Practice GroupEstate Planning & Probate

Print this page

Throughout its history, the firm has helped individuals and families plan for their futures and their financial security. The Sheehan Phinney Estate Planning and Probate Practice Group assists individuals of all ages and their families with comprehensive estate planning, gift planning, and estate and trust administration services. We also provide related services such as business succession planning, probate litigation, guardianships and conservatorships, tax-exempt organizations, and prenuptial agreements.

Estate Planning

When providing estate planning services for our clients, we work closely to understand our clients’ tax and non-tax objectives and develop a plan using available planning opportunities. Estate plans typically include wills, trusts, advance health care directives, and durable powers of attorney.  We provide planning for estates of all sizes and have the experience and expertise to assist clients who anticipate having a taxable estate and who have real estate holdings, closely held businesses, and large retirement plans.  We take the time to educate our clients as to the various options that are available to meet their goals and are able to assist with the implementation of their estate plan, for example, re-titling of assets and preparation of beneficiary designation forms, and work with family advisors, such as CPAs, insurance professionals, and financial advisors, to insure the objectives of the estate plan are realized.

Gift Planning

For those whose estates are potentially subject to federal or state estate taxes, lifetime gift planning can be important component of the overall estate plan. We advise clients on the most tax efficient ways to make gifts to charitable organizations or family members. Some techniques used to leverage our clients’ available gift tax exemptions include Family Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies, and Qualified Personal Residence Trusts. For clients who are charitably inclined, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts, Private Foundations, and other planned and deferred giving techniques are used to achieve the client’s desired tax and charitable objectives.

Estate and Trust Administration

Our attorneys and staff are skilled in the personal and the technical aspects of estate and trust administration and regularly advise and assist individual and professional fiduciaries regarding the legal and financial issues related to the administration. Our services cover all aspects of estate administration: admission of a decedent’s will to probate, identification and gathering of assets, representing the estate against legal actions such as challenges to the estate and creditor claims, federal and state tax matters, distribution of assets and obtaining the discharge of the fiduciary. Our trust administration services cover all aspects that may arise during the term of the trust, including advising trustees with regard to their fiduciary duties, trust interpretation, modification or termination, and preparing fiduciary tax returns, trust accountings and nonjudicial settlement agreements when appropriate.  We also have the expertise and experience to administer charitable trusts and private foundations.

Business Succession Planning

Business owners should have a succession plan done in conjunction with their estate plan in order to ensure an orderly succession of the business that is tax efficient and which will achieve the desired results upon retirement or death.  We work closely with our Corporate Practice Group to achieve the desired results and to provide creative and practical solutions for business owners at every stage of their careers.

Probate Litigation

If an estate or trust dispute arises, the substantive knowledge of the Group and the expertise of the firm’s litigation attorneys have the ability to represent executors, personal representatives, trustees, and beneficiaries in contested estate and trust matters, including, the validity or interpretation of wills and trusts, and disputed estate and trust administrations. The Group also represents individuals and their families in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.


Our firm assists corporate and individual clients, whether inside or outside the United States.

photo of chair for print purposes

Practice Chair

Bradford E. Cook

Brad is head of the firm’s Government Relations and Not-for-Profit, Charitable and Religious Institutions Practice Groups. He is a past President of the firm and has practiced with Sheehan Phinney