Wealth Management and Family Office Services
Without a strong legal structure and base under and supporting family wealth, that wealth cannot be successfully or optimally grown and may not even be preserved. Furthermore, unless the planning associated with that base’s legal structure is managed, whatever wealth a family builds becomes vulnerable to a variety of risks- loss from poor tax planning, an inadvertent divorce of a child, mismanagement or third party abuse during periods of incapacity, or poor investment management are unfortunately common examples. Family wealth can thus be toppled by poor or misplaced Wealth Management. Our Wealth Management and Family Office Services are designed to extend the type of comprehensive management enjoyed by many of the mega-wealthy, to those who have true need but can’t afford the cost of their own staff of attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, and secretarial staff. We do so as the attorney for our client, without bias or conflicts of interest. We do not advocate investments but advocate for our clients in their relationship with their money managers and investment advisors. Too many service organizations claim they are Wealth Managers, but they are often simply Investment Managers and not licensed or qualified to address the base requirement- a strong legal structure that is properly managed through clear lines of represenation.
Estate Planning as the Base- Legal Structure and Proper Documentation
Family estate planning involves the creation of a plan supported by legal documents, which avoids loss of family assets through taxation, government bureaucracy, and undesirable legal processes. A child or grandchild’s divorce, an unintended inheritance by non-family members, a suit by a creditor, and an egregious tax system greatly inhibit the accumulation and preservation of family wealth. A proper and well monitored estate plan can protect against these threats. Furthermore, values concerning money, work ethic, and other matters of tradition can be instilled with a proper and well structured estate plan.
More and more often estate plans are extending over several generations to achieve optimum use of available exemptions and planning opportunities. We pay taxes all of our lives and accumulate wealth, which we often characterize as our principal. Federal and state income, excise, sales, property, and other taxes directly impact our ability to accumulate this principal. At death, an unexpected tax on this accumulated principal is imposed by federal and state governments to prevent us from giving this principal to our heirs. When combined, these taxes can result in a total tax exceeding 69% of the income we earn over our lifetimes. This occurs, however, not only in ours, but our children’s, grandchildren’s, etc., generations. Sadly, few people use exemptions that are available to avoid some, if not all, of these taxes.
“Money can do more damage than good”…. “You really never know someone until you share an inheritance with them”…. “The vast majority of estate and tax plans of people today waste various tax exemptions and expose wealth to reach by non-family members”….
These common quotes clearly describe the experiences of some, and how deficient estate plans can adversely impact the preservation of our traditional wealth and values.
Trusts are often the heart of a family’s estate plan. Other vehicles and techniques, however, also exist. A trust can preserve tax exemptions, foster the preservation of family values, and achieve an umbrella of asset protection over several generations of accumulated wealth. Other entities and techniques, however, may be used in conjunction with trusts to promote both income and estate tax savings, management, and organizations of a family’s estate plan – a plan that can completely and comprehensively serve the long-term legal and tax reduction objectives of a family, while promoting the preservation of family wealth and values.
Oversight & Integration: Proper Accounting and Tax Compliance
The perfect plan will fail its intended purpose if not properly implemented. The impact of this failure can be quite substantial with the consequences generally being hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars of potential loss. Often failure to properly account for and report elections and allocations to the Internal Revenue Service jeopardize legal structures in estate and business plans that are intended to reduce income and estate taxes.
We have found that some clients are able to properly implement plans and make decisions, while others are not. Some estate planning can involve complex analysis and understanding to achieve its intended purpose. Other planning may involve an evaluation of risk versus reward, much like many businesspersons make on a periodic basis.
Decisions have to be made. Once made, action needs to be taken. Once taken, the consequences may need to be monitored.
Our firm has married the disciplines of attorneys, accountants, and legal assistants to create, implement, manage, and terminate estate, financial, and business plans for our clients. Though not all clients require wealth management services, we have learned the needs of our clients over many years of service and we have grown our firm to meet those needs. We are able to tailor our services to meet most client needs.
Lenses With Which To See
The Firm has invested in a number of lenses to assist our clients in the management of their wealth. These systems permit us to track laws, economics, and geopolitics on a more comprehensive basis. Whether simply preparing wills and trusts for clients using the latest legal strategies, performing tax compliance through use of our staff of CPAs, administering estates and trusts, litigating client conflicts, or forming or reorganizing businesses, our aim is to represent our clients to the best of our abilities using the latest technologies. Our goal is to expand those abilities and capabilities by investing in systems and technology after thorough vetting. We have recently spent several years expanding and integrating our Wealth Management Department and our ability to assist our clients in discussions with their money managers and investment advisors. Whether it is our proprietary systems developed through integration of legal and accounting processes, how we incorporate Lexis®, Advent®, a Bloomberg machine, and HOLT™ and Morningstar™ lenses, our goal is to fulfill the needs of our clients as their attorney, in an ever more complicated and less rosy world.
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