Trusts & Estates

Overview

Benjamin Franklin’s astute observation that “in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes” is as true today as ever. Fortunately, advances in the tools and techniques of estate planning in the decades since those famous words were uttered have enabled sophisticated tax and legal counsel to mitigate their effects. 

Blank Rome’s trusts and estates team advises clients on all aspects of estate planning, including business planning, estate and trust administration, and tax litigation. We provide personal, discreet counsel as you decide who will receive your assets and property after your death.

We approach our work as a “family business adviser,” able to collaborate with your accountants, investment advisers, financial planners, and life insurance professionals in order to tailor the most appropriate, tax-aware and asset-protected plan for asset management, business succession planning, and transmission of wealth to subsequent generations. Our clients include entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 executives, professionals, high-net-worth individuals, and traditional and non-traditional families.

How Can We Help

Estate Planning

  • revocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, dynasty trusts, and asset protection trusts
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (“QPRTs”)
  • Grantor-Retained Annuity Trusts and Unitrusts (“GRATs” and “GRUTS”)
  • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (“IDGTs”)
  • charitable trusts
  • creation of family limited partnerships and limited liability companies
  • buy-sell, employment, deferred compensation, and stock-bonus agreements
  • life insurance planning, including split dollar planning, life settlements and premium financing 

Trust & Estate Administration

We work closely with executors, trustees, and beneficiaries to provide a smooth and orderly administration while focusing on appropriate tax strategies aligned with your intentions, being careful to protect the interests of beneficiaries to ensure maximization of the bequests. Our services cover:

  • preparation and filing of court documents for probate of a will and appointments of administrators
  • collection and valuation of assets
  • use of disclaimers and other post-mortem tax planning devices
  • tax elections and allocations
  • preparation of estate and fiduciary income tax returns
  • preparation of executor and trustee accountings
  • proceedings in the Probate and Surrogate’s Courts
  • distribution of estate and trust assets to beneficiaries
  • audit examinations of estate and gift tax returns by the IRS and state taxing authorities 

Trust & Estate Litigation

Litigation continues to grow as individuals live longer and as new laws are passed requiring fiduciaries to make more complex decisions which may be challenged. Estate litigation involves much more than the high-profile “probate contests” that are tried before a jury. Blank Rome advises clients on issues that arise in estate-related matters, including:

  • objections to the accounting of an estate
  • spousal “right of election”
  • interpretation or “construction” of a will or a trust
  • change in the use of investment of the assets or a dispute as to the application of funds
  • title and right to property shared by unmarried individuals
  • complex legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage and civil statutes that accord marital rights, including common-law marriages
  • removal of fiduciaries from office

What Sets Us Apart

  • Several Blank Rome attorneys are fellows of the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (“ACTEC”). 
  • The group’s attorneys have written articles for many publications including the New York Law Journal, the Practical Tax Lawyer, Taxation for Accountants, and the Journal of the American Society of CLU and CLFC
  • Several attorneys have made television appearances and have been quoted in publications including TIME and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance on tax and estate planning issues. 
  • Our attorneys lecture to attorney and non-attorney audiences on a regular basis and serve as adjunct professors at various law schools 
  • Our attorneys handle complex matters in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, California, District of Columbia, and Florida and represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Tax Court, and state departments of revenue.
     

Key Contacts