Morris James’ multidisciplinary team of lawyers works collaboratively with individuals and families of means and their professional advisers to create strategies for preserving and transferring wealth that provide financial security and establish legacies for generations to come. Collectively and individually, our attorneys have decades of experience in designing and implementing strategies that manage and preserve family wealth across multiple generations, while minimizing risk and optimizing opportunity.
We are acutely aware of the sensitive nature of family and personal matters, and take pride in our ability to resolve issues with delicacy and discretion. Morris James clients rely not only on our thorough legal knowledge and ability to use the most sophisticated techniques to accomplish their objectives, but also on our skills as legal counselors.
Most importantly, Morris James clients appreciate and share our belief that successful plans achieve more than the desired distribution of family assets. Beyond that, proper planning can perpetuate family values, promote stewardship, and foster meaningful, contributory lives through future generations.
Personal and Family
Morris James provides a comprehensive range of services to high net worth clients, often with complex holdings and diversified assets.
We assist our clients in all aspects of individual and family wealth management and preservation, designing successful strategies for minimizing income taxes, as well as gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer taxes through multi-generational planning. Taking advantage of Delaware’s unique and favorable trust laws, we create trust structures tailored to specific client needs for reducing taxes, providing protection against creditor claims, and targeting individual beneficiary situations, including those with special needs or disabilities. Through the use of trusts and otherwise, we have successfully implemented countless intra-family sales and gifts of business interests, residences, real property, and other high-value assets to shift wealth within families and minimize taxes. We frequently advise financial institutions regarding transfer planning, fiduciary, and custodial matters, and represent executors, trustees and beneficiaries in probate proceedings and trust administration matters. We are often called on to represent executors or trustees in complex administrations involving multiple jurisdictions, hard-to-value assets, the management of business interests, difficult distribution problems and family settlements, and tax audits.
We collaborate with our clients, their professional advisors, and our attorney-colleagues in related areas of the law to develop individualized responses and strategies that align with our clients’ business, financial, and personal objectives. As our clients’ needs require, our team regularly includes members of several Morris James practice groups, including
- Trusts and Estates
- Real Estate
- Business Transactions
- Strategic Planning and Counseling
- Family Law
These collaborative efforts provide client benefits in matters as diverse as the negotiation of prenuptial agreements, structuring arrangements for shared ownership and use of vacation and resort properties, creating vehicles for ownership of aircraft and yachts and, where necessary, supporting our clients in litigation and other controversies. In appropriate situations, we assist in comprehensive planning to protect assets against potential creditor claims, employing limited liability companies, Delaware asset protection trusts, and other strategies.
Morris James attorneys counsel our clients in appropriate and tax-efficient uses of life insurance, and can assist in developing retirement plan distribution strategies to provide a comfortable standard of living, minimize taxes on distributions, and respond to individual beneficiary situations. In appropriate cases, we develop plans for charitable giving, including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, gift annuities, and the creation of private foundations.
We work with our clients’ professional advisers to perform wealth management analyses and evaluate assets from the perspective of wealth preservation, gifting, and suitability in light of the client’s goals, tolerance for risk and time frames.
Through our affiliations with law firms throughout the United States and internationally, we are able to provide services to clients who maintain homes or other assets outside the state of Delaware.
The Morris James' High Net Worth Strategy Team measures our success by that of our clients, as well as by the close relationships we develop over time with the families we serve. We are proud that we are frequently called on to advise and guide successive generations of the same family in preserving family wealth and protecting prospects for the future.
Our High Net Worth Strategy Team delivers customized and sophisticated legal services tailored specifically to address the needs and priorities of those who derive substantial income from their own businesses.
Our attorneys assist clients in identifying concerns and challenges, work with them in setting specific goals, and map out the means to attain those goals. Our experience and knowledge across a broad array of industries, from the local to those with national and international markets, helps to provide insight into the big picture of our client's business, economic, and business cycle concerns, and strategies for maximizing profit and reducing risk.
As a team, we consider all factors that may affect a business owner’s vision of success, including the preservation and growth of business and personal assets, compensation planning, retirement and deferred compensation arrangements, the roles of real estate and insurance, and financing and taxes. Bringing together disparate elements and influences helps our clients to make reasonable and informed business decisions and to implement the appropriate planning.
General Advice and Counsel
Our attorneys have extensive experience in structuring and forming business entities for maximum tax advantage and liability protection, and are able to provide ongoing advice through all stages of the business life cycle.
We provide assistance in a wide range of business transactions, including asset and stock acquisitions and dispositions, mergers and other reorganization transactions, tax-deferred exchanges, and complex corporate split-offs. With extensive experience in the use and design of Delaware trusts and limited liability companies, we assist clients in developing business vehicles that afford tax advantages to residents and non-residents of the state, and minimize risks of ownership and operation.
Our attorneys assist business clients in developing compensation plans, bonus programs, deferred compensation arrangements, and ERISA-qualified retirement plans to maximize benefits for business owners and key employees. Experience across many industries and groups helps us to devise benefit programs that operate effectively within applicable tax and ERISA guidelines and requirements.
Business Succession Planning
We have assisted three generations of business owners in developing succession plans that maximize the prospects for successful transitions from current owners to family members, key employees, or others. Our attorneys have played vital roles in designing, negotiating, and implementing cross purchases, corporate and partnership redemptions, and boot-strap transactions, always with a view to optimizing both tax advantages and prospects for success. We have developed compensation continuation arrangements for retiring business owners, non-competition agreements for the benefit of new owners, and financing structures with third-party financing, life insurance, and disability insurance components.