Estate Planning

Lawyers in this group include those who regularly lecture at seminars on estate planning, the Past Presidents of the Fiduciary Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia, and members of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

The attorneys in the Trusts and Estates Practice Group of Gilbert, Harrell, Sumerford & Martin, P.C. have counseled generations of Georgia families on developing estate plans to provide for families and to facilitate the transfer of wealth. Our attorneys seek to develop plans and documents specific to each individual and family, while coordinating sophisticated tax planning and strategies that best work with a family’s particular dynamic.

Areas of Expertise

Our estate planning attorneys focus on preparing wills, trusts, Advance Directives for Health Care, General Durable Powers of Attorney and other instruments to insure a client’s desires are met while addressing estate and gift tax, generation skipping transfer tax and income tax issues. Our carefully crafted estate plans are also designed to address the issue of potential future incapacity of an individual, and provide a plan for the aged or aging.

Our attorneys also have extensive experience in planning involving the use of Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), gifts of fractionalized interests, and Sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs). Due to the nature of real estate in our area, our firm frequently utilizes Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs) to leverage the transfer of the principal residence or vacation home.

Our firm represents individual and corporate fiduciaries in the probate process and the administration of estate and trusts. Our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to effectively handle the administration of large and complex estates, including estates involving significant wealth, interests in ongoing businesses, and assets located in multiple states. Additionally, our lawyers handle estates of all sizes helping families through the transition of assets, property and estates.

For decades our firm has represented trust departments at banking institutions and trust companies to advise the fiduciary in administering documents as well as in planning and drafting documents.

Our attorneys represent clients in connection with conservatorship and guardianship proceedings. While not a primary focus of our fiduciary practice, as a part of serving as counsel to generations of the same family, our lawyers have assisted in helping families and individuals through contested and non-contested guardianship proceedings.

When necessary, our lawyers represent fiduciaries and beneficiaries in contested probate and trust matters, drawing on the resources of our Trusts and Estates Practice Group and our Litigation Practice Group. Our attorneys provide comprehensive trust and estate litigation and mediation services, including representation in connection with challenges to the validity of an estate planning document, allegations of a breach of fiduciary duty or estate mismanagement, challenges to accountings, claims by beneficiaries and family disputes.

In today’s litigious society high net-worth individuals face an increased risk of exposure to liability. The attorneys in the Trusts and Estates Practice Group advise clients regarding asset protection and wealth preservation strategies, including limited partnerships designed to keep family assets in the family, provide for management of family assets, to educate family members, and to transfer family assets on a tax favorable basis. Our lawyers also advise clients regarding Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), business protection involving the use of corporate entities, multi-generational dynasty trusts and irrevocable trusts.

Our estate planning attorneys frequently advise clients regarding the sale of a business, working in tandem with our Corporate Law Practice Group and the client’s other advisors to formulate tax savings strategies for the sale or transfer of a business.

Our clients regularly seek to meet their charitable intent through the use of Charitable Remainder Trusts, gifts to Community Foundations, establishing Private Foundations and establishing supporting organizations. Our lawyers are experienced in drafting documents which receive charitable tax treatment for the donor and fulfill the charitable intent of our clients. Additionally, our lawyers regularly advise local and regional charitable organizations on interactions with donors and serve as tax counsel to numerous charitable organizations.