Private Wealth Services | Trusts & Estates

Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP advises individuals and families on wealth transfer planning strategies, planning for future generations, and planning for family-owned business enterprises. Our attorneys bring extensive experience guiding clients in the tax efficient transfer of assets during life and at death. We work closely with our colleagues in practice areas such as corporate, tax, real estate and litigation to advise our clients on all aspects of planning.

We provide advanced advice on an array of transfer techniques designed to reduce taxes and protect assets, including family partnerships, grantor annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, charitable trusts, trusts for children, insurance trusts and generation-skipping trusts. We assist with advanced post-mortem planning, including the use of disclaimers, extensive analysis of the timing of tax payments, and fiduciary income tax planning. For owners of closely held and family-owned businesses, we help to execute a smooth transition from one generation to the next, advising on tax saving structures for the ultimate disposition of the business. We also help resolve family disputes, including through litigation where necessary.

Estate and Gift Tax Planning

We provide sophisticated and strategic legal and tax advice on generational wealth transfer planning, from both a domestic and international perspective. We assist with:

  • Estate and lifetime gift planning
  • Planning for non-U.S. persons
  • Family business and governance planning
  • Generation-skipping planning
  • Specials needs trusts planning for persons with disabilities
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Business succession planning

Philanthropic and Family Legacy Planning

We advise on all aspects of philanthropic planning, including on the creation, operation, and administration of charitable trusts, foundations, and public charities.

Administration of Estates and Trusts

We assist both individual and corporate fiduciaries with administration matters, including:

  • Probating wills, administering estates, estate and gift tax filings, and judicial and informal accountings.
  • Representing fiduciaries in tax disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and state and local taxing authorities (income, estate and gift tax).
  • Advising trustees with respect to trust administration.
  • Advising trust beneficiaries.

Fiduciary and Probate Litigation

Our litigators represent corporate trust departments, individuals, trustees, personal representatives/executors, guardians, and beneficiaries. We handle will contests, as well as general probate, trust and estate litigation. We also assist with judicial accounting disputes and objections to estate and trust accountings.

Select examples of our attorneys’ past litigation successes include:

  • Obtaining a preliminary injunction for a family trust in litigation over corporate control of a business in which the trust had a substantial investment.
  • Achieving a favorable settlement for the family of man who challenged the estate of the family matriarch based on claims of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.
  • Obtaining a favorable settlement of a will contest on behalf of the sole heir to an estate, based on lack of testamentary capacity and insane delusions, where the mother—suffering from a well-documented history of mental illness—did not provide for the heir in her estate plan.
  • Achieving a favorable settlement for family-member trustees pursuing claims of breach of fiduciary duty against a corporate trustee.

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