Contributed by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Wealth management in the United States is an ongoing, ever-evolving practice. The complex problems confronting clients involve local, federal and international tax, estate planning, trust and estate administration and dispute resolution laws and regulations. The wealth management process focuses on creating and implementing an integrated planning structure that will accomplish the client's objectives in a tax-efficient and predictable manner, with sufficient flexibility to address unanticipated change. High-net-worth individuals turn to professionals for unique, holistic solutions that respond to their personal and estate planning needs and family governance wishes.
Succession planning is a key component of wealth management for business owners and wealth creators. Moving beyond managerial succession, legal advice centers on restructuring business entities and other holdings in a manner that achieves efficient wealth transfer and cohesive management across generations.
The most pertinent developments in wealth management over the last 12 months include:
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
Numerous tax benefits that were scheduled to “sunset” as of December 31, 2012, have been made “permanent” by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA 2012”). For the first time in approximately 11 years, we do not have to plan with imminent change on the horizon. However, the winds of change may blow once again when Congress and the White House take up broader issues such as the debt ceiling and the related automatic sequester of government funds, which were merely postponed, along with the various tax and planning elements of the President’s budget proposal for 2013 that were not addressed by ATRA 2012.
Federal Estate, GST and Gift Tax Rates
The estate and gift applicable exclusion amounts and the generation skipping transfer (GST) exemption amount (the “applicable exclusion amounts”) remain at $5 million, indexed for inflation. The applicable exclusion amount for 2013 is $5.25 million. The “portability” of a deceased spouse’s unused applicable exclusion amount for estate and gift tax purposes has also been made permanent. Note that portability does not apply to the applicable exclusion amount from GST tax. The maximum rate for estate, gift and GST taxes is now 40%.
Annual Gift Tax Exclusion
The amount of the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion is $14,000 per donee in 2013. Thus, a husband and wife together can gift $2,000 to each donee. The amount of the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion with respect to gifts made to non-citizen spouses increased from $139,000 to $143,000 in 2013.
President’s Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2013
The President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 included a number of transfer tax-related items that were not addressed in ATRA 2012. Those items and other revenue-raising provisions may yet be the subject of future legislation resulting from the two-month postponement of the debt ceiling and sequester of government funds or other tax reform initiatives.
Change to Treatment of Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs)
IDGTs are currently used as a central part of much tax planning, as they allow a grantor the ability to be taxed on all of the trust’s income, thus allowing more assets to remain for the trust beneficiaries. Under the President’s proposal, the assets in IDGTs would be included in the grantor’s estate and subject to estate tax. In addition, distributions from an IDGT would be subject to gift tax, and if the trust ceases to be a grantor trust, the remaining assets would be subject to gift tax.
Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) to Be Subject to New Rules
The proposal includes three additional requirements that would be imposed on GRATs: (i) they must have a 10-year minimum term; (ii) they must have a remainder interest greater than zero; and (iii) the annuity amount cannot decrease in any year during the annuity term.
Eliminating Certain Valuation Discounts
The budget proposal adds a new category of “disregarded restrictions” that would be ignored for transfer tax valuation purposes in valuing an interest in a family-controlled entity transferred to a member of the family.
Limiting the Duration of the GST Exemption
Under the proposal, the exclusion from the imposition of GST tax would last only 90 years for additions to preexisting trusts and trusts created after the date of enactment, regardless of whether a trust has a longer duration.
Planning Opportunities to Consider Immediately
• Make outright gifts to take advantage of reduced gift tax rate and increased applicable exclusion amount.
• Make gifts with retained interests to domestic asset protection trusts of which you and/or your spouse are discretionary beneficiaries.
• Have husband and wife create trusts for each other.
• Create grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) while hurdle rates are at historic lows.
• Make sales to “defective” grantor trusts while the applicable federal interest rates are at historic lows.
• Create charitable lead annuity trusts (CLATs) while hurdle rates are at historic lows.
• Gift residences or vacation homes using qualified personal residence trusts and other trusts while real estate valuations are depressed.
