Our Trusts and Estates team’s effective, coordinated counsel offers our clients a high level of service and care and an enviable depth and breadth of experience in all aspects of individual estate and gift tax planning, charitable giving and philanthropic planning, business succession planning, estate settlement, trust administration, conservatorships, guardianships, probate litigation, and more.
We collaborate with the client, the client's other advisors, and attorneys in our other departments to offer a tailored and sophisticated, yet user-friendly approach to the preservation and transfer of wealth, protection of assets, and minimization of taxes. We aim to achieve our client's objectives no matter how small or extensive. The best testament to our approach and results is our many long term, multi-generational clients, some of whom have been with the firm for much of its one hundred years.
Our clients include both traditional and non-traditional families, executives of some of the nation’s top companies, entrepreneurs, and professionals. We work with clients who own closely-held business entities and help them plan for succession to the next generation. We also consult with clients on elder care issues.
Our Trusts and Estates practice, has the advantage of being able to draw on the talents of Pullman & Comley attorneys in other practices of the firm, when appropriate, to obtain optimal results for our clients. Our Trusts and Estates attorneys have the opportunity to work with members of the Business Enterprises practice concerning the succession and preservation of family businesses, consult with members of the Employee Benefits practice in structuring estate plans that include substantial retirement benefits, collaborate with the firm’s Commercial Law & Real Estate practice concerning real property matters associated with the planning of estates and seek advice from the firm’s Litigation practice about trial or appellate procedure in contested tax and probate matters. We often consult with attorneys in our Family Law practice on prenuptial and post nuptial agreements for clients and other family members.
We not only help our clients with achieving their objections for their family members, but we also assist clients with their philanthropic goals with lifetime and post-death planning. Our attorneys have worked extensively with many nonprofit organizations and are able to bring a different perspective to the client's charitable planning.
We work with our clients to design estate plans that fulfill their specific needs and address their concerns. We take into consideration and are sensitive to the needs of the family, their projected financial picture and rapidly changing tax laws in every plan. Then, we draft documents to implement each client’s specific objectives, which may include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance health care directives, family foundations, prenuptial agreements, marital agreements, limited liability company operating agreements and buy-sell agreements, among others.
In addition to preparing wills and trust agreements, our Trusts and Estates team advises clients on planning for incapacity and long-term health care arrangements. These matters often involve the review of gifting and insurance options, and preparation of powers of attorney and advance health care directives.
Probate, Estate Settlement and Trust Administration
Our goal is to make a difficult time and a sometimes complex process as easy as possible for our clients. Our attorneys and paralegals are well versed in every aspect of probate procedure and handle all types of probate matters including administration of decedents’ estates, testamentary trusts, adoptions, conservatorships and guardianships.
Our team approach to estate administration matters facilitates the orderly, efficient management and distribution of decedents’ estates. We assist the fiduciary with preparing and filing probate documents, attending hearings, evaluating claims, post-mortem tax planning, preparing and filing federal and state transfer and personal income and fiduciary income tax returns, and handling audit examinations and appellate proceedings before the Estate and Gift Tax and Appellate Divisions of the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Tax Court as well as local tax authorities.
We advise individual and institutional trustees in matters involving trust administration, and review and prepare trust accountings and fiduciary income tax returns.
Probate disputes, which often involve family members, are by their very nature highly sensitive and complex. Whether at trial or in negotiations, we vigorously represent our clients and strive for win-win solutions whenever possible.
We represent individual and institutional fiduciaries, healthcare institutions, heirs and family members in contested matters in the probate, state, and federal courts. We have pursued and defended numerous actions involving wrongful deaths, will contests, determination of heirs, claims by or against a fiduciary, breach of fiduciary duty, fiduciary removal and replacement, contentious guardian and conservator appointments, and termination of parental rights proceedings.
Pullman & Comley’s Probate Litigation practice includes members of our Litigation, Healthcare, Tax and Trusts and Estates practices, all of whom have extensive experience in contested probate and tax matters. This team approach combines the talents of both disciplines to join technical estate tax and administration knowledge with comprehensive experience in probate, state, and federal trial and appellate courts to resolve our clients’ problems in or out of court.
We work with charitable, educational, healthcare, religious, and many other types of nonprofit organizations on a wide range of issues involving formation, board governance, solicitation of charitable funds, and prudent management of institutional funds. Our lawyers have extensive and broad experience in qualifying newly-formed organizations as federal tax exempt entities and advising established nonprofit organizations on maintaining their tax-exempt status. We have counseled public charities, private foundations, supporting organizations, educational institutions, and other nonprofit organizations with many issues, including:
- Formation of a new nonprofit organization and obtaining federal tax exempt status with a skillfully drafted and complete Form 1023, Form 1023EZ or 1024
- Counseling on how to organize and operate a public charity or private foundation consistent with its stated charitable mission
- Drafting and updating corporate governing documents and policies to comply with federal and state law requirements, as well as best practices
- Board governance and liability protection for directors and officers
- Compensation issues and intermediate sanctions
- Fundraising, solicitation of charitable funds, endowment, and prudent management of institutional funds
- Private foundation excise taxes and self-dealing issues
- Conflicts of interest
- Mergers and acquisitions of nonstock organizations
- Unrelated business income tax planning and reporting
- New market tax credits
- Connecticut property tax exemptions
- Grant-making and procedures
- Scholarship programs
- Employment law compliance and planning
The lawyers in our Nonprofit Organizations practice are dedicated and experienced in various disciplines and knowledgeable about the unique issues affecting nonprofit organizations. We also draw upon the experience of other attorneys at our firm to provide support with litigation, real estate acquisition and leasing services, employment, health care, corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions. We often collaborate with our individual clients to provide additional support for an organization’s fundraising efforts by providing advice about planned giving programs, including charitable lead and remainder trusts, gift annuities, and donor advised funds. Our Trusts and Estates attorneys also work with individuals who wish to form or administer private foundations for family charitable giving, donor advised funds and public charities to establish programs to further a charitable purpose.
