Trusts and Estates
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Cummings & Lockwood's Trusts and Estates practice is one of the largest and most skilled practice groups of its kind in the country. Our work goes far beyond wills, trusts and tax returns. Though we complete hundreds of those each year, we have also designed thousands of wealth-preserving estate plans, created scores of charitable foundations and served as trusted advisors in the management and transfer of our clients' wealth.
Several families in Connecticut and Florida that were among the Firm's first clients are still Cummings & Lockwood clients. Generations later, we represent descendants who reside in every part of the world. We serve as a bridge between generations--ensuring that values, wishes and goals are maintained. Technology has made our practice more efficient and more personal. Computerized drafting and tax software, much of which was designed by Cummings & Lockwood attorneys, enables us to devote more time to counseling individuals and structuring legal instruments tailored to their needs.
We are particularly well-qualified to serve the needs of entrepreneurs, as we are able to coordinate personal and business planning when designing tax-efficient estate plans that deal with the succession of business ownership, intellectual property, environmental liabilities and other business issues in ways that benefit the family and the business. In sum, we offer the experience that can be achieved through a group of attorneys practicing together, without forfeiting the personal service that has been our trademark as trusted family advisors.
Estate Planning and Settlement Services
While wealth preservation involves a wide variety of separate tasks and issues, most of the services that our lawyers provide involve the estate planning and settlement process, and the ongoing management of family trusts. A Cummings & Lockwood lawyer's representation of an estate planning client and his/her family typically spans a number of years, and that representation is likely to consist of some or all of the following:
- Information Gathering and Objective Setting - Through an initial meeting or series of meetings, our lawyers gather information about the client's family and assets, as well as the specific goals and concerns that the client has regarding the distribution of his/her estate.
- Estate Planning Education and Preliminary Recommendations - In these initial meetings, our lawyers also inform clients on the estate and gift tax system that often dictates much of the tax-planning structure of the estate planning process, as well as the other legal and non-legal issues that impact the formulation of a client's estate plan, including lifetime gift programs designed to minimize the impact of estate taxes on the family fortune, and plans designed to accomplish such results with minimum adverse current economic impact on the client.
- Development of Customized Estate Plan - Based on the information gathered in these initial meetings, our lawyers present an estate plan to the client that includes all of the options available for meeting his/her stated objectives. Using feedback from the client and after further discussions, our lawyers customize the estate plan to his/her individual needs and preferences.
- Drafting of Estate Planning Documents - Once the client selects his/her desired estate plan, our lawyers draft the necessary documents (e.g., Wills, Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Deeds, etc.) needed to put the plan into effect. An important part of this process involves ensuring that a client understands the meaning and effect of the documents he or she signs.
- Ancillary Services - Over the years, our lawyers may perform a number of ancillary services, such as the preparation of income or gift tax returns or counseling the client regarding the role of life insurance in an estate plan. In response to major changes in the law, in a client's financial or family circumstances and/or changes in the client's goals, our lawyers assist the client in making any necessary changes to his/her estate plan.
- Estate Settlement - In the event of a client's death, our lawyers will assist the client's family in the sometimes complex process of estate settlement to help ensure a smooth and efficient transfer of the client's assets to the beneficiaries named in his/her Will. This process includes guiding the client's family through the probate court system, filing tax returns, handling any audits with the IRS and local taxing authorities, dealing with creditors of the client's estate, and assisting with the sale of estate assets to raise cash or facilitate distribution to the beneficiaries.
An integral part of our services to private clients involves counseling with respect to the management of inheritances received by beneficiaries. The care of property for another is called "fiduciary" service. Family members often lack the time, flexibility and expertise to take on these responsibilities alone and discharge such duties adequately. In addition, friends and family members acting as fiduciaries expose themselves to personal liability, often without realizing it or taking appropriate measures to protect themselves.
We are often called on by individuals acting as fiduciaries to provide legal and administration advice in the discharge of their duties. In addition, the Cummings & Lockwood attorney who has established a personal relationship with a client during the estate planning process may be a good choice as a fiduciary in certain situations. The attorney also can serve as co-fiduciary with a responsible family member, other individual or institution and share responsibility for the administration of the estate or trust. When serving as a Personal Representative/Executor or as a Trustee, Cummings & Lockwood attorneys would either retain the same investment advisers used by the client, or, when necessary, identify other appropriate outside investment advisers for investment and portfolio management advice.
Whether acting as fiduciary, co-fiduciary or legal counsel to other fiduciaries, the attorneys in Cummings & Lockwood's Trusts and Estate's practice, together with our dedicated fiduciary accountants and paralegals, can meet all of the legal, tax and accounting requirements of the trust or estate.
Cummings & Lockwood - The Choice for sophisticated legal counsel.