• Consider buy-back of appreciated low basis assets from grantor trusts.
• Make intra-family loans, including to purchase life insurance, while interest rates are at historic lows.
• Consider creating or amending existing family limited partnerships consistent with the latest case law developments this year.
Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative
Admittance to the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) was extended indefinitely. With some exceptions, taxpayers accepted into the current OVDI program pay a penalty of 27.5% on unreported foreign assets, plus an accuracy penalty, back taxes and interest.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009
On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE), which contained a version of the previously proposed Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 (FATCA). These provisions are intended to combat offshore tax evasion by US taxpayers by requiring increased information reporting.
HIRE provides for withholding taxes to enforce reporting requirements on certain foreign accounts owned by specified US persons or US-owned foreign entities. Generally, a tax equal to 30% must be withheld by a US withholding agent on any withholdable payment made to a foreign financial institution (FFI) if the institution is not a “participating FFI.” A “participating FFI” has an agreement (an FFI Agreement) with the IRS under which the institution agrees to obtain certain information on each US account holder and comply with various reporting and withholding requirements. The withholding of 30% is on a broader category of US source income than is captured under the current withholding rules. Although this regime was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013, the IRS issued Announcement 2012-42, which extends this deadline and phases in FATCA over 2014 and 2015.
In addition to the withholding regime described above, FATCA also requires new reporting for US owners of specified foreign financial assets, enhanced reporting for US shareholders of passive foreign investment companies and imputation of income for the uncompensated use by US beneficiaries of trust-owned real or tangible property.
In February 2011, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (the FinCen) issued final regulations regarding the filing of Form TD 4 90-22.1 Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR), which clarify when US beneficiaries, trustees and settlors must report interests in foreign trust accounts. It has been clarified that FBAR filing is in addition to FATCA filings (above) and Forms 3520 (below)
Any US person who receives gifts or bequests from foreign individuals or estates in excess of $100,000 is also required to file a Form 3520 with the IRS. The penalty for failing to file the return is 5% of the amount of the foreign gift for each month for which the failure to report continues, up to a maximum of 25% of the gift.
Wealth Management - Nationwide
THE FIRM This preeminent practice remains a dominant force thanks to its exceptional team of lawyers spanning New York, Chicago, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. It earns plaudits from both peers and clients for its outstanding depth and breadth of experience in all aspects of trust and estate. In addition to advising ultra high net worth families and individuals on trust and estate planning and administration, it has strong capabilities in generation-skipping tax law and fiduciary and probate litigation. It is also particularly well positioned to advise on international planning matters.
Commercial Awareness "Their knowledge of the sophisticated estate planning that we require is incredible; they understand the law and can clearly explain what is happening, and their friendliness and professionalism are unsurpassed."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Carlyn McCaffrey co-heads the New York practice and is one of the most venerated figures in the wealth management arena. She has a tremendous amount of experience, with one source noting: "They call her a genius for a reason."
Fellow practice co-head Henry Christensen also heads the international private client group. He has more than 35 years' experience and a phenomenal international reputation, and is frequently sought for complex cross-border work.
Chicago-based Carol Harrington heads the firm's private client group nationwide and is best known for her expertise in generation-skipping tax law. Market observers say: "She's very knowledgeable and really knows how to bridge the space between clients and trust companies."
Judith McCue is a highly esteemed practitioner and a go-to figure for complex trust and estate planning and administration thanks to her extensive experience in the industry.
Jonathan Lurie is based in Los Angeles and predominantly advises on estate planning and post-death administration matters. "He's just brilliant – he has the breadth of knowledge that is required to be the attorney for very high net worth individuals," states an interviewee.
David Baker debuts in the rankings this year thanks to widespread recognition of his impressive trust and estates litigation practice. "He has a reputation for being a stupendous trust and estate litigator," according to peers.
Richard Lang is an experienced attorney noted for advising entrepreneurs, venture capital clients and family offices on income tax planning and wealth transfer issues.
