rise to every asset protection challenge
Lerch Early’s estate and trust attorneys help people throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area protect their assets while minimizing tax liability through sophisticated planning and administration.
People turn to Lerch Early’s estate and trust attorneys to help them tackle the financial and emotional aspects of managing their assets during life and distributing them after death. Thoughtful estate planning ensures that your property benefits the family members, friends, or charities that matter most to you while reducing or deferring the impact of state and federal transfer taxes. It also includes stating your health care preferences and who will make decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated. We also help estate and trust beneficiaries and personal representatives administer estates and trusts as time- and tax-efficiently as possible.
Whether it’s designing an estate plan or administering an estate, our attorneys are hands-on and are fully involved in every step of the process. We don’t simply fill out forms – we get to know you, your family, your assets, your business, and all other important aspects of your life to guide our preparation of your estate plan. We anticipate problems, whether tax-related, interpersonal, or financial, to reduce the risk of discord and litigation as your plan is implemented. All our estate and trust principals have attained masters’ degrees in the laws of taxation, and are well-trained to devise the most tax-efficient strategies to plan or administer your estate or trust. Over the past 30 years, we’ve developed processes that minimize attorney time and related costs for our clients. When appropriate, we tap into the knowledge of attorneys in the firm’s other practice areas, such as family law and real estate, to provide you with the benefit of their experience. We also work with our clients’ accountants, financial planners, insurance representatives and investment advisors to fully integrate the knowledge and expertise of every professional in whom our clients have placed their trust.
While we generally avoid the expense and delays involved in litigation whenever possible, we’re skilled in the use of the judicial process to resolve administration controversies such as will disputes or alleged breaches of fiduciary duties.
Our clients’ father passed away and the executor of his large estate (our clients’ cousin, the nephew of the deceased) had paid himself several hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions, even though he had performed only a series of ministerial tasks in his role as executor. Maryland statutory law permits executors to take a fixed percentage of the estate as compensation for their services, just as the executor in this case had done.
In a case of first impression, Lerch Early convinced a three-judge panel of the Orphans Court for Anne Arundel County that in this case, the executor’s fees were excessive, even though they were within the percentage allowed by statute, because it would have resulted in a windfall for the executor.
Accepting our argument that being named executor should not be a “lottery ticket” in a large but uncomplicated estate, the Orphans’ Court required the executor to return $100,000 in excess compensation to the estate for distribution to our clients, the beneficiaries.