If you have accumulated substantial personal assets, it’s essential that you have a comprehensive and customized estate plan in place to carry out your intentions and to protect your wealth from unnecessary taxes, creditors, and the administrative costs associated with probate.

While there are a number of complex tax and legal structures that may achieve a certain outcome, each client’s personal circumstances and family dynamics are unique.  Therefore, high-net-worth estate planning in the current environment is a sophisticated process that requires an experienced team of professionals who can tailor your estate planning documents to your specific goals and values.

Ready and eager to assist you in this challenge, our estate planning team at Pierro, Connor, & Strauss utilizes proven asset protection tools and tax-reduction strategies to establish and implement for our clients so that they and generations to follow continue to prosper from the wealth that they have worked so hard to build.

Wealth and Tax Planning Opportunities

Our New York estate planning lawyers take a wholistic and integrated approach to either creating your new estate plan (or improving upon your existing estate plan) so that your plan will endure for decades but have inherent flexibility that accommodates any unforeseeable circumstances in the future. Pierro, Connor & Strauss aims to ensure that your estate plan is preserved and meticulously carried out over the years. Our primary goals with high asset estate and tax planning are to:

  • Create an estate plan that maximizes the estate and gift tax exemption so that you can pass on more of your wealth to your heirs instead of the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Plan ahead and make strategic moves to avoid the New York State estate tax cliff, which kicks in once your estate exceeds $7,287,000 (or 5% of the 2024 exemption of $6,940,000 in New York State.)
  • Prepare estate and/or gift tax returns and resolve audits with state and federal revenue departments.

We strive to maximize the wealth for yourself, children, grandchildren, and charitable organizations while shielding them from heavy tax burdens on those assets.

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Asset Protection Strategies

Effective estate planning strategies often require the use of sophisticated trust and corporate entities to hold and shelter the largest portion of the assets you have worked so hard to obtain, particularly if it consists of a closely held business. Asset protection structures vary from state to state, and each strategy is highly customized.

Techniques that include:

Charitable Remainder Trust: A Charitable Remainder Trust or “CRT” is an irrevocable “split interest” trust designed to pay you or another not charitable beneficiary an income stream from transferred assets that yield a gift or income tax charitable deduction. The remainder of the assets in a “CRT” will pass to one or more charities designated by you at the end of the income stream. A CRT can help you plan for retirement, reduce your taxable estate, and accomplish your philanthropic goals.

Spousal Limited Access Trust: A Spousal Limited Access Trust (or “SLAT”) is an irrevocable lifetime trust (SLAT) that clients can create to leverage the use of their Federal and state estate and gift tax exemptions and amplify the inheritance they leave to the next generation. In a SLAT, a client creates an irrevocable trust funded with assets having a fair market value equal to the client’s remaining estate and gift tax exemption. The client designs the SLAT so that the client’s spouse and descendants may receive distributions from the property during the lifetime of the client spouse. The result is that the client moves asset that are likely to appreciate out of his estate tax base for estate tax purposes and thereby reduces the estate tax bill that would be from the spouses’ combined estates while, at the same time, enjoying indirect access to the transferred assets by virtue of being married to the SLAT beneficiary.

SLATs allow clients to take advantage of the current federal lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion of $13,610,000 per spouse in 2024, or $27,220,000  for married couples, which is scheduled to be reduced by January of 2026.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts: A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (or “GRAT”) is another lifetime irrevocable trust through which a client may transfer appreciating assets to his heirs and significantly minimize gift and estate taxes. By gifting an interest in property that is “frozen” in value for gift tax purposes under the IRS rules, a client may shift a highly appreciated asset out of his estate into the hands of his heirs at little or no transfer tax cost. A GRAT is an effective way for high-net-worth individuals to plan for retirement provided the asset transferred is not likely to depreciate after the transfer.

Engage in Gift Planning

Gifting assets in an amount sufficient to absorb your gift and estate tax exemption during your lifetime while maintaining some degree of control over or enjoyment from the gifted assets is a common goal and indeed having the best of both worlds. Pierro, Connor & Strauss can assist you in achieving this enviable position by exploring various gifting options, including making use of annual exclusion gifts ($18,000 per year per donee for 2024 for individual taxpayers or $36,000 per year per donee for married clients), valuation discounts, and the creation of entities.

Establishing a Legacy

Our high-net-worth estate planning attorneys understand what it means to establish a legacy that allows those you care about to benefit from your hard work, dedication and success.

Legacy planning focuses on the transfer of your wealth and assets to your heirs, in addition to organizations that you support, on your terms. This looks different for every client. Maybe you want to provide education funds for your children and their children or donate annually to your alma mater. Your plan should reflect your personal values and goals. Whatever you envision, we use every resource available to make that happen.

In some families, generational wealth transfers and business transitions are often marred by communication breakdowns and family disputes. To prevent these complications, we can create a family governance structure that answers the questions:

  1. Who is family (defined by genetics and/or affinity)?
  2. What is your family’s “Mission Statement?”
  3. How will the family members communicate?
  4. How will they make decisions?
  5. What does the problem-solving process look like?

Developing a family governance structure is essential to reduce conflict, preserve the family legacy and provide opportunities for future generations to continue their ancestors’ vision.

Secure Planning Document Management

Working with our firm offers a unique and highly valuable opportunity to easily access and manage your financial, tax and estate planning documents across your team of financial and legal advisors. We highly encourage the use of our PALMS (Professional Advisors Lifetime Management System) program, with 24-7 access to a customized dashboard with all your documents securely stored and updated easily with Inheralink technology. PALMS members have the advantages of an annual meeting with your attorneys, personalized total Net Work Statement, direct phone access to your attorney for two hours each year, and access for your other wealth and insurance advisors and family members.

Learn More About PALMS

Partnering With Our Experienced High Net Worth Estate Planning Attorneys

Recently named a Tier 1 Best Trusts and Estates Law Firm by U.S. News and World Report, Pierro, Connor & Strauss has been providing superior estate planning services since its founding in 1999. Put that experience to work for you.

Call or inquire online to schedule a consultation at your convenience. We are proud to represent clients in and around Albany, New York City and throughout New York State. We also serve clients in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. We carefully assess the tax implications of various estate planning tools and products to preserve the bulk of your assets and mitigate the tax burden for you and your heirs, now and for generations to come.

Life Happens…..Are You Prepared?

Contact us today for a FREE consultation and we’ll be happy to help take the worry out of tomorrow so you can live today.

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