Trusts and Estates & Elder Law

At Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, we know that our clients have worked hard for most of their lives to create a good life for their families and to support causes in which they believe. Careful estate planning is required to protect assets and preserve the lifestyle our clients have spent decades building.

The attorneys in our Trusts and Estates practice are experienced at working with clients to provide comprehensive advice that will best preserve, manage and plan for the transfer of their assets and wealth. Our objective is to develop planning strategies designed for each client’s unique situation, to achieve their personal goals, while minimizing the gift, inheritance and estate tax impact of their decisions.

Estate planning is essential for even modest estates in order to provide for children, appoint responsible individuals as guardians for minors, and select fiduciaries to serve as trustees and executors of estates. Estate planning is also necessary to minimize taxes, and avoid disputes among heirs.

For larger or more complex estates, a comprehensive estate plan is even more critical to achieve the following goals:

Minimizing Taxes: For certain estates, payment of estate taxes is unavoidable. Often, however, proper use of estate planning tools can significantly reduce the amount of taxes paid.

Safeguarding Assets: The natural consequence of reducing tax liability is an increase in assets available for the support of one’s heirs. In addition, the certainty created by an estate plan reduces or eliminates costly probate litigation which can drain funds from an estate.

Ensuring Business Continuity: A significant proportion of family-owned businesses fail after the death of an owner. Proper transition planning makes the change easier and increases the likelihood that the business will continue to thrive.

Maintaining Dignity: Estate planning is about more than money. Without properly prepared medical directives, one’s wishes for medical or end-of-life care may be impossible to discern, much less carry out.

Protecting Children: For families with minor children, an estate plan is the only way to provide for a guardian to care for the children, and someone to manage their assets, in the event of parents’ untimely demise.

Preserving Harmony: In the absence of a clear estate plan establishing one’s wishes, devastating arguments may arise among family members as to what the deceased person would have wanted. Such disputes are costly not only in financial terms, but in terms of family relationships and harmony destroyed.

Honoring Wishes: It is impossible to guarantee that certain wishes will be carried out absent an estate plan. These include intended gifts to unrelated individuals, or donations in support of a cherished cause or charity. Charitable giving can also be an effective way to minimize taxes while leaving a legacy.

Achieving Peace of Mind: Few things offer greater peace of mind than the knowledge that one’s loved ones are adequately provided for.

Estate and Gift Planning

Our attorneys regularly draft the legal documents necessary to implement sound wealth transfer planning strategies, whether by testamentary or lifetime transfer. These documents include Wills, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, insurance trusts, living trusts, special needs trusts, personal residence trusts (“QPRT”), retained interest trusts (“GRAT”) and family limited liability companies. They also include durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives that provide financial or healthcare decision making in the event of a client’s disability. For those clients with charitable objectives, we assist in structuring and implementing charitable gift-giving strategies including family foundations, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts.

Pashman Stein Walder Hayden’s attorneys also advise owners of partnerships or family businesses concerning establishing plans for the succession or ownership and management of family businesses. We prepare limited partnership agreements, LLC operating agreements and shareholder agreements that help ensure business continuity.

We assist clients with all aspects of trust administration and counseling of trustees on their fiduciary obligations.

Probate and Estate and Trust Administration

Pashman Stein Walder Hayden’s attorneys handle all aspects of estate administration, whether through probate or intestacy. We assist the Executor or Administrator in marshaling assets (including assets passing through joint tenancy or to designated beneficiaries), paying debts of the decedent and making estate distributions. We prepare or assist in the preparation of federal and state estate tax returns, fiduciary income tax returns and accountings.

Trusts and Estates Litigation

When disputes over a loved-one’s estate cannot be resolved amicably, our attorneys are experienced with litigating estate matters to protect our client’s interests in court or through mediation. These matters include Will contests, construction of Wills, elective share claims and contested accountings.