Estate and Trust Administration

Ongoing changes in estate and gift tax laws mean that wills and trust agreements need review and updates to ensure they accomplish the tax planning and distribution goals of our clients.

Key Contacts

Nancy L. Cowgill Partner Portland, OR
Wendy S. Goffe Partner Seattle, WA
Emily V. Karr Partner Portland, OR
See all contacts

Administration of an estate or trust can be a daunting task. Working in tandem with our clients, we provide the guidance and assurance needed to allow trustees and personal representatives to perform their duties with confidence. 

Our Services

  • Trust administration after death
  • Handling probate proceedings
  • Preparation of estate and inheritance tax returns
  • Estate and gift tax audits
  • Advising trustees of multi-generational trusts
  • Distribution of estate assets
  • Modification of irrevocable trusts
  • Advising trustees and beneficiaries
  • Litigation involving wills and trusts

Estate Administration and Probate

The administration of a probate estate or an irrevocable trust can be complex.  We help our clients navigate this process with minimal stress. We handle all aspects of settling estates from preparing and filing pleadings and documents for probate court to marshalling and inventorying estate assets, settling claims, advising on distributions, and preparing estate tax returns and other tax documents. We have experience handling complex, illiquid and regulated assets. Above all we guide our clients through what can be a challenging and emotional process. Our lawyers have decades of experience with helping families through transitions after death. 

Irrevocable Trust Administration and Modification

We routinely advise clients on the function of irrevocable trusts and on the duties of trustees, and we can assist with trustee compliance under the complex notice and reporting duties under state law.  Our attorneys also help beneficiaries understand their rights under various trust agreements. We look for creative solutions to unravel knotty problems in a way that maximizes tax benefits while preserving family relationships.  For both trustees and beneficiaries, it can often be beneficial to reevaluate trusts that have long been in existence to review changes that may facilitate easier administration or produce a more beneficial tax result.  We have experience in handling modifications, settlement agreements, changes of trusteeship and many other issues related to the administration of irrevocable trusts. 

Fiduciary Litigation

Sometimes even the best laid plans may go askew due to unforeseen circumstances.  When disputes arise in trust and estate matters, our attorneys have deep experience advising trustees, personal representatives and beneficiaries regarding their rights and responsibilities in the administration of trusts and estates and can provide guidance in reaching a settlement or in the litigation of contested matters. We also provide assistance to fiduciaries in audits and valuation disputes arising in the administration of taxable estates.

  • Represent personal representatives and trustees in settling estates, including the preparation and filing in pleadings and documents in probate court, marshaling estate assets, and preparation of inventory of estate assets.
  • Prepare estate and inheritance tax returns, fiduciary income tax returns, and participate in audits of such returns.
  • Review of accountings, interpretation of wills and distribution of assets to beneficiaries, planning for income and GST tax consequences.
  • Selling or transferring complex assets, such as family and closely-held businesses, commercial and residential real estate, farm and timber property, and intellectual property of authors, artists and musicians.
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