Practice Areas and Specialties
Charitable planning can play an integral role in a client’s overall estate plan. Whether a client is motivated by potential tax savings, or has purely philanthropic goals, we utilize a number of tools to help clients make charitable gifts, such as charitable lead or remainder trusts, testamentary charitable trusts, private foundations, supporting organizations, and dedicated funds at community foundations.
We not only help clients determine which tool will best meet their objectives, but we also assist the client with the documents and forms necessary to create and implement the new trust or non-profit corporation and, where necessary, prepare and file the required forms with the Internal Revenue Service and governing state to have the new entity recognized as being tax exempt.
We also assist clients with the ongoing administration of existing and newly created charitable structures. This includes assistance with the preparation and filing of applicable federal and state tax returns, as well as drafting the periodic trust and corporate documentation necessary to maintain proper books and records under state and federal law.
Elizabeth Morgan & Associates also assists clients with identifying and selecting permissible public charities to whom charitable grants might be made, as well as the paperwork required to properly select and document such grants. We have also had extensive experience in assisting clients with their international charitable grants and giving to charities created outside of the United States.
We approach the representation of wealthy individuals from a “big picture” perspective, and we believe that means becoming knowledgeable of, and involved in, the client’s overall financial picture, the centerpiece of which is typically a multi-asset class investment portfolio. Elizabeth Morgan & Associates has the knowledge and experience to work side by side with the client’s investment advisors to address portfolio-related challenges. Accordingly, we offer legal and tax representation in a very broad range of investment-oriented transactions, including portfolio tax-efficiency planning, such as private placement life insurance and deferred annuities, liquidity and diversification planning techniques, and structural planning for non-U.S. investments.
We have long-standing, senior executive-level relationships with a large and diverse group of U.S. and non-U.S. investment management firms (in both traditional and alternative investment areas), investment consultants, private banks, brokers, and custodians. Our commitment to maintaining and expanding such relationships has allowed us in many cases to leverage them in order to obtain preferential fee and capacity arrangements for our client base.
Moreover, we demonstrate our dedication to understanding and participating in our clients’ investment portfolio issues through professional alliances with the investment management community, such as Elizabeth Morgan’s tenure as a faculty member of the Investment Management Consultant’s Association (IMCA) Chartered Private Wealth Advisor program, sponsored by a partnership of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and her various other speaking engagements in investment-oriented educational forums.
Because Elizabeth Morgan & Associates approaches client representations in a holistic manner, we understand that the careful administration of complex legal structures is the next logical step following planning and implementation. Accordingly, the firm offers a comprehensive suite of services that assist clients and their other advisors in the administration of international estate planning, private placement life insurance, and business structures. Depending on the level of administrative support that our clients receive from their family offices, accountants, or other legal advisors, the firm’s administrative services can be tailored to encompass virtually all administrative needs or they can be limited to only a few areas.
The scope of administrative services includes tax reporting; reporting to local administrative bodies; liaising with trustees, protectors, asset managers, and custodians; maintaining corporate or partnership books and records; facilitating contributions to or withdrawals from structures; and general transactional assistance. We have developed filing and record-keeping systems in all of the areas with respect to which the firm offers administrative support services, and such systems provide clients with ready access to historical data when it is required. In order to ensure optimal cost-effectiveness of these administrative services, the majority of the work is performed by non-lawyer professionals, and we charge for administrative services at a reduced hourly rate schedule as compared to our charges for planning and implementation projects.
In the new global environment, international business, personal mobility, and technological interconnectivity have created lives that transcend borders—particularly for the high net worth individual. It is therefore understandable that every year, thousands of Americans decide to move their place of residence to a foreign country, or even to obtain a foreign citizenship. Depending on the jurisdiction, having a wide-ranging portfolio of passports, legal citizenships, and residencies can enhance tax planning, international travel, personal safety, and disaster planning.
