Estate Planning & Administration

For over 25 years, the Trust and Estates Group has helped clients realize their long-range intentions. We deliver full-service guidance and planning in trusts, wills, and estates, enabling our clients to:

  • Pass down and preserve wealth.
  • Provide for business succession and continuity.
  • Make gifts, including charitable giving.
  • Provide care for themselves, and their loved ones, as they age.

These matters can be complex--there is no such thing as a "simple" will--but are also highly personal and charged with emotion. Therefore, to us, "full service" means personalized service, working with our clients through the technical and human concerns toward a single, unified perspective: defining, prioritizing, and achieving their ultimate wishes.

That said, we also recognize that we are part of a team. "Full service" also means consulting and coordinating with our clients' accountants, financial planners, investment and insurance advisors, custodians, and trustees.

Full-Service Planning

To help clients achieve their goals, we explain and demystify:

  • The advantages and limitations of controlling, protecting, or transferring assets by will, trust, or gift.
  • The myriad federal and state taxes that come into play.
  • The role and availability of insurance and annuities.

The plans we create not only ensure the orderly transfer of property to the desired recipients, but also reduce--and perhaps eliminate--the tax burden. We also plan for liquidity to pay taxes and costs, and insulate assets against creditors' claims.

We know that disharmony can surface among a decedent's surviving family members and friends. We put legal precautions in place to prevent conflict.

Our range of expertise includes the following.

Wills and Trusts

  • Joint wills
  • Codicils
  • Credit shelter and marital trusts
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Personal residence trusts
  • Spousal Limited Access Trusts (SLATS)
  • Grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs)
  • Grantor retained unitrusts (GRUTs)
  • Generation-skipping trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts
  • Charitable lead trusts
  • Revocable Living Trusts

Powers of Attorney

We help our clients plan ahead for lifetime events that may render them unable to act for themselves. To protect and manage their assets, and honor their wishes regarding medical treatment, we prepare:

  • General durable powers of attorney.
  • Advance health care directives and living wills.

"Special Needs" Trusts and Guardianships

For persons who are unable to handle their own affairs, or who have special needs, we offer detailed knowledge of the federal laws relating to the availability of--and eligibility for--government benefits. We draft the necessary special needs trusts and guardianships.

Elder Law and Medicaid Planning

We have considerable expertise on the specific legal issues that effect elders, their spouses and their children. We prepare them for the challenges that come with aging: disability, incapacity, illness, and long-term care and nursing home planning.

Business Succession Planning

For clients who own family businesses, preservation and continuity of the business and its assets are particularly intricate. We counsel them on and assist with:

  • Buy-sell agreements.
  • Gifting and liquidity planning.
  • Transferring the business from one generation to the next, concurrently providing for
    • Reduced death taxes.
    • Liquidity to pay taxes and avoid forced sale of the business.
    • Financial protection of spouses.
    • Equalization among children.

When appropriate, we call on the expertise of our Corporate, Business and Financial Services group.

Asset Protection Planning

We devise personalized strategies for lifetime transfers and protecting a client's wealth. We advise on various transfer techniques, including outright transfer, transfer in trust, or transfer in partnership or corporate form.

Charitable Giving and Private Foundations

Most people would rather give their money to charity than pay it to the government in the form of estate taxes. Therefore, charitable giving is often a major component of an estate plan.

We create the vehicles for charitable giving, whether via a will as an outright gift, charitable trust, or gift annuity, or by forming a private, tax-exempt foundation.

Administration

When a loved one dies, the combined emotional and financial burdens can seem overwhelming. A steadying hand, a trusted advisor, is needed to lessen the load. Our attorneys and parlegals fill this essential need by expertly handling all aspects estate administration, from filing the initial petition to final distribution of assets.

Our services include:

  • Probating wills.
  • Interprating wills and trusts.
  • Administering testate and intestate estates.
  • Preparating petitions for Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration.
  • Preparating ancillary proceedings and handing of non-resident estates.
  • Preparing inventories, estate asset accountings, and fiduciary accountings.
  • Fiduciary representation: IRS Audit & Appeals Estate and Gift Tax Fiduciary Tax Returns (Form 1041).
  • Preparing Federal Estate Tax Returns (Form 706).
  • Preparing State Inheritance/Estate Tax Returns (NJ, PA and NY).
  • Settling and distributing estate assets, including investing assets and marshalling and protecting assets.

Litigation

In coordination with the Firm's Litigation group, we prosecute and defend all facets of estate litigation, including:

  • Will and trust contests.
  • Actions to remove an executor or compel an accounting.
  • Guardianship and incompetency proceedings.