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Estate, Trust and Wealth Preservation

Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph provides valuable legal services to the firm’s clients in all matters related to domestic and international Estate Planning, including wills, trusts, and asset protection, in addition to the firm’s premier work in matters involving tax and tax litigation, commercial litigation, corporate transactions, and white collar criminal defense.

Estate Planning

The firm’s Estate Planning practice typically represents high net worth individuals, family or closely held businesses, banks and trust companies, family offices, corporate executives, and privately held businesses in all facets of tax and estate planning, wealth transfer, business succession planning, and philanthropic endeavors.

Estate planning is a process involving four key dimensions. The first dimension of the estate planning process deals with the complex interplay of human dynamics. The second involves the physical protection of assets from being stolen, lost, or damaged. The third involves the proper and effective minimizing or avoiding excess income, estate, and gift tax burdens. And finally, the fourth key dimension of the estate planning process involves protecting the estate from the ravages of the legal system.

Our Estate Planning practice uses a systematic analysis to fully understand our clients’ personal and financial circumstances and most important goals. Our Estate Planning clients receive the benefit of our extensive technical expertise and years of experience in our helping them to meet their objectives and aspirations efficiently and effectively. Our Estate Planning attorneys work closely with our clients to understand the common and unique aspects of each estate. These are considered and balanced as we develop solutions tailored to each client’s specific circumstances and priorities, keeping in mind that the goals of the Estate Planning process are the preservation of financial resources, reducing the impact of taxes, passing legacies to the next generation, and protection from creditors and other legal predators.

Our Estate Planning attorneys are skilled in their use of legal tools and techniques which can be used in creating, implementing, and later monitoring an estate plan, including but not limited to Wills, Living Wills, Designations of Health Care Surrogates, and Durable Powers of Attorney. Our Estate Planning legal team also advises clients to take additional steps to avoid their estates from being involved in probate proceedings, due to the cost, delay and complexity that often arises in probate.

Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph’s Estate Planning practice is also highly skilled in the strategic use of Trusts, which are commonly understood as a script for a play that each of the actors — the grantor of the trust (the client), the trustee, the beneficiaries, among other roles that may be included — will follow to make sure the entire play is a hit show.  Trusts require detailed instructions (like an operations manual) to tell each person involved in what they need to do, or not do, and when. The trust arrangement is the most highly used tool in the Estate Planning toolbox, and the firm’s Estate Planning lawyers have decades of experience in drafting and administering such documents.

The firm’s Estate Planning lawyers can also help clients choose from the variety of possible trust forms depending on each client’s unique goals. For instance, living trusts enable Estate Planning clients to establish the arrangement for themselves. Living trusts be individual or joint, and can be revocable, irrevocable or drafted to be something of a hybrid in-between. For federal tax purposes, trusts are classified as grantor trusts, meaning they are a tax pass-through and separately taxable. Our Estate Planning practice works closely with our Tax practice to ensure that our clients and their estates are subject to the most favorable possible tax treatments. Indeed, Trusts are often used to achieve tax benefits, and the firm’s Estate Planning and Tax lawyers routinely advises clients regarding Grantor Retained Interest Trusts and other documents designed to protect clients from the dreaded Estate and Gift taxes.

Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph’s Estate Planning practice also routinely advises clients regarding Trusts which can be used for specific assets like life insurance or annuities. This variety of Trust takes advantage of certain tax provisions which effectively allow the proceeds of the insurance policy to be paid out free of tax among other benefits. Special Needs Trusts for those who are disabled or suffer other incapacities, and Education Trusts to help educate the next generation are also available, and the firm’s Estate Planning lawyers have decades of experience in drafting and administering those documents. We also advise our clients regarding special trusts designed for expensive assets, including art, automobile collections, boats, planes, and antiques.

Finally, many of our Estate Planning clients use our services to explain to family members, particularly the younger generations, the family’s values.  We effectively coach them in developing the skills to manage their personal finances and investments, become proficient in business development and operations, how to perform due diligence, and become competent in understanding relevant laws and regulations. And, importantly, we can teach them about risk and risk management.

International Estate Planning

In addition to the firm’s domestic Estate Planning practice, we coordinate world-wide estate planning for U.S. based, foreign, or multinational families and private businesses. It is quite normal for our American clients to have investments or other assets as well as business interests outside the United States. We organize their affairs with local counsel in the relevant jurisdictions to achieve our client’s estate, business, or investment objectives. We also represent foreign clients with regard to their U.S. based investments, businesses, or other assets. We advise foreign individuals on pre-residency planning as well as U.S. persons on their expatriation and migration to a foreign country.

U.S. tax laws can become a quagmire for the unwary and the ill-advised client. Tax traps abound, but opportunities for savings abound in knowing what to avoid and how to plan. For non-U.S. persons, many may be surprised to learn that they may be subject to U.S. gift tax and estate tax even though they are neither U.S. citizens nor residents. With proper international tax and estate planning, the U.S. estate tax for a non-U.S. citizen who is not residing in the U.S. may be minimized, deferred, or completely eliminated.

