Our Practice Areas
Wealth Preservation & Estate Planning
Planning is essential to the preservation of family values and wealth. We work with families to identify their goals and to achieve the efficient and thoughtful transfer of family assets to ensure the continuity and growth of family businesses. The firm’s attorneys and employees help to establish plans for clients that avoid probate, address today’s complex tax rules, and temper complicated family dynamics while addressing the family’s special circumstances. Firm attorneys are additionally versed in formulating lifetime gifting programs and designing long-term planning vehicles such as irrevocable trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, limited partnernships and LLC’s. These vehicles can help provide asset protection including the protection of real property, address complicated investor portfolios, and create financial security, all while minimizing taxes and providing a uniform distribution plan for the next generation.
High income clients often participate in high risk activities, whether as an occupation or hobby. We draft irrevocable trusts, family limited partnerships, LLCs and other forms of organization to help protect assets for the future from third party claims.
Wills & Trusts
Hunt & Gale’s trust and estates attorneys devote their experience, knowledge, and creativity toward protecting family wealth for each subsequent generation. The firm’s attorneys are thoroughly familiar with the complex federal and state laws related to planning, administration and litigation of trusts, as well as the succession planning and exit strategy needs of closely held businesses. We are experienced in drafting and funding living trusts and other revocable trusts. Additionally, we sometimes recommend other types of trusts including multi-generational dynasty trusts, trusts for specific assets such as real estate or retirement, irrevocable life insurance trusts, special needs trusts, and pet trusts.
Proper estate and trust administration is as important to ensuring proper and efficient transfer of family wealth as the original estate plan. Our extensive experience and knowledge assists clients in meeting their fiduciary obligations through proper notice and making appropriate elections, including tax planning alternatives, statutory tax elections and disclaimers. Attorneys provide step-by-step help for trust settlors, trustees, personal representatives and beneficiaries during all phases of a trust administration.
While many clients prefer the privacy and creative planning opportunities offered by trusts, some prefer wills. Wills are often easier to understand and offer more transparency among beneficiaries and less upfront expense. With the correct planning in place, with a simple but complete plan, a will package offers a streamlined and cost-effective probate process to help your estate go to your intended beneficiaries. Our firm guides personal representatives by providing step-by-step advice in their fiduciary duties to inventory, appraise, gather and protect assets, pay debts and expenses, distribute or liquidate the estate, file tax returns and to account to the beneficiaries and heirs.
Our business clients have included restaurants, healthcare professionals, child care centers, trucking and other transportation companies, leasing agencies, health care clinics, construction companies, professional service corporations and many other businesses. We assist our clients in forming corporations, LLC’s, partnerships and sole proprietorships. The firm is qualified to advise developers in planning and zoning, financing, hiring, government contracting and general operations. The firm provides drafting of contracts, organizational documents, leases, employment agreements, promissory notes, deeds of trust and other financing mechanisms.
Conservatorships & Guardianship
When an individual is unable to manage their personal affairs and/or finances due to injury, incapacity, illness, or any other reason, it may become necessary to seek court appointment of a guardian and/or conservator for that person. Hunt & Gale has substantial experience navigating the complex guardianship and conservatorship law for families of incapacitated persons and interested parties looking to seek temporary or permanent guardianship. Our population consists of many winter visitors, some of whom become permanent residents because of the low cost lifestyle offered in Arizona. This can and does result in situations where an elderly parents declines in health and becomes vulnerable to exploitation or abuse. We have seen dozens of those cases, and have assisted out of state families to obtain authorization to intervene to protect their parent or loved ones. The out of state family is at a distinct disadvantage if they live in another state, but we often work with your lawyer to assist in protective action. We have worked on dozens of cases where guardianship is obtained in Arizona where the proposed protected person lives, and gradually worked to assist the family in moving their loved one back to be closer to their family.
Business Succession Planning
Without careful planning and attention to the nurturing of the next generation, closely held businesses do not survive the first transfer to the next generation. Our attorneys help clients establish plans that facilitate business continuity through multiple generations and maximized returns for the founders. Developing a family succession plan is a multi-phase and multi-discipline process. Firm attorneys have extensive experience reorganizing equity, updating wills and trusts, establishing intentionally defective grantor trusts, reviewing insurance policies, and drafting buy-sell agreements. The process involves the counsel of a diverse group of independent professionals who contribute objectivity, specialized skills and experience. Accordingly, Hunt & Gale maintains close working relationships with some of the region’s most skilled financial planners, accountants, and bankers to ensure clients reach their succession and retirement goals.
Hunt & Gale has assisted dozens of clients in organizing non-profit corporations and associations. We can help you through the process of filing for a 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS or organizing other types of non-profits.
Public Entity Law
Lawyers from the firm have experience in government settings at the federal and local level. Advice has been provided to staff for federal agencies, municipalities, and multiple quasi-governmental organizations including municipal property corporations, industrial and economic development agencies. The firm’s attorneys are familiar with the bonding process, and funds available from federal and state sources including block grant funds, health services allocation funds, rural development funds, Medicaid and other public resources.
The firm has represented individuals and business clients in tax disputes before the state of Arizona, IRS, and in tax court. Attorneys have negotiated for installment agreements and offers in compromise for other negotiated settlements. Additionally, we have appealed tax liability determinations through the administrative maze of the relevant agencies.
Hunt & Gale provides on-going advice and counsel to health care clinics, practitioners and other health related business owners. Our advice includes a review of insurance policies, interpretation of licensing requirements, a review of Medicare compliance issues, employment contracts, HIPAA compliance, employment contracts, and the Stark regulations. We have handled practice sales and mergers as well as practice divorces.
Estate & Trust Litigation
Hunt & Gale’s trust and estates attorneys have a long track record of successfully resolving highly complex trust and estate administration disputes. While we prefer using informal means to save our clients’ precious time, emotion and money, sometimes litigation cannot be avoided.
Hunt & Gale has represented grantors and beneficiaries, including high-net-worth individuals and their families, corporate trustees