Trusts & Estates

Trusts & Estates

Estate Planning

Sophisticated estate planning services for high net worth professionals, executives, business owners and their families, including:

  • Gift tax, estate tax, generation-skipping tax and fiduciary income tax planning.
  • Complex revocable, irrevocable and charitable trust arrangements.
  • Business succession planning.
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
  • Disability planning.
  • Guardianships.

Getting Started: Estate Planning Forms

Estate Planning Stories

Married Couple's "Simple" Estate Plan May Cost Children Dearly ...

Rob and Laura both retired after having built a successful business. Over the years, they had accumulated an estate worth almost $11 million. They knew that each of them had an $11 million federal estate tax exemption, so they contentedly expected to someday leave a tax-free inheritance to their children.

When the couple visited OKGC, we explained that their simple estate plan (all to the surviving spouse, then to their children) takes advantage of only one-half of their Illinois estate tax exemption and may actually leave their children with an Illinois tax $493,000 higher than need be.

We also pointed out that if the survivor between them invests wisely and grows their estate, the first 15% of that growth may be lost to estate tax when the survivor dies.

Once they understood their situation, they approved OKGC's recommendation to draft a new estate plan that includes a commonly-used trust arrangement that may reduce their Illinois estate tax by nearly $500,000 and that may completely eliminate the 15% tax on the growth of their estate during the survivor's lifetime.

OKGC Estate Planning Tip

You may sketch your dream home on a pad of paper, but you wouldn't think of hiring a handyman to build it based solely on your sketches. When you dream about passing along the estate you've spent a lifetime accumulating, call on an OKGC estate planning attorney to design and build your dreams into an estate plan that carries out your every intention (and maybe a few that you haven't even thought of).

Control Your Estate "From the Grave?" – Your Child May Wish You Did

Laura and her late husband, Rob, had an $11 million estate and a new estate plan that saved their children nearly $500,000 in Illinois estate tax while avoiding an additional 15% estate tax on growth of their estate during Laura's surviving lifetime. Even more concerning than taxes, Laura now had a child whose marriage was in trouble.

During our annual review of the family's estate plan, we explained that leaving the child's inheritance in trust would keep it out of reach of the child's spouse or, in the worst case, off the table in the division of assets during a divorce. As a result, plans are now in place for the child's share to be held in trust for the child's benefit until such time that an independent trustee determines that all is well.

OKGC Estate Planning Tip

An annual review with an OKGC estate planning attorney can help you adapt to or take advantage of changing laws or circumstances to preserve and pass on your hard-earned estate.

Leaving a Legacy – Your Great-Grandchildren Will Thank You

George and Martha had a $15 million estate and an estate plan that left their two children the maximum after-tax inheritance. Although they were leaving their estate to their children, they hoped that their grandchildren would also benefit from it one day.

OKGC explained that their grandchildren's future inheritance may be cut nearly in half by estate tax when George and Martha's children die. We recommended that the family implement a new estate plan that includes a $10 million generation-skipping trust ("GST"). The GST puts each child (and later on, each grandchild, great-grandchild, etc.) in charge of his or her share and allows him or her liberal use of the GST funds for life. The key is that the GST is never subject to estate tax again.

Here's what that can mean. If asset values double every 18 years (5% growth per year) and assets not in a GST ("non-GST assets") are taxed at 43% each generation, in three generations (108 years) the GST will grow to $640 million (5 times the value of non-GST assets), and in six generations (216 years) the GST will grow to $40 billion (29 times the value of non-GST assets).

OKGC Estate Planning Tip

Whether or not Albert Einstein actually said, "the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest," is a matter of some debate. But, we believe the truth of the statement is undeniable and a GST can take full advantage of this force of nature.

Estate Settlement

Trust and estate administration, including:

  • Multi-state probate and non-probate estate and trust settlement.
  • Counsel to corporate and individual executors and trustees, surviving spouses and families.
  • Preparation of estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping tax returns.

Getting Started: Estate Settlement Information

Estate Settlement Stories

After a Loss – Picking Up the Pieces

Martha visited with us a couple weeks after the death of her husband, George. Their $15 million estate left Martha financially secure … and completely overwhelmed.

At our suggestion, she brought in a box full of recent account statements and other papers the importance of which she was unsure. First, we used a whiteboard to illustrate in broad terms what the settlement of George's estate would involve. Then we reviewed the box of documents and explained what needed to be done with each account or other asset in order to settle George's estate.

Since this was a lot for Martha to take in all at one time, we followed up with a written summary of our conversation and a comprehensive estate settlement "to do" list. During our next meeting, Martha gained in understanding and confidence as we walked through the summary and "to do" list. We divided up responsibility for the items on the list — Martha taking on those items she was comfortable with and the remaining items being left to us.

Over the next several months, we phoned and emailed with Martha frequently, and met with her about once a month until George's estate tax returns were filed nine months after this death. Not long after that, Martha was able, with occasional "coaching" from us, to complete the handful of "to do" items still outstanding and move forward with the confidence that she was truly in charge of her own financial affairs.

OKGC Estate Planning Tip

The loss of a loved one is often accompanied by new and weighty responsibilities – picking up the pieces. Whether you are overwhelmed at the prospect of settling an estate or confident that you can do-it-yourself, we recommend an initial meeting to review your situation, outline what needs to be done and allow you to determine the extent of help, if any, you may want or need.

Estate Litigation

Contested trust and estate matters, including will and trust contests, claims against an estate, rights of a disinherited spouse and breach of duty by an executor or trustee.

For further information or to discuss a specific situation, contact Neal Geitner by email at or call 847.291.0200.