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Wills & Trusts

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Overview

A last will & testament and a revocable trust are two building blocks of any client’s estate plan, regardless of the value of the estate. A properly drafted will appoints the personal representative of your estate and nominates an individual to serve as guardian of your minor children. A properly drafted and funded revocable trust allows the personal representative of your estate to avoid state probate proceedings (often in multiple jurisdictions), provides built-in planning for disability and facilitates a seamless post-death transfer of assets. Our clients with substantial wealth also benefit from irrevocable trust structures designed to transfer wealth as efficiently as possible.  

Ivins, Phillips & Barker’s estate planning team prepares thoughtfully crafted and flexible wills and trust instruments to accomplish your tax and non-tax objectives. Our clients also rely on our unsurpassed experience with wills and trusts established decades ago, and on our experience with judicial and non-judicial modification techniques for trusts that, as originally drafted, have outlived their effectiveness.  

We routinely use some combination of the techniques and instruments described below to implement the estate plans developed in partnership with our clients. Clients appreciate our ability to use these techniques and instruments judiciously, so as avoid unwarranted complication and unduly burdensome administration requirements.   

The following strategies exemplify our approach to preparing documents and employing techniques that stand the test of time:   

  • Design and funding of generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax-exempt trusts to preserve wealth through multiple generations.
  • Creation of Delaware “directed trusts” to maximize investment flexibility and minimize state income taxes.
  • Implementation of such special purpose trusts as qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), real estate privacy trusts, life insurance trusts, trusts eligible to hold S corporation shares (QSSTs and ESBTs), grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) and trusts qualified to hold retirement benefits.
  • Minor’s trusts drafted to address tax and non-tax considerations.
  • Lifetime qualified terminable interest trusts (QTIPs) to fully use beneficiary spouse’s GST exemption.
  • Use of such trust modification techniques as decanting, merger and non-judicial settlement agreements (NJSAs).
  • Spendthrift clause carve-outs designed to facilitate lifetime gifts to reduce federal and state estate taxes.
  • Advice regarding exercising testamentary limited powers of appointment to benefit multiple generations of family members.
  • Use of lifetime limited powers of appointment to customize targeted gifts where clients’ liquidity is limited.
  • Crafting trusts to qualify as U.S. trusts or non-U.S. trusts based on clients’ particular objectives.

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