Family Wealth Planning

Estate and trust planning and administration can be overwhelming and complex without the right guidance. Phillips Lytle offers a complete range of planning services tailored to the needs of individuals, as well as traditional and non-traditional families. We take a proactive approach to developing and implementing estate plans specific to our clients’ needs and goals. This includes tax planning and planning for closely held businesses.

We provide advice and guidance to corporate and individual executors and trustees, as well as beneficiaries regarding all aspects of estate and trust administration and litigation.

Our expertise includes:

  • Closely held businesses
  • Estate and trust administration
  • Estate and trust litigation
  • Estate and trust planning
  • Fiduciary accounting proceedings
  • Guardianship and supplemental needs trusts (“special needs trusts”)
  • Tax
  • Vacation homes and cottages

Our attorneys are members of, and some of whom hold leadership positions in, trust and estate sections of state and local bar associations and professional organizations dedicated to estate and trust law. They have substantial experience speaking to community groups, professional organizations and other attorneys on all aspects of trust and estate matters.


At Phillips Lytle, our attorneys have extensive experience preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills and other estate planning documents. We provide tax advice and planning for the disposition of all assets, including retirement benefits and life insurance proceeds, and collaborate with other Phillips Lytle attorneys to develop and implement thorough, coordinated plans for our clients.

We prepare a variety of lifetime and testamentary trusts, including:

  • Charitable trusts, including charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) and charitable lead trusts (CLTs)
  • Grantor trusts, such as GRATs, GRUTs and IDGTs
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs)
  • Qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs)
  • Revocable trusts (living trusts) as will substitutes
  • Trusts for minors
  • Trusts that utilize estate tax credits and the marital deduction, including credit shelter trusts, qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts and qualified domestic trusts (QDOT)
  • Trusts used for generation skipping transfer (GST) planning


We prepare estate, gift, generation skipping and fiduciary income tax returns and represent clients in audits and other disputes over these returns. We also work with fiduciaries and beneficiaries to prepare proper post-mortem plans essential for estate and trust administration.


We provide succession planning advice to owners of closely held businesses. This includes developing plans to integrate and compensate key employees who are not family members and providing equitable arrangements for family members who are not involved in the business.


We advise families on the disposition of vacation homes and cottages, and the means to maintain such homes and cottages for future generations.


We assist clients in the creation and administration of all types of guardianships. In addition, we guide clients in preserving assets through supplemental needs trusts, commonly known as “special needs trusts.”


The administration of estates and trusts constitutes a substantial portion of our practice and includes advice to individual and corporate fiduciaries, as well as beneficiaries. We work with fiduciaries in all facets of administration, including the appointment of the fiduciary, marshaling of assets, guidance on New York’s law regarding prudent investing and other fiduciary duties, preparation of accountings, and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. The significant experience of our attorneys and paralegals allows us to complete administration of trusts and estates in a timely, cost-efficient manner.


We represent fiduciaries in all manners of accounting proceedings, including formal and informal judicial settlement of accounts and contested accountings. Our experience in all aspects of the accounting process and our long history of representing fiduciaries in accounting matters allows our attorneys to work with fiduciaries to navigate accounting proceedings in an effective and efficient manner.


We represent fiduciaries and beneficiaries in a variety of litigation matters, such as contested probate of wills, discovery and accounting proceedings, spousal right of election matters, and proceedings for the construction and reformation of documents. Our experience in estate planning and the administration of trusts and estates enables our attorneys to provide the advice necessary for the resolution of disputes prior to trial and the successful outcome of matters that proceed to trial. Attorneys in our Litigation Group regularly assist in these matters.

Practice Area Icon: Family Wealth Planning