Trust & Estates Main PhotoEstate planning is vital to the well-being of every family.  Making a will and creating a living trust can ensure that your family is provided for, significantly reduce tax burdens, and make sure these things happen in a way that is consistent with your personal wishes.  Estate Planning is much more than writing wills, drafting trusts, and preparing powers of attorney.  While wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, are core elements of every estate plan, there are myriad other issues that require special knowledge and planning in many instances.   Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig’s estate planning lawyers can talk to you about your priorities and requirements to put the right documents in place.

Why Hire Our Estate Lawyers

DBL’s estate planning department works with high net worth individuals, families, and business owners nationwide to develop customized tax planning strategies that best support their current and future goals. Many of our attorneys are barred in multiple jurisdictions giving them unique insight and understanding of this complex ever-changing area of law.

Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig lawyers are the SAFE alternative.

  • SENSITIVE. We are sensitive to the needs of our clients and their life circumstances. Without any added cost our clients get much more than a narrow estate planning service that is focused only on the need to generate documents.  Our clients have a team behind every estate plan that supports real estate, business owners, intellectual property, and foreign residents, property, and other issues where many estate planners only have a passing knowledge.
  • AFFORDABLE. Despite being a firm of more than 70 lawyers, with hundreds of years of collective estate planning experience, we know that estate planning is local and our rates and fees are focused on getting the right plan for the right price, matching effort with outcomes.
  • FAR-REACHING. If you go to a law firm with offices in one state . . . you have an estate plan that only takes into considerations involving a single states property and estate regime.  Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig reaches into every state, with eight fully staffed offices nationwide. In a day and age when families are mobile and the differences between state laws are often dramatic, you need a firm that understands both common law and community property states, that knows how to handle real estate in more than one state or even country.
  • EXPERIENCED. Our estate planning lawyers spend all of their time staying abreast of the ever-changing laws and tax provisions. Led by three attorneys, averaging 20 years of experience each and supported by senior counsel,associates, and a team of paralegals, operating across the entire United States on a highly networked platform called Wealth Counsel.

We Are Where You Are

Working in different jurisdictions, our attorneys understand the importance of building flexibility into your estate planning documents. People do not always stay in one place, so it is important that the document speaks for itself. What if you have assets in a different jurisdiction? It is important that each jurisdiction is considered when doing the planning so that the document can be used in any place that you own real property. Quite simply, planning must be done so the document can travel.

Our attorneys handle estate plans from a number of our offices throughout the United States.

Who Needs An Estate Plan?

Everyone has an estate. The threshold question is not about how much money you have or how much property you own. While these things dictate the type of plan you might need and how we prepare that plan, everyone, everywhere, needs a plan. Everyone who owns anything, a house, a car, a bank account, will go through probate, have their estate taxed, and their assets transferred the way the state code determines.  Your incapacity or death is a big deal, and it is one time you cannot make decisions, by then it is too late.

Estate planning is very state law specific. Fortunately, Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig has attorneys and relationships outside the firm to handle estates in every state in the United States. Please click a link to our state law pages above for more information on your locality. Here are some basic considerations before you go. Do you have:

  • important collections you want to stay in the family
  • a blended family
  • real property in multiple states
  • a house or condo in your state
  • a non-US citizen or non-US resident spouse or partner
  • a special needs child

More to Know: Is a Will Enough?  No.  Read More.

Did you know that if you only have a Will your plan is incomplete? What would happen in the event of a tragedy that left you unable to tend to your affairs? What would happen to your minor children? Your business? Your financial responsibilities? A good estate plan should address all the stages of your life – healthy active times, sick times, possible times of incapacitation, and then, of course, death. A comprehensive and customized estate plan addresses this, with planning through a Trust along with documents such as Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney and HIPAA waivers, so that you can name someone – your Trustee/Agent – to take over your affairs and carry out your wishes with respect to your financial matters and medical care when you are not able to. Once this is done you’ll have peace of mind.

When you come into our office you tell one of our estate planners about your current situation and your desires for the future, and then they craft your plan that incorporates your wishes. Our plans are highly innovative and customizable and can include as many special provisions as you may have. It is common for our Trusts to even include language written in your own words.

Complex Tax Avoidance Strategies in Estate Planning

Estate planning is for any individual, family or business owner that wants a say over what happens to their wealth and how it’s to be passed down to the next generation. Perhaps it is beneficial to move assets outside of your taxable estate. In some cases, a better plan might be a gifting strategy to gift some assets while you are alive. Yet other cases, it is just important that every detail and permutation is spelled out. No matter what works best in your case, the important thing is that your plan is tailored to fit your situation. DBL manages complex estate planning strategies to help avoid burdensome taxes.  To learn more about these areas click on one of the links below:

  • Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) for spouses or children who may require more advanced planning
  • Estate Tax, Federal and state estate tax page, including a discussion of death and inheritance tax.
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) which secure a planned income stream, structure tax savings, pass wealth to your loved ones, and benefit your charities of choice
  • Generation Skipping Trusts (GSTs) to manage estate tax
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) to establish a specific personal revenue stream while creating a vehicle to transfer wealth during your lifetime (using the leverage available under the Internal Revenue Code)
  • Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) to hold various assets and create gifting plans, while retaining your influence and management over those assets
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT) to help reduce or eliminate your estate tax
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT)
  • Qualified Plan Trusts (QPT) to pass on pre-tax dollar earnings and maximize growth potential (IRA, 401(k), SEP accounts)
    Complex real estate holding plans, Guardianships, and Sub Trusts

Estate Administration & Probate

One of the often-overlooked purposes of an estate plan is to make the transition easier for your family.  Estate administration is frequently complicated and scary.  Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig’s probate and estate administration lawyers can walk an executor or administrator through the probate and estate administration process.  At a time when the last thing most people want to do is figure out the more bureaucratic red tape, our lawyers will not only cut through the tape for you, we will make sure it is done the right way so that the estate pays as little as possible.  The sooner you can get us involved, the better, but it is never too late.

Often when people pass away, despite their best intentions, they end up with a complex probate picture.  Sometimes it is property in other states that must be probated separately, other times there are untitled vehicles or unknown assets like insurance policies or annuities.  We can collect, manage and help put the probate and administration process to bed.  With offices across the United States no piece of real estate or probate court is out of our reach, nor is any case too complicated.  If there is a dispute, our highly skilled litigation team works hand and hand with our experienced estate administration attorneys to handle wills contest and estate disputes with care whilst sacrificing nothing.


Practice Areas