Best Practices for Structuring Trusts and Estates: Trying to Create a Win-Win Situation
As a trusts and estates lawyer, I first sit down with my clients to find out what they want to have happen to their property after death. I then determine how much of an estate tax problem they have, given their assets, and give them some direction as to how they can fulfill those objectives in the most tax-efficient way possible. Finally, we draw up documents and help them position their assets to achieve those objectives. Another large part of my practice is carrying out these instructions at their deaths, including helping their families report and pay estate and inheritance taxes.
There are several ways I add value for my clients. In the practice of trusts and estates law, value in an economic sense means saving taxes; value in the non-economic sense means being there so my clients and their families have someone to rely on to help them through the various challenges that life—and death—offer. One principal area I focus on to attain those objectives is gathering information—which means listening to the client. I cannot give good advice without a good sense of what the client is about, both in a personal and an economic way. <> [continued]