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Trusts and Estates

The Trusts and Estates practice area handles a wide variety of matters relating to individuals’ financial affairs including: lifetime estate planning, post-death tax planning, general administration of trusts and estates, charitable giving, powers of attorney, marital agreements, conservatorship estates, “living wills” and related matters. Close cooperation and coordination with other practice groups in the firm enhance the Trusts and Estates team’s ability to handle related tax, corporate and litigation matters that arise.

PRACTICE HIGHLIGHTS

Lifetime Estate Planning

The basic objective of the Trusts and Estates practice area is to assist clients in developing their economic goals, administering their financial affairs during their lives and passing on their assets to their families and others in order to fulfill their desires, solve special problems and minimize taxes. The Trusts and Estates team does not engage in investment counseling nor does it sell any financial products. It does, however, work closely with other professionals such as accountants, brokers, investment advisers, life insurance agents, trust companies and other corporations with fiduciary powers to assist individuals in attaining their financial goals and managing their affairs. These objectives are wide-ranging and encompass a considerable array of different types of legal work.

The Trusts and Estates practice area has had a wide range of experience in assisting clients to develop tax-wise and cost-efficient plans for distribution of their assets to the beneficiaries of their choice. Techniques commonly employed include: use of revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, grantor trusts, use of trusts in generation skipping transfer tax planning, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, family foundations, grantor retained interest trusts, including qualified personal residence trusts and grantor retained annuity trusts, and family limited partnerships. In coordination with the Corporate Services, Securities and Tax practices, the Trusts and Estates lawyers can assist clients in developing feasible plans for the devolution of their closely held businesses, including buy-sell agreements, stock redemption plans, recapitalizations and ESOPs.

The Trusts and Estates attorneys consult with clients to determine the nature and extent of their assets and objectives. Alternative proposals are generally discussed and, when desired, tax and cash flow projections of the consequences of the various plans can be prepared and reviewed with the client.

Estate and Trust Administration

Individual and corporate fiduciaries are regularly represented in their roles as trustees and personal representatives. This may be a representation of an executor in the Probate Divisions of the Circuit Courts throughout Missouri and in similar courts in Illinois and Kansas. This includes petitioning the court in order to commence administration of a decedent’s or incapacitated person’s estate, and following through with all necessary pleadings and documents throughout the period of administration until the fiduciary is discharged. This may involve representation of a trustee administering a trust during the life of or after the death of the grantor of such trust.

The Trusts and Estates attorneys can maintain financial records for fiduciaries and regularly prepare the requisite estate tax and fiduciary income tax returns.

In cooperation with the Litigation practice group, the firm regularly handles controversies that arise during an estate or trust administration period such as will contests, contested claims, petitions to discover assets, determinations of heirship, construction suits to determine the meaning of language in legal documents and tax disputes.

For more information, please contact one of our Tax/Employee Benefits/Trusts and Estates attorneys.