David Herpe is highly rated by commentators, one of whom states: "He is not only technically good but is able to give clients a very practical approach – he presents clients with actions that get them where they need to be without it being extremely complicated."
Read Moore is singled out as "a very sophisticated and experienced lawyer who is very well connected." He is especially valued for his expertise in dealing with international trusts and estates matters.
"Rising star" Amy Erenrich Heller is gaining rising prominence in the estate and trusts field. She works closely alongside Carlyn McCaffrey in New York.
"Very smart" attorney Julie Kwon continues to attract recognition from both peers and clients. She is based in the Silicon Valley office, where she is involved in a range of high-profile wealth planning work.
Nicole Pearl in Los Angeles is also building a strong reputation. A client explained: "She is very thorough, efficient and clear in her explanations and is able to explain complicated issues in layman's terms."
Since publication, Judith W McCue has retired from this practice.
THE FIRM McGuireWoods earns a spot in the top band this year following widespread recognition of its distinguished team of lawyers and the outstanding quality of work it produces. It represents a strong portfolio of high net worth individuals, and is increasingly sought by banks and trust companies for trust litigation and estate administration matters.
Client Service "It is by far the leading firm to deal with and has a great reputation – I found working with it to be an extremely good experience and it was able to meet all of our needs."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The name Ronald Aucutt is synonymous with wealth management in legal circles. He leads the firm's private wealth services group and is highly sought for his extensive experience. His practice focuses on estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning and controversies, as well as tax-exempt organizations.
Dennis Belcher is a prestigious figure who continues to make an important contribution to the firm's success. He is noted for the breadth of his expertise in advising clients on matters ranging from complex estate and business planning to charitable planning and fiduciary litigation.
Charles Fox is highly respected in the private client sector and chairs the private wealth team. He is noted for his work on trust and estate planning and administration, as well as tax policy counseling.
Michele McKinnon debuts in the rankings this year following widespread recognition of her specialism in charitable planning and private foundation work. "She's remarkably knowledgeable and really the go-to person for us," says a client.
Clients truly enjoy working with John O'Grady, who handles a range of estate work and fiduciary litigation. "He's been terrific – he stays on top of all the changes that have occurred and is always proactive, and I feel really secure that he will stay on top of everything," said one interviewee.
THE FIRM This respected wealth management practice is singled out for its comprehensive taxation expertise. In the past year it has acted for clients on complex multigenerational succession planning, and advised on a foreign trust dispute.
Commercial Awareness "Unparalleled expertise in the area that we deal with, and brilliant understanding of our business exposures."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Linda Hirschson is a well-known name in the field, with a range of tax and estate planning experience. She also handles a significant amount of probate litigation as well as foundation and charitable trusts work.
Highly experienced Diana Zeydel is another important member of the team, and chairs the trusts and estates practice. She handles a wide range of matters, including trust disputes, tax planning and estate administration.
Norman Benford is an esteemed practitioner with extensive experience advising on all aspects of tax and estate planning, including business succession and IRS disputes.
Lawrence Heller is based in the Los Angeles office and is particularly well regarded for his international expertise in tax and estate planning for families and individuals.
Jonathan Forster continues to impress clients, one of whom praised "the combination of his technical ability and his ability to drive creative solutions – he is very pragmatic and practical." Forster acts for a range of privately held companies and large family offices.
THE FIRM This impressive group continues to advise high net worth estates from across the firm's national network of offices. It also fields a litigation team focusing predominantly on fiduciary duties and probate disputes. It has recently handled an increasing quantity of international estate planning matters.
Client Service "I find them available and responsive. What I really like about them is that they work very much as a team, and that's a great help."
Commercial Awareness "They understand where practical implementation cuts through the theoretical, and can communicate practical options to clients, who can then make informed decisions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS With over four decades of experience, Bruce Ross is one of the most well-respected trust and estates litigators in the country. He cochairs the national trust and estates disputes practice from the Los Angeles office.
Tampa-based Edward Koren heads the wealth management practice and is a well-known market player. "There is no question as to the level of sophistication of his work and his knowledge on current tax changes - he is very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with," say clients.
