Kelley Drye


Contact Information

Carolyn R. Caufield
Practice Chair

New York
Phone: (212) 808-7625
Fax: (212) 808-7897

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Private Clients

Trust & Estates Practices Recognized By U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers ® (Woodward/White, Inc.), 2017

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Kelley Drye's Private Clients group provides legal counsel and related services to high net worth individuals and families, and helps them derive greater value from the substantial private companies they own or control. In the personal realm, Kelley Drye handles the legal and contractual dimensions of key life events – from crafting marriage agreements, to creating and refining vehicles for wealth transfer, to administering wills and trusts and resolving intrafamily disputes. In the business arena, the firm handles such issues as business valuation, succession planning, and tax disputes with federal and state entities. The group's lawyers also provide legal and administrative services to charitable organizations. With Kelley Drye, you work with a counselor who focuses on understanding your unique goals and challenges, and then translates our extensive legal knowledge into clear, actionable plans. With the firm's help, you can protect your personal and business assets today while positioning them to provide greater advantages to family and other beneficiaries tomorrow.

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Lawyers in the firm's Private Clients group support clients in a broad array of areas:

  • Estate and Gift Planning – Minimizing substantial estate and gift taxes for clients through wills and irrevocable trusts, lifetime gifts, insurance vehicles, retained interest trusts, corporate reorganizations, family limited partnerships, charitable gift planning and other arrangements.
  • Probate and Trust Litigation – Representing fiduciaries and beneficiaries in estate and trust litigations, which have been on the rise as demographic and economic forces drive a massive intergenerational wealth transfer. Kelley Drye combines extensive knowledge of estate law with great experience in difficult litigation to successfully handle every type of litigated trusts and estate action including will contests, judicial accounting and construction proceedings, and prosecution and defense of suits by and against both executors and trustees.
  • Business Valuation and Succession Planning – Valuing, reorganizing and administering closely held corporations, partnerships and other forms of privately held foreign and domestic businesses, as well as planning for disposition of an owner's interest. Private clients attorneys structure vehicles for intergenerational business transfers, reducing transfer tax costs and potential family discord.
  • Trust and Estate Administration – Providing comprehensive support to executors and trustees, including the administration of estates of high-net-worth individuals and the trusts they create. The firm helps executors marshal and value estate assets, prepare estate tax returns, and deal with distribution planning and property sales and transfers.
  • Disputed Tax and Valuation Issues – Counseling individuals and trusts and estates in cases before the Internal Revenue Service, United States Tax court and state taxing authorities. In addition, the group's valuation know-how is used in intrafamily dispute resolution. The group has particular experience in handling issues involving valuation and transfer of closely held business entities, real estate, intellectual property and art, and is highly experienced with complex income tax issues.
  • Not-For-Profit Organizations – Advising charities on corporate, trust and tax issues related to investments, grant making and planned giving vehicles. The group represents not-for-profits in merger and dissolution proceedings, and charities as beneficiaries of trusts and estates. Private Clients lawyers provide a full range of administrative services to clients' private foundation, and advises private foundations with respect to federal excise taxes on self-dealing, excess business holdings and taxable expenditures. Private Client attorneys create charitable entities, prepare and file the federal and state applications to recognize such organizations' tax-exempt status and advise charities with respect to governance issues.
  • Matrimonial Matters – Drafting and negotiating prenuptial, postnuptial and separation agreements. When significant marital assets or complex valuation issues become a part of litigated divorce matters, the Private Clients group partners with the firm's Litigation group to provide clients with a significant advantage.
  • International Estates – Structuring international estate plans for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, including asset protection trusts in favorable domestic and offshore jurisdictions. This includes helping clients who are foreign nationals to structure their investments in "U.S.-situs property."

Representative Experience

Confidentiality is of the utmost importance when representing private clients, and precludes us from identifying clients by name. The following are representative matters with which our clients have entrusted us:
  • Administration of a major American composer's estate, including complex valuation issues before the Internal Revenue Service concerning the composer's copyright interests, creation of tax efficient and family cohesive management vehicles for these interests, and negotiation of the sale of certain complex development rights with respect to certain related assets.

  • Successfully represented the beneficiary of a substantial trust, holding various and complex real estate investments in numerous jurisdictions in connection with efforts to recoup funds improperly withheld by the trustees and the removal of the trustees.

  • Arrangements for the disposition of several major art collections, including representation before the Internal Revenue Service concerning valuation and, in one case, obtaining a special construction of a will to permit a highly advantageous sale.

  • Creation and implementation of a plan to transfer the controlling interest in a series of closely held businesses (in the U.S. and abroad) to minimize transfer taxes in all jurisdictions while preserving continuity of family control, including dealing with the intervening incompetence of founder and ongoing advice to the family with respect to the continuing enterprises.

  • Negotiations with respect to property settlement in connection with a separation agreement where marital property includes significant non-marketable venture capital assets.

  • Advice to trustees concerning an action brought by dissident beneficiaries for the trustees' removal.

  • Representation of the estate of a sole shareholder of a closely held importing and product distribution company including advice with respect to plan to utilize partial disclaimers and Code Section 303 stock redemptions to optimize postmortem corporate income tax estate tax planning and analysis of ESOP options to plan for management and ownership succession of the business while addressing tax and liquidity concerns of the family.

  • Advice to a private foundation regarding the disposition of a major collection of musical boxes and automata, including selection of a suitable museum to house the collection and negotiation of a gift agreement to govern the collection and its related endowment.
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October 7, 2016

Enforcing Charitable Pledges

Wealth Management

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