Private Client Services, Estates & Trusts


Our Private Client Services, Estates & Trusts Practice Group provides legal services to individual clients in estate and family business planning, trust creation and administration, estate administration, charitable giving, and related tax planning issues. Among our clients are those possessing substantial net worth, including interests in assets that are difficult to manage or value, such as closely held business interests and real estate. New York City is a center for the arts, and our attorneys are skilled in tax and related financial planning for artists and collectors owning art of substantial value.

Our attorneys have broad experience in the settlement of large estates, including the preparation and filing of probate proceedings, federal and state estate tax returns, and judicial accountings. We represent, and often maintain books and records for, a large number of trusts and are engaged by professional corporate fiduciaries to represent them in complex trust and estate matters and related litigation.

We advise clients who own substantial real estate interests as sole proprietors or pass-through corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. We have considerable experience dealing with commercial real estate holdings and regularly achieve favorable outcomes in structuring these interests to reduce transfer taxes when they are passed to a younger generation.

As part of our international practice we provide tax planning for non-U.S. residents, including analysis of tax treaties and how they affect tax liability and investment decisions. Our attorneys are well versed in the use of non-U.S. jurisdictions by clients subject to forced heirship and the use of various estate planning techniques established in these jurisdictions. We also assist U.S. residents in planning for the disposition of foreign assets they may own.

We have significant experience in employee benefits and counsel clients with respect to tax and financial aspects of retirement planning.

We also assist clients in estate planning and administration matters not related to taxation, such as the construction of a will or employing a unitrust theory or exercising the trustee's power to adjust to determine whether a trust beneficiary should receive more than the trust income available. We assist family members with special needs by utilizing life insurance or supplemental needs trusts. We also help families provide for other health care decisions by drafting living wills, durable powers of attorney, and revocable trusts to manage assets during a client's disability.

In addition to legal work, our trusts and estates attorneys are active in the community in which they live. They serve as advisors or sit on the boards of a number of institutions and charitable organizations, including:

  • the New York Life Trust Company;
  • the Museum of Modern Art;
  • Artists Space;
  • the Fine Arts Works Center;
  • the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center;
  • the New York City Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation;
  • The Bridge, Inc.; and
  • the Herman Goldman Foundation.

They speak regularly on trust and estate matters before both professional and lay audiences and are active on bar association committees.

In contested trust and estate matters, we regularly represent parties in Probate Courts throughout the U.S. Our Probate Litigation lawyers individually possess a rare combination of extensive experience in trusts and estates planning, tax matters and probate litigation, which allows us to aggressively represent executors, trustees, beneficiaries, attorneys-in-fact, and other interested parties in such proceedings.

Representative Matters

Attorneys in the Private Client Services, Estates & Trusts Practice Group have:

  • established charitable trusts, including charitable remainder trusts and not-for-profit corporations;
  • established irrevocable life insurance trusts;
  • established revocable and irrevocable living trusts for the management and transfer of assets;
  • established dynasty trusts for multi-generational tax planning and asset protection purposes;
  • set up Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs); Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs); Grantor Retained Unitrusts (GRUTs); Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs); and Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), all of which are designed to permit the transfer of property to younger generations at a substantially reduced transfer tax cost;
  • transferred the situs of trusts to other state jurisdictions to achieve savings in state income taxes on the distribution of trust income and upon the sale of trust assets;
  • successfully litigated construction of will proceedings in court to achieve favorable results for the family;
  • successfully represented clients at the appellate level of the Internal Revenue Service and in the state and federal courts in matters involving contested valuation of assets subject to estate or gift taxation; and
  • assisted foreign counsel in analyzing new regulations regarding foreign source tax withholding.

Our attorneys work closely with colleagues in the Firm's other Practice Groups, including Probate LitigationCorporate & Securities, Real Estate, and Tax, providing clients with complete and comprehensive representation.

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For 2021, Windels Marx is ranked in the Metropolitan Tier 3-New York City category for Trusts & Estates Law. Visit the Best Law Firms directory and learn more about Windels Marx recognition.

We provide a rare combination of extensive experience in trusts and estates planning, tax matters and probate litigation, which allows us to aggressively represent executors, trustees, beneficiaries, attorneys-in-fact, and other interested parties in such proceedings.