Our trust and estate attorneys have decades of experience constructing estate plans that meet the needs of our clients. We recognize that estate planning is more than drafting a will or trust. The growing complexity of tax laws and diversity in assets makes sophisticated estate planning more important than ever. Our integrated approach to personal planning blends the most advantageous methods of wealth preservation with appropriate estate planning techniques to produce an intelligent, cohesive and dynamic estate plan that is individualized to each client’s goals and wishes and carefully integrated with business and family realities. We are experienced with the specialized issues which arise in planning for closely held and professional businesses, non-traditional family situations, non-US citizenship and international assets. We are sensitive to the complicated nature of the process and strive to ensure that each client understands the elements of each estate plan.
Drafting Wills, Trusts and Other Estate Planning Documents
Our estate and trust attorneys are well versed in drafting wills, trusts, and related estate planning documents tailor-made for our clients. Our experience drafting wills and creating and maintaining all types of lifetime and testamentary trusts ensures that each document is customized to achieve each client’s goals of transferring assets to the desired beneficiaries while reducing the cost of transfer taxes imposed by the federal and state governments. We also utilize Durable General Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney and Living Wills to provide our clients with estate plans that are designed to handle unexpected lifetime contingencies.
Lifetime Gift and Tax Planning
Flaster/Greenberg attorneys assess clients’ overall estates to determine whether lifetime gifts may be beneficial in the context of their broader goals and objectives. Utilizing lifetime gifting strategies may accomplish positive effects such as minimizing and/or eliminating a taxable estate, protecting beneficiaries from threats of divorce or financial security and achieving philanthropic goals. Whether a client’s gifting intentions are charitable or closer to home, we recognize the importance of incorporating lifetime gifting techniques into an estate plan for our clients. We listen to our client's desires and develop a gifting plan that will achieve the most advantageous results to meet the client's tax and personal gifting goals. We may use such techniques as gift-splitting, qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), grantor-retained annuity trusts (GRATs), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs), Crummey trusts, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, private charitable foundations, charitable remainder trusts (CRTs), charitable lead trusts (CLTs), as well as other tools appropriate for each estate plan.
Business Succession Planning
Developing an integrated estate plan that factors in the transfer of a business interest is often a sensitive and frequently emotional matter that requires experience and delicacy. Flaster/Greenberg’s attorneys are experienced in working with their clients to develop business succession plans that respect the needs and desires of the stakeholders and family members involved, while resolving differences that may arise. We work with our clients to meet their individual needs in preparing buy-sell agreements, shareholder agreements, deferred compensation agreements, and other agreements or plans to transfer interests during life or at death. Our integrated approach is especially effective when crafting such estate plans, using financial and tax strategies prepared in the broader context, to align with personal and family realities and related sensitive issues such as equalization of assets among beneficiaries, minimization of estate taxes and liquidity for payment of estate taxes to avoid the sale of the business.
Federal and state estate, gift, generation skipping and inheritance taxes are not the only threat to personal wealth. Other threats to assets include:
- Liability from serving as an officer, director or other fiduciary
- Liability as guarantor for the debts of another
- Suits by former business partners
- Personal injury damages suffered by a person on or around your property or vehicle
- Liability arising from professional malpractice or personal malfeasance
- Unforeseen debts or liabilities
Insurance alone cannot protect adequately against all threats in all cases. We work with our clients to protect their assets using limited liability companies, trusts and other asset protection planning techniques.
Coordination of Retirement Plans and Life Insurance
With an increasing amount of assets held in qualified retirement plan accounts, IRAs, annuities and life insurance policies, coordination of the transfer of these benefits into an estate plan is increasingly important. Our estate and trust attorneys are well versed in the drafting of beneficiary designations for life insurance policies, qualified retirement plans and IRAs that will integrate the transfer of those assets into the estate planning process in a tax-efficient manner.