Elizabeth Morgan & Associates is well-versed in the most advantageous jurisdictions for foreign residency and citizenship, as well as the various means of obtaining legal status abroad. Our network of global contacts with immigration attorneys and financial planners in over 30 countries assists us in tailor-making each residency or citizenship solution to the client’s unique needs and objectives. Services can include immigration applications and advocacy, qualitative research regarding jurisdictions, expatriation law, tax planning in light of multiple or foreign citizenships, facilitation of economic citizenship applications, real estate consulting and acquisition, international networking, and travel advising.
We believe that a person’s citizenship is one of their most precious commodities, and we will never advocate a citizenship or residency program that puts our clients at risk. As a result, we deal only with government programs that are well-proven and ethical, avoiding “shortcuts” to citizenship that are often confidence scams or the product of systemic corruption. Also, Elizabeth Morgan & Associates advises its international clients with regard to their personal safety, evaluating the geopolitical security factors that play a key role in choosing a particular jurisdiction for residency or expatriation and recommending them to contacts in the personal security community. Even after a client settles in a foreign jurisdiction, Elizabeth Morgan & Associates continues to monitor open-source intelligence and assess security factors in order to warn the client of possible risks.
Elizabeth Morgan & Associates represents its entrepreneurial clients at all stages of the private equity investment cycle, including fund formation, early-stage venture capital investments, later-stage growth financings, leveraged buyouts, and recapitalizations. We work with clients to develop strategies for structuring and implementing acquisitions and investments that are both practical and innovative.
As a part of this practice, we regularly represent our private equity clients’ portfolio companies in connection with their recurring and non-recurring corporate transactions, such as: preferred stock and other follow-on private placement transactions; mergers and acquisitions; corporate reorganizations; general corporate, licensing, and distribution contract matters; stock option and bonus plans; executive management compensation; buy-sell agreements; succession planning; and joint ventures and outsourcing arrangements.
Elizabeth Morgan & Associates also assists clients’ portfolio companies with ongoing corporate governance, especially as this area of practice emerges and continues to evolve as a focal point of recent and dramatic business reforms in the United States. It is also an increasingly contentious and high-profile arena in which stakeholders with competing agendas struggle for control over the strategic direction of an enterprise. In this regard, we have extensive experience in representing shareholder committees and special committees of portfolio companies’ boards of directors.
A complete understanding of tax and entity issues is essential to an effective domestic and international estate planning practice. Elizabeth Morgan & Associates understands the intricacies and nuances of state and federal income tax, estate and gift tax, state franchise tax, and the various charitable tax regimes. With this expertise, we work with clients to define their goals, and to design and implement creative strategies to achieve those goals, while at the same time working toward the optimum tax results.
The firm is also experienced in both the federal and international tax aspects of using alternative structures for the ownership of business and investment property, as well as in the formation and taxation of pass-through entities. When helping a client choose the proper entity through which to conduct their business or hold investments, we tailor the entity to the client by considering such factors as (1) the client’s personal preferences, (2) the level of control the client wishes to maintain over the business operation, (3) the degree of liability protection needed by the client, (4) the desired federal income tax treatment (e.g., separate corporate taxation, flow-through tax treatment, or disregarded entity treatment), (5) the preferred entity form based on the type of business or investment operations, and (6) the appropriate state law jurisdiction (e.g., Texas or Delaware). By taking into account each of these factors, Elizabeth Morgan & Associates can structure the entity form to fit each client’s individual situation. After helping the client implement a business entity, we continue to educate and assist the client in the proper administration of the entity, and to facilitate business succession planning to ensure the longevity of the business.
The U.S. reporting requirements imposed upon U.S. taxpayers with offshore assets or interests in non-U.S. trust or entity structures is a subject with which few tax professionals are familiar—and this area is becoming even more esoteric as Congress continues to add burdensome reporting requirements in the name of ending offshore tax evasion. We possess a significant depth of knowledge in identifying the foreign tax and information-reporting rules that apply to a client’s situation, and we have the expertise and resources available to prepare the necessary returns, or to educate the client’s tax advisors on how to do so.
