Practice Areas

Estate planning for the transfer of wealth

Here at Kevin Matz & Associates PLLC, we view estate planning as a life-long process that involves educating younger generations of family members about the family’s values and gradually developing in them the skills to manage their personal finances and investments and, where appropriate, eventually to assume responsibility for participating in the administration of family trusts and other entities, whether as trustee, advisor or beneficiary. We help our clients define their objectives by thinking through issues such as:

  • how wealth should be allocated among generations;
  • the advantages and disadvantages of trusts versus outright ownership;
  • whether a trust should be designed to encourage or discourage certain behaviors, to supplement earned income, to support a particular lifestyle, or to provide a safety net; and
  • the trust distribution policies best suited to their objectives.

We have extensive experience in designing and implementing lifetime wealth transfer programs, including structures for making gifts to minors, education trusts, section 529 college savings programs, generation-skipping trusts (GST or Dynasty Trusts), irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs), qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs) and other trusts for residences, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) and grantor retained income trusts (GRITs), domestic asset protection trusts, family limited partnerships (FLPs), family limited liability companies and intrafamily sales. We advise on gift tax, generation-skipping transfer tax and income tax issues, and represent our clients in tax audits. In certain instances we may apply for a private letter ruling from the IRS on our client’s behalf to achieve certainty of the tax consequences of a particular transaction.

Our founder and managing attorney, Kevin Matz, has written and spoken extensively about the use of family limited partnerships and various other leveraged transfer techniques, as well as estate planning strategies for groups ranging from private equity fund managers to professional athletes, and has been frequently cited in the professional literature (including at the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning) for his innovative solutions and analysis. Mr. Matz is also the co-author of two estate planning treatises including Manning on Estate Planning.

In addition, we help our clients plan for the possibility of their disability through trusts, powers of attorney for property (durable powers of attorney) and powers of attorney for health care and other health care directives.

We also help our clients plan for the wealth transfers that will occur at their deaths through wills and trusts, taking into account not only the tax issues but also the client’s non-tax objectives in providing for family members in different generations. We advise our clients on how to title their assets to best achieve their objectives, on probate avoidance and on beneficiary designations. We design estate plans that address the differences between the federal estate tax rates and exclusions and the death tax laws of various states. Our counsel also includes planning to ensure the necessary liquidity to pay estate taxes and to ensure the financial security of the surviving family members, including life insurance structures. We advise our clients on various trustee, investment advisor and family advisor structures to ensure that the best qualified persons are assigned the various roles involved in trust administration.

Management and succession planning for closely-held businesses

Although some business owners wish to sell their business as a whole upon retirement, others would like to see the product of their hard work continue in the hands of a suitable successor. The owners of private businesses face a myriad of distinct personal, financial and tax issues in planning for the transition or disposition of the business from the senior generation.

At Kevin Matz & Associates PLLC, our professionals can guide business owners and help implement plans that not only give our clients an exit strategy, but allow them to retire knowing that the business they have created will continue to thrive. We can work alongside your team of trusted professionals, including financial advisors, CPAs, and business valuation experts, to carefully select a business succession plan that is tailored to your unique set of circumstances.

We frequently advise on:

  • Succession planning, including balancing the interests of children who are active in the business and those who are not;
  • Shareholder agreements;
  • Liquidity planning for estate tax and other purposes, including the use of Section 303 stock redemptions, Section 6166 estate tax deferrals, life insurance, ESOPs and buy-sell agreements;
  • Employment agreements, compensation arrangements and non-compete agreements for principals and key employees;
  • Separating corporate control from value and income stream through the use of trusts and separate classes of stock to meet the varying needs of business owners and their estate planning beneficiaries; and
  • Advising owners of S corporation stock on the special restrictions on ownership and transfer of that stock, including the use of ESBTs, QSSTs and other permitted trusts to hold that stock.

Properly drafted succession plans provide the remaining members of the company with a procedure to follow in case the unexpected happens. Planning can designate a competent successor, who will be able to guide the business through the transition, reassure employees about their job security, and put safeguards in place to protect the company from loss. A pension or retirement fund may also be written into the plan and other arrangements can be made that would transfer the owner or executive’s interest into trusts to be paid out to family members.

Domestic and international tax planning

We also represent foreign clients with U.S. business interests and/or family members in the United States. We assist these clients in structuring their U.S. investments to maximize U.S. tax advantages and advise them on tax-efficient methods of transferring those investments to succeeding generations. We also advise individuals on pre-U.S. residency tax planning and on the U.S. tax aspects of renouncing citizenship or long-term permanent resident status.

We administer estates of non-U.S. residents who die owning property in the United States, with particular emphasis on property subject to U.S. estate tax, including probate and the preparation and filing of U.S. (and state, where necessary) estate tax returns.

Asset protection planning

Asset protection is the structuring of affairs to protect your assets against risks, liability and unnecessary exposure. Whether you are an individual or a business, you can manage or significantly reduce many risks through careful and thoughtful planning.

