Estate Planning and Individual Wealth Management

Practice Contact

Barbara B. Ferguson
Senior Counsel
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View Estate Planning and Individual Wealth Management

Thompson & Knight attorneys provide a full range of estate planning and probate services. We draft simple wills and restructure family businesses for management continuity and tax savings in future generations, and also help individual and corporate executors and trustees administer decedents' estates and trusts efficiently and cost-effectively.

We are proud that Thompson & Knight received a national ranking for Trust and Estates Law in the 2016 edition of "Best Law Firms," the preeminent listing of the nation's top legal practices from U.S. News - Best Lawyers®Chambers USA High Net Wealth 2016 also ranks Thompson & Knight among the top seven firms in Private Wealth Law in Texas. Additionally, Thompson & Knight has more attorneys selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018 in the practice area of Trusts and Estates than any other firm in Texas and our estate planning and individual income tax practice is among the largest in the southwestern U.S. Barbara B. Ferguson has been named as one of "The Nation's Top 10 Trust and Estates Lawyers" for six years by United States Lawyer Rankings and Rust E. Reid was named "Dallas Trust and Estates Lawyer of the Year" by The Best Lawyers in America® 2013.  Many of our trusted family relationships are more than 70 years old, and it is not uncommon for our attorneys to work with three or even four generations of a family over the course of decades.

We counsel on the most sensitive personal family tax issues, from those involving marital disputes and succession planning to executive compensation and retirement plans. Our attorneys have helped our clients to transfer millions - or in some cases, hundreds of millions - of dollars to their families without undue tax cost. We work with clients to form charitable remainder and lead trusts and family private foundations, as well as to structure gifts and bequests to charities across the country. And, when necessary, we represent clients in adversarial proceedings with the Internal Revenue Service and in Tax Court.

Seven of our attorneys are Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. All of our estate planning lawyers keep current on rulings and developments in the field and many are nationally acclaimed speakers on these topics.

We advise individual clients on:

  • Wealth transfers that use creative, individualized lifetime vehicles to minimize income, estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes
  • Premarital agreements, estate and probate planning (including insurance and property ownership), asset preservation, and estate and trust administration
  • Lifetime gifts that minimize gift and estate taxation and achieve personal and family goals
  • General powers of attorney, designations of guardian, directives to physicians ("living wills"), and powers of attorney relating to health care decisions
  • Lifetime revocable and irrevocable trusts that make tax-efficient gifts, facilitate asset management and avoid guardianship if the client is incapacitated, avoid lengthy state court probate, and protect assets from creditors
  • Tax plans that lower estate tax values and defer estate tax payment on farm and ranch property
  • Charitable lifetime and testamentary gifts, including the establishment of private foundations, charitable trusts, and endowments

We advise corporations, family held companies, and business executives on:

  • Restructuring family businesses to reduce income and succession taxes
  • Succession and inheritance plans that defer significant estate taxes
  • Various forms of charitable planned giving
  • Proper employee benefit and life insurance beneficiary designations that minimize income and estate tax burdens while satisfying federal laws regarding qualified plans
  • How a relocation applies new community property systems and local regulation to the administration of corporate executives' estates
  • Estate planning fringe benefit services, including guidance on existing wills, asset valuation, proper insurance and employee benefit beneficiary designations, and all estate planning documents necessary to accomplish corporate executives' goals

We handle probate and fiduciary matters including:

  • Probate of the decedent's will and filing of other necessary court documents, or if there was no will, we wind up the decedent's affairs as simply as possible
  • Creditors' claims
  • Income tax planning for the decedent's estate and beneficiaries
  • Post-mortem income and estate tax planning, in addition to discussing disclaimers with family members
  • Preparation of income, estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax returns
  • Asset transfers to beneficiaries, in addition to winding up closely held businesses
  • Administration of testamentary and lifetime trusts, in addition to providing advice to trustees and beneficiaries
  • Probate and tax-related mediation and litigation, in addition to will contests, will and trust construction, termination of trusts, resignation or removal of trustees, and litigation arising out of the administration of estates and trusts
  • Guardianships of minors and incompetents
  • Provision of fiduciary law and trust administration advice to corporate and individual fiduciaries