Wealth Protection and Transfer

What you leave at your Death, let it be without controversy; else the Lawyers will be your Heirs.

- Francis Osborne, Advice to a Son, 1656

We have witnessed too often the consequence of those who, in spite of their best intentions, failed to properly plan their estates. To make matters worse since Mr. Osborne’s day, there has appeared a new heir in the family tree – the Internal Revenue Service. Gomel, Davis & Watson, LLP will bring to bear our significant experience and unique skills to help protect your assets and transfer them to your loved ones with minimal disruption, taxation, delay, and expense.


Basic Planning

Proper planning is important even for those with modest-sized estates. Our attorneys can assist you in planning your estate and preparing the necessary documents, including:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Advance Directives for Health Care

Unfortunately, many are led to believe that all attorneys’ estate planning services and documents are generally the same, and therefore cost becomes the determining factor in selecting the attorney. In reality, the quality of the services and documents should be the key factor in your choice of an estate planning attorney. We prepare documents that are tailored to your particular needs, while using a comprehensive approach that capitalizes on our significant experience in planning and administering estates and trusts.

Estate Tax Planning

Our firm has developed an expertise in estate tax planning, which often involves clients with significant wealth. Generally, one should consider estate tax planning whenever the value of one’s total assets (including life insurance) exceeds the federal estate tax exemption . Such planning might include:

  • For a married couple, a Will or Trust for each spouse which includes the necessary language to utilize each of their estate tax exemption amounts. Furthermore, the couple’s assets may need to be divided to achieve maximum savings
  • An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, by which life insurance proceeds are removed from a taxable estate
  • Gifting programs, either in trust or in a more direct form, to reduce one’s estate
  • Family Limited Partnerships, when created for significant non-tax reasons, can provide advantages for lifetime gifting as well as estate tax planning
  • More advanced structures such as grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs) and installment sales to grantor trusts
  • Planning for generation-skipping transfers and avoiding the federal generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax

Business Succession

Gomel, Davis & Watson, LLP also provides business succession planning services, by which a family business is transferred from one generation to the next with minimal disruption of operations and at the least possible estate and gift tax cost. Because of strong accounting and financial backgrounds, our professionals have particular expertise in many of the issues involved in business succession planning related to cash flow, debt service, and similar considerations. Some techniques that may be employed include shareholder agreements, recapitalizations involving voting and non-voting stock, and private annuities.

Charitable Planning

For those with charitable intentions, the firm also offers a variety of techniques to achieve charitable goals with income and/or estate tax benefits. These primarily include Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts and Private Foundations.

Planning for Retirement Benefits

One should also consider the effect of significant retirement account balances in the estate planning process. Designation of retirement account beneficiaries is a critical decision. While a trust can be a designated beneficiary, there are numerous issues to consider. Also, the income tax consequences of distributions from retirement accounts must be integrated with one’s estate plan.

Probate and Administration of Estates and Trusts

Probate services are a natural extension of the firm’s estate planning practice. This service include preparation of the necessary filings to probate Wills and administer estates, as well as advising Trustees and beneficiaries with respect to the administration of existing trusts.

Perhaps more importantly, Gomel, Davis & Watson, LLP is extensively involved in the preparation of federal estate tax returns and issues involving allocation of taxes, amounts to be distributed to beneficiaries, disclaimers that may minimize estate taxes after one’s death, and similar tax issues. Furthermore, the firm’s professionals offer the expertise to deal with the Internal Revenue Service regarding any dispute arising from estate tax filings, including a protest, negotiations with appeals, or even a petition to the United States Tax Court.

Asset Protection

We assist many clients who recognize the need to protect their valuable assets from claims of potential creditors and plaintiffs. Asset protection planning is most effective when it is done before potential claims arise. Asst-protection techniques may include transferring title to assets, limited partnerships and limited liability companies (usually in states with the most favorable laws) and asset protection trusts (domestic or offshore).

Please see our articles for helpful information.