Our estate planning practice includes sophisticated wealth planning, business succession planning and land planning. We assist some of the wealthiest families in the area in managing and disposing of their assets, going beyond simply writing wills and trusts. Using a holistic approach to estate planning, we assist clients with gift planning, charitable giving, investment management and the exercise of intricate powers of appointment over long-term family trusts. Our attorneys were involved with the writing of federal tax rules on generation-skipping transfers and trusts. This makes the firm uniquely equipped to advise clients in complex matters affecting their long-term planning.
Estate planning is especially critical for business owners. Over 95% of American businesses are family owned, yet fewer than 30% of these businesses successfully pass to the second generation. At Gawthrop Greenwood, we appreciate the unique financial and psychological challenges faced by business owners in estate planning. In addition to providing complex tax and business advice, our lawyers also assist these clients in transferring power and responsibility to future generations.
At death, farmers and other owners of large land tracts are often faced with a tax obligation in the millions of dollars, with few, if any, liquid assets to pay the bill. Our attorneys work with landowners to place carefully crafted easements on their property, to reduce its value for tax purposes and to create tax deductions. We are also adept in structuring and administering family holding companies to facilitate the transfer of land to family members, while centralizing management and avoiding intra-family conflict. Recently, with the discovery of large deposits of natural gas in certain parts of Pennsylvania, these techniques have become relevant even in areas not thought to be prime prospects for development.
Our firm does not just structure plans for our clients, we represent and partner with them and their executors, trustees and attorneys-in-fact to implement their estate plans. We also offer post-mortem planning options to save thousands of dollars of tax.
Finally, our firm often acts as the lawyer’s lawyer, serving as counsel to other attorneys in complex estate planning matters which need an experienced hand. Our lawyers are often called to serve as expert witnesses in complex fiduciary matters, or act as mediators in disputes involving estate or trust administration.
Attorneys at Gawthrop Greenwood are experienced court practitioners. We handle complicated will contests and guardianships for persons who have become incapacitated. We also handle cases involving fiduciary liability, removal of executors, disputes concerning powers of attorney, claims of fraud or misuse of a family member’s money, and questions concerning trust investments.
When mediation is an appropriate alternative, our attorneys can help clients navigate a court-approved program to resolve serious problems before trial.
Specific areas in which our attorneys in this practice group assist clients include:
- Inheritance, estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax matters
- Life insurance trusts
- Qualified personal residence trusts
- Family limited partnerships
- Grantor retained interest trusts
- Charitable remainder/lead trusts
- Wills, power of attorney and living wills
- Guardianship matters
- Estate administration