ALERTS AND UPDATES
- CLIENT ALERT: IRS PROPOSES DRAMATIC CHANGES IN VALUATION DISCOUNTS FOR FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESSES AND ENTITIES FOR GIFT AND ESTATE PURPOSES
- "Look Before you Leap! Planning at the Cliff of a Client's Capacity"
- "Hey @Grandkids, Like Me On Facebook!" Estate Planning for Digital Assets
- CLIENT ALERT: TAX-FREE DIRECT CHARITABLE/IRA DISTRIBUTIONS
- 2015 PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP ANNUAL CLIENT UPDATE
- PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP CLIENT MEMO - GIFTING
- 2014 CUMMINGS & LOCKWOOD ANNUAL UPDATE
- 2014 PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP ANNUAL CLIENT UPDATE
- PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP CLIENT ALERT - NEW YORK ESTATE TAX LAWS
- 2013 PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP ANNUAL CLIENT UPDATE
- PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP CLIENT ALERT - ESTATE, GIFT AND GENERATION-SKIPPING TRANSFER TAX
- PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP ANNUAL CLIENT UPDATE, November 2010
- PRIVATE CLIENTS GROUP ANNUAL CLIENT UPDATE, December 2008
- Help Clients Avoid 10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes
- Tax Court Disallows Trusts Charitable Deduction For Want of Charitable Intent
- Gene Wilder's Real-Life Golden Ticket
- UBI Tax Not Applied to Receivables Left by Decedent
- IRS Denies IRC Section 1035 Tax Deferral in Annuity Exchange
- The Fiduciary vs. Sovereign Immunity
- Asset Protection or Abusive Tax Planning?
- IRS "Rolls Over" Where Beneficiary Designation Overlooked
- The Legacy IRA: The Charitable IRA Rollover Part II
- "Look Before you Leap! Planning at the Cliff of a Client's Capacity"
- New Federal Bill Authorizes Charitable Life-Income IRA Rollovers
- IRS Rules on Tax Consequences Associated with Early Termination of a Generation-Skipping Taxable Marital Trust
- Improper Payments by Private Foundations
- Legal Underpinnings for Formulating (And Defending) Estate Plans
- Defining Real Success
- Charitable Remainder Trust Pitfalls
- Patching Up Mucked Up CRTs
- Termination of Charitable Remainder Trusts
- Webinar - "Journal in the Round: Avoiding and Fixing Common Estate Planning Mistakes"
- 2016 Professional Advisors Breakfast Seminar
- "Estate Planning for Digital Assets"
- "The Intersection of Family Law and Estate Planning: Everything You Need to Know to Make the Right Referrals"
- Implications of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act - Help Your Clients Plan for a 2017 Deadline
- "Avoiding Bad Heir Days: Thoughtful Planning for Your Clients and Causes They Care About"
- "Crash Estate Planning for Generalists"
PRESS RELEASES & NEWS
- Repeal Death Tax
- Conrad Teitell to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils
- Cummings & Lockwood Selected as "Best Law Firm" by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers
- Cummings & Lockwood Welcomes Grace Gutierrez, Esq. to the Firm's Bonita Springs, Florida, Office
- Cummings & Lockwood Attorneys in Connecticut and Florida Named 2017 Best Lawyers in America
- Kelley Galica Peck Has Joined Cummings & Lockwood as a Principal in the Private Clients Group in the Firm's West Hartford Office
- Cummings & Lockwood Attorneys Named 2016 Florida Super Lawyers
- Robert L. Lancaster, Attorney in Cummings & Lockwood's Naples, Florida, Office Achieves Board Certification in Wills, Trusts and Estates
- Heather J. Rhoades named Principal-in-Charge of Cummings & Lockwood's West Hartford, Connecticut Office
- Mary Beth Crawford named Principal-in-Charge of Cummings & Lockwood's Bonita Springs, Florida Office
- Cummings & Lockwood Recognized As One of the Leading Trusts and Estates Practices in Connecticut by Chambers
- Heather J. Rhoades - 2016 Hartford Trusts & Estates Attorney of the Year
- Cummings & Lockwood Announces the Addition of David M. Halpen to its Private Clients Group in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
- 10 Ways the 2704 Regulations (if finalized) Will Ruin Your Holiday Season
- Trump's Tax Plan
- 10 Tips for Establishing Domicile in a Tax-Friendly Jurisdiction
- 10 Strategies for Passing on Retirement Assets When Your Clients Pass On
- 10 Things to Consider When Administering Irrevocable Trusts
- 10 Opportunities to Take Advantage of IRS Interest Rates
- 10 Charitable Planning Ideas That Can Turn Any Client into a Philanthropist
- 10 Challenges When Planning for the Business Owner
- 10 Estate Planning Pointers for the Modern Family
- 10 Considerations for Choosing Trustees and Planning for Incapacity