Estates and Trusts
Few areas of the law have undergone more change in recent years than the tax laws: estate tax, gift tax, income tax, and the generation-skipping transfer tax. John D. Wright, one of our founders, was a pioneer in estate and tax planning in Baltimore. Wright, Constable & Skeen has continued an extensive practice in those areas throughout its history.
We begin the estate planning process with a careful analysis of the client´s holdings, their estimated value, and whether they are held individually or in joint names. Business interests, life insurance, and employee benefits are examined. Our focus is on understanding our client’s estate planning goals and implementing them in the most tax-efficient manner. We do not believe that tax considerations should be the controlling factor in estate planning, but we are prepared to guide our clients to solutions which are right for them personally and which use all possible tax-savings techniques.
From simple wills for people of modest means to sophisticated estate planning, we have used planning devices such as aggressive gift programs to family members, revocable (living) trusts, testamentary trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable gifts of various kinds and personal residence trusts.
Estate planning also includes planning for possible future disability. In counseling our clients, we recommend that consideration be given to durable powers of attorney for financial matters, and advance medical directives for health care.
The administration of an estate requires a combination of technical know-how, attention to detail, and the ability to work comfortably with the family. The lawyers and paralegal staff at Wright, Constable & Skeen have been serving Maryland families in this matter for more than 100 years.
Our attorneys are frequently asked to serve as Personal Representatives (Executor) of a client’s estates. With the support of experienced paralegal personnel, we are then responsible for probating the Will, assembling all the assets, obtaining appraisals, carrying out any corporate buy-sell agreements, filing the required papers with the Register of Wills, acting on claims against the estate, filing the final income tax returns for the decedent, and investing available cash. Throughout this process we maintain complete and accurate records of the estate, file periodic accountings with the Register of Wills and the family, file the income tax returns for the estate, file the estate tax returns if the value of the estate requires filing and make numerous tax elections, including the QTIP election.
In situations where family members or a bank are named as personal representatives, Wright, Constable & Skeen can act as attorney for the estate. Our role will vary with the circumstances and the experience of the Personal Representatives. We are prepared to take a leadership role in the administration of the estate or carry out specific tasks as may be assigned.
Trusts are complex arrangements that may be created during life or at death. While an estate may remain open for years, trusts may continue for decades. Attorneys at Wright, Constable & Skeen work closely with clients to determine how to appropriately integrate trusts into an estate plan to protect family members, reduce taxes and protect assets. Our attorneys frequently serve as Trustee or co-Trustee with family members or a bank or trust company. When not serving as Trustees our attorneys are available to advise Trustees with regard to their fiduciary duties to beneficiaries and proper trust administration. Wright, Constable & Skeen also represents beneficiaries regarding their rights under trust arrangements.
WARNING TO IRA OWNERS
By: Michael I. Gordon
If you have an IRA upon which you have named someone other than your spouse as beneficiary or if you are a named beneficiary of someone else’s IRA, be aware that a recent letter ruling from the IRS should act as a warning that unless arrangements are made for a trustee-to-trustee transfer, the proceeds of that IRA will be immediately taxable. Thus, it is important to arrange for the trustee of the IRA being distributed goes directly to the trustee for a rollover IRA created by the transferee or serious tax consequences will attach. If a check is made out to the named beneficiary and that beneficiary then attempts to put the funds into a rollover IRA, based upon this ruling, that method of transfer will not avoid immediate taxation.
For more information, please call Estate Planning Group at (410) 659- 1300 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.