John Dadakis leads the New York practice and specializes in advising private equity and hedge fund principals, entrepreneurs and executives on their wealth planning needs.
THE FIRM This New York-headquartered practice remains an active player in the market, and is noted for its international expertise. It handles complex matters such as advising the estates of Vladimir Horowitz, Kurt Weill and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz. Notable work includes representing the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and the Rodgers family in the organization's sale to Imagem Music Group.
Sources say: "They are responsive to client needs and their advise is clear and concise."
KEY INDIVIDUALS "First-rate academic and practitioner" Joshua Rubenstein heads the firm's trust and estates practice and is considered one of the country's leading experts. He is also well regarded for his international know-how and is praised as "a polymath and a very likable guy – he travels everywhere over the world but is readily accessible and really knows his stuff."
THE FIRM This well-known firm continues to be a key player in the trust and estates field, and has been in the thick of things as the market flourished over the past year. Its ten-strong team continues to attract significant estate administration mandates, such as advising the New York public administrator of the estate of Huguette Clark. The impressive client portfolio also includes the Katherine Hepburn estate, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate and the Rockefeller family.
Client Service "They have a very good personal touch; personality counts for a lot and they are very strong in knowing how to communicate and build confidence and trust."
Commercial Awareness "A well-run organization – they get back to you promptly, are responsive and show good knowledge of the industry."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Esteemed practitioner Georgiana Slade leads the firm's wealth management practice. A source revealed: "She's cutting edge and makes sure clients are well situated."
"The thing that distinguishes David Stoll is that he's proactive and raises things we should be thinking about. He is business-minded and very practical," says a client. Stoll is especially adept at advising private equity and hedge funds principals, and closely-held business owners.
James Sligar is an experienced partner with a practice that emphasizes estate planning and charitable giving work, as well as advising nonprofit organizations.
THE FIRM This renowned firm is a mainstay of the country's wealth management market, with trust and estates teams in New York, Florida and California. It benefits from a strong corporate and investment funds practice, attracting a significant volume of work representing private equity and hedge fund principals in complex estate transactions and planning. Notable clients include US Trust, Bessemer, Goldman Sachs and Northern Trust.
Client Service "They're excellent attorneys and they do an amazing job for their clients."
Commercial Awareness "Absolutely wonderful – I can't speak highly enough of them. They have a creative approach and think outside the box, and they follow up and execute in a timely manner."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Pratt is "one of the most advanced estate planning attorneys when it comes to high-end work and clients love him," confirm sources. He heads the Boca Raton office.
Jay Waxenberg chairs the firm's trust and estates practice from New York. He has a broad range of experience and is noted for his excellent client service. As one source explained, "the most important thing is his great legal advice, but he is also practical and I can get him at two in the morning and on weekends."
Los Angeles-based Andrew Katzenstein has a well-regarded practice focused on tax planning matters. Clients appreciate "not only his knowledge and understanding of the laws, but also his advice about how decisions can impact future generations."
"Exceptionally bright and diligent," Albert Gortz is a dedicated trust and estates lawyer who is able to offer extensive estate, income and charitable planning experience. He is also adept in advising on charitable organizations.
THE FIRM This firm has a robust presence in the trust and estates field. It has been particularly active in the domestic market of late, but is also highly sought for its international capabilities. The team handles a considerable volume of structuring and planning work for multinational families, family offices and individuals moving to the USA.
Client Service "They are very user-friendly, very technically sound and also quite practical in terms of their advice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Warren Whitaker is the leading figure in the practice and is sought by clients for "his depth of experience and intellect, and his very good grasp of cross-border taxation."
Dina Kapur Sanna is a key member of the team and continues to make a strong impression on the market. "She's very responsive, manages our expectations, is very timely, reliable and smart, and really knows her stuff," remarked one client.
Leiha Macauley is establishing a strong reputation with clients, who highlight that "she's incredibly energetic and has branched into all aspects of the practice." She works across trust and estate planning and administration, as well as estate and fiduciary litigation.
