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Attorneys in Taft’s Private Client group give our clients the peace of mind that comes with independent, compassionate legal advice through life events, from birth to death, marriage, family and transitions in finances and businesses. We work closely with national and international clients on a private and personal basis. Our services encompass several areas, including Estate Planning; Business Succession Planning; and Estates, Trusts and Fiduciary Litigation. Following are brief descriptions of these practices.

Estate Planning
Attorneys in Taft's Estate Planning practice work with clients on a private and personal basis to help them pass their property to their families and to charities (private and public) both during lifetime and upon death. This personal planning takes into consideration estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer tax and income tax issues, as well as non-tax planning issues, such as closely-held businesses (including their succession), planning involving second marriages, and planning for special needs of children and other heirs. We analyze and implement tax reduction and asset protection strategies, help our clients plan for possible disability, and coordinate life insurance and retirement planning.

We provide extensive counsel as we analyze each client's personal, business, and tax needs and intentions. We also serve the changing needs of growing entrepreneurs and start-ups as they seek increased personal representation. As part of each estate plan, we prepare the needed legal documents, which might include:

  • Wills.
  • Revocable living trusts.
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts.
  • Generation skipping and dynasty trusts.
  • Trusts for education of children and grandchildren.
  • Asset protection trusts.
  • Trusts for minor or disabled children or other beneficiaries.
  • Personal residence trusts.
  • Family LLCs & FLPs.
  • Financial durable powers of attorney.
  • Health care powers of attorney and living wills.
  • Mental health directives.
  • Charitable planning, including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and private foundations.

We guide our clients through the planning process, discussing the tax, family and business implications of the choices available. Our ability to help transfer wealth, navigate legacy issues and craft lasting documents with flexibility and vision enables us to provide superior service to our clients.

Business Succession Planning
Our attorneys counsel owners of closely-held businesses of all sizes on establishing organizational structures to satisfy their current and long-term needs, to plan for the transfer of the business to the next generation (whether during the owner's lifetime or upon death), to implement such strategies, and to provide for liquidity for taxes and family members not active in the business.

Our Business Succession Planning practice draws on the expertise of attorneys from the firm's estate planning and tax practices, business and finance and real estate practices, and labor and employment practice to design and implement succession plans. Services that we provide include:

  • Selecting the most advantageous entity to hold, manage, and transfer the family business.
  • Designing a structure to accomplish the owner's specific goals.
  • Establishing a comprehensive estate plan that takes advantage of all available tax credits and exclusions.
  • Using family limited partnerships and other mechanisms for transferring equity while maintaining control and deferring or avoiding tax.
  • Analyzing liquidity needs to fund buyouts upon retirement, death or disability and to pay taxes.
  • Using life insurance and other assets to equalize the inheritances of children who will not be significant owners of the business with those who will own the business.
  • Planning for retention of key employees who are not family members.
  • Designing employment policies to facilitate compliance with applicable laws and to further promote the owner's business objectives.
  • Assisting the owner in balancing the diverse interests and needs of different generations and in resolving intra-family conflicts.
  • Preparing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and providing advice in connection with the dissolution of a marriage or divorce in order to protect business interests and preserve family wealth.

Estates, Trusts and Fiduciary Litigation
Taft’s Estates, Trusts and Fiduciary Litigation practice integrates business and commercial litigators and tax, estates and trusts practitioners with substantive experience in estate, trust and fiduciary concepts. Our team advises and represents individual and institutional clients in matters and controversies, including:

  • Defending executors and trustees.
  • Bringing and defending challenges to wills, trusts and gifts, and actions involving fiduciaries.
  • Guardianships (contested and consensual).
  • Surrogate decision making and related matters.
  • Trust construction, reformation and judicial rescission.
  • Charitable and exempt organization litigation.
  • Tax litigation.

We represent interested parties including fiduciaries, beneficiaries, creditors, health care providers, individuals, charities and others in these matters.

Photo of Carl A. Murway
Carl A. Murway
Private Client Practice Contact
(216) 706-3897
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Photo of Susan E. Wheatley
Susan E. Wheatley
Private Client Practice Contact
(513) 357-9337
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