Trusts and Estates
Throughout their lives, our clients are working to achieve personal and financial goals and objectives, and we work right alongside them to help establish their personal legacies with the highest level of competence, professionalism and compassion.
The Trusts & Estates practice focuses on estate planning and administration. Working with clients from diverse personal and professional backgrounds, we establish comprehensive estate plans that meet their personal objectives, ensure continuity of business or farming operations, minimize or delay estate tax liability, and provide for the smooth administration of their estates upon their deaths. We pride ourselves in having the real estate, corporate and tax experience necessary to advise our lifelong clients on the legal and tax issues that arise in connection with their real estate, business and investment assets.
We believe estate planning should be a positive and empowering experience. To that end, we work closely with all our clients to identify their personal, charitable and business objectives, and then develop estate plans that are individually-tailored to achieve those objectives.
Designing a Comprehensive Estate Plan
We offer a Last Will and Testament, a Personal Financial Power of Attorney and an Advance Medical Directive to all our clients.
- The Last Will and Testament enables clients to appoint a legal guardian and establish trusts for their beneficiaries; appoint a personal representative to administer their estates upon their deaths; transfer their personal wealth to the objects of their affection, whomever they may be; and to delay, minimize, and apportion the payment of estate tax liability.
- The Personal Financial Power of Attorney and the Advance Medical Directive are critical components of every estate plan. These documents allow clients to appoint an agent (or agents) to make financial and healthcare decisions for them, in the event they become disabled during their lifetimes. Together, these documents significantly reduce the likelihood that a family member would need to go through the legal process of being appointed a client’s guardian to assist with the management of his or her financial affairs or healthcare needs.
- The Personal Financial Power of Attorney allows clients to appoint an individual or individuals to manage their property, including financial assets, in the event they are unable to manage these assets themselves.
- The Advance Medical Directive allows clients to appoint a healthcare agent (or agents) who is authorized to make medical decisions for them when they are no longer able to communicate their desires; to provide for organ donation, if a registered organ donor; and to take custody of their bodies after their deaths to arrange for their final burial or cremation.
Our comprehensive estate planning often includes the preparation of trust instruments and premarital or post-marital agreements for clients with blended families, significant real estate investment assets, taxable estates or significant privacy concerns.
- We have significant experience with the creation and funding of revocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts and supplemental needs trusts.
- We regularly advise clients as to whether establishing a trust is a cost-effective and advantageous means to achieve their estate planning goals.
For entrepreneurial clients and those with interests in family businesses or farming operations, we may also recommend the formation of a business entity.
- We form business entities such as limited liability companies, partnerships and corporations; advise clients on business succession issues to ensure smooth management transitions in the event of the death or disability of a member, stockholder, or partner; and we document transfers of interests in these business entities.
We offer estate planning clients sophisticated tax planning.
- With over 30 years of experience, we provide strategies for minimizing and delaying the payment of Federal and Maryland Estate and Gift Taxes.
- In addition to the estate planning vehicles already discussed, we assist clients with the establishment of formal gifting programs.
- We coordinate and strategize with clients’ accountants to ensure the estate planning strategies we employ effectively reduce the clients’ overall tax liability, after considering income and capital gains tax obligations.
Estate and Trust Administration
After the death of an individual, we assist families with the estate and trust administration process.
- We represent personal representatives to inventory assets, prepare accountings and distribute property.
- We assist clients with the payment of debts, and advise them with respect to notices from creditors.
- We prepare deeds and assignments conveying real estate and personal property to beneficiaries and legatees.
- We appear in proceedings before the Orphans’ Court on behalf of clients.
- We represent trustees under the Maryland Trust Act to provide mandatory notices, prepare accountings and make distributions to beneficiaries.
- We prepare settlement agreements between beneficiaries of a trust or estate regarding the distribution of assets.