In addition to practicing in the areas of nonprofit organizations law, our attorneys actively serve as directors and trustees of numerous charitable, education, health, social service, and religious organizations.
Trusts and Estates
- Helped the founder of a family business to prepare for succession of the business to the next generation with a plan that ultimately saved millions in transfer taxes through the use of an intentionally defective grantor trust and promissory notes, all accomplished prior to the business significantly appreciating in value.
- Served as counsel to numerous private charitable foundations, advising, establishing policies and participating in determining grant awards of several million dollars over the last ten years.
- Assisted in achieving a settlement of contested probate litigation matter involving multiple generation skipping trusts in a Connecticut probate court, involving six different law firms.
- Supervised the estate settlement of a multi-million dollar Connecticut probate estate with over 25 closely held business interests, by filing estate tax returns comprising thousands of pages of supporting documents successfully resulting in estate tax clearance.
- Established and advised several non-profit organizations that continue to provide important public service to their communities, including those supporting veterans, transparency in governmental affairs, and individuals with disabilities.
- Advised the fiduciary of trusts established pursuant to 9/11 victims settlement process.
- Counseled numerous individual clients who decided to establish domicile outside of Connecticut.
- Represented the Executors and Trustees before the Internal Revenue Service and the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services in various successful contested estate and gift tax proceedings.
- Created the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation as an integral element of community servicing to extend a lifetime of area philanthropy and servicing as a fiduciary of her estate, trust and private foundation.
- Prepared estate plans for wealthy individuals whose objective was to provide for a second spouse, and children and grandchildren.
- Crafted an estate plan pursuant to client's direction to provide for son with dependency and addiction issues.
- Provided estate planning for local hedge fund owner who desired advanced planning in the form of a dynasty trust to provide for his wife and children in the event of his death and limit his exposure to federal and state estate taxes.
- Representation of clients before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the state Department of Revenue Services in contested tax proceedings
- Estate planning for individuals and owners of closely held businesses
- Use of trusts in effectuating estate planning and financial management objectives for family assets and enterprises
- Individual and family counseling with regard to transfer of wealth, including planning for generation skipping transfers and Medicaid (Title XIX) eligibility and benefits
- Post-mortem tax planning and general supervision of the probate administration and tax settlement of estates
- Preparation of wills and testamentary and the inter-vivos trust agreements, living wills and advance health care directives, powers-of-attorney and related documents to meet the needs of a wide range of clientele
- Successfully investigated and prosecuted the preceding fiduciary and conservator for a recently deceased individual who transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to himself during his conservatorship. Settlement of the full estate than proceeded after the assets were restored to the estate.
- Assisting a newly divorced doctor with a new estate plan in favor of her children
- Amending an irrevocable trust by “decanting” it under New York law
- Drafting an estate plan for a business owner with a blended family and a need for asset-protection planning
- Updating the estate plan of an elderly couple and meeting with them in their assisted living facility
- Terminating a Charitable Remainder Unitrust on the passing of the second spouse and distributing the trust assets to the named charities.
- Estate planning for wealthy individuals including corporate executives and family business owners
- Develop and implement estate plans for domestic and international clients designed to minimize federal and State gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes and to facilitate effective and efficient distribution of assets. Such plans may include utilizing revocable trusts, insurance trusts, grantor retained interest trusts and limited liability companies
- Develop and implement estate plans designed to benefit charitable causes which may include establishing various forms of charitable trusts and private foundations
- Supervise the probate and tax administration of Connecticut domiciliary and ancillary decedents’ estates, trusts and conservator estates
- Represent clients before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services in federal and Connecticut estate tax matters
- Represent fiduciaries, beneficiaries and creditors in contested tax and probate matters
- Represent individuals, area hospitals and nursing homes in probate and Medicaid (Title XIX) matters
- Serve as private and court-appointed administrator, conservator, executor and trustee
News & Insights
- WPKN Community Radio 89.5, 08.14.2019
- Westport Legal Breakfast Roundtable Discussion Series: Navigating the Current Estate Planning Landscape to Meet Client Goals253 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06880, 02.11.2020
- Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Road, Westport, CT, 01.15.2020
- Bridgeport Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT, 11.08.2019
Pullman & Comley is proud of the 40- year relationship we built with Elizabeth "Betty" Pfriem, an influential woman with whom our Trusts and Estates attorneys established the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation.
Attorneys from our Trusts and Estates, Health Care and Litigation practices supervise and handle conservatorship and commitment matters for several large hospitals.