Whether this is your first marriage and you want to protect an expected inheritance or projected business success, or whether you are getting re-married later in life and want to protect your children and the wealth you've already accumulated, a premarital agreement is the best way to ensure your goals are met. Premarital agreements allow you to "opt out" of state laws that define how property is divided between spouses at divorce or at death. We do everything within our power to protect your marital harmony during this happy time. Contacting us early in the engagement is key – we want you to focus on things other than lawyers as the wedding date approaches.
Wills for Newlyweds
If you’ve just gotten married, congratulations! Under the laws of the District of Columbia and Maryland, if you pass away without a Will, a significant portion of your probate estate will pass to your parents, if they are living, and not to your spouse. If you would like to leave everything to your spouse at your death, we recommend that you prepare a Will or Revocable Trust that names your spouse as the beneficiary of your estate.
PLANNING FOR CHILDREN
Naming of Guardians
If you are a new parent, you know the feeling of unconditional love. Before you hire your baby’s first sitter, you should prepare at least a simple Will that names guardians who will provide your child with the love and devotion he or she deserves, in the event neither parent is able to care for the child.
Trusts for Children
It doesn’t take much wealth to create a concern about what would happen if it fell into your children’s hands at too young an age. In DC and Maryland, custodial accounts for minors terminate when the child attains either age 18 or, at the latest, age 21. Custodial accounts in Virginia can now last to age 25. Nevertheless, it often makes sense to hold property in trust for the child’s benefit until the child is older, or even for the child’s entire life, depending on the circumstances. We can create these trusts under your Will or Revocable Trust.
Asset Protection Planning
If you own a successful business, we can help protect the wealth you are building by employing both simple and sophisticated asset protection techniques. Asset protection is also important when you are entering into a new relationship, regardless of whether it is romantic or strictly business.
Shifting Growth Downstream
If you have a proven track record for success, consider sharing the upside on your next investment with your children, or create a trust that can have a positive impact on your family for generations to come. The best time to shift wealth is before it’s been created, so contact us as you start your next venture and we can help you create a lasting legacy using techniques such as GRATs, sales to grantor trusts, dynasty trusts and more.
Business Succession Planning
If you own your own business, having a plan in place for the succession of that business in the event something happens to you can be key to your family’s financial security. We are experienced at planning for business succession using buy-sell agreements, life insurance, and other techniques. If less than all of your children are interested in continuing the business, we have ideas for how to make sure all the children are treated fairly.
Income Tax Planning
Income tax rates are reaching new highs, especially when you factor in the 3.8% net investment income tax. We may be able to help you shift, defer or convert your income in creative ways.
Whether you are wholly altruistic or simply interested in saving estate, gift or income taxes, we can help you create a range of “split interest” charitable trusts, private foundations or donor-advised funds, and we will work with you to integrate charitable planning into your overall estate plan in the most tax-efficient manner. A good time to consider charitable planning is before you sell your business, as a charitable trust can provide you with a stream of tax-deferred retirement income.
ESTATES & TRUSTS
We are always saddened when a client loses a loved one, but we take comfort in helping to ease your burden. Whether you have lost a spouse, parent or other loved one, we will guide you through the daunting probate and estate administration process compassionately and efficiently. We file probate petitions, help you with inventories and accountings, transfer assets and prepare and file any federal and state estate tax returns that may be required.
If you’ve created a trust and need help with annual accountings, or if you are serving as Trustee and need general advice as to your fiduciary duties, we have the expertise to help.
With all the uncertainty in today’s tax laws, we draft Wills and trusts that provide maximum flexibility by deferring tax-driven decisions until death. When a person passes away, the personal representatives and estate beneficiaries must then make certain decisions, often within deadlines such as nine months after death occurs. We will help you analyze the financial outcomes of different tax elections so that you can reduce income, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes to the greatest extent possible.
Planning for the Surviving Spouse
If your spouse has passed away, you should consider updating your estate plan. There could be powers of appointment you should exercise, and your goals for your heirs may have changed since your spouse and you last signed estate planning documents. We will help you prepare for the next chapter in your life.