Trusts & Estates

Overview

Wealth preservation, succession planning, estates and trusts administration, and related litigation are deeply personal and sensitive issues. At Wilk Auslander, we provide a high level of service and individualized attention to assure that our clients' unique and personal goals are met. Our Trusts & Estates Practice Group helps individuals and their families manage, structure and administer the transfer of their property and businesses to future generations in an efficient and tax-effective way. We represent individuals and families in connection with domestic and international estate planning, business succession planning, trust and estate administration, and related litigation.

In addition to serving high-net-worth individuals and families, we advise corporate executives, philanthropists, business owners and real estate investors. We also represent major banks and trust companies in their various fiduciary capacities. For example, we represent individual and corporate fiduciaries in Surrogate's Court litigation. We also counsel clients regarding the intricacies of trust and estate administration and post-mortem tax planning.

Our lawyers help clients with both simple and complex needs. Whether a client simply needs to update a will or is involved in contentious trust administration litigation, we have the experience to resolve matters in a cost-effective and sensitive manner.

Representative Matters

  • Completed estate planning for a client with more than $2 billion in assets.
  • Coordinated estate plans for a U.S. citizen domiciled in England, including the client’s assets in both jurisdictions.
  • Completed estate plans for families having one or more members as non-U.S. citizens employed at the United Nations.
  • Preserved open space along Long Island Sound through the use of conservation easements.

Administration

Overview

Our lawyers have deep experience in the administration of both routine and complex trusts and estates. Our lawyers represent and counsel individuals, families and fiduciaries in the various phases of estate and trust administration, which often includes probate proceedings as well as the preparation of estate and trust accountings and appropriate tax returns.

We take great care to administer an estate or trust in a way that uses tax-saving strategies, and even after a decedent's passing, we help to plan and restructure the estate's affairs to compensate for unforeseen events and take advantage of favorable changes in the tax code.

Representative Matters

  • Handled estates of decedents owning property in both Italy and the United States.
  • Successfully lowered estate taxes by $250,000 in an appeal to the Appellate Division of the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, not only did the Appellate Division agree that no additional estate taxes were due, but a refund was awarded.
  • Successfully concluded a judicial accounting in an estate worth more than $400 million.

Asset Protection

Overview

It is unfortunate, but true: We live in a highly litigious society and people today seem to sue one another over just about anything. Worse, you never really know what a jury might decide, regardless of how frivolous a lawsuit may appear. Even some of the people you love the most may need protection from themselves, such as those who suffer from drug or alcohol dependency, or who lack the maturity to handle a large inheritance on their own.

All of this helps explain why Asset Protection Planning is such a rapidly growing area of the law and why it is so important for you to have a plan expertly tailored to your specific needs – particularly if you are a physician, attorney, CPA, business owner, real estate developer, or member of a profession that is subject to an unusually high number of lawsuits.

Wilk Auslander provides the guidance that individuals, families and owners of closely-held companies need in understanding the risks they face. We then design creative asset protection plans to guard against potential liabilities. With years of experience in all areas of asset protection law, and an extensive network of leading financial professionals world-wide, we are particularly skilled at establishing and managing offshore trusts and corporations. The techniques and strategies we can use to protect your hard won assets and legacy include:

• Offshore and domestic business entity formation.
• Domestic trusts designed to safeguard assets from predators.
• Offshore trusts, placing your assets beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. Courts and out of harm’s way.
• Equity stripping and asset isolation strategies to minimize the risks posed.

Representative Matters

Estate Planning

Overview

Our estate planning lawyers are experienced in dealing with domestic and international gift, estate and generation-skipping tax issues, planning for retirement benefits, life insurance planning, multijurisdictional issues, and planning for charitable giving.

By structuring and implementing various estate planning techniques, we work with our clients to obtain the maximum estate and gift tax savings. We also represent non-U.S. residents who may potentially be subject to the U.S. transfer tax, and with U.S. citizens living abroad to address cross-border estate and tax issues.

We are experienced in addressing the unique estate and gift tax issues that confront owners of closely held businesses. Our attorneys effectively integrate our clients' family and business needs in devising an individualized estate and business succession plan, using such tools as wills, trusts, marital agreements, buy-sell agreements, and family limited partnerships and limited liability companies.

Representative Matters

  • Completed estate planning for a client with more than $2 billion in assets.
  • Coordinated estate plans for a U.S. citizen domiciled in England, including the client’s assets in both jurisdictions.
  • Completed estate plans for families having one or more members as non-U.S. citizens employed at the United Nations.
  • Preserved open space along Long Island Sound through the use of conservation easements.

Trusts & Estates Litigation

Overview

Our Trusts & Estates Practice Group’s success in representing our clients in areas of planning and administration enhances our ability to represent them if they need trusts and estates litigation.

Our trusts and estates lawyers’ aggregate experience of more than seventy years in Surrogate's Court practice throughout New York State allows our clients to rely on our extensive trusts and estates litigation experience. Over the years we have provided sophisticated legal representation to heirs, spouses, next of kin, trustees, executors, and corporate fiduciaries in matters as diverse as will and trust contests, will construction proceedings, fiduciary litigation, accounting proceedings, fiduciary removal proceedings, spousal rights proceedings, claims proceedings, kinship proceedings and other matters.

When litigation is necessary, we call on the expertise of other attorneys at Wilk Auslander with experience in trusts and estates litigation and in commercial litigation, which enables us to handle even the most difficult and complex matters.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully represented the beneficiaries of a $60 million trust in obtaining a judgment against the trustee for damages caused by the trustee’s improper investments, self-dealing, and conflicts of interest.
  • Represented an adoptive son of a Swiss national in opposing his adoptive father’s attempt to abrogate the adoption.
  • Recouped assets for an elderly client who was being drugged and defrauded by her attorney-in-fact.
  • Obtained the removal of an executor/trustee after the fiduciary pleaded guilty to several federal felonies, and won a settlement for the estate after it was disclosed that the fiduciary had improperly withdrawn funds for his own use.