Family Wealth & Tax Planning
There is wisdom that comes with experience. After awhile, you learn that how NOT TO do something is at least as important as how TO do something.
This nicely sums up the advantage clients have come to appreciate when they work with the lawyers at Hopkins & Carley, including the ones who focus on family wealth issues. With hundreds of years of combined experience and the largest full-service Trust & Estate practice in Northern California, our group has the wherewithal to spot problems before they become problems.
"In fact, we spend a lot of time fixing other people’s mistakes,” said Jim Quillinan, a shareholder in the firm’s Family Wealth & Tax Planning practice group. "In this day and age, there’s no such thing as a ‘simple’ anything."
"Moreover, our group includes several lawyers who do nothing but litigate trust and estate disputes. This is complex, cutting-edge litigation. Having ready access to their input and experience lets us avoid the drafting errors that might otherwise end up in court down the road."
The personal touch
Trust and estate work is intensely personal and individualized. The tax implications of estate and wealth transfer planning, for example, can have huge, life-long impacts.
It is gratifying, therefore, to say that for generations, many of our region’s most prominent individuals and families have relied on our trust and estate professionals. We pride ourselves on offering personal, 360-degree attention to every client, no matter how big or small.
As a result, our firm has earned a reputation for handling difficult litigation, sophisticated estate planning and complex tax issues associated with preserving and protecting personal and family wealth. We create plans that maximize family wealth transfer, minimize tax and protect our clients and their beneficiaries.
A full-service resource
Our services range from simple estate planning to sophisticated estate and tax planning matters. This work often involves gift planning, charitable gift planning and private foundations, as well as asset protection and specialized planning for owners of closely-held businesses, executives of publicly held corporations, international clients and other clients with highly specialized planning needs.
We offer comprehensive advice and expertise to address all aspects of an effective estate plan for our clients. Our full range of wealth transfer solutions includes:
- Business and personal succession planning (including corporate reorganizations)
- Wills, trusts and incapacity planning
- Trust and estate administration and conservatorships
- Powers of attorneys
- Executive compensation arrangements
- Intergenerational wealth transfer strategies
- Domestic and international trusts
- Charitable and not-for-profit entities
Hopkins & Carley regularly represents executors and trustees in all facets of trust and estate administration, including the management of risk. Our Trust & Estate Litigation practice is widely known for handling will contests, claims of financial elder abuse, interpretation of will and trust documents, and more.
Having access to other highly regarded professionals in our firm is another plus for our clients. "It’s such a pleasure to be able to go down the hall to, say, one of our top real estate professionals and get an answer to a tough, technical question," Jim Quillinan added. "That kind of access to intellectual capital makes all the difference in the world to our clients."
- While they had no plan to sell, a small, family-operated business had been approached by two large, publicly traded buyers. The family hired Hopkins & Carley, which negotiated a sales price equivalent to twice the original offer. In addition, we transferred shares of the business to trusts for their children in a tax-efficient manner, so no gift taxes were paid and the children were set up with a significant amount of wealth. The remaining proceeds were enough for the parents to purchase a number of properties for rental and personal use, as well as to travel and never again work.
- A Bay Area telecommunications pioneer needed help with a variety of business and wealth management matters. Working with this ultra high net worth client’s family office, our group established an entity to own a condo in London and assisted with household staff employment matters. We also established a private family foundation, as well as a public charity, and continued to provide assistance with estate and wealth transfer planning.
- Several of the founders and management team members of high-profile Silicon Valley companies needed help with estate plans and wealth transfers to children and other family members. Our Family Wealth & Tax Planning group has handled this in a tax-efficient manner prior to IPO or other liquidity events, resulting in significant wealth transfers. This has allowed our clients to retain control over their children’s wealth and, in some instances, to establish a tax and estate planning program.
- The young founder of an early-stage Silicon Valley business came to our lawyers for advice about how best to manage the wealth he was building—and planning to build through future investing opportunities. Our lawyers recommended an estate plan which included irrevocable trusts for the children to whom portions of a multi-series partnership designed to hold the various investments would be assigned. "This structure more or less duplicates the venture capital model so common in Silicon Valley, but in the family environment," Pete LaBoskey said. "In this way, we are able to allow the children, through their trusts, to participate in investment opportunities that are made available to the founder and achieve effective asset management and protection."
- A client was looking to make a charitable gift to a Palo Alto area charity, but wanted to do so with appreciated assets in a tax-advantaged manner. The client was also concerned about retaining sufficient assets to ensure his own financial security. Taking these desires and concerns to heart, Darin Donovan helped to structure the gift by creating a charitable remainder trust pursuant to Internal Revenue Code section 664. This structure allowed the donation to be acknowledged currently by the charity, but provided the donor with the security of ongoing positive cash flow, a charitable deduction against income tax and a deferral of capital gains on the appreciated property contributed to the trust.