Estate planning is the process of planning for the accumulation, preservation and transfer of wealth both during life and at death. Our attorneys work closely with each client to develop a complete understanding of the client’s goals and priorities in such planning. The dynamics of the client’s family, the client’s charitable interests and the legacy that the client wants to leave are all considered. In light of this understanding, our attorneys provide recommendations to effectively meet the client’s goals and priorities and prepare the documentation necessary to implement the estate plan.
Virtually every estate plan begins with a basic set of documents: a last will and testament, medical and financial powers of attorney, and often a revocable trust. A revocable trust is a vehicle that permits the client to maintain control over his or her assets during life and to avoid probate due to death or disability. For clients with larger estates, the client’s last will and testament or revocable trust will contain planning provisions intended to minimize estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes.
Our attorneys have the special expertise and knowledge necessary to craft estate plans for clients needing more sophisticated strategies to transfer wealth. We employ a number of creative techniques depending upon each client’s unique circumstances.
For example, in addition to the basic set of estate planning documents, a comprehensive estate plan may include any one or more of the following strategies: an irrevocable life insurance trust to keep policy proceeds out of the client’s taxable estate; a qualified personal residence trust to transfer a residence to the next generation on a discounted basis; a grantor-retained annuity trust to transfer cash or business assets to the next generation on a discounted basis; or a family limited partnership or family limited liability company to manage and transfer real estate and business assets in a tax-efficient manner.
Fischer, Brown, Bartlett & Gunn’s estate planning group has comprehensive knowledge and experience regarding estate planning for business owners, including succession planning for a business owner’s death or retirement. We regularly advise on the formation and operation of S corporations, limited liability companies and family limited partnerships.
The estate planning attorneys also provide counsel for techniques for charitable giving, including the formation and operation of private foundations, donor advised funds, private foundations and charitable remainder and lead trusts.
Our attorneys believe a team approach to estate planning is best, regularly working with the client’s other trusted professionals such as financial planners, accountants, philanthropic advisors and other key members of the client’s team.