Private Client

Trust, estate and gift tax planning for U.S. and international clients

Dechert’s private client lawyers offer trust and estate planning and administration and tax  planning services to high net worth individuals, closely-held corporations, and charitable organizations, and the individual and corporate fiduciaries who serve them. The team represents both U.S. and international clients.

Every client’s situation is different. Our directive is clear: to develop a strategy that accomplishes the client’s wealth transfer goals and then implement through testamentary and lifetime plans that preserve assets, distribute assets as envisioned, and minimize income and transfer taxes across all domestic and international jurisdictions.

Comprehensive services from drafting foundational documents to devising tax strategies

Our services are comprehensive. They range from drafting foundational documents like trusts, wills, and powers of attorney to devising cutting-edge multi-generational transfer tax strategies. The team takes an across-the-board view of clients’ assets against objectives. We work with traditional assets like stocks and bonds, as well as real estate, closely held businesses, retirement benefits, life insurance, foreign assets and alternative investment strategies. For family owned businesses, we identify business issues and structure succession plans.

Our private client team:

  • Sets up lifetime and testamentary trusts that help U.S. and foreign beneficiaries and trustees transfer wealth efficiently.
  • Forms charitable giving programs that meet clients’ long-term tax, estate planning and philanthropic goals.
  • Assists with life insurance planning, including trust ownership of life insurance policies.
  • Creates giving plans and dynasty trusts that benefit younger generations.
  • Offers post-mortem planning.
  • Advises charities on giving programs, charitable remainder and lead trusts, conservation easements and donor advised funds.
Estate and tax planning and trust and estate administration

Our lawyers assist trustees and executors with all aspects of administration, including trusts and estates with U.S. multi-jurisdictional and overseas assets. For fiduciary clients, we help to:

  • Manage estate assets
  • Probate the decedent’s estate
  • Handle debts and expenses
  • Prepare accountings
  • Prepare estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer tax and fiduciary income tax returns
  • Prepare state inheritance and estate tax returns
  • Close the estate and distribute assets
  • Assist trustees and investment advisors on appropriate trust assets

If a contested matter arises, we are equipped to handle it--whether it be a will contest, surcharge action, tax controversy or family-owned business dispute. We also draft family settlement agreements.

Family-owned businesses and succession planning

Family-owned businesses face unique issues. It is imperative that these businesses understand and consider all options concerning succession planning, including buy-sell agreements, family limited partnerships, limited liability companies and recapitalizations. We advise family-owned businesses and their family member owners on estate and gift taxes and techniques to transfer their business interests such as direct gifts, sales of interests, and grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs).

Planning for private fund managers

Many hedge and private equity fund managers face significant estate tax liability upon their death. Our trusts and estates lawyers, who for years have drawn upon Dechert’s top internationally recognized hedge fund and private equity practices, advise fund managers on how to preserve their wealth and minimize taxes when transferring fund interests—to and from trusts, estates, family limited partnerships and other private investment vehicles.

We take an interdisciplinary approach to trusts and estates. The team works closely with lawyers from other practice areas like corporate, private equity, tax and employee benefits to provide thorough legal advice and seamless, efficient client service.

International trust and estate planning

Clients’ personal lives and careers are globalizing. Today, more U.S. citizens have significant assets and business interests abroad, reside in another country, and name beneficiaries living overseas. In addition, many non-U.S. persons have family members who reside in the U.S. or become U.S. citizens. The trust, estate and tax planning issues involved in these cross-border matters are complex. Our lawyers advise on strategies and best options for both inbound and outbound transactions, including advising:

  • U.S. clients with foreign income, foreign financial accounts or interest in foreign entities
  • U.S. clients with a non-U.S. citizen spouse
  • U.S. beneficiaries of foreign trusts
  • Non-U.S. clients buying assets in the U.S.
  • Non-U.S. clients who have U.S. beneficiaries
  • Non-U.S. estates with U.S. connections

We also ensure compliance with the various reporting requirements related to foreign assets, including the OECD’s Common Reporting Standards (CRS) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).