With Kelley Drye, you work with a counselor who is motivated to understand your unique set of goals and challenges. We pride ourselves on our “one size does not fit all” methodology and our innovative and personalized approach to all matters. In addition, our attorneys are able to seamlessly draw on the significant resources of the firm’s additional practices areas, including Litigation and Tax, to offer the full range of legal needs to our clients.
Kelley Drye’s Private Clients attorneys provide legal counsel and related services to high-net-worth individuals, multi-generational family estates and trusts, corporate fiduciaries, corporate fiduciaries in dispute resolutions and non-profit organizations. Unlike most private clients practices, our team utilizes an in-house tax team to prepare and file tax returns for individuals, fiduciaries and exempt organizations. We handle the legal and contractual dimensions of personal key life events from creating and refining vehicles for wealth transfer, to administering wills and trusts, resolving intra-family disputes and crafting marriage agreements. Our team handles issues such as business valuation, succession planning, and tax disputes with federal and state entities. We also provide legal and administrative services to charitable organizations.
Lawyers in the firm’s Private Clients group support clients in a broad range of areas, including:
- 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. We combine our extensive knowledge of estate law with great experience in challenging 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. Our attorneys structure vehicles for inter-generational 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, our attorneys’ valuation know-how is used in intra-family dispute resolutions. We have particular experience in handling issues involving valuation and transfer of closely held business entities, real estate, intellectual property, works of art, and are well-versed in 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. We provide a full range of administrative services to clients’ private foundations, and advise private foundations with respect to federal excise taxes on self-dealing, excess business holdings and taxable expenditures. Our team also has experience creating charitable entities, preparing and filing the federal and state applications to recognize such organizations’ tax-exempt status, and advising 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, our team partners with the firm’s Litigation group to provide clients with a significant advantage.
The following is a selection of representative matters with which our clients have entrusted us:
- Defended corporate Trustee against claims by a Cuban-American family that the Trustee had failed to properly invest and distribute trust assets. The family, whose sugar plantations were nationalized by Fidel Castro, claimed that the trusts were set up to move part of their patrimony out of Cuba in the 1920s. Family members alleged that the Trustee had lost or hidden trust assets, had failed to communicate with the family and invested trust assets in vehicles riddled with conflicts of interest, and that bank officers were involved in the “suspicious death” of the income beneficiary of two of the trusts.
- Represented Trustees of trust for a U.S. citizen residing in France in private letter ruling request addressing the applicability of the tax credits under the U.S.-France Estate Tax Treaty to the new French inheritance tax on trusts and the U.S. generation-skipping transfer tax.
- Working with the Firm’s Litigation attorneys, represented the putative spouse of a deceased real estate developer and hotelier in a claim for the spouse’s intestate share of his nearly $200 million estate, in which claims by over 25 alleged distributees were asserted in the U.S., southeast Asia and Australia, which claims are in the process of being settled based on DNA evidence.
- Successful representation of a charity and several individual beneficiaries in a will contest litigation against a caretaker of a decedent who was found to have unduly influenced the decedent, and caused him to change his will to leave his entire $30 million estate to the caretaker.
- Representation of the distributees of a decedent in a litigation against a caretaker who persuaded the decedent to retitle all her assets into the joint names of the caretaker and the decedent.
- Representation of a trust beneficiary in a judicial accounting proceeding against his uncle, a trustee of a trust established by the beneficiary’s father, where the trustee used the trust funds to pay the bequests to himself and his children, which bequests could not be paid from his brother’s bankrupt estate.