Serving Clients in Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven Counties
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Individual Practice

Effective Estate Planning and Probate Counsel in Fairfield County

Helping Danbury, Southbury, and Westport Clients Create Strong Wealth Management Systems

Wealth transfer planning can be complex. Using the latest techniques, we advise clients on the judicious use of gifts, wills and trusts during their lifetime and upon death. In addition to preparing documents, the attorneys at Chipman Mazzucco Emerson frequently give advice regarding:

  • Estate, gift and income tax strategies
  • The disposition of unique assets, including interests in closely held businesses
  • Business ownership and succession strategies
  • Plans for life insurance and long-term care insurance
  • Guidance regarding the disposition of IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts
  • Selection of executors, trustees and guardians
  • The use of charitable trusts and foundations
  • Creditor protection

If you are seeking assistance with any of these matters, we invite you to contact our team. With over 40 years in business, our firm has helped many individuals find the best solutions for themselves and their families.

Why You Need An Estate Plan

After a lifetime of working hard to support your family, a strong estate plan can safeguard the fruits of your labor. In the same way, a weak one can lead to disputes, excessive taxes, and other unwanted diversions.

By taking the time and effort necessary to plan your estate, you will be able to:

1. Specify family members and friends as your beneficiaries, thereby preventing your assets from ending up with strangers, antagonists or the undeserving. Without an estate plan, state law decides who gets your assets. Only you (not a court or your state legislature) know who is deserving and who is not, and who needs special help and who does not. You can also achieve your philanthropic goals by naming religious, educational and other charitable organizations as a beneficiary.

2. Appoint a guardian for your minor children. If you are the parent of small children, you need to prepare for the unthinkable possibility of leaving them prematurely. In your will, you can specify who should raise your children if you pass away while they are young. Without a will that names a guardian, the courts will step in to determine one.

3. Choose executors and trustees for your estate. Your estate plan is only as good as the people you name to carry out the instructions you leave in your will or revocable living trust. If you fail to make a selection, a court will do so for you.

4. Reduce risk of conflict and ease the strain on your family. As part of the estate planning process, you will make important decisions about your own health care and who will make health care decisions for you; how to plan and deal with your own incapacity and who will make related decisions for you; what kind of funeral arrangements you want; who inherits your property; who carries out the instructions in your will or revocable living trust; and who will be the guardian of your children.

Every decision you make and express clearly will reduce the risk of conflict among your survivors.

5. Reduce delay and cost. Good estate planning minimizes the delays and costs of transferring property to beneficiaries. When survivors disagree, each party incurs legal fees, carrying costs mount up, beneficiaries are denied access to assets and fiduciary fees grow. Even if no conflict arises, however, the following simple planning steps will minimize delays and costs: (a) prepare a properly drafted will or revocable living trust; (b) nominate qualified people or financial institutions as executors and trustees; (c) provide quick access to cash (via a revocable living trust or other means) to cover early expenses and necessary support for survivors; (d) provide a way to raise cash to satisfy debts, expenses, taxes and legacies; and (e) take steps to reduce estate and income tax obligations that arise from death.

6. Provide for special circumstances, including arrangements for any beneficiary who requires extraordinary help and guidance. The most common special circumstances that may affect estate planning decisions are:

  • Blended families: How do you reconcile the desire to provide for a spouse with the desire to provide for children of a prior marriage?
  • A beneficiary’s unhappy marriage: Will the beneficiary’s divorce expose their inheritance to claims of the divorcing spouse?
  • A beneficiary’s creditors: Will the beneficiary’s creditors become the ultimate recipient of the inheritance?
  • A beneficiary who is receiving public assistance: Will the inheritance disqualify the beneficiary for the assistance, or will the government take your bequest for reimbursement?
  • A beneficiary who suffers from a mental or physical disability
  • A beneficiary’s immaturity: Is the beneficiary too young or immature to manage the inheritance?
  • A spendthrift beneficiary: Will the beneficiary waste the inheritance by spending it extravagantly or irresponsibly?

As part of the estate planning process, you can provide for the beneficiary while shielding the assets from the risks associated with such special circumstances.

7. Provide for special assets. The management and disposition of certain assets will require special knowledge, skills and attention. For example, business assets require knowledge of the business’s employees, customers, products, regulatory environment and markets.

Your valuable collections of art, coins, precious metals, jewelry, photographs, antiques, firearms, and all the other fascinating trinkets and gadgets that people collect require special knowledge and attention if their monetary or subjective value is to be preserved and realized. Authors, artists, inventors and designers may have intellectual property (patents, copyrights and trademarks) that requires special attention. Digital assets present new opportunities and risks.

As part of the estate planning process, you can provide special instructions for the management and disposition of such assets; appoint the proper person (your executor or trustee) who will be responsible for managing, liquidating or distributing such assets; and provide guidance regarding consultants, appraisers and brokers who may be helpful to your executor or trustee.

