Estate planning is a fundamental means of ensuring that one's family is financially and legally protected, and that assets will be distributed according to one's wishes. The attorneys of our premier wealth transfer & succession planning practice use the most appropriate planning tools and legal strategies available to preserve and maximize our client’s wealth.
Advance planning can eliminate many of the delays and expenses associated with settling an estate. We help clients identify assets, beneficiaries and potential debt and tax obligations, and then propose the appropriate type of will to ensure that their wishes are honored. In the process, we assist clients in choosing personal representatives, trustees, fiduciaries and guardians for minor dependents.
Trusts help clients achieve their financial objectives before and after death. The appropriate use of trusts can enable clients to reduce the value of their estates, protect their beneficiaries, minimize estate taxes and avoid probate. Trusts can also help individuals plan for incapacity and hold assets for the benefit of minors or others. We have experience in a broad range of trusts, including revocable living trusts, gift trusts, charitable remainder and charitable lead trusts, education trusts, multi-generational trusts, residence trusts and life insurance trusts.
Income Tax Planning
Today’s income tax decisions do not exist in isolation. In conjunction with estate tax planning, they can have a significant impact on future beneficiaries. We provide multi-generational income tax planning services for individuals, trusts, estates and beneficiaries to help minimize income, capital gains, net investment income and other taxes, as well as healthcare, Medicare and other surtaxes.
Transfer Tax Planning
Tax laws are constantly changing. In order to help clients take advantage of new opportunities, we routinely monitor, identify and analyze new tax laws and help clients modify existing plans to obtain the most favorable tax benefits possible. We regularly work with clients to minimize income, gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes through a range of tax-planning strategies, including charitable deductions, education savings, non-taxable and taxable gifts, exemptions and appropriate structuring of estates.
Charitable Gift Planning
Charitable gifts provide much-needed financial support to charitable organizations and offer income, estate and gift-tax savings to clients. However, the tax treatment of charitable gifts is quite complex and in constant flux, and the tax consequences of these gifts can differ before
and after death. We help clients determine appropriate gifting strategies, including the use of outright lifetime gifts, testamentary bequests, charitable trusts, private foundations, donor-advised funds, charitable-gift annuities and pooled-income funds.
Philanthropy and Private Foundations
For many of our clients, charitable, civic and social causes are best supported through the patronage or creation of private foundations. We assist clients in all aspects of philanthropy, helping them set priorities and develop strategies based upon their personal philanthropic mission. We help establish the roles and responsibilities of trustees, family members, staff and donors. We also work with our clients to structure relationships with recipient agencies and individuals, and collaborate with other foundations, organizations and nonprofits.
Life Insurance Planning
Regardless of one's net worth, adequate life insurance coverage can help assure financial stability for your family and your business. It also provides the liquidity that may be necessary to pay estate taxes or other expenses at death. We work with clients to minimize potential estate tax liabilities associated with the ownership of life insurance, through the use of gifts, trusts and other tax-saving techniques.
Asset Protection Planning
We help our clients develop practical strategies that are designed to protect their assets and ensure that these assets are put to use in a manner consistent with their financial goals. Through in-depth analyses of personal and financial assets, we review a range of possible scenarios, create strategies to address potential opportunities and threats, develop tactical action plans and work with clients to implement these plans. Recognizing that financial goals and conditions are dynamic, we conduct periodic reviews of our client's circumstances, and update their plans in response to changing needs and obligations.
Estate planning is not limited to what may occur after one's death. A well-conceived plan for short- and long-term care in the event of disability can go a great distance to ensure peace of mind. This is also true for parents of disabled children who will need assistance well into adulthood. At Much Shelist, we work with our clients to determine the effective management of assets and the documentation of health care wishes. We help clients create and fund trusts, designate guardians for minor dependents and disabled adults, and establish powers of attorney for property and health care, as well as advance health care directives and living wills.
Retirement Planning and Beneficiary Designations
As personal responsibility for retirement continues to grow, the accumulation of wealth can create new opportunities. On the opportunity side of the ledger, retirement accounts can help business owners and employees obtain significant tax deductions by setting aside pre-tax income. We work with clients in all areas of retirement planning, from determining beneficiaries to counseling them on distribution options and the corresponding tax ramifications. We routinely analyze the broad range of personal, legal and financial factors that can play a role in our clients' decisions, such as minimizing estate taxes and obtaining creditor protection.
Premarital, Postmarital and Domestic Partnership Agreements
As families have become more diverse, so have the complexities surrounding their financial relationships. Whether an opposite-sex or same-sex couple is planning to marry, or is married, divorced, widowed or living together, the effective, planned management of their financial assets and legal commitments can help eliminate uncertainties. We work with individuals and couples to develop and implement prenuptial agreements and other contracts that can help preserve and protect assets at every stage of a relationship.