Practice limited to
sophisticated estate planning,
trust and estate law
and related matters.
We focus our practice on many facets of wealth transfer planning – estate planning, trust and estate administration, trust and estate litigation, charitable gift planning and related areas of tax and personal and fiduciary law. Here is a more detailed description of our work in these areas.
We advise individual clients about strategies for preserving wealth and transferring it to their families or their beneficiaries. Our clients have diverse backgrounds, professions, family circumstances and asset holdings. They include owners of closely-held businesses, senior executives of publicly-held corporations, individuals with substantial inherited wealth, professionals such as doctors, lawyers and educators and extended families with complex asset holdings and family offices. Our estate planning for these diverse clients must be customized to their individual circumstances and, most of all, to their goals and objectives. The complex needs of our clients require us to “think outside the box.”
Our many years of experience have exposed us to a wide variety of situations and have taught us to be good listeners. Our clients typically want more than strategies to minimize taxes. They seek our judgment about the protection of wealth from creditors, failed marriages and possible fiscal irresponsibility of the beneficiaries. They want our views about the impact of wealth on younger family members and our suggestions about educating younger generations on wealth management and philanthropy.
Our estate planning work generally leads to the preparation of wills, trust agreements, powers of attorney, and living wills and in appropriate cases, partnership and limited liability company documents. Our forms of these documents are updated regularly and reflect emerging legal and tax issues, and, most importantly, are customized to fit the particular circumstances of each client.
We represent executors and trustees in their administration of estates and trusts. Our clients include family members who have no prior experience with fiduciary roles and, at the other extreme, the largest trust companies in the country, which manage thousands of trust relationships.
Our work for these fiduciaries includes probating wills, assistance with the collection and valuation of assets, compliance with probate, estate and trust laws, preparation or review of income and estate or inheritance tax returns, special legal issues that arise during the course of estate or trust administration, and proceedings at the end of estate or trust administration to discharge the fiduciaries from liability.
Many of our clients are charitably minded. They seek our advice about alternative strategies for their philanthropic giving and the tax consequences associated it. We regularly prepare charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts. We help clients to establish private charitable foundations and to secure IRS recognition of their tax-exempt status, as well as advising about legal and tax issues that arise during the ongoing administration of such foundations.
We are also counsel to a number of charitable organizations in connection with their planned giving programs.
Our firm regularly represents clients in disputes involving estate and trust matters. In Pennsylvania those disputes are generally litigated in the Orphans’ Courts of each county. We regularly appear before all of the Orphans’ Courts in the southeastern counties of Pennsylvania and from time to time before other courts throughout the state. Estate and trust disputes can take a variety of forms. A few of the more common forms of case that we handle are:
The Orphans’ Court is also the forum for many types of undisputed proceedings such as the settlement of accountings that have been filed by executors or trustees and proceedings in which executors or trustees seek instruction from the Court.
We have significant experience with all of these matters. Because litigation can be expensive, we work hard to be thorough but to manage carefully the costs of each phase of the case. We keep our clients closely informed about the progress of a case and give them realistic assessments (updated on a regular basis) about the probability of success.