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WINTER 2005 • Vol. XXXXI
- We are Tax, Trust, & Estate Lawyers
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Calendar Calls

We are Tax, Trust, & Estate Lawyers

by Terence E. Smolev, Esq., P.C.

Are you among those people who believe that a "simple will" and some life insurance is enough to protect and provide for your family in the event of your passing? Do you have a child or a spouse with special needs? Do you think that the sections of your business partnership agreement which provide for your family and business succession after your demise are sufficient?

Complex tax and property laws are an obstacle to the efficient transfer of assets between generations and the combination of federal and state income and death taxes can decimate the wealth you intended to pass on to your spouse and your family and not to the coffers of federal and state government. How can this be prevented?

How you answer these and a multitude of other questions and how you prepare for the future will affect your family and your business for generations to come. But asking the right questions is only a first step - crafting the right answers and developing the proper combination of planning instruments to suit your individual needs is our specialty.

The attorneys and paralegals of the Tax, Trusts and Estates Department at Forchelli, Curto, Schwartz, Mineo, Carlino & Cohn, LLP are here to help. The Department is led by partner Terence E. Smolev, who since 1972 has concentrated his practice in all aspects of estates, trusts, and elder law as well as tax and corporate law. Attorneys Gina Raio Bitsimis, Mary E. Mongioi and Lisa Perillo, some of whom have practiced in the Estates and Trust area for over 15 years, give depth to the department with their own specialties in Fiduciary Accountings, Fiduciary Tax Returns, Estate Administration and Litigation, and are ably assisted by paralegals Roseann Meyers and Vivian Rodriguez. Our Tax, Trusts and Estates Group devotes its experience, energy and creativity to counseling individuals and businesses on protecting family wealth. Whether for high net worth individuals, businesses or nonprofits, our highly trained lawyers and legal assistants concentrate on formulating and implementing creative strategies to transfer resources within, and preserve capital for our clients, using sophisticated and innovative methods of planning.

The Group concentrates its practice in all aspects of planning, administration, settlement and taxation of estates and trusts, and works together with other practice areas to provide comprehensive solutions for both individuals and businesses. As family wealth transfers have grown increasingly complex, our Tax, Trusts and Estates Group has, by necessity and demand, expanded its service beyond the traditional "probate" practice. We remain, of course, thoroughly familiar with the tax and property laws relating to the planning, administration and litigation of estates and trusts, and they continue to be the foundation of the Estates and Trusts practice.

Forchelli, Curto attorneys serve as advisors to nonprofit organizations such as North Shore Animal League America and the Roosevelt Educational Foundation, and have used our skills to implement creative ways to increase the tax benefits of both lifetime and testamentary charitable giving to public charities and private foundations. We also are experienced in issues involving closely held businesses, retirement accounts, insurance, valuation and planning for incapacity. Our in depth knowledge of these fundamental concepts and our ability to stay abreast of the ever-changing laws, rules, regulations and practices in these areas have enabled us to implement strategies which have protected client assets and reduced, and in some cases even eliminated, death taxes that would have consumed more than half the wealth earned over a lifetime, and continued that asset protection and tax savings for later generations.

On a more personal level, our attorneys routinely advise clients regarding the effective use of special needs and other types of trusts to avoid the need for expensive and time-consuming guardianships and in some cases, probate. This permits the families of our clients to settle the affairs of the deceased with a minimum of expense, delay and publicity. In a world where medical advances are a daily event, our clients are very aware and interested in the preparation of durable powers of attorney for both health care and financial management, so that their intentions regarding their medical treatment and financial transactions may be implemented during a period within which they may be incapacitated. Our attorneys are able to advise our clients on these matters and to prepare the documents necessary to enable their health care providers and financial managers to carry out their wishes.

