Wealth Planning, Trusts and Estates

The transmission of family values, good judgment and wealth should not be entrusted to inexperienced generalists. Since its inception over 90 years ago, Stevens & Lee has cultivated a vibrant estate planning, estate administration and trust practice that now serves the third and fourth generations of many families.

We have a keen understanding of tax laws, family dynamics, closely held businesses, changes in outlook among generations, protection from creditors’ claims, decision making in families and business organizations and the peculiar challenges of collectibles and other unique assets. Our sound counsel derives from considerable experience and efficient relationships with other legal specialists, accountants, life insurance professionals, appraisers and taxing authorities. Many of our best solutions draw from expertise throughout the firm, including that of our employee benefits and business practices. Invariably, we can address a new client’s concerns with the comforting words, “We’ve done this before.”

Stevens & Lee has counseled the owners of hundreds of small businesses that are no longer small, moving their enterprises and more traditional wealth through families seamlessly and tax-efficiently. We offer innovative solutions to planning for subsequent marriages, nontraditional couples and blended families. We anticipate the needs of beneficiaries and encourage a partnership among donors and their recipients that cultivates wealth stewards who are and do good.

We help clients identify whether their assets, as well as assets they transfer to their heirs, are exposed to claims asserted in lawsuits, divorces and other disputes. We regularly counsel clients on how various forms of property ownership and multi-generational trusts can mitigate such threats. We are knowledgeable about the asset protection trust laws of various states and the interplay between those laws and federal tax laws.

We begin by listening thoughtfully and helping you to compile the family and financial information we need to help you. Families, generations and assets differ widely and are not served by cookie-cutter or formbook solutions. We are very skillful in identifying and solving problems, many of which our clients are initially hesitant to discuss.

Aided by experienced paralegals, our practice group administers a wide variety of estates and trusts. We counsel beneficiaries in making post-death elections that fine-tune tax benefits and in the modification of plans whose objectives have been frustrated.

We are experienced in helping fiduciaries and beneficiaries seek judicial recourse when appropriate. We initiate and defend a wide variety of court actions, including Will contests, the interpretation and reformation of Wills and Trust Agreements, guardianships, the removal and compensation of fiduciaries, surcharge proceedings and tax proceedings.

Additionally, we provide extensive support and counsel to many charitable organizations from their formation and exemption through dissolution, and between those extremes, on matters of governance, development and planned-giving issues, the implementation and administration of donor-advised funds, compliance and related tax matters.

Three members of our practice group are members of the prestigious American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel. One led Pennsylvania’s first complete codification of trust law into a modern statute that other states have copied; another founded the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey. Our lawyers have successfully argued novel issues before appellate courts and have created law. Professional trustees rely upon our expertise and sound judgment. We counsel a variety of charitable organizations and the individuals who govern and enrich them.

Members of our practice group typically donate hundreds of hours each year serving in leadership roles with charitable organizations throughout our firm’s geographic footprint.