Overview

Our lawyers provide counsel to individuals, families and fiduciaries on all aspects of the transfer and preservation of wealth.  We plan and prepare for the future transfer of wealth, we carry out and administer our clients’ intentions as set forth in their estate plans, and we represent our clients in litigation to preserve and protect their interests. 

Our clients include high-net worth individuals, young families just beginning to plan for the future, individual and corporate fiduciaries, and all types of charitable entities and foundations.  Each client’s situation is unique, and each client has different goals and objectives.  Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience necessary to identify and fulfill the needs of each client.

National Recognition

Vorys’ trusts, estates and wealth transfer practice is pleased to have received a Band 1 ranking, the highest honor, in the High Net Worth Guide publication of Chambers and Partner for several years in a row, including in the most recent, 2022 edition.  Several of the firm’s attorneys were also recognized.

Vorys has also been recognized in the 2022 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list in Trusts & Estates Law, both nationally and in Ohio. 

Several Vorys attorneys are also members (fellows) of, and have held various leadership positions with, the prestigious American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC).  To qualify for ACTEC membership, a lawyer must have at least 10 years of experience in the area; individuals are elected to become a fellow based on their outstanding reputation, exceptional skill and substantial contributions to the field.

What We Do

Estate Planning

Vorys provides a full range of estate planning and lifetime giving services designed to achieve the personal, economic and tax planning goals of our clients.  Our lawyers often work collaboratively with our clients’ accountants, financial planners, investment advisors and life insurance professionals.

Our basic estate planning services include preparing wills, revocable trusts, financial powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and living wills.  We coordinate the dispositive terms of these estate planning documents with our clients’ asset ownership and beneficiary designations to achieve our clients’ goals and objectives. 

Our advanced estate planning services include developing and implementing documents and plans that minimize the payment of gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes.  Our lawyers have considerable knowledge and experience with sophisticated wealth transfer tools.  For example, our lawyers routinely use qualified personal residence trusts (QPRT), irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT), intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGT), grantor retained annuity trusts (GRAT), spousal lifetime access trusts (SLAT), asset protection trusts, family limited partnerships (FLP), family limited liability companies (FLLC) and dynasty trusts or generation-skipping trusts.  Our lawyers also specialize in succession planning for owners of closely held businesses, including the preparation of shareholder and buy-sell agreements.

Our charitable estate planning involves all types of charitable vehicles and transfers.  We regularly advise clients with respect to the creation of and transfer of assets to charitable remainder trusts (CRAT or CRUT), charitable lead trusts (CLAT or CLUT), charitable gift annuities, donor‑advised funds, supporting organizations and private foundations.

Probate and Trust Administration

Our lawyers and estate accountants have extensive experience in the representation of fiduciaries (including executors, administrators, personal representatives and trustees) and beneficiaries of estates, trusts and guardianships.  Our services include preparing and filing all types of probate documents, including inventories and accountings, preparing and filing federal and state estate tax returns and federal and state income tax returns for estates, trusts and beneficiaries, and making final distributions to beneficiaries.

Family Office Legal Services

Vorys provides a full range of estate planning, asset protection planning and lifetime giving services designed to achieve the personal, economic and tax planning goals of our clients.  Our family office clients typically require advanced estate planning, including developing and implementing documents and plans that minimize the payment of gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes.  Our lawyers have years of experience and considerable knowledge involving the use of qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs), intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), spousal lifetime access trusts (SLAT), asset protection trusts, family limited partnerships (FLPs), family limited liability companies (FLLCs) and dynasty or generation-skipping trusts (GSTs).   

We also provide a number of other legal services to family offices.  To learn more, click here.


Trust and Estate Litigation

Vorys attorneys represent financial institutions, individuals, fiduciaries and beneficiaries in litigation relating to estates, trusts, and fiduciary relationships.  Drawing on multiple disciplines, our experienced litigators work together with estate planners, tax attorneys and other professionals to resolve disputes.

Our lawyers persuasively present our clients’ positions on the unique issues raised in will contests, disputes over trust construction and claims of fiduciary malfeasance.  Our practice includes litigation in probate courts and other courts and agencies.

Our fiduciary litigation experience includes:

  • defense and prosecution of will contest actions, actions to prove or construe wills, and other litigation involving the validity and effect of wills
  • actions to determine and enforce rights and obligations under declarations of trust and trust agreements
  • litigation of fiduciary duty and other claims against trust or estate fiduciaries, including claims arising from alleged self-dealing, breach of trust, and conflicts of interest
  • resolution of disputes involving the identification and valuation of trust or estate assets and the recovery of assets
  • representation of clients in actions contesting or defending fiduciary accountings
  • litigation of disputes arising from the gifts of assets or other transfers of assets prior to death
  • presentation of claims on behalf of creditors of the estate and presentation of objections to creditor claims
  • asserting competing claims of beneficiaries to life insurance benefits and other benefits payable on death
  • resolution of disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and state tax authorities, with respect to estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer, and income tax liabilities, among other tax issues

Representative matters include:

  • obtained a multi-million dollar verdict against co-guardians who mismanaged and diverted guardianship account funds — the largest such verdict in the history of Franklin County
  • in a will contest involving the largest claims in memory in Hamilton County, Vorys attorneys obtained a unanimous jury verdict on behalf of the individual named as executor and trustee of a charitable foundation, despite allegations of forgery and undue influence
  • represented trust beneficiaries in successfully pursuing claims against a former trustee and attorney for using trust information on behalf of other parties to the detriment of the beneficiaries
  • on behalf of the fiduciary and a major university named as beneficiary, Vorys lawyers obtained a defense verdict against claimants seeking to invalidate trust terms
  • successfully represented clients against allegations involving claims of fraud, incapacity, and undue influence in the sale of stock in a closely held corporation shortly before the seller’s death
  • represented the executor of an estate in an action to nullify the decedent’s transfer of significant assets to a nurse shortly before death
  • defended a trustee against allegations that the fiduciary failed to obtain fair market value for a significant trust asset
  • successfully represented beneficiaries in removing and replacing their trustee
  • represented executors and beneficiaries in the defense of disgruntled beneficiaries’ filing of exceptions to estate inventories
  • pursued actions on behalf of estate fiduciaries for declaratory judgment and to quiet title to estate assets
  • represented beneficiaries in preventing a fiduciary from seeking fee increases

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