When it comes to legal matters like Wealth Preservation, everyone has an opinion but only a lawyer with the relevant experience can actually help. The internet is especially full of wealth preservation half-truths and outright misinformation spread by non-attorneys who are trying to sell the “sizzle” without being able to deliver the “steak”. There are even a few lawyers out there and websites who say they work with lawyers, promoting a nationwide “cookie cutter” approach to a highly individualized and state-specific legal service. The reality is that complex, multidimensional legal and tax analyses are required to develop and implement a legal wealth preservation plan that is most likely to survive the IRS scrutiny, if you are audited, and to prevail in court if a lawsuit is filed.
While our approaches to corporate and business work vary widely according to the commercial context and our client’s economic objectives, most of our Wealth Preservation clients share the same fundamental goals. Namely, to obtain the maximum legal protection for their assets, minimize their personal liability relating to their business or investments, reduce taxes to the legal minimum and designate when, how and to whom their wealth will ultimately be transferred upon their death or incapacity. Planning to achieve these goals requires a Methodology that can be divided into Evaluation and Implementation phases.
1. An initial meeting to explain the general legal principles that apply to you, gather information regarding your assets, personal circumstances, goal and limitations, and sometimes give a preliminary advice pending further analysis.
2. Reviewing documentation regarding your businesses, investments, and other assets. Collaborating, as appropriate, with your financial advisor and/or accountant, and sometimes following up with requests for specific additional information or focused follow up questions.
3. Analyzing all the information gathered and developing a series of implementable recommendations designed to obtain the maximum legal protection for your assets, minimize your personal liability relating to your business or investments, reduce taxes to the legal minimum and designate when, how, and to whom your wealth will ultimately be transferred upon your death or incapacity.
4. Communicating these recommendations to you in a way that the costs and benefits of each recommendation are clear to you, and helping you decide between your available alternatives.
5. Selecting the optimal legal structure to be created for each asset and advising you regarding the most effective means to convey each asset to the new legal structure.
The Implementation phase involves setting up the optimal legal structures identified in the Evaluation phase and conveying each asset to the appropriate structure, all of which typically includes:
- Drafting intercompany agreements
- Executing fundamental estate planning documents to prepare for death or incapacity
- Sophisticated trusts, family limited partnerships and offshore planning
- Conversion, formation or recapitalization of business entities
- Executing partnership, shareholder or operating agreements
- Changing title to stock and real estate
- Reallocating liquid investments
- Refinancing / leveraging assets
- Purchasing life insurance and/or annuities
Before the Implementation phase is complete, you will know why we set up each structure, how it works and what you must do to preserve its legal effectiveness.
There is never a charge for a brief meeting to determine whether we are the right firm for you and to estimate the fee for an Evaluation.
However, most people who make an appointment want to discuss their personal situation, learn more about the complex rules of law, and be advised as to what they can and should do, but they are not yet ready to formally retain the firm to conduct a thorough evaluation.
In this case, we reserve two hours of time to conduct an informal evaluation for a nominal flat fee, which is normally credited towards the fee for implementing any recommendation you hire us to complete.