We understand that estate planning is more than just cranking out documents. Good planning should be tailor-made to fit your specific needs and to address your concerns; it should not force you into a pre-ordained template. Good planning is not just about saving taxes (although it certainly involves that). It is also about protecting your intended beneficiaries and making sure that your plan is carried out. We guide you through the complexity and help you drill down into the detail necessary for good planning. We work with you so that you understand your options and so that you can decide what plan is best for you.
Asset Protection Planning
There is an old blues lyric that goes “you don’t miss your water ’til the well runs dry.” Similarly, many people don’t think about asset protection until they get sued or are financially underwater. In both cases, generally it is too late to plan once you are in that unhappy state. We can, however, help you protect your assets from adverse circumstances in conjunction with our estate planning services well before any threats. We also discuss with you the techniques that are available to you to protect your heirs from their creditors. Indeed, many clients work with us to structure bequests for children or grandchildren so as to help insulate those gifts from the child’s/grandchild’s creditors. We help you understand various estate planning techniques that can be structured in ways to also accomplish asset protection goals.
Often the job of personal representative, executor or trustee is thrust upon you because of the death of a loved one, so you are experiencing feelings of loss on top of what, at times, can seem to be an overwhelming task. We cannot make the complexity or your grief go away. What we can do, however, is make your job manageable by explaining every step as you go, by examining with you the available options, by organizing the estate/trust records, and by helping you navigate through every facet of settling an estate or trust. Because we prepare all estate and trust tax returns in house, instead of farming those returns out, we are able to offer seamless estate and trust administration services taking you from beginning to end. When you administer an estate or a trust, you are called upon to balance the interests of different, sometimes conflicting, parties. As the personal representative or trustee, you must make decisions which may have important and long-term implications. Because of our fiduciary litigation strengths, we are sensitive to potential conflicts that can arise from this decision-making and we will help you avoid the common, and not-so-common, administration pitfalls.
Unfortunately, conflicts exist involving Wills and Trusts. Often these conflicts are wrapped up in complex and painful family dynamics. Perhaps as a beneficiary, you were manipulated out of your inheritance by someone exercising undue influence on your parent or grandparent when they were most vulnerable to pressure or suggestion. Perhaps a disappointed heir is wrongfully attacking the Will or Trust that had been carefully designed by the decedent simply because the heir feels entitled to a part, or a larger part, of the estate. Often disputes arise from the administration of an estate by a personal representative or trustee. These arguments can involve the interpretation of the estate planning documents, how property is being handled, and other issues. Because of our exclusive focus on the practice of estates and trusts law, we can help you navigate all aspects of the (often arcane) world of fiduciary litigation. We can help you resolve these conflicts either by an informal resolution, by mediation, or, when necessary, by proceeding with trial. We represent fiduciaries and/or beneficiaries at trial in the various county Orphans Courts and Circuit Courts and we take appeals from those lower courts to the Maryland Court of Special Appeal and/or to the Maryland Court of Appeals.