Estate Planning


The firm’s Estate and Business Succession Planning Department is dedicated to personalized client service. Each engagement consists of four steps -- (i) educating the client about the process and the options that are available, (ii) listening to the client to determine his or her needs and objectives, (iii) designing a plan or strategy that meets those needs and objectives, and (iv) ensuring that the client understands the plan or strategy.

Our department subscribes to a team-centered approach. We work to ensure the availability at all times of someone who is knowledgeable about the client’s estate plan in order to answer questions and solve problems. This approach is extended to include the client’s CPA, financial advisor, insurance agent, and other consultants, and we encourage their collaboration and advice.

We offer a depth of knowledge and expertise that allows us to provide a variety of estate and business succession planning options -- including the most sophisticated and cutting edge techniques. Furthermore, we are committed to an efficient and automated practice that makes it possible for us to devote the majority of our time to client education and service. Our commitment to client service continues after the initial engagement is completed because estate and business succession planning is an ongoing process that evolves as the client’s needs and objectives change, as laws change, and as new planning tools and techniques are developed.

Our Estate and Business Succession Planning Department provides the following types of services:

Estate Planning

Everyone has an estate plan even if he or she does not know it. Some people have not made out a will or a trust, so they have a one-size-fits-all plan dictated by the government. Under that plan, the government decides who will receive their assets and imposes certain taxes upon death. Other people have a personal estate plan developed with their own objectives in mind. This is the type of individualized estate plan that our attorneys provide. They begin by investing the time and attention necessary to understand each client’s needs and objectives, and then they design a customized plan utilizing the appropriate estate planning tools – from the standard to the cutting-edge.

Business Succession Planning

Family owned and closely-held businesses present special Estate Planning challenges for their owners. Traditional estate tax concerns are combined with additional problems of liquidity and transition of management. Our estate planning lawyers have significant experience in this area and can guide the small business owner in developing an estate and business succession plan that will maximize the business’s chances for success, while promoting equity and reducing strife among heirs.

Retirement Planning

Nearly everyone these days has an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement plan. The choices and elections that they require are often difficult to understand and the income and estate tax consequences of failing to plan adequately for the distribution of these accounts can be devastating. Our attorneys are skilled in these planning techniques and regularly assist clients in this complex area.

Legal and Financial Planning for Same-Sex Couples

Ohio and federal law penalize same-sex couples. The gay community is an underserved population that is in need of planning. Our goal is to identify and break down the barriers that prevent people from proper legal planning. We counsel individuals and couples on how a domestic partnership agreement can protect them and preserve their relationship, on designing a common sense financial strategy for the same-sex couple, on providing estate planning for the unique needs of same-sex couples, on second parent adoption, retirement benefits, and taxes.

Charitable Planning and Charitable Trusts

Clients are often interested in making gifts to charities. Our attorneys are experienced in counseling clients on charitable giving techniques such as Charitable Remainder Trusts and Private Foundations.

Medicaid and Disability Planning

It is inevitable that we each face the prospect of obtaining long term health care for ourselves or a loved one. Protecting family assets from the cost of that long term care has been made difficult by complex and confusing state and federal regulations governing Medicaid qualification. We regularly assist our clients with planning decisions that safeguard their family assets.

Probate and Trust Administration

One of our estate planning objectives is to make the administration of decedents’ estates run as smoothly as possible. Even for those clients who have designed their estate plans to avoid probate, much needs to be done. Avoiding probate does not mean the avoidance of estate taxes. Our experienced team can guide the family through the process of proper administration of any trusts in accordance with the trust agreements. This includes the valuation of trust assets, consolidation or division of trusts, and proper trust accounting -- all to obtain the greatest estate and income tax advantages. There are also many post-mortem strategies that can be employed to save time and taxes.

In most cases, the local Probate Court will be involved in overseeing at least a portion of the estate. Our team members are experts in Ohio probate law, and we can guide the executor or administrator of the estate through the maze of local procedures in the probate courts throughout the state. We regularly practice in Florida, as well, and through affiliated firms throughout the country, we have the capability of representing clients with assets in multiple states.

Probate and Trust Litigation

When money is involved, disputes can arise. Our estate planning department has lawyers who can handle these disputes in a timely, cost-effective manner. The firm has represented beneficiaries, executors, and trustees in will and construction actions, will contests, and most other types of probate and trust litigation.

Tax Litigation

Even the most secure estate plans are sometimes challenged by the IRS and the best results for the beneficiaries cannot be obtained without litigation. We have a tax controversies group that combines estate planners and litigators as a formidable team to deal with the IRS in audits, in administrative appeals, and even in the US Tax Court.

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