The lawyers of the K&L Gates private clients, trusts and estates practice focus on providing a unique solution for each client we serve. We counsel individuals and families throughout their lifetimes as they acquire and accumulate assets, experience life changes, seek to preserve their wealth, and ultimately pass it on to future generations with the most favorable tax consequences possible. Through close working relationships, we learn what matters to a client, and then tailor our advice accordingly.
We assist with a wide range of our clients’ personal legal needs, in a sophisticated, comprehensive, and integrated manner. The lawyers in our private clients, trusts and estates practice are recognized in the community and the legal profession both for their legal acumen and client service. We also draw on the skills of the lawyers practicing in other areas of the law within our firm to provide our clients with the most complete service possible.
One aspect that distinguishes the K&L Gates private clients, trusts and estates group is our ability to offer a wide range of legal services in a global environment. Our lawyers work with multinational families whose members, businesses, and assets span the globe. Our team meets the needs of our clients wherever they happen to live, work, or own assets.
The focus of our estate planning practice is on personalized planning. Our extensive legal knowledge, coupled with significant practical experience, allows us to help clients formulate and implement effective wealth transfer plans that balance flexibility and control with appropriate tax planning, while taking into account the interests of each generation. Our clients include individuals, family groups, business owners, investors, executives, professionals, celebrities, and foreign citizens.
In addition to helping clients with the preparation of their wills or living trusts, we counsel clients on sophisticated lifetime wealth transfer techniques. These may include the creation of dynasty trusts, tax-sensitive grantor trusts, or trusts for specific assets such as life insurance, personal residences, and closely held business interests. We assist clients with the structure and operation of family partnerships and limited liability companies to hold and accumulate assets, as well as with intra-family sales and other planning vehicles. We carefully work with clients on income and transfer tax planning affecting their non-probate assets such as life insurance, retirement plans, and other employee benefits. Our lawyers assist with creation of durable powers of attorney or living trusts to provide for lifetime management of assets in the event of incapacity, as well as prepare living wills or health care directives for end-of-life decision-making.
Our services do not stop with helping to plan our clients’ estates. We are also actively involved in serving as legal counsel to both families and professional fiduciaries in the settlement of decedents’ estates and the ongoing administration of lifetime and testamentary trusts. We bring a wealth of experience to the handling of estates involving complex assets, business succession, multigenerational planning, and cross-border issues. In addition to assistance with the probate and transfer of estate assets, we work with clients on postmortem tax planning, estate tax return preparation, accountings, and related tasks. Our lawyers regularly represent personal representatives in gift and estate tax audits arising out of estate settlements.
Our lawyers have counseled hundreds of individuals and corporate fiduciaries regarding their duties as trustees in the administration of trusts. We are skilled at spotting potential issues before they become major problems and in guiding our clients through the maze of fiduciary law and regulations. Our practice often includes representation of fiduciaries in court proceedings, mediations, and arbitrations.
When controversies involving estate planning or trust administration arise, our combination of technical knowledge and litigation skills enables us to quickly understand the issues, assiduously protect our clients’ positions, and formulate creative solutions. We have successfully handled disputes involving will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty, disputed accountings, fiduciary surcharge actions, interpretation of wills and trusts, challenged gifts, and contested guardianships. In addition to representing our clients in court, we frequently represent parties in alternative dispute resolution proceedings, including arbitrations, mediations, and negotiated settlements.
K&L Gates lawyers have substantial experience representing corporate and individual clients in a broad array of disputed matters including estate tax and administration issues, income tax disputes, probate and trust administration conflicts, closely held business disputes, and disputes arising from all types of fiduciary relationships. We prosecute and defend challenges to wills and trusts, and frequently handle litigation necessary to reform or clarify trust instruments. We work on matters involving guardianships and conservatorships, as well as contests involving the validity of cohabitation and prenuptial agreements. Our experience comes from the substantive knowledge of the firm’s trust and estate lawyers combined with the outstanding courtroom talents of our probate litigators. With the benefit of these complementary skills, our lawyers have achieved longstanding and significant success in resolving disputes for our clients in state, federal, and tax courts at both the trial and appellate level. We assess and resolve disputes on a local and global basis through our work with a wide range of clients, including individual and corporate fiduciaries, public and private charities and foundations, trustees, guardians, and conservators, as well as businesses and institutions.
We regularly assist individuals in the negotiation and preparation of prenuptial, postnuptial, and cohabitation agreements. In certain geographic areas where we practice, we actively represent clients in complex marital dissolution and post-dissolution matters involving substantial assets, including business valuation, professional goodwill, and stock options. In areas where we do not handle marital dissolution matters, we have extensive contacts in the local legal community that enable us to refer our clients to competent counsel.
Ownership of real estate involves unique and often complicated issues. Our experienced lawyers assist our clients with acquisition and disposition of significant residential and commercial properties, including financing matters. We also represent clients in real estate disputes, such as problems with contractors, construction defects, land use and environmental issues, boundary disputes, use of shared docks, view infringements, and similar problems.
Our firm has a long history of helping clients turn their philanthropic wishes into a working reality. We provide detailed counseling to individuals on the structure and implementation of charitable lead and charitable remainder trusts, private foundations, conservation easements, and major charitable gifts. We serve as legal counsel to many tax-exempt organizations and regularly assist with organizational issues, obtaining tax-exempt status, developing grantmaking policies, and advising on tax and regulatory compliance and other matters unique to the operation of charitable organizations. Our combination of experience in both charitable planning and operation of tax-exempt organizations, coupled with our commitment to the nonprofit community, allows us to offer outstanding service to our clients.
Purchasing items of high value, such as second homes, airplanes, boats, or artwork, can create financial and legal complications, as well as opportunities. We are experienced in structuring transactions to provide optimal liability protection, tax savings, privacy protection, and probate avoidance.
Our lawyers counsel individuals on the creation and structure of closely held business and investment entities to carry out their long-term goals. We advise on choice of the proper entity, capital structure, and governance and operation, including federal and state tax implications. Drawing on the resources of our other practice groups, we negotiate and document shareholder, owner, and consultant agreements, and we regularly assist businesses with technology, intellectual property, employment, employee benefit, and emerging business matters. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing parties in the purchase, expansion, and sale of their businesses. We frequently advise on business succession strategies, whether to family members, to existing employees or co-owners, or to outside purchasers. Through years of representing businesses ranging from sole proprietorships through Fortune 500 companies, we have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and skill that enables us to give creative, practical, and effective advice.