High net worth individuals and groups trust our attorneys with their sophisticated tax, gift and estate planning; estate, trust and foundation administration; and related planning matters. We monitor and respond promptly to changing tax laws and are often retained as special tax counsel, working in concert with our clients' other attorneys and business advisers.


Our attorneys have extensive experience in estate and business planning for individuals, including members of family groups, entrepreneurs, owners of closely held businesses, CEOs and other senior executives. We have developed a state-of-the-art document assembly system to produce complicated wills and trust agreements efficiently. 

Our services include:

  • Tax Planning. Our attorneys have significant experience in minimizing gift and estate taxes, income taxes and generation-skipping transfer taxes in both lifetime and after-death situations.

  • Lifetime Giving. We help clients maximize lifetime giving opportunities by using the annual exclusion and the gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions, and by leveraging these exclusions and exemptions using sophisticated tax planning techniques.

  • Use of Trusts. We advise on when and whether trusts are effective to avoid taxes, probate and creditor and other claims; and on the use of trusts in a variety of other situations.

  • Trust Administration. We plan and administer trustee meeting minutes, maintain fiduciary accounting records and prepare fiduciary accounts, provide reconciliation of trust statements as needed, provide advice on beneficiary distribution policy (and related calculations), work with trustees and investment advisors to establish trust appropriate investment policies, prepare and/or review fiduciary income tax returns, advise on applicable tax and fiduciary reporting and notices, advise as to appropriate change of trust situs and serve as an information resource to trustees and beneficiaries.

  • Insurance Planning. Our attorneys have substantial experience in the uses of life insurance for business and personal planning, including funded buyouts, leveraged purchases of insurance, irrevocable trusts and dynasty trusts.

  • Charitable Giving. We counsel individuals on charitable giving techniques, including the formation and operation of charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, donor-advised funds, private foundations and the granting of conservation easements.

  • Business Planning. We regularly advise on issues of business continuity, family succession planning, shareholders' agreements, buy-sell agreements, estate freezes and various tax-deferral devices. We also advise on formation and operation of S corporations, LLCs and family limited partnerships.

  • Retirement Planning and Executive Compensation. In counseling executives of both public and private companies, our attorneys analyze employment benefits, stock options, restricted stock, lump sum payments, rollovers and related tax planning matters.

  • Executors and Trustees. We frequently serve as executors, trustees, and members of the board of private foundations and provide legal advice to such fiduciaries. Our team handles all facets of estate, trust and foundation administration (other than investment advisory services). Our work also includes management, sale and/or distribution of complex assets such as major art collections, closely held businesses, housing complexes and other commercial real estate, as well as farmland and thoroughbred animals.

  • Litigation. Our group practices extensively before probate courts in a variety of cases involving fiduciary surcharge, tax issues, will contests and will-and-trust construction matters. Our litigators work with institutional and individual fiduciaries, family offices and investment managers, often in close collaboration with their compliance and risk management officers and their securities, tax, trust, estate and administrative professionals and business partners.

  • Prenuptial Agreements. We prepare these agreements in appropriate situations to protect the assets of our clients and their families.

  • Use of South Dakota Trusts. We represent or have represented 14 public trust companies in South Dakota and 23 of the state's 69 private trust companies chartered there. This work includes obtaining charters for three private trust companies, assuming the general representation of private trust companies chartered by other firms and extensive work, both contested and uncontested, relating to the administration of trusts—particularly trusts that have migrated to South Dakota from other jurisdictions.

Contact

Heike K. Sullivan
Practice Leader
Tel 215.864.8304
sullivanh@ballardspahr.com