THE FIRM This dynamic law firm continues to make inroads in the trusts and estates sector, strengthening its offering in Washington, DC with the addition of four lawyers from Bryan Cave. The team in Los Angeles is especially well recognized in the market, and has advised several charitable foundations on lending major artworks to educational institutions and museums. Further highlights include acting as lead counsel to the executors of the estate of Leona Hemsley, which is valued at over $5 billion and holds an interest in properties such as the Empire State Building.
Client Service "Excellent service – they also send out an e-mail newsletter which is very helpful."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Leah Bishop attracts widespread praise for her strong contribution to the field. She cochairs the tax-exempt organizations group and specializes in the administration of trusts and gift tax, as well as estate planning.
"Fantastic" Paul Frimmer is a key member of the team based in Los Angeles. He offers a wealth of experience in probate, trust and estate planning, as well as tax-exempt organizations.
Stuart Tobisman is "a fantastic lawyer with a great stable of clients," confirm sources. He focuses on advising individuals on the administration of trusts, as well as tax and estate planning.
Mary Ann Mancini joined the firm in September 2012 to lead the Washington, DC trust and estates practice. She brings extensive experience and a great reputation in the field.
Jonathan Rikoon recently joined the team from Debevoise & Plimpton. Rikoon earns plaudits from clients, who appreciate his "enormous expertise." He is also praised as being "articulate and able to engage in any challenge as a puzzle rather than as an impossible task." He heads the firm's wealth management department.
THE FIRM This firm's private client group deals with a wide range of matters, including estate and tax planning, business succession, wealth transfers, and trust and estates administration. It is strongly supported by a first-rate litigation team that is on hand to handle complex fiduciary disputes. Clients praise the team's outstanding level of service and solution-oriented advice.
Client Service "Their work is excellent and they are totally responsive. If you have a question they will get you an answer right away or very, very quickly."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Alan Halperin cochairs the firm's private client practice and remains a preeminent player in the market. "He's very smart, comes up with solutions, and the work is done very meticulously and on time," according to interviewees.
Highly experienced John O'Neil is the joint leader of the practice and has a broad practice covering trust and estate planning and administration, matrimonial matters, and private foundations. He also represents numerous family offices and a major medical center.
Loretta Ippolito recently joined the team from Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Ippolito impresses clients and is especially noted for her "distinctive understanding of investments and financial mathematics."
THE FIRM This private client group is noted for its broad coverage, acting on everything from tax and estate planning to generation-skipping exemption and business succession planning. It has strong tax capabilities and advises a wide portfolio of clients, including ultra high net worth individuals, multigenerational families, and hedge fund and private equity managers.
Client Service "Fantastic, extremely responsive and professional. Everything is taken care of very well."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers are united in their admiration of Ellen Harrison, praising her as "one of the best in the country." She is especially well recognized for her tax expertise, including gift, income and estate tax planning, as well as tax controversy and estate litigation.
Jennifer Jordan McCall chairs the firm's trusts and estates practice and splits her time between New York and Silicon Valley. She "is extremely smart and on top of everything, gets it done before you can blink an eye, and is always looking out for my best interests," said one client.
THE FIRM This Chicago-based practice has a longstanding reputation in the sector and has bolstered its national offering with the addition of attorneys in its Atlanta and San Francisco offices. The team prides itself on being able to represent a whole range of clients, including owners of closely-held businesses, large families, entrepreneurs, senior executives, private equity and hedge fund principals, and financial institutions.
Sources say: "The turnaround has been good even during this busy period, trust documents are very well written and they provide good advice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Thomas Abendroth is the leading figure in the firm's trust and estates practice. Clients appreciated that "he's calm and patient, explains things very clearly and has a lot of experience."
Much-respected partner David Hodgman maintains an active practice. He advises clients on probate, estate planning, private foundations and trust disputes.