Our International Estate Planning services include:

  • coordinating and developing estate plans for individuals who have family and/or assets in multiple countries that will face potentially conflicting laws, minimizing to the extent possible double taxation, and carrying out the individual’s estate planning objectives;
  • analyzing and advising on U.S. residency issues from a U.S. income tax perspective for a non-U.S. citizen person, living in the U.S. on a temporary basis;
  • analyzing and advising on U.S. residency issues from a U.S. transfer tax perspective (i.e., gift, estate and generation skipping transfer tax) for a non-U.S. citizen person, living in the U.S.;
  • advising the non-U.S. person on acquisitions of U.S. situs assets;
  • coordinating and developing an estate plan to minimize and/or eliminate U.S. estate taxes on U.S. situs assets for the non-U.S. person;
  • advising on the possible tax consequences and reporting requirements associated with making a gift or bequest to a U.S. beneficiary and developing a tax efficient plan to minimize U.S. transfer taxes both at the donor level and the donee level;
  • advising on the U.S. income tax and transfer taxes that may arise for the married couple when one spouse is a U.S. citizen and one spouse is not;
  • advising on the U.S. income tax, transfer tax, and reporting rules associated with establishing a non-U.S. trust that does or may have a beneficiary who is either a U.S. citizen or resident;
  • advising on how to avoid inadvertent triggering of gift taxes when transferring funds or making gifts to beneficiaries residing in the U.S.;
  • developing and implementing estate plans to minimize U.S. estate taxes on a non-U.S. person’s U.S. assets;
  • providing pre-immigration and expatriation tax planning; and
  • Advising on U.S. tax and reporting obligations associated with the ownership of foreign assets and interests in foreign trusts, foreign corporations and foreign partnerships.  

We believe in working with clients’ existing advisors in a coordinated effort to develop and implement tax efficient strategies that work both in the U.S. and in the other relevant country or countries.

Asset Protection Planning

Our Estate Planning lawyers recognize that clients face an endless supply of threats to wealth and a corresponding need to protect their assets. Indeed, in addition to the known risks that can be planned for and dealt with, there are also unknown, unexpected and unintended risks that unfortunately arise all too regularly. Based on these observations, the firm’s Estate Planning attorneys include wealth preservation planning as a focal part of the practice. By advising the firm’s Estate Planning clients on their rights (and responsibilities) to take actions that are designed to protect accumulated wealth or ongoing income, our clients attain peace of mind knowing that their future financial security will be defendable to the widest extent allowed by law. As Sun Tzu described in The Art of War, “the great generals always set their defenses first.”

While standard estate planning recognizes that protection of financial resources is just one of several primary planning goals, wealth preservation planning has as its primary focus safeguarding capital and income earning abilities. Achieving that is the object of the exercise. While many asset protection plans are stand-alone structures, it is preferable if the planning effort be integrated into an overall, user friendly life plan. The firm’s Estate Planning attorneys can provide our clients the technical skills and expertise needed as well as real world experience in how to apply them.

When used effectively the tools and techniques used in estate and business planning can be structured to achieve wealth protection and asset protection goals. Knowing how federal and state creditor and collection laws apply is critical in devising the correct plan. Indeed, a number of states have enacted statutes that encourage asset protection planning. Others have not yet entered the completion but offer other benefits as part of their established law. Exemptions of certain assets from creditors can protect a homestead, insurance and annuities, wages, retirement plans among other asset categories.  Assets transferred into domestic asset protection trusts can limit the impact of fraudulent transfer or conveyance law. Furthermore, limited liability is very much the public policy to varying degrees in all states with the widespread use of limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and segregated cell companies. These limited liability entities are standard estate planning vehicles as well. Our Estate Planning practice group routinely advises clients regarding the risks and benefits of individual state laws.

Foreign asset protection and wealth protection trusts as well as foreign limited liability entities can add a significant additional level of armor to defensive planning. Tax issues and tax compliance concerns which are complex in their own right domestically become more complex when foreign elements are added into the mix.  Knowing what foreign jurisdictions offer protective law, and how and where the law should be properly used is critical. Of course, foreign planning for estate, business, investment and wealth safeguarding is best left experienced professionals.

Our Estate Planning and Asset Protection attorneys are known throughout the world for sophisticated international tax planning, wealth and personal migration, and creative international investment, business, and protection structures. We coordinate our efforts with foreign professional service providers to help our clients get an optimum outcome.

Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph’s experienced team of Estate Planning attorneys, working in conjunction with attorneys from the firm’s tax, corporate, litigation, and international trade practice groups can assist clients in handling even the most daunting Estate Planning challenges.