• Our lawyers have acted as court-appointed guardians ad litem for a series of trusts where the trustees and beneficiaries wanted to form a $500-600 million joint investment fund. Because of our legal and business experience, the parties and the court requested that we be more involved in the undertaking than would normally be required of a guardian ad litem. Accordingly, we advised all the parties and the court in establishing the fund pursuant to the provisions of the trust documents, advised the trustees and investment advisors of their rights and obligations with respect to the operation of the fund, shepherded the entire process through the courts and identified and consulted with financial advisors and other financial professionals on establishing and operating the fund.
  • We have represented trustees of trusts serving as general partners of operating entities conducting major real estate development on a national scale, requiring counsel and advice on day-to-day business operations as well as on issues related specifically to the administration of the trusts.
  • We have represented trustees and beneficiaries to negotiate family settlement agreements that would otherwise have become contested matters. In one case, we represented a corporate trustee when a decedent's spouse from a second marriage threatened suit. This surviving spouse wanted her claim against the trust satisfied, although the primary trust asset was a closely held business partially owned and totally operated by the children of the first marriage and the decedent's brother. We worked closely with counsel for the spouse and separate counsel for the children to retain the business and achieve a settlement among the various parties, thereby avoiding litigation which would have been severely detrimental to the business.
  • Our lawyers have represented clients in succession planning for closely held corporations, which not only requires legal and business experience but also skill in dealing with family and personal issues. As an example, we represented a business in the transfer of equity ownership and control to the sole owner's children in an equitable manner, despite a complicated family situation involving several children who were involved in the business, spouses of other children who were involved in the business, and other children who were not involved in the business. We helped the clients establish dynasty trusts to hold voting stock for the children involved in the business and to provide non-voting stock and other assets for the children who were not involved in the business, with parity for a child's spouse who was involved in the business. This highly negotiated transaction resulted in a comfortable working arrangement for the entire family because all felt that they had been treated fairly.
  • We have assisted owners of family businesses to structure tax-efficient transfers of wealth to younger generations. In one matter, the group assisted in the transfer of substantial blocs of stock in a family business into grantor-retained income trusts (GRITs). We subsequently represented the family business owners in the sale of the business for $100 million resulting in enhanced tax benefits to the business and its owners due to the prior estate planning. Although the use of GRITs has since been limited by changes in the tax laws, our clients now benefit from other techniques that accomplish transfers of wealth to younger generations with similar tax savings, such as grantor-retained annuity trusts (GRATs) and family partnerships.
  • We represented a family in a claim against a lawyer who had allegedly been negligent in administering the estate of the family patriarch. After extensive discovery and preparation of expert opinions, the family obtained a settlement for the limits of the lawyer's professional liability coverage. We then developed a plan to make transfers to new trusts which salvaged the overall plan of the patriarch and, over the life of the trusts, will save in excess of $40 million of generation-skipping transfer taxes.
  • Through the use of sales to grantor trusts, we effectively transferred 70 percent of the value of a closely held business worth between $50 million and $200 million to trusts for younger generations, resulting in family estate and gift tax savings of over $50 million.
  • Through the use of GRATs, we assisted a family in transferring the majority of a closely-held family owned business from the second generation to the third generation, saving in excess of $10 million in transfer taxes.
  • We have helped create (and continue to administer) numerous private foundations as well as many supporting organizations for clients with charitable inclinations.
  • Our lawyers have assisted clients with Internal Revenue Service audits focusing on the issue of farm losses. In all of these matters, our clients have achieved a positive result, with no additional income tax due. We have also represented many families with estate tax audits and have a strong working relationship with IRS agents.
  • We assisted with a restructuring of family trusts so that the family lines without grandchildren received early distributions that were not subject to the generation-skipping transfer tax, while the family lines with grandchildren received the assets that were exempt from the generation-skipping transfer tax. The tax savings associated with this transfer exceeded $10 million.
  • We have represented a number of families to reform trusts to permit use of a "total return" approach, where appropriate under state law, which has permitted trustees to make annual distributions equal to a fixed percentage of the value of the trust, rather than traditional trust accounting income. This has enabled the trusts to avoid selling highly appreciated equities in order to invest in fixed-income securities.