THE FIRM Sidley Austin maintains a strong foothold in the market, with 18 lawyers across its New York, Chicago and San Francisco offices. It is well equipped to represent clients in all aspects of estate planning, trust and estate administration and litigation, as well as private foundations and public charities work.
Client Service "We've worked with them for numerous clients – turnaround is very quick and clients really like them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Susan Bart is an esteemed partner based in the Chicago office and is "extremely knowledgeable about the estate and trusts area," say sources. She has a broad trust and estates practice and currently serves as the Illinois state chair of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Sources describe New York-based partner Susan Harrington as "a very skilled practitioner" who can "relate to the clients very well, in a down-to-earth manner. Talking about planning can be very technical but she is able to put things into layman's terms and understand their needs."
Jordan Klein heads the firm's wealth management group. He "is very good with clients, very efficient and very practical, and provides really great client service and follow-up," according to market observers.
THE FIRM This full-service corporate firm has a dedicated team of trusts and estates lawyers. It is particularly adept at handling major corporate transactions for private clients. For example, it acted for The Heyman Family on its $3.2 billion sale of International Specialty Products to Ashland, and advised it on the family trust administration and governance matters. The team also acted for Frank McCourt on his $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team to Guggenheim Baseball Management, and his joint venture to acquire the Chavez Ravine property, which surrounds the Dodgers stadium.
Client Service "I'm made to feel like the only client they have, which is a very nice touch."
KEY INDIVIDUALS "Top-flight lawyer" Basil Zirinis receives universal praise for his work in this field, especially with regards to international trust and estate planning matters. He is also particularly adept in trust and estate litigation, and heads the firm's international private client group.
James Black receives fulsome praise from clients. A source explained: "He has tremendous experience and wisdom, is very practical and rational, and knows exactly how to cut to the chase on things."
Charles Dowling is fast developing a reputation for his "unbelievably thorough" and "immediately responsive" service. He has a broad practice encompassing both domestic and international trust and estates planning.
THE FIRM This firm has a longstanding reputation in the wealth management field, and is supported by one of the strongest international private client practices in London. It is well recognized for its inbound practice, advising clients moving to the US on all aspects of planning and structuring of assets. It is also particularly well positioned to advise multinational families on the tax-efficient structuring of investments across multiple jurisdictions.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Regional senior partner Ivan Sacks is a well-recognized practitioner in the market, and is praised for being "very accessible in adjusting to the way clients want to do business."
James Brockway co-heads the firm's global wealth management practice and offers much experience on both domestic and international trust and estate planning.
David Stein leads the US wealth management department. He has a broad practice covering trust, estate and tax planning, as well as public charities and private foundation work.
Louis Mezzullo recently joined the team from McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP. Mezzullo is a renowned figure in the wealth management field and currently serves as the president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. His practice emphasizes estate and business succession planning.
THE FIRM This respected wealth management practice has had another busy year. In addition to the established Washington, DC team, it recently bolstered its offering in the West with four partners from Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin joining the San Francisco office. The firm covers a broad range of work, and notably advised a major client seeking federal tax refund.
Sources say: "They are excellent – it's been an extremely pleasant experience."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Thomas Richardson is a key contact.
THE FIRM This firm is a longstanding player in the wealth management space. It is especially focused on domestic trust and estate planning, and is best known for its specialty in tax planning and litigation.
Sources say: "They've always had a wonderful reputation for estate planning."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Frankel is described by sources as a "very sharp guy." He has extensive experience in planning as well as litigation, and cochairs the trusts and estates practice.
Theodore Wagner is a seasoned practitioner with over four decades of experience in the field. He has represented executors in the successful liquidation of a large block of thinly traded public securities.
THE FIRM This Chicago-based private client practice earns praise for the high quality of its work. The lean and efficient team focuses on providing high net worth clients with tailored and sophisticated advice. It is strongly supported by one of the country's leading private equity practices, resulting in significant mandates to advise private equity principals on their various asset planning needs. It also currently represents several large families in their respective transactions.
