“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” — Albert Einstein
In tax law, taxpayers face a tug of war between the competing evils of overpayment of taxes that depletes their estate and of being strangled to death by unnecessary complexities foisted on them by their tax planners. Everyone who has accumulated wealth must take care to color within the ever-shifting lines when structuring their affairs. Regrettably, this is nearly impossible to accomplish without an adept tax attorney by their side. But, one must take care that the cure is not worse than the disease.
We believe in keeping it simple and tailoring an approach to each taxpayer’s unique business and investment portfolios, rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole with “plug-and-play” options that too many tax planners default to out of habit and laziness. Whether it comes to succession planning, strategic exists, employee stock ownership, placing assets in trust, or more intricate estate plans, we hand-tailor our approach to your unique combination of assets and your business and personal priorities.
We work side-by-side with taxpayers to understand their wishes for the future and to come up with flexible and effective solutions to accomplish their goals. We know that no one gets into business or makes a buck by using the Internal Revenue Code as their textbook. Our goal is to use our knowledge of the Tax Code and principles of tax planning and wealth transfer, as well as tried and tested strategies to provide our clients with practical and workable solutions they can implement right away to preserve their hard-earned treasure for future generations.
When your estate is involved, good stewardship for your heirs is your legacy.
Our tax, trusts & estates lawyers advise individuals and businessowners on a day-to-day basis on some of the most difficult and personal issues any of us face. These are matters of life and death and of family. We know that taking care of your loved ones and preserving the ventures you’ve given your life to is a preeminent and transcendent concern. Discerning tax attorneys know how to bring together elements of labor law, corporate law, estate planning, and income tax law to come up with a comprehensive and sweeping plan that takes all of your important priorities into account simultaneously.
We take a team approach. And we each get to know you, your family and your business. Our attorneys, paralegals, and administrative staff work as a team to serve our tax, trusts & estates clientele over the course of years to put a suitable plan into place one layer at a time. Building a good estate plan is like building a Cathedral. It must be elegant in design, be useful in function, be durable in construction, and be enduring in impact.
In estate planning, as with building wealth in the first place, a successful approach is an ongoing project, not a one-time transaction. We help to bring a plan to life that with proper nurturing will grow and mature to the point where it can stand on its own and eventually embody all of your hopes for the future. We start by looking at each asset and how it fits into your overall balance sheet, and what options are available to protect that asset from tax excises. We then turn our attention to how you want to provide for each of your loved ones and for others who have helped you on your journey. Lastly, we look at the legacy you want to preserve and come up with a living plan that meets these goals.
Good tax planning starts with good business planning. Who will run your business when you step down? Which of your investments are easily reducible to cash and which are tied up in businesses or assets that require their own succession plans or disposition plans in order to liquidate them by way of a sale or transfer of ownership? What specific assets are earmarked for specific stakeholders and how will they be managed until the right time comes to transfer these assets? How can you balance growth in these assets against maximizing their value at the time of disposition or transfer?
Our method involves drilling down on an asset-by-asset basis in order to determine the best way to preserve and/or transition these assets and the most advantageous timing when taking the overall plan into account. We work with our clients to prepare estate plans that start with a good business plan as their foundation.
Good tax planning requires a structure that meets the client’s goals. A good starting point for any estate plan is to make sure there are adequate life insurance, guardianship and care arrangements to protect your immediate family in the event of catastrophe. Making sure beneficiary designations on specific accounts are correct is another preliminary step.
For younger taxpayers a trust may be too invasive and cut off control over critical assets in ways that would not be feasible. For those with portfolios of leveraged hard assets and little liquidity, funding the payment of estate taxes or even the costs of certain estate planning strategies may pose a challenge.
We believe in molding the structure of your plan to correspond to where you are now, and where you will be years from now.
With tax planning in general and estate planning specifically, there are steps you must take to re-title or transfer various assets, pay tax impositions, and restructure your holdings as dictated by the plan. Once certain steps are taken, they are final and complete that part of the structure. Just as with putting in the walls and the exterior of a home, it is still possible to make an addition or change the blueprint, but the process becomes more complex once the exterior of the structure is completed.
Setting up trusts, undertaking succession planning, divesting assets, making lifetime gifts, transferring shares through a Family Limited Partnership, and the like are final dispositions. These types of transactional actions are final and are part of watching the estate plan take shape during the testator’s life. On the one hand, it may be bittersweet to begin the process of taking apart what you took a lifetime to build, but on the other hand these are concrete and visible manifestations of your plan coming to life.
Our tax, trusts & estates lawyers know how to put the finishing touches on a plan and execute the necessary documents to effectuate your wishes. But, there is always room for a remodel if situations change over time, so we are sure to always set up all estate planning documents and estate plans in general with the necessary flexibility to address any situation that may unfold.
We are not a passive participant in your estate planning journey. As tax and business lawyers first and estate planning attorneys second, we have experience with every facet of your plan and are in a position to execute all of the ancillary tasks needed to bring your plan to life.
We do not pull any punches in telling you what we recommend based on our experience. But, once you decide how to move forward, we will execute on your desired approach with total commitment.