Our firm has expertise in assisting clients to arrange their finances, real property, and other assets in a manner that minimizes their exposure to potential creditors. We are well versed in establishing trusts, determining insurance needs, creating estate plans, and organizing investments and business entities so that our clients are able to enjoy the highest level of confidence in terms of the security of their accumulated assets.

We develop customized asset protection solutions using a variety of tools including:

  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Other marital protection strategies
  • Business entity formations
  • Insurance options
  • Trust options
  • Elder law strategies to preserve government benefits
  • Exempt asset protections under state law
  • Negotiation and preparation of pre and post-marital agreements

We work with our clients to identify the best ways to legally protect those holdings from a variety of creditors.

Estate administration

Our lawyers regularly assist families in the administration of decedents’ estates. We advise surviving family members on the structure and effects of the estate plan, identify opportunities for post-death tax planning and assist in transferring assets to the intended beneficiaries and preparing estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns. We also have extensive experience in resolving valuation and other estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax issues with the Internal Revenue Service, both at the audit level and in litigation. In addition, we have significant experience advising individual and corporate fiduciaries and in trust and estate litigation matters.

Preparation of estate and gift tax returns

In addition to being an attorney with an LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law, our founder and managing attorney, Kevin Matz, is a certified public accountant with substantial experience in all forms of tax return preparation. Accordingly, we prepare income tax returns and related tax filings for individuals, corporations, partnerships, charitable and tax exempt organizations, private foundations, estates, trusts and other entities. We also have extensive experience in the preparation and review of estate and gift tax returns and provide significant added value through our technical knowledge including of the tax return elections that are available.

Compensation and retirement planning

Estate planning is about more than deciding how you want your assets distributed upon your death. Estate planning strategies can also help you minimize your tax liabilities and prepare for your retirement. Our firm is experienced in high-level tax planning for corporations and wealthy individuals. We use our experience to skillfully advise families on retirement and tax-planning issues to maximize their estates for themselves and their beneficiaries.

For example, many retirees roll over their 401(k) accounts into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) when they retire. As a result, the IRA becomes a significant portion of the estate of many retirees. However, an IRA is a very tax-sensitive vehicle. There are techniques, such as stretching out an IRA that can maximize the investment. Another important consideration for retirees with IRAs is choosing a beneficiary. One solution is to create a trust and name it as the beneficiary for your IRA. A trust could also be named as a beneficiary in the case of a minor, disabled person, or irresponsible (spendthrift) adult child. However, in order to continue taking advantage of many of the tax benefits available, the trust must be carefully constructed to qualify as a Designated Beneficiary under regulations issued by the Internal Revenue Service. This is a very complex area of the law, but the knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Kevin Matz & Associates PLLC can handle any retirement and tax planning issue for you.

Litigation pertaining to trusts and estates (Trust and Estate Litigation)

Our firm provides skilled representation to corporate and individual fiduciaries and beneficiaries engaged in trust litigation, will contests, accounting actions, trust and will construction actions where the meaning of an instrument or identity of a beneficiary is at issue, reformation suits and charitable and exempt organization litigation, as well as a wide range of other fiduciary litigation. These representations involve a broad range of disputes or other proceedings involving sophisticated and novel legal issues, from preserving or enforcing rights in a trust or estate, or defending a fiduciary in the administration of a trust or estate, to achieving desired tax results.

Kevin Matz & Associates PLLC has a vast reservoir of experience and knowledge which enables us to identify critical issues early on in a case and efficiently develop strategies to maximize favorable results for the client.

Fiduciary counseling

Our lawyers have extensive experience advising individual and corporate fiduciaries on the multitude of questions trustees, executors and other fiduciaries confront, including the proper application of relevant trust and estate law as well as income and transfer tax laws, the interpretation of wills and governing trust instruments and all aspects of trust and estate administration. We frequently are engaged to negotiate and prepare agreements with beneficiaries on matters such as procuring consent to a proposed transaction and the release and indemnification of trustees and executors. Our lawyers are often called upon to advise trustees and executors on how to avoid beneficiary disputes or how to resolve such disputes without litigation when they do arise. Trust law is evolving rapidly and our lawyers are at the cutting edge of drafting state laws, including in connection with New York’s Uniform Trust Code project.

We also assist bank trust departments in adapting their investment procedures to the Prudent Investor Act, and in navigating the uncertainty surrounding the deductibility of costs that are paid or incurred by trusts or estates that has been sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision in Knight v. Commissioner and the IRS’s issuance of proposed regulations under Section 67(e) of the Internal Revenue Code. We also provide representation on legal challenges to their administration of individual trusts and commingled funds, and provide counsel to individual clients in fiduciary litigation matters, such as will contests and construction proceedings.

Representation in real estate matters

Real estate matters can involve many different parties with a variety of conflicting interests and it is important to have an experienced attorney in your corner to ensure that your interests are protected.

We have a comprehensive understanding of the law and will often serve as “quarterback” and coordinate in engaging real estate specialists so your case can be handled efficiently and effectively.

Charitable Organizations

We assist the foundation and endowment community and tax-exempt organizations on their operations, including investment transactions. We also help charities to structure innovative planned-giving arrangements.