Estate Planning and Wealth Transfer

Gould & Ratner provides sophisticated estate planning and wealth transfer services for wealthy individuals and their families. Using a multifaceted approach to tax planning, family business succession and intergenerational wealth, we provide counsel on:

  • Family trusts
  • Gifts of business interests
  • Generation-skipping trusts
  • Family business succession planning
  • Philanthropic planning
  • Tax review, compliance and controversy
  • Client information management

We have represented Chicago’s Crown family and other preeminent families and multigenerational businesses for more than 75 years. Today, we guide nearly 1,000 families, many with estates comprised largely of privately held businesses and illiquid assets. We help clients address their tax, wealth and succession planning wishes to sustain their current lifestyles and future generations.

Wealth Protection and Asset Preservation

We offer coordinated and practical tax and estate planning strategies, merging personal and business imperatives that preserve wealth, maintain harmony and achieve individual and family goals.

When there is a need to balance competing needs among family members of the same and future generations, we serve as steady and experienced counsel to resolve the most sensitive conflicts and find the optimal path forward.

Regulatory and Tax Compliance Counsel

A strong understanding of complex tax structures is critical to preserving a legacy for future generations. Gould & Ratner’s estate planning attorneys build deep relationships with clients and their affiliated professionals. We also leverage the resources of colleagues in our tax, corporate, real estate and related services to craft estate plans and business arrangements. The resulting trust and estate plans meet our clients’ present and ongoing personal and business needs, while minimizing the tax liabilities and risks inherent in the transfer of wealth.

Intergenerational wealth management is a focus, as we consider all the nuances of complex gift, estate and income tax challenges. Attorneys in our tax planning and compliance group turn to our tax controversy group to minimize the risk of litigation and handle disputes when they arise.

Trust and Estate Litigation

Our attorneys recognize that disputes involving trusts and estates present special challenges. Our estate planning and tax attorneys guide our clients through difficult situations that may include high financial stakes, complex family dynamics and unique procedural legal and tax issues.

When litigation is unavoidable, our litigators are familiar not only with the law and the courts, but with applicable trust and fiduciary law. With assistance from our estate planning, wealth transfer and tax practices, our litigators represent clients in a range of matters involving issues such as:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Charitable trusts and foundations disputes
  • Contesting of wills
  • Equitable deviation of trust terms
  • Investment decisions and results challenges
  • Petitions for instructions involving wills and trusts
  • Removal of trustee
  • Transfer of trust assets
  • Undue influence
  • Representative Matters

    • Advise family and other entrepreneurial businesses on tax efficient ownership structures.
    • Advise multi-generation families and their businesses in developing and implementing strategies to assure transition and continuity of family business activities, long-term wealth transfer and charitable goals.
    • Represented high net worth individuals in negotiating premarital agreements to protect family owned business assets and children from prior marriages.
    • Represented trustees in resolving disputes with beneficiaries.
    • Advisor to family businesses seeking to minimize the onerous C-Corporate taxation without incurring the traditional costs associated with the corporate liquidation process.

    Estate Planning and Wealth Transfer Team