Families / Estates / IndividualsPrint
No matter how hard you’ve worked to build your future, your efforts could be wasted without the right guidance to defend the legacy you’ve achieved and pass it on to your heirs. Your well-deserved financial success creates important estate planning decisions. That’s particularly true because the tax laws create a maze of traps for the unwary, affecting all the wealth you have built and the steps you must take to preserve it for yourself and your heirs.
McNair’s estate planning lawyers help clients with virtually any size estate to provide for their beneficiaries, minimize their taxes and preserve what they built in their lifetime. If, like many of our clients, you live either in a popular retirement area such as Hilton Head Island or Kiawah Island, or in our business communities of Columbia, Charleston, or Charlotte, our lawyers in your community will work directly with you to custom-tailor wills, trust agreements and business plans to your specific needs. Business owners, physicians, lawyers and other professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, executives, retirees and their families all trust us to respect their unique concerns and wishes and to transfer their assets from one generation to the next.
Two of our lawyers are recognized in The Best Lawyers in America ® 2013 for Trusts and Estates.
Protecting Your Wealth
We use the full range of tools available to handle your estate planning needs to maximum advantage under the Tax Code. The tax strategies crafted for you make legitimate application of the advantages allowed under law, and encompass ways to:
- Estimate and minimize estate tax liability exposure.
- Create a variety of trusts and lifetime gifts to shelter family assets and minimize tax impact, such as revocable living trusts, charitable trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, insurance trusts and generation-skipping trusts.
- When appropriate, structure the estate in ways that permit the estate to qualify for payment of estate taxes during an extended period of years.
- Minimize the value of a family business for federal estate tax purposes, while transferring control to the next generation.
Family businesses pose special estate planning challenges, and McNair has experience in many aspects of business succession planning. We help you achieve your personal and business objectives through management and tax strategies that include handling the necessary issues of control with tact and sensitivity when these considerations span several generations, or are made more complex by divorce and remarriage. When it’s not possible or desirable for the business to continue in your family, we can create buy-sell agreements to accomplish asset transfers to other owners in ways that meet your tax management, succession planning and estate planning goals.
Example of our Services
At McNair, it is central to our estate planning philosophy that we advise families over a period of many years as their assets grow and estate needs change. For one family that owned and operated a successful business, we developed a plan spanning nearly 20 years that used techniques to form new operating entities that would allow transfer of business assets to the younger generation in a tax-efficient way. Our strategy enhanced the family’s wealth, minimized their taxes and moved the business to a new generation of owners and managers.
Developing the Right Strategy
You’ve earned your financial assets. That’s why we are committed to helping you manage and protect your accumulated wealth through tax, investment and personal planning strategies. You will receive estate planning solutions that are carried out as you intend, maximizing financial benefits while minimizing taxes and fulfilling all fiduciary responsibilities. Although these plans will provide for the distribution of assets that occurs after death, they also address numerous other issues that affect your financial future. For example, we can create a variety of trusts and lifetime gifts to shelter family assets and minimize tax impact, and establish independent asset management arrangements for your convenience. Our lawyers can integrate your insurance, tax-deferred compensation and IRA distributions, and provide for medical needs that involve elder care, incapacity or heirs with disabilities. And whether your wealth and estate plan involves a simple will or a series of complex trusts, we work with executors and administrators to make sure the details are handled properly, throughout the years on your behalf while protecting your heirs.
Example of our Services
Our lawyers understand the sensitive estate planning issues that family controversies create. One of our clients, a retired banker who had remarried, feared that his children would work to undermine an estate plan in which his second wife was the primary beneficiary. McNair created a series of trust arrangements that provided full protection to the wife while assuring that assets were structured to withstand any challenge in court.
Estate and trust controversies are always highly sensitive and often complex. We represent you at trial and in negotiation, often using our knowledge of effective tax and business planning to craft acceptable solutions – particularly when disputes involve family members. We have resolved a variety of will and trust contests (including contested bequests and charitable pledge disputes), up to and including at the state supreme court level when necessary, striving to make sure that the original wishes of our clients are carried out as they intended. We also work to resolve breach of fiduciary duty claims and probate controversies. When necessary, we will work to resolve tax disputes with state and federal tax authorities.
Example of our Services
A will is the centerpiece of an estate plan, and if the terms of a will are contested, McNair lawyers will defend them in court if necessary. In one instance, we argued and won a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court in which multiple family member plaintiffs challenged the language of the will we had prepared for our client. The court agreed with our interpretation of language that defined how much each beneficiary would receive – thus ensuring that the wishes of our client would be properly carried out.
Providing for Guardianship
If you have a child, spouse or other beneficiaries who cannot manage their own affairs, you can look to us to handle sensitive guardianship issues. Whether the need is to ensure that a court-appointed guardian understands and carries out the terms of your will or beneficial provisions, or to oversee a financial institution’s management of assets designated for guardian care, your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones protected. We will also work with the court to oversee the process of securing proper financial management, physical care and lodging, particularly in instances where a change in residence or caretaker is necessary.
Example of our Services
Our clients were an elderly couple whose caregiver defrauded them out of millions of dollars from their estate. In a rare action, we went before the Probate Court to make the difficult but necessary argument that our clients were mentally incompetent and required a court-appointed guardian to oversee asset recovery and preservation. The Probate Court agreed, and our clients received the protection they needed.
Giving You More Information
McNair offers you a wide range of estate planning information and tools to help you understand the issues you face and the best estate planning techniques we can use to help you. We want you to learn more about all the options you have, so we can better work in partnership with you on making the best financial choices. From a book written by Michael L. M. Jordan called Successful Estate Planning for South Carolina Residents, (a copy of which is available to you upon request) to developing a wide range of other educational materials, our partners want to provide you with whatever information you need to help you make some of life’s most important decisions.
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Bailey, Amanda A.Shareholder - Myrtle Beach, SCabailey@mcnair.net843.444.1107 Main
Cerrati, Jennie S.Associate - Hilton Head Is., SCjcerrati@mcnair.net843.785.2171 Main
Jolley, John M.Shareholder - Hilton Head Is., SC - Bluffton, SCjjolley@mcnair.net843.785.2171 Main843.815.2171 Main
Jones, Celeste T.Shareholder - Columbia, SCcjones@mcnair.net803.799.9800 Main
Jordan, Michael L.M.Of Counsel - Hilton Head Is., SCmjordan@mcnair.net843.785.2171 Main
McGirt, Sherri L.Shareholder - Charlotte, NCsmcgirt@mcnair.net704.347.1170 Main
Morrison, George E.Shareholder - Charleston, SCgmorrison@mcnair.net843.723.7831 Main
Scardato, Michael A.Shareholder - Charleston, SCmscardato@mcnair.net843.723.7831 Main
Walker, Joseph D.Shareholder - Columbia, SCjwalker@mcnair.net803.799.9800 Main