the firm’s estate planning and tax practices, business and finance and real estate practices, and labor and employment practice to design and implement strategic succession plans.
We help clients implement new structural strategies, prepare clients for the transfer of their business to the next generation (whether during the owner’s lifetime or upon death) and provide for liquidity for taxes and family members or investors not active in the business. Our comprehensive range of business succession planning services includes:
- Selecting the most advantageous entity to hold, manage and transfer the business, such as S and C corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships.
- Designing a structure to accomplish the owner's specific goals (such as maintaining control, raising capital, avoiding outside owners and providing for a smooth transition in ownership and management).
- Establishing a comprehensive estate plan that takes advantage of all available tax credits and exclusions.
- Analyzing the potential for and administering property in estates and trusts, including revocable and irrevocable living trusts, generation skipping and dynasty trusts, asset protection trusts and others.
- Preparing necessary legal documents pertaining to mental health directives and powers of attorney.
- Using family limited partnerships and other mechanisms for transferring equity while maintaining control and deferring or avoiding tax.
- Analyzing liquidity needs to fund buyouts upon retirement, death or disability and to pay taxes.
- Building charitable planning plans, including charitable remainder trusts and private foundations.
- Using life insurance and other assets to equalize the inheritances of children who will not be significant owners of the business with those who will own the business.
- Planning for retention of key employees who are not family members.
- Designing employment policies to facilitate compliance with applicable laws and to further promote the owner's business objectives.
- Assisting the owner in balancing the diverse interests and needs of different generations and in resolving intra-family conflicts.
- Preparing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and providing advice regarding the dissolution of a marriage or divorce to protect business interests and preserve family wealth.
Wealth Transfer Litigation
We integrate the knowledge and experience of our business and commercial litigators and tax, estates and trusts practitioners to deliver collaborative and comprehensive services. Our team advises and represents individual and institutional clients in matters and controversies, including:
- Defending executors and trustees.
- Bringing and defending challenges to wills, trusts and gifts, and actions involving fiduciaries.
- Guardianships (contested and consensual).
- Surrogate decision making and related matters.
- Trust construction, reformation and judicial rescission.
- Charitable and exempt organization litigation.
- Tax litigation.
We represent interested parties including fiduciaries, beneficiaries, creditors, health care providers, individuals, charities and others in these matters.