A trusted advisor for generations
Legacy is important. It demonstrates what you valued during your lifetime—not only the wealth you accumulated but also what was important to you and what you wanted to pass on to future generations. Estate planning is more than just drafting legal documents and analyzing tax issues: it is also a process for ensuring that your last wishes are carried out, with your testamentary documents acting as your final communication to your children and grandchildren.
Keeping the family money where the family wants it
A testamentary document also serves as a guide for the professionals handling your estate. Administrative issues can extend out for generations and may include such unexpected events as will contests, complicated valuation issues and tax audits.
Whether you intend to leave your assets to family heirs, to philanthropic organizations or to a combination of the two, laying the proper groundwork helps ensure that your legacy will be protected, by distributing your assets in a way that most clearly reflects your values and intentions.
More than estate planners
We also help our clients establish family limited partnerships, dynasty trusts, charitable lead annuity trusts (CLATs), private foundations, supporting foundations, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), charitable remainder trusts, prenuptial agreements and offshore asset protection trusts, and we counsel clients with respect to gifts and sales to grantor trusts.
Our Private Wealth and Fiduciary Disputes team advises corporate and individual fiduciaries in all manner of probate and trust administration.
We are called upon to represent trustees and executors in uncontested, contested and litigated probate court proceedings, or to protect the interests of individual and charitable beneficiaries, heirs and creditors in such proceedings.
Fulfilling philanthropic wishes
We advise clients on the full gamut of philanthropic vehicles as well as the most effective approaches to structuring large or complex charitable gifts. We work diligently to structure gifts that match the donor's philanthropic interests with the charity's current fundraising priorities.
Our team includes several LL.M.s, a CPA and a certified specialist in trust and estate planning. Our litigators have an enviable track record handling will contests and a wide variety of other trust and estate litigation matters.
Manatt is proud of the long-term relationships we've built with our clients—oftentimes spanning multiple generations. This trust and longevity speak to the confidence our clients have placed in our firm to fulfill their wishes, even beyond their natural life. We take this responsibility seriously and value the role we can play in protecting our clients' legacies.
Who we work with
Our clients put their trust in us. We represent:
- High-net-worth individuals, including entrepreneurs, and their families; owners of substantial family businesses; and political, entertainment and sports figures
- Trust companies and trust departments of major banks
- Individual and charitable fiduciaries, beneficiaries, trustees and creditors of substantial trusts and estates in the United States and abroad
They Put Their Trust in Us
- We created a family limited partnership whose partners consist of our client and the trustee of the client’s dynasty trust. Our client made a gift of limited partnership interests to a CLAT, which will endow her philanthropy for 20 years. At the end of the 20 years, the assets remaining in the CLAT will pass to the dynasty trust for her heirs, free of gift tax.
- In a recent will contest, we successfully defended a medical center foundation against claims that the testator had been unduly influenced by our client when he made his multimillion-dollar bequest to it.
- In another recent will contest, we successfully settled a lawsuit mounted by a long-term personal assistant who had been terminated by the trustee at the decedent’s death. The assistant claimed that the decedent had promised to employ him “for life” and demanded millions of dollars to compensate him the amount he presumably would have earned over his remaining lifetime.
- We have assisted the majority owner of several highly successful construction companies in business succession and estate and gift planning in order to ensure the continued success of the companies after his death, to enable his estate to pay the significant estate taxes that would be generated by his death, and to protect his three children, only one of whom is working in the business. Our corporate and real estate group are assisting both in the business succession planning and in the sale of a subsidiary of one of the companies to a third party.
- We have worked with a highly successful serial entrepreneur for the past 25 years, first with estate planning and gifting as necessary to protect his only child and then, when that was assured by the success of his gifting plan, advising him on a variety of complex philanthropic projects. In addition, our business team has worked with him on complex real estate and ongoing business matters in order to ensure that his private business arrangements are all in order.
- We established a GRAT for the founders of a biotech firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company has since been sold, and substantial wealth will be passed to the founders’ heirs at no gift or estate tax cost.
Manatt is proud of the long-term relationships we’ve built with our clients—oftentimes spanning multiple generations. This trust and longevity speak to the confidence our clients have placed in our firm to fulfill their wishes, even beyond their natural life. We take this responsibility seriously and value the role we can play in protecting our clients’ legacies.