We are all familiar with that old saying that the only things that are certain are “death and taxes”. That saying is particularly relevant for each of us today as we are continually bombarded with so many of these issues by the media, by daily mailings that we receive, or from approaches by institutions and individuals offering wealth-management services.
Our wills and estates lawyers provide assistance with all aspects of estate and personal planning, including preparation of wills, codicils, powers of attorney, living wills, guardianship matters, and a great variety of trust arrangements to accommodate specific needs.
In the personal planning area, issues of family law often play a significant role, including the preparation of cohabitation agreements, marriage contracts, acting as counsel in matters of separation and divorce, and dealing with such issues as may arise concerning custody, support and property division. Estate law and family law are perhaps the areas of law most susceptible to litigation where individuals and families are at their most vulnerable. We have considerable expertise in such matters as will interpretation and contestation, dependant relief and family law proceedings, passing of accounts, variation of trust proceedings, acting as litigation guardian for minors and litigation trustees. Because of the sensitivity of these areas, we often find mediation and other alternative forms of dispute resolution to be more appropriate than the litigation process.
In the present generation where we are seeing and will continue to see an unprecedented transference of wealth taking place, both on an individual and corporate level, we are often called upon to assist family businesses in matters of succession, estate freezing and other corporate reorganizations, shareholder and partnership agreements, and general compensation planning. With our advanced tax planning expertise, we assist families with their wealth planning, retirement planning, avoiding or minimizing of probate tax, and other death-related taxation.
When death occurs, we provide estate administration services, assisting the personal representatives of the estate in the administration of the estate of the deceased. We often find ourselves acting as the directly nominated representative of the estate, appointed either by the deceased through a will or court appointment.
Other issues in which we assist clients are life insurance trusts, creditor-proofing mechanisms, domestic and off-shore trust planning, immigration trusts, trusts or guardianships in matters of disability, education savings plans, gifting programs and charitable giving.