Estate Planning

Planning, Administration, Representation

The estate planning and probate attorneys in our office provide clients a vast array of services, which go well beyond the traditional drafting of wills and trusts. We think creatively to help our clients address family issues and plan for significant transfers of wealth, while minimizing the tax costs. Our estate planning attorneys take our role as personal counselors very seriously. We listen carefully to determine our clients’ objectives, and provide clear, comprehensive “plain English” recommendations appropriate for each situation and use flow charts as well as overhead presentations in family meetings to make sure that all the concepts are understood.

Private Client Services

A significant portion of our estate planning practice is devoted to providing exceptional advanced planning, administration and related fiduciary and tax services to our very-high-net-worth clients.

On the planning and administrative side of the practice, our private client attorneys have nationally recognized expertise in advanced asset transfer techniques enabling our clients to pass on substantial estates in a tax-efficient manner. Our private client attorneys creatively design and draft fully integrated estate plans comprised of wills and trusts of all types, and as needed, corporate and partnership documents, buy-sell agreements, conveyance documents, and other instruments, specifically tailored to address a client’s estate planning needs. For our charitably minded clients, we provide charitable gift planning and create charitable trusts, private foundations and other tax-exempt entities and, as required, obtain recognition of tax-exempt status and qualification of those entities from federal and state taxing authorities. Representing personal representatives and trustees in the administration of substantial and complex estates and trusts, including the review and implementation of sophisticated post-mortem planning techniques, is a key component of the customized service we provide for our clients. Our estate planners and estate and trust administration team skillfully prepare gift and estate tax returns and are able and well-equipped to defend the positions taken on those returns.

On the tax representation and litigation side of our practice, we effectively represent estates and individuals in IRS gift and estate tax audits from start to finish through the IRS appeals process and, if necessary, through litigation. Our estate planning attorneys work closely with our litigators on complex and high stakes fiduciary litigation in order to provide our clients with unparalleled service and expertise on all of clients’ estate planning and administration matters.

Cost Effective Counsel Regarding Large And Small Estates

A significant portion of our estate planning practice is centered on the planning and administration of very large estates. However, we bring to bear the same competence and dedication in planning estates at all levels of complexity and take particular pride in being able to provide services to both large and small estates efficiently and economically.

Estate And Trust Administration

Estate and Trust administration is a major part of our practice, whether within the probate system or involving post-death administration of revocable and irrevocable trusts. Our probate lawyers attend to detail, and seek to uncover tax saving opportunities during estate administration. Our work in this area ranges from helping clients maximize their estate planning objectives, to consulting with fiduciaries on issues arising during the course of administration and representing them in all matters before the probate court, to litigating cases in which conflicts have arisen. Our estate planning attorneys regularly prepare estate tax returns as part of estate administration work and are well-equipped to defend the positions taken on those returns.

Our estate and trust administration team has extensive experience and expertise in all aspects of administration. The team includes our estate administrator, a licensed attorney whose practice is concentrated on estate and trust administration and probate matters and has overseen the administration of over 500 estates throughout her career. The head of our estate planning group co-authored the book on estate and trust administration in Michigan that is regularly used as a text book by local colleges.

When Planning Was Incomplete During A Lifetime

We take pride not only in our lifetime planning services, but also handle “post-mortem” planning for those whose affairs were neglected during their lifetimes.

Fiduciary Representation

As part of our estate and trust administration services, we counsel personal representatives and trustees on their obligations as fiduciaries and advise them with respect to strategies and courses of action to avoid fiduciary liability. Together with our litigators, we have broad experience in fiduciary litigation issues. Our firm regularly represents personal representatives, trustees, and beneficiaries in court in law suits involving estate and trust administration issues, fiduciary removal and breach of duty allegations, will and trust construction and reformation issues, trust terminations, property characterization, accountings, and will contests.

Related Estate Planning And Probate Services

The estate planning group also assists clients in the negotiation and drafting of ante-nuptial agreements, retirement planning and 401K plan and IRA rollovers. We also represent and advise conservators and guardians.

Our estate planning attorneys are frequently called upon for presentations to continuing legal education providers and charitable organizations


Checklist Items to Be Brough by Client to Initial Interview on Probate Matter