Guiding Fiduciaries in Meeting Their ResponsibilitiesThe financial institutions and individual fiduciaries that administer trusts, estates and guardianships have tremendous responsibilities toward their clients. For more than 95 years, fiduciaries have looked to BakerHostetler for the confidential, knowledgeable help they need to:
Our lawyers guide executors, administrators and guardians throughout the estate administration and settlement process, focusing on the following key areas:
Trust AdministrationA trust or estate plan is effective only when it is properly administered, and fiduciaries must be acutely aware of beneficiaries' rights and expectations. Our lawyers advise fiduciaries—whether as individual executors or as full trust departments—on the most effective strategies and techniques to administer trusts, estates, guardianships and other relationships. We frequently advise on the unique income, estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer and property tax issues involved in trust administration. When disputes arise, we act as counselors to:
Trust Construction and ReformationNo matter how carefully a trust instrument is drafted, laws can change or other situations can develop that the person establishing the trust did not anticipate. When that happens, we advise fiduciaries on their best courses of action. Often, we petition the courts on the fiduciaries' behalf to interpret or reform trust instruments. We also deal with the IRS if a court ruling changes the tax ramification of a trust.
Closely Held Businesses in TrustWe have a great deal of experience at resolving problems related to the tax and legal issues, and family relationships, that affect closely held business property held in trust. Often our help to fiduciaries comes at the start of a potential business representation, when we advise clients on their obligations and alternatives as they consider whether to accept a trusteeship involving closely held business property. Because we have worked over the decades with so many family business owners as private wealth clients, we can offer fiduciaries practical insight into the expectations and potential conflicts they may face if they take on a family business trust relationship.
Exempt OrganizationsWe help tax-exempt organizations secure and maintain their charitable status, which often involves guidance on establishing the most effective grant-making policies. Our lawyers often counsel exempt organizations on their investment, reporting and tax obligations under state and federal laws, particularly those that involve ownership of for-profit subsidiaries. If IRS questions arise over tax-exempt status, we will respond to audits and inquiries and secure letters of determination.
Charitable Trusts and FoundationsOur lawyers have formed and structured charitable trusts and foundations with billions of dollars in assets. As part of our private wealth counseling, we have considerable experience in advising charitable organizations about endowment development programs, including the structuring and operation of donor-advised funds and supporting foundations.
Trust PropertyWhen fiduciaries hold real property in trust, we have the comprehensive transactional, regulatory and dispute regulation capabilities to handle any issue or controversy that may arise:
LitigationFiduciaries can be sued for their property and investment management actions in a wide range of forums. Our lawyers are skilled at fiduciary representation and defense before:
Wherever possible, we use our knowledge of tax law and business practice to structure a solution that validates our clients' actions and resolves the controversy short of trial. If that is not possible, we aggressively and effectively defend our clients' conduct. In addition, we have considerable experience in prosecuting claims against fiduciaries.
Trusts and Estates Experience
More than 20 private wealth lawyers in offices from California and Colorado to Florida, Ohio and Washington, DC.
One of the largest private wealth practices at any law firm in the United States, with more than 85 years of experience working with high wealth clients and their fiduciaries.
Counsel to generations of family-owned businesses, advising on organization, succession and tax minimization.
Advice to fiduciaries, as individual executors and as full trust departments, on the administration of complex trusts, estates and guardianships, with special emphasis on tax and legal issues that affect closely held business property held in trust.