ESTATE PLANNING, ELDER LAW AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
An estate plan should distribute wealth in accordance with a client’s personal values and life experiences. We craft wills, trusts and beneficiary designations that protect and promote the well-being of our clients and their loved ones. We explain, in simple language, difficult estate and trust concepts. We provide our clients with a complete understanding of how their assets will be distributed and to whom, as well as the potential liabilities for estate tax and administration expenses. Our representation, moreover, can continue beyond death or incapacity through all aspects of asset protection, probate, trust administration and estate tax proceedings.
Traditional Estate Planning.
Traditional estate planning uses one or more of the following:
- Simple wills, pour-over wills and wills containing testamentary trusts.
- Revocable living trusts creating trusts for spouses and or children and grandchildren.
- Generation skipping trusts.
- Education trusts for children or grandchildren.
- Powers of attorney and medical directives.
- IRA, life insurance and annuity beneficiary designations.
Our wills and trusts are individually prepared by our estate planning attorneys to meet each client’s goals. Robert F. Cohn, who heads our estate planning practice area, is the author of the Connecticut Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts Library Forms and Practice Manual, published by Data Trace Publishing Company, a valuable resource for practitioners in Connecticut.
Estate Tax Reduction.
State and Federal estate taxes continue to be of great concern to our clients. We are well versed in estate tax reduction planning techniques. Estate tax reduction tools include:
- Irrevocable trusts, such as life insurance trusts, spousal gifting trusts, multiple beneficiary gifting trusts, personal residence trusts, grantors retained annuity trusts, intentionally defective grantor trusts.
- Interfamily low interest loans and sale techniques.
- Generation skipping trusts and dynasty trusts.
- Family partnerships, family limited liability companies and fractional interest plans to create valuation discounts.
- Gifting strategies involving annual exclusion gifts, tuition payments, charitable giving and generational gifting.
- Binding cross purchase or buy-sell agreements.
- Preferred stock recapitalizations and freeze partnership transactions.
Our elder law attorneys work with clients and their families to implement the most effective techniques to preserve and protect both our clients and their assets against future health care costs and long term care issues:
- Health care directives.
- Revocable or irrevocable trusts.
- Personal care and rental agreements.
- Family loan agreements.
- Residence transfers to children.
We help our clients obtain the maximum allowable assistance for institutional skilled nursing, assisted living, independent living, or homecare assistance, all while preserving their estates for themselves and successive generations. Our staff visits clients at home and/or in senior communities. We evaluate not only the kind of care received, but the quality and nature of the residential environments in order to advise clients appropriately for the future.
Special Needs Planning.
Children or grandchildren with disabilities require sophisticated planning to insure that assets set aside for their benefit will not reduce or eliminate assistance otherwise available. Two types of supplemental needs trusts are available: 1) a statutory trust for the disabled person’s own assets, and 2) asset protection discretionary supplemental needs trusts, created by family members to manage gifts and inheritances. Our attorneys have knowledge of entitlement programs and their administrative requirements.
For over 40 years, our firm and its predecessors have assisted families with the complex probate administration process. The probate administration process requires:
- An application to admit a will to probate.
- The judicial appointment of an executor or administrator.
- The filing of an inventory and list of claims.
- Preparation of an estate accounting and affidavit of closing, and attendance at required hearings.
If disputes arise, including will contests, assets appropriated prior to death, malfeasance of fiduciaries or division of assets, we are fully capable of resolving these difficult matters.
Post Mortem Estate Planning.
The use of disclaimers and other sophisticated post-death planning techniques can substantially reduce estate taxes and protect assets for the benefit of the family. We use post mortem planning transactions to create flexibility and to fine tune the estate plan.
Our attorneys serve as independent trustees of client inter-vivos and testamentary trusts. Independent trustees are required to protect trust assets from being subject to estate taxes. Independent trustees also serve to break deadlocks that could otherwise result in litigation. We can prepare accountings of trust principal and income transactions and advise grantors, co-trustees and beneficiaries on trust taxation and taxation of distributions.
Estate Tax Return Preparation.
We have experience in preparing federal estate tax returns as well as Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island estate tax returns. We work closely with appraisers to obtain valuations of non-marketable assets such as closely held business interests and real estate entities. In the event of an audit, we work hard to defend successfully the positions taken on the estate tax returns and are able to litigate up to the tax court level to reduce additional estate tax assessments imposed by the IRS or state taxing authority as a result of the audit process.