You don’t want to leave important decisions related to your assets up to the state. That’s why an estate plan is so important. It lets you say who will control your assets and receive your property upon your death.

Our estate planning professionals can work closely with your other advisors or assemble a team for you to help create a plan that fits your needs, wishes and maximizes its value. They can help increase the chances that the IRS will accept your estate tax planning strategies, from the administration of family limited partnerships to reporting your gifts, with the adequate disclosure necessary to start the statute of limitations.

Wills and Trusts

The first tool you will need when planning your estate is a will and/or a trust explaining your wishes to the probate court, your trustee and your beneficiaries. Our estate planning professionals can assist you with the tax implications of these legal documents.

Durable Power of Attorney

It’s important to designate a durable power of attorney when arranging your estate plan. The durable power of attorney identifies the person who can step in and handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated or unable to do so. If you do not have one, the court may step in to carry out your financial affairs if you are not capable of making the decisions.

Beneficiary Designations

With your retirement plans and life insurance, you want to make sure your property ends up in the hands of the appropriate beneficiary with the best tax results possible. Our estate planning specialists can help you with determining the appropriate beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Life Insurance Planning and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)

Life insurance has many uses in an estate plan, including estate liquidity, debt repayment, income replacement and wealth accumulation. It can help accomplish your financial goals by providing immediate cash for:

  • Payments of debts
  • Costs of the last illness
  • Burial expenses
  • Costs of administration
  • Cash to heirs not involved in a family business when the business is passing to another heir
  • If necessary, payment of federal estate taxes to eliminate the possibility of a forced sale of assets to generate needed cash

Having an irrevocable trust hold a life insurance policy is a planning strategy that can avoid the inclusion of the policy in your gross estate for federal estate tax purposes. It can be a valuable tool even for those with modest assets and allows you to take advantage of annual gift tax exclusions that might otherwise remain unused. Working with your other estate planning advisors, our professionals can help you determine ownership of the policy and the amount of life insurance you may need.


Valuations are an important part of the estate planning process. Maybe you’re going to transfer your business to your child or you have a family limited partnership. Our litigation and valuation experts have provided services to thousands of clients and their professional advisors – ranging from small, privately held businesses to multi-entity organizations with operations throughout the United States.

Michael Jackson estate prevails on lower valuation in U.S. tax court

Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRAT) and Grantor Retained Unitrusts (GRUT)

GRATs and GRUTs are popular estate planning tools. In essence, a GRAT is a fixed annuity.  At the end of the term, the trust principal is distributed to the designated beneficiaries. The GRUT is similar to a variable annuity.  At the end of the term of the trust, all remaining assets are distributed to the designated beneficiaries. Let our estate specialists help you determine which is right for your plan.

Sale to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)

An estate “freezing” strategy to reduce estate tax is the sale of assets to an IDGT.  This trust provides an opportunity for the settlor to sell appreciated assets to the trust without recognizing capital gains in connection with the sale since transactions between a settlor and their grantor trust are usually not recognized for income tax purposes. Another benefit is the opportunity to reduce the size of the settlor’s estate since all of the income from the trust is taxed to the settlor. The trust assets can be reinvested and grow instead of being spent on income taxes. If this is a strategy that is right for your needs, our professionals can help.


Questions about trust and estate planning services? Our professionals help clients in a variety of industries including construction, dealerships, restaurants, technology and more. Fill out the form to the left to contact Pamela Wheeler.