Wills, Trusts & Probate

Davis Brown attorneys advise families, entrepreneurs, small-business owners, farmers, executives, professionals, high-net-worth individuals, and businesses of all sizes, including family-owned businesses, on the entire estate-planning spectrum, including: 

  • Wills 
  • Living wills 
  • Trusts
  • Revocable living trusts
  • Irrevocable trusts 
  • Charitable trusts 
  • Estates
  • Trust and estate administration 
  • Estate and income tax planning 
  • Fiduciary litigation 
  • Premarital/prenuptial agreements 
  • Powers of attorney
  • Conservatorships 
  • Guardianships 
  • Real estate 
  • Business planning 

Trust and Estate Administration 

To help efficiently and cost-effectively administer your estate, Davis Brown works closely with executors, trustees, beneficiaries, financial advisors, insurance agents, and others on:  

  • Preparing tax returns 
  • Filing court documents for probate of a will and appointment of a personal representative
  • Asset collection and valuation 
  • Preparing personal representative and trustee accountings 
  • Court proceedings 
  • Estate and trust asset distribution 
  • Advising trust or estate beneficiaries
  • Advising clients on ways to avoid probate (both domiciliary and ancillary)  

Estate and Income Tax Planning 

Minimizing estate taxes and exposure to probate are crucial elements of estate planning. The department advises clients on tax issues, including estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping taxes, marital deductions, and prepares fiduciary and estate tax returns. The department also assists with: 

  • Annual exclusion gifting
  • Maximizing the “stepped-up” income tax basis
  • Minimizing exposure to the federal estate tax 
  • Maximizing intergenerational tax planning opportunities 
  • Sheltering certain assets from taxation (e.g. life-insurance benefits) 
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) 
  • Grantor-retained trusts (GRATs and GRUTs)
  • Sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs)
  • Valuation-discount planning
  • Portability of the applicable exclusion upon the first spouse’s death 
  • Disclaimer planning 

Charitable Planning 

To help clients create the legacy they desire and to optimize tax strategies, attorneys can help clients create:

  • Gift annuities
  • Charitable lead trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts 
  • Donor-advised funds

  • Private foundations

Fiduciary Litigation

Attorneys counsel beneficiaries, trustees, executors, fiduciaries, and advisors on how to best navigate their unique and multifaceted situations including disputes among family members or business partners to help resolve issues, including: 

  • Will-contest actions
  • Tortious interference with an inheritance 
  • Trustee-removal actions 
  • Breach of fiduciary duties 
  • Remedying a fiduciary’s failure to account
  • Contested guardian and conservator appointments
  • Defending valuation discounts disputed by estate, gift, or inheritance tax examiners  
  • Resolving valuation disputes involving estate, gift, and inheritance taxes  

Business Planning 

Attorneys regularly work with their clients’ financial advisors, accountants, life insurance professionals, and others to integrate estate planning into clients’ overall personal and business planning. This team approach process helps attorneys plan for: 

  • Closely held businesses
  • Partnerships 
  • Limited liability companies
  • Real estate - special-use valuation for agricultural property
  • Life insurance 
  • Retirement plan distributions

By taking a holistic approach to business planning and including clients’ other advisors, the team can assist with:

  • Business-succession planning 
  • Organizational documents 
  • Buy/sell agreements 
  • Retention of key employees 
  • Shareholder exit strategies  
  • Effective use of entities to protect assets from creditors  

Next Steps 

To help our clients facilitate a better understanding of the estate process and the information required, please review the applicable links below. 

Single Individuals

Estate Planning Profile: Single (Fillable PDF document)

Estate Planning Profile: Single (Word document)


Married Couples

Estate Planning Profile: Married (Fillable PDF document)

Estate Planning Profile: Married (Word document)

If you are ready to start your estate planning process, please call Davis Brown Law Firm at 515.288.2500.