Probate, Estate Settlement and Trust Administration

Probate, Estate Settlement and Trust Administration

Overview

Our Private Clients, Trusts and Estates Group is extensively experienced in all aspects of probate, estate settlement and trust administration. Our team of professionals guides families and fiduciaries through the difficult time following the death or disability of a loved one. We represent and provide legal advice to both individuals and institutions, including serving as general counsel for trust companies and other professional fiduciaries.

Navigating Probate

When probate is necessary, we guide clients through the probate administration process and handle required court proceedings and filings. Experienced professionals assist in collecting and transferring assets and resolving creditor claims. Partnering with the estate’s accountants, our attorneys prepare any required estate tax, state inheritance tax and fiduciary income tax returns to ensure that tax matters are handled advantageously. If necessary, the team also represents the fiduciary in an audit by the IRS or state tax collection agencies. A number of our Private Clients, Trusts and Estates Group attorneys are CPAs who are proficient in tax preparation and resolution of tax disputes.

Administering Trusts

We regularly help administer trusts that vary in size, assets and complexity. Our team supports and closely guides the trustee through the trust administration process, preparing the forms, deeds and documents to help the trustee complete the necessary transfers and distributions. We advise the trustee regarding discretionary distributions, trust accountings, trust investments, income tax planning and fiduciary risk management. In addition, our team has significant experience with administering charitable trusts, including family foundations.

Customizing Post-mortem Tax Planning

We also handle after-death tax planning matters. Our team designs and implements sophisticated, customized post-mortem tax planning techniques to minimize tax liability.  Such planning may involve disclaimers, severing, merging or decanting trusts, or non-judicial settlement agreements.

Beneficiary Rights

When we represent a beneficiary, we critically review the fiduciary's administration of the trust or estate and advise the beneficiary of his or her rights and options under the governing instrument and applicable law. We listen closely to beneficiary clients, in order to determine and recommend the most efficient and effective course of action to meet their objectives.