In addition, Elizabeth Morgan & Associates has developed a niche practice which involves assisting clients with bringing previously unreported foreign structures into full compliance, and we have had great success negotiating waivers of applicable penalties for such clients.
The firm’s probate, trust, and estate administration practice encompasses all aspects of administration of decedents’ and fiduciary estates. Our probate practice involves submitting wills to the court for probate or assisting the decedent’s family with alternative heirship proceedings when the decedent died without a will. Once the will is probated, or heirs are determined, we assist the family with administrative matters such as gathering, inventorying, and valuing assets in the estate, and preparing federal estate tax returns and state death tax returns.
For clients who have just lost a loved one, estate administration can be a daunting task. Elizabeth Morgan & Associates provides thoughtful, competent assistance in meeting court filing deadlines and federal tax filing deadlines, thereby making a difficult time much easier to endure.
As part of our trust and estate administration practice, we advise fiduciaries on the legal and practical aspects of the administration of trusts, decedent’s estates, and the estates of minors and incapacitated persons. Conversely, we also represent beneficiaries of trusts and estates in obtaining fair distributions from trusts, negotiating settlements of estates, protecting beneficiaries’ rights with regard to monitoring costs of administration, and advising in contested matters.
The design and implementation of estate and wealth-transfer plans is an essential component of the firm’s practice. The core of this practice involves the preparation of comprehensive wills and revocable management trusts crafted to meet clients’ goals regarding the testamentary disposition of property and to minimize the exposure of assets to estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes at death.
In addition, Elizabeth Morgan & Associates employs various other traditional estate planning tools, such as various types of gifting trusts and family limited partnerships. As part of our holistic approach to estate planning, we also assist clients with the preparation and filing of federal gift tax returns, and we advise on the proper beneficiary designations for non-probate assets, such as life insurance, IRAs, qualified plans, and other employee benefit plans.
Elizabeth Morgan & Associates also provides clients with the peace of mind that comes from proper disability planning. Because the average life expectancy is longer, more of us can expect to spend some part of our lives unable to manage our own affairs. Therefore, no estate plan is complete without financial and medical powers of attorney and other related documents that allow for the smooth and low-cost management of a client’s affairs in the event of a disability.
Given the current economic, legal, and sociopolitical environment, we believe that estate planning attorneys have a duty to advise all clients on the necessity of, and the techniques for achieving, asset protection. Thus, we have developed extensive knowledge of, and practical experience implementing, the various techniques available to preserve individual wealth from threats such as divorce, litigation, future creditors, and investment risk. More traditional asset protection techniques include optimizing state and federal exemptions for assets (such as homestead, retirement plans, and annuities and life insurance); marital property planning; the use of inter vivos marital, dynasty, and children’s trusts; and entity planning.
In addition, Elizabeth Morgan & Associates is one of the leading firms in providing advice regarding wealth preservation and risk management through the implementation of foreign trust and related business, investment, and life insurance structures, and assisting clients with the tax planning and compliance aspects of such structures. The firm’s four-volume treatise, Asset Protection: Domestic and International Law and Tactics, first published by Thomson/West Group in 1995 and updated quarterly, remains the foremost treatise in the area of asset protection.
Elizabeth Morgan & Associates maintains strong relationships with fiduciaries, money managers, and attorneys in almost 30 foreign jurisdictions, and ensures the continued integrity of international planning by conforming to strict due diligence and “know your client” policies. In the area of “out bound” international estate planning, we are experienced in assisting U.S. clients with settling offshore trusts and forming various foreign entities that provide clients with a comfortable balance of control and protection of assets, thereby allowing clients to manage their family’s wealth risk and accumulate assets for future generations. With respect to “inbound” international estate planning, we assist U.S. taxpayers and non-U.S. trustees with managing the complex U.S. tax aspects of foreign non-grantor trusts and provide advice on the multi-jurisdictional tax and treaty issues faced by international private clients. In this regard, the firm has formulated estate and business plans for individuals and families with ties to Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Dubai, the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis, France, Germany, India, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, and the United States Virgin Islands.