Trusts and Estates
Protorae Law offers a full range of trusts and estates services to help clients maintain control while establishing an enduring legacy. Our trusts and estates solutions are tailored to each client’s goals and include advice about personal, family, financial, and business planning decisions. Our Trusts and Estates team works closely with our Corporate and Business Entities practice to ensure that both personal and business objectives are aligned for strategic business succession planning.
We work with a wide range of clients who recognize the value of planning ahead. Our clients include business executives, owners, investors, executors, trustees, and other individuals and their families. In keeping with our client-focused approach, our Trusts and Estates group designs plans ranging from the straightforward, foundational packages for more modest estates to sophisticated, complex packages appropriate for high net worth individuals and families.
When it comes time to carry out an estate plan, we provide personal representatives, family members, and other beneficiaries with counsel concerning the proper administration of the estate and the disposition of property. We also assist clients in establishing trusts, both inter vivos and testamentary, and we provide trustees and trust beneficiaries with counsel regarding the proper and ongoing administration of trusts.
Comprehensive estate planning is about much more than the distribution of property upon death. Our estate planning practice helps clients maximize control over financial and health care decisions while alive, take care of loved ones in the event of disability, and help ensure that the property clients acquired over a lifetime is left to whomever they desire on their own terms.
Other goals our clients commonly pursue through estate planning include the creation of a family financial dynasty, protection of assets from future creditors, and preservation of the value of closely held businesses. For high net worth clients, our estate planning practice seeks out opportunities to minimize estate, gift, and sometimes income tax burdens for the next generation. For families with young children or dependents with special needs, we design plans to ensure that clients’ loved ones continue to receive care and support even when our clients themselves are no longer in a position to provide that care directly. We also assist our clients in planning for the care of their pets, including the creation of pet trusts. Finally, we advise our charitably-minded clients how best to leverage their giving and maximize the legacy they leave behind.
Our estate planning services include:
- Legacy Protection Planning
- Spousal Support Planning
- Planning for Young Beneficiaries
- Family Bank and Dynasty Trusts
- Wealth Transfer Planning
- Incapacity Planning
- Special Needs Planning
- Asset Protection Planning for Individuals in High Risk Professions
- Business Transitions and Succession Planning
- Charitable Planning
- Pet Care Planning
Most of our planning is done on a fixed-fee basis to provide clients with greater cost predictability and enable them to make more informed decisions about their planning needs.
Trusts and Estates Administration
Our attorneys regularly advise trustees and personal representatives. We counsel these fiduciaries on how to navigate the administration process, fulfill their fiduciary duties, avoid missteps in administration, and reduce their personal exposure. In addition, we also counsel beneficiaries about their rights during all phases of administration.
Our attorneys are equipped to execute the administration of estates, whether simple or complex. In the context of estate administration, these efforts include the filing of required papers with the Circuit Court and Commissioner of Accounts, notice to heirs and beneficiaries, petitions to appoint administrators and executors, the sale of estate assets, payment of taxes and debts, and the final distribution of assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Our estate administration services also include advice relating to issues such as estate tax elections, strategic disclaimers, the disposition of certain tax advantaged assets, and bailout estate planning for survivors.
For assets held in trust, we assist with many of the same steps, though generally without immediate judicial supervision. We counsel both trustees and trust beneficiaries regarding compliance with the provisions of a trust document or the Uniform Trust Code, trust notice and reporting requirements, the preservation of trust property, the distribution of trust property, trust decanting, and the wind down of trusts.
Trusts and Estates Litigation
When conflicts arise among beneficiaries, creditors, and fiduciaries, we provide representation at all stages of the dispute resolution process. We assist with cases such as will contests, breach of fiduciary duties or fiduciary malfeasance, undue influence, objections to trust or estate administration, creditor disputes, the construction (i.e. interpretation) of wills and trusts, and disputes over the sale or partition of real estate.
As appropriate, we turn to mediation and arbitration to conserve resources and resolve these sensitive disputes as quickly and possible. Nevertheless, we are prepared to litigate even the most complicated trust and estate disputes to achieve a fair outcome for our clients.