To offer our clients a better understanding of the services provided, the practice of the Tax, Trusts and Estates Group consists of five basic areas: (i) income tax compliance and planning; (ii) estate planning; (iii) estate and trust administration; (iv) closely held business planning; and (v) litigation. In developing a personalized estate plan for each client, we spend time examining the status of each and every family member. When we plan we consider the personal and tax consequences for the client's children, grandchildren, parents and spouse. We recommend various planning techniques to safeguard life insurance proceeds from estate tax while the surviving spouse and children have the use of those proceeds unreduced by income or estate tax.

Upon the death of a client, we assist in the administration of both simple and complex estates and trusts, including those with significant interests in closely-held businesses, real estate and artistic property. We have the capability of preparing all necessary calculations, accountings, and estate, gift and fiduciary income tax returns in- house, using our available state of the art computer technology. When combined with our decades of experience with the tasks involved and our sensitivity to the emotional and human issues that arise at this critical time, the executor's responsibilities involved in marshaling, liquidating, administering and transferring assets at death are made considerably easier. We also handle the administration of trusts as well as estates. Trusts serve vital tax and non-tax functions, and our Tax, Trusts and Estates team is experienced in all phases of the long-term administration of trust accounts. They are able to take responsibility for tax planning, preparation and filing, trust and estate accounting, and distributions, all of which can overwhelm even the most skilled of fiduciaries and beneficiaries.

Protecting the family wealth represented by a closely held business is fundamental to our tax, trusts and estates practice. Making certain that a client's business value is maximized and preserved for his or her heirs is one of the most critical tasks we perform. We help clients understand that the necessity of closely held business planning goes far beyond the family business. All responsible and savvy business owners must consider their current plans, and determine if their heirs will obtain the same return on the business investment as the owner received during his or her lifetime. Whether a business is wholly owned or consists of unrelated partners and co-shareholders, the same level of attention is required if clients wish to pass those business interests to their children. Our tax, trusts and estates lawyers have created long-term "business succession plans" to minimize the devastating effect of death taxes over multiple generations. These plans have included the creation of partnerships, long-term irrevocable trusts and the use of shareholder agreements. Wherever necessary, we work together with our commercial lawyers to restructure businesses such that our clients and their families are placed in the most advantageous tax position. Have you recently acquired a new business or restructured an existing one? In many cases, an acquisition or the restructure of a closely held business has estate implications.

Perhaps you are a beneficiary of an estate. Maybe you have been informed that you are not to receive an inheritance or that it is far less than that which would have normally been expected, or you have received an accounting from the executor or administrator which appears improper or leads you to believe that the fiduciary may have acted beyond the scope of his authority. The Tax, Trusts and Estates Group has a strong capability in litigating tax, estate and trust issues. We represent executors, trustees and/or beneficiaries in relation to Will contests and document interpretation issues. Our lawyers work with all phases of tax litigation before the Internal Revenue Service, New York State Tax Department and Tax Courts, Estate litigation, including fiduciary account audits and proceedings in non-probate courts.

If we could summarize in one word the specialty of the Tax, Trusts and Estates Group, it would be planning. Those who ignore estate planning and die without a proper plan in place do a disservice to their survivors and beneficiaries, those they hold most dear. Without proper planning, the wealth that was meant to provide for them will be substantially reduced. Planning is vital in protecting the interests and needs of children. Because of this, early preparation is paramount and clients should periodically review and reevaluate the plan as the value, size and complexity of their assets increase.

Your estate plan is not static - it must grow with your family, your business and your assets. It is a dynamic process that must be monitored and Forchelli, Curto, Schwartz, Mineo, Carlino & Cohn, LLP has a team in place to assist you. They will use their knowledge and skills in tax and estate law to assist your financial managers and insurance providers in developing and coordinating a plan to suit your needs. At our firm you will always have access to a knowledgeable and accomplished attorney who will assist you in meeting your personal and financial goals. We are proud to offer our clients the services of insightful, caring and competent lawyers and professionals who stand ready to address all of your financial and personal concerns as they grow and change over time.

333 Earle Ovington Blvd.
Suite 1010
Uniondale, NY 11553
t: 516.248.1700
f: 516.248.1729
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Phone: 516-248-1700 • Fax: 516-248-1729

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