Trusts & Estates

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Kirkland represents families and individuals in the United States and throughout the world regarding the preservation, management and transfer of wealth. The Firm advises individual and corporate fiduciaries in connection with the planning and administration of substantial and complex trusts and estates. Kirkland counsels public and private charities with respect to formation, tax and corporate compliance and day-to-day operations, and advises individuals and charitable institutions regarding the design of major lifetime and testamentary charitable gifts.

Our clients are successful entrepreneurs, private investors, business executives, families and their family offices whose wealth is self-made or has been accumulated over many generations. Working with Kirkland lawyers practicing in other disciplines, we draw upon substantial experience in the laws of income, gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxation, partnerships, corporations and other business entities, securities, pension and retirement benefits, intellectual property, real estate and other areas relevant to design and implement comprehensive business succession and estate plans that are crafted to fit our clients’ circumstances and objectives.

We represent public charities, community trusts and private foundations and provide advice with respect to organization and formation, fiduciary responsibility, minimizing director liability, tax, regulatory and corporate compliance and daily operations and administration. We represent major public charities regarding the design and implementation of charitable gift programs and advise individual donors in connection with the structuring of their lifetime and testamentary charitable giving.

First and foremost, Kirkland emphasizes client service. From the most senior partner to the most junior associate, satisfying the needs of our clients is our paramount objective. We communicate in language that non-lawyers can understand and produce documents timely and efficiently. As a result, we are trusted advisors in all realms of our clients' personal, business and professional lives.

Kirkland lawyers work as a team with clients’ other advisors, such as private bankers and trust officers, financial planners, investment advisors, family office managers, accountants, insurance agents, business appraisers and other lawyers to ensure that the clients’ estate plans are coordinated with their financial structure.

While much of our work is tax-motivated, we go beyond the minimization or elimination of taxes to ensure that the business succession and estate plans we create are flexible and adaptable, so that they can provide for and respond to circumstances that could not be foreseen, shifting investment climates and ever-changing laws and family situations. We are adept at planning for the management or disposition of unique and illiquid assets, such as private equity interests, closely-held businesses and real estate.

To assist our clients in attaining their goals, Kirkland attorneys utilize sophisticated estate and business planning strategies, including special kinds of trusts (such as grantor retained annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, dynastic trusts, insurance trusts, voting trusts, and charitable lead and charitable remainder trusts), and business entities and agreements (such as limited partnerships and shareholders' agreements). We employ creative solutions and techniques that are not generally discussed in the professional literature. We implement tax strategies in a way that minimizes the risk of successful challenges by the IRS.

Kirkland lawyers represent fiduciaries on issues of tax reporting and compliance, complex matters of estate and trust administration, and interpretation of wills, trusts and other instruments.

Kirkland's Trusts & Estates lawyers give seminars throughout the country to lawyers, accountants, bank and trust officers and other professionals. An excellent resource for estate planning professionals is the reference book written by Kirkland partners David A. Handler and Deborah V. Dunn, titled "Drafting the Estate Plan: Law and Forms." The Kirkland Trusts & Estates lawyers are authors of articles in professional trade publications.

The Trusts & Estates Practice Group represents clients in litigated estate and trust matters such as will challenges and contested accountings, in document construction and reformation proceedings, in tax audits and in contested tax matters, whether in Internal Revenue Service administrative proceedings or in court. Kirkland’s top-notch litigators often play an important role in this facet of our practice.

Kirkland represents U.S. and non-U.S. individuals with respect to worldwide estate and business planning, the operation of income and transfer tax treaties and the consequences under U.S. tax laws of investment or residence in the United States.
© 2016 Kirkland & Ellis LLP