Estate planning requires an intimate knowledge of the tax law, since the estate tax and the income tax operate independently. Further complication arises because the New York estate tax has diverged from its federal counterpart. Estate planning may also touch upon and involve asset protection considerations, with respect to which our office also provides counsel. Estate planning for some clients may involve drafting will, a power of attorney and a health care proxy. Many clients wish simply to implement new wills, or update existing wills, to reflect recent changes in the tax law. These documents are important for older individuals. For other clients, including younger clients who wish to protect their children, consideration of the drafting of flexible trusts may be prudent. We take care in drafting both inter vivos and testamentary trusts reflects to reflect our clients’ desires. Knowledge of the tax law is essential when drafting trusts. For clients with a greater amount of wealth, sophisticated estate planning strategies may be considered in order to reduce the potential incidence of estate tax and to shift appreciation out of one’s estate, while retaining maximum control of the transferred assets. We assist clients in the use of family entities for business succession objectives, as well as for estate tax objectives. We also counsel clients in matters involving gifts to tax-favored trusts, such as QPRTs and GRATs, and assist clients who wish to sell assets to tax-favored intentional grantor trusts. For further reading, please see our treatise “Estate Planning in 2010: Treatise”.
Protecting assets earned or inherited is an important objective for many of our clients. In its simplest form, asset protection may consist of our drafting a prenuptialagreement for a client whose child is to be married. At other times, we may counsel our clients to form a corporation or other limited liability entity. Asset protection may involve drafting trusts to protect the interest of beneficiaries. We may also counsel our clients to form trusts in jurisdictions such as Delaware, which have favorable asset protection laws. Our knowledge of and experience in asset protection is informed by our paramount objective of acting zealously to protect our clients’ interests while staying firmly within the letter and spirit of important ethical and legal precepts which govern this area of the law. Please see our articles “Peering Through the Legal Prism: When Asset Protection Becomes Fraudulent” and “Delaware Asset Protection Trusts Eclipse Offshore Entities”.