Sources say: "The team has done an excellent job – very thorough, detailed and knowledgeable."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Handler in Chicago is the firm's leading practitioner in the private client field. He is highly rated by clients, one of whom explains: "We enjoy working with him – he has a tremendous intellect and great judgment, is very detail and risk-oriented, and has tremendous technical knowledge."
THE FIRM This group has a strong following and is lauded for its client-oriented service and advice. The relatively compact team handles a whole host of matters, including trust and estate planning, complex family disputes, public charities and private foundations. Among its strong portfolio of work, it continues to act as general counsel to The Poetry Foundation.
Client Service "They have an outstanding skill set and knowledge, the promptness of the communication and delivery of work product is notable, and they are extremely pleasant and nice to work with."
Commercial Awareness "I've found the folks there at all levels to be at the highest level of quality technically, and the way they present their work product is focused on making it understandable for the end client."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Head of trusts and estates Donna Morgan earns plaudits for providing clients with "outstanding service." Her well-regarded practice has an emphasis on estate planning and nonprofit organizations.
James Casey "is very smart and very good at service and communication, and puts the clients' interests first," say market observers. He is noted for his broad practice, covering all aspects of trusts, estates and foundations.
THE FIRM This wealth management group is widely recognized for representing private equity clients, and continues to be highly active in that area. The team represents some of the largest private equity firms, such as The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital and TPG Capital. It also represents multigenerational families and family offices, and is currently advising Harvard University on charitable trust and planned giving matters.
Client Service "The whole team is just terrific – delightful to work with, smart and personable. The turnaround is also excellent and they are very collaborative."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Highly regarded lawyer Marc Bloostein is best known for representing private equity and hedge fund principals, as well as their firms. "He is really remarkable in his judgment, experience and ability to add value," note clients.
Martin Hall leads the firm's private client department and joins the rankings having received tremendous praise for his contribution to the field. He is the driving force behind the firm's charitable planning practice.
THE FIRM Clients highlight this firm's excellent trust and estates practice, which maintains a solid presence in the market. The team regularly advises high net worth individuals and families on every aspect of trust and estate planning and administration. It is also experienced in representing private foundations, public charities and charitable trusts.
Client Service "Top-level service, great performance, very accommodating to clients and very sophisticated advice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS "Extremely knowledgeable and very professional," David McCabe heads the firm's private client practice and is singled out by sources for his "ability to make complex matters relatively simple for clients."
Deborah Dunn of Ahrens DeAngeli Law Group LLP is described as a "very bright technical lawyer." She joined the firm in 2012 from Kirkland & Ellis, bringing considerable experience.
John Porter is a venerated senior partner at Baker Botts LLP who specializes in tax, trust and estates litigation. He represents the various estates of Yvette Bluhdorn, Julian Cohen and John Koons.
Lawrence Brody of Bryan Cave LLP is known in the market as the go-to lawyer for life insurance matters. He is based in the St Louis office and works closely with the Washington University School of Law and University of Miami School of Law.
Kurt Rademacher of Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada, PLLC is quickly making a name for himself in this space and is praised for his strong international planning practice.
Robert Lawrence of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is one of the best-known names in the industry. He specializes in international trust and estate matters.
Beth Shapiro Kaufman of Caplin & Drysdale is especially well recognized for her tax background, having worked with the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy for a number of years. "She's very quick and very efficient, has a beautiful writing style and is able to explain complicated things in a clear and precise manner," say sources.
"Fabulous lawyer" Anne O'Brien recently joined Caplin & Drysdale from Arnold & Porter. O'Brien is based in Washington, DC and is a very well-respected trust and estates practitioner. Clients say she is "very easy to work with, very smart and very prompt in getting back to you with an answer."
Michael Pfeifer of Caplin & Drysdale debuts in the rankings this year having earned significant praise from peers and clients. He focuses on cross-border planning and individuals moving out of the USA. "Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on taxation for Americans giving up citizenship and expatriation," says an interviewee.
Based in San Francisco, Myron Sugarman is a senior counsel and the leading figure in Cooley LLP's wealth management group. He maintains an active tax planning practice and is praised by clients as being a trusted adviser.