Tax Planning

For individuals and business entities in Connecticut and New York, our estate planning attorneys (often in consultation with our business attorneys) regularly provide tax planning advice about reducing income, gift and estate taxes. We advise closely held businesses, executives and individuals on the business and tax aspects of estate planning techniques including retirement planning, business entity formation, business succession planning and tax-exempt entities. Further, we regularly represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax authorities.

Dispute Resolution

Disputes sometimes develop between fiduciaries, the beneficiaries to whom fiduciaries owe a duty and tax authorities. In representing clients involved in such disputes, we try to negotiate prompt and fair resolutions. When we cannot, we are prepared to advance our clients’ interests in the probate courts and all other appropriate forums. Our litigation attorneys are well-positioned to handle controversies in all local courts, United States Tax Court, district courts and Court of Federal Claims.

Planning For Incapacity

Planning for incapacity is an important part of our mission. In addition to preparing living wills, powers of attorney, designations of conservator and revocable living trusts, we counsel clients on qualification for public assistance (frequently referred to as “Medicaid” or “Title XIX” planning) and probate court proceedings relating to incapacity.

Our services in this area include:

Estate Planning Services

If you haven’t thought about your legacy, your family may end up in a confusing legal tangle should the worst happen. Chipman Mazzucco Emerson can help you get started. Depending on your situation and desires, we can help you determine the best way to see your family is cared for and your wealth preserved.

Learn more about how we can help you with:

Wills and Living Trusts

Although most clients use a will to dispose of their assets upon death, for some, revocable trusts (often known as “living trusts”) can best achieve your objectives.

Living trusts frequently take the place of wills, directing the distribution of the bulk of a client’s assets upon death. Clients who wish to avoid a lengthy probate process, or to obtain active management of their assets at the time of incapacity, favor living trusts. For clients who own real property in other states, living trusts can also avoid multiple probate proceedings.

If a client chooses to establish a living trust, we assist in retitling assets and changing beneficiary designations to implement a comprehensive estate plan.

Irrevocable Trusts

The estate planning attorneys at Chipman Mazzucco Emerson regularly devise and implement tax planning strategies that may include a variety of irrevocable trusts such as charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, grantor retained income trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, “intentionally defective” irrevocable trusts, qualified personal residence trusts and “dynasty trusts.” There are multiple instruments you may use, depending on your needs.

Probate Practice and Estate and Trust Administration

The probate attorneys at Chipman Mazzucco Emerson advise Connecticut and New York executors and trustees in settling decedents’ estates and administering trusts. We help fiduciaries pay debts and taxes and distribute the remaining assets to designated beneficiaries. The probate process typically includes:

  • The probate proceeding and preparation of all probate documents
  • Important post-mortem tax planning (disclaimers, tax elections, retirement account distribution requirements, etc.)
  • Preparation of federal and state estate tax returns
  • Preparation of fiduciary income tax returns
  • Fiduciary accounting services

We understand that probate and estate administration matters involve the loss of a loved one, and we strive to make the estate settlement process as simple and stress-free for our clients as possible. Depending on the needs of the client, our involvement can range from occasional consultation and guidance to handling each step of estate settlement from start to finish.

Our attorneys also advise and represent beneficiaries of estates and trusts regarding their rights and remedies if losses or breaches of fiduciary duties occur.

Start the Estate Planning Process Today

Our estate planning lawyers help clients preserve wealth, manage assets and efficiently transfer property to their chosen beneficiaries, during their lifetime and upon death. We can assist you in formalizing your requests in case of incapacity. No matter what you decide, it’s incredibly important to clearly communicate your desires, so there is no room for dispute. Our attorneys know how to create the necessary documentation and make your last wishes crystal clear.

Chipman Mazzucco Emerson has been serving clients in Connecticut and New York for over 40 years. We have the skill and experience to make your estate planning process move smoothly. Whether you already know what you want or you are looking for solid counsel, our team can help.

Call us today at (203) 902-4882 or email one of our lawyers to schedule a consultation. Our Fairfield County and Western Connecticut attorneys want to know what we can do for you.

Blogs About Estate Planning

Our legal team at Chipman Mazzucco Emerson is committed to keeping individuals and business owners informed on legal matters that might impact their investments and estate planning goals. That is why we regularly write and update blogs on various topics that can help our clients and people in the communities we serve better understand their rights and options under the law. Please click the tab below to view any of the blogs in our archives.

Why We're the Right Choice

  • Tailored Legal Solutions

    We strive to find the optimal solution for each unique situation. We are well aware of conventional approaches, but we also think outside the box.

  • Highly Competent Legal Guidance

    We will analyze your situation thoughtfully and investigate the relevant law thoroughly to devise a creative solution, customized for your situation.

  • Responsive and Accessible

    We pride ourselves on responding promptly to every inquiry as we recognize that your time is valuable and that your needs are immediate.

  • Deep Bench of Attorneys

    At our firm, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience, each able to bring their unique knowledge and skillset to your case.

Talk to Our Team Today

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