New York-based Daniel Mosley of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has a well-established trust and estates practice and advises numerous nonprofit organizations.
Seattle-based Malcolm Moore of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is one of the most respected practitioners in the country. He frequently advises clients on estate planning issues, including lifetime transfers, gift and estate tax, and post-death transfers.
Florida-based Lauren Detzel chairs the trust and estates practice at Dean, Mead, Egerton, Bloodworth, Capouano & Bozarth PA. She earns praise from peers and clients for her outstanding tax planning practice, and is frequently sought for family or closely-held business succession planning.
Pam Schneider is a founding partner of Gadsden Schneider & Woodward LLP and a revered figure in the trust and estates circle. She is held in high regard by the market for her breadth of experience, particularly on generation-skipping tax matters.
Louis Harrison of Harrison & Held is based in Chicago and is a well-respected figure in the wealth management sector. He focuses predominantly on tax and estate planning for partnerships, charitable organizations and privately owned businesses, as well as fiduciary litigation.
Michael Ben-Jacob of Kaye Scholer LLP is an up-and-coming partner who draws praise for both his domestic and international trust and estates planning practice.
Arlene Harris is a special counsel at Kaye Scholer LLP and is best known for her trust and estate litigation practice. She is based in New York.
The market has a very high regard for Donald Kozusko, a founding partner of Kozusko Harris Vetter Wareh LLP. He is especially noted for his extensive experience advising family offices on planning matters.
Cheryl Hader is a key partner in the trust and estates group of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. Hader earns tremendous praise from clients, who say: "She's very good – one of the best lawyers in the city technically. She's very efficient, has a deal-like attitude and turns things around quickly."
John Novogrod is the head of the trust and estates group of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. Novogrod is a well-respected practitioner with a strong international estate planning and transfer tax planning practice. "He's an excellent attorney, a top-notch guy and clients love him," say interviewees.
Highly experienced attorney Neill McBryde leads the private client group at Moore & Van Allen, PLLC. Tax and estate planning, wealth transfers and estate administration are key strengths within his practice.
"Extremely knowledgeable" Gideon Rothschild of Moses & Singer LLP is a well-respected figure in the market and is singled out as a go-to expert on estate planning and asset protection.
Lawrence Richman is the leading figure in Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP's trust and estates group. Clients are full of praise, with one noting: "We always feel like he's keeping an eye out for what he needs to advise us on and is keeping ahead of everything." Another source adds: "He's fantastic – he speaks in terms that I can understand and balances legal and business considerations in his advice."
Jones Perry is the leading figure in Shearman & Sterling LLP's private client department and is noted for his international estate planning and tax practice. He is adept in advising on matters ranging from the establishment of cross-border trusts to expatriation tax planning.
Laura Twomey of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is a partner who has established a strong reputation in the field and earns praise from peers for her work in this area.
Charles Redd heads the private client team at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP and has an enviable reputation in the market. "He was very efficient and direct, and ultimately got the job done," said a client. Redd's practice covers estate planning as well as trust and estate litigation.
Nikola Djuric of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is continuing to impress commentators with his growing reputation in the market. He is highlighted for his experience and technical expertise, and also garners praise for his ability to keep up-to-date with trends.
Douglas Siegler is the driving force in Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP's private client group. He earns widespread recognition from commentators for both his expertise in the area, and his dedicated client service approach.
Donald Tescher of Tescher & Spallina PA has a longstanding reputation in the market and maintains an active tax and estate planning practice in Florida.
"Very solid lawyer" Lawrence Katzenstein of Thompson Coburn LLP has a prominent reputation in the market, drawing admiration from peers for his work in this field.
Michael Kavoukjian chairs the global private client practice at White & Case LLP and splits his time between New York and Florida. He regularly advises families and individuals on all aspects of domestic and international tax and estate planning.
With over 35 years' experience, Winthrop Rutherfurd of White & Case LLP has a well-established practice and is known for representing private clients and the trust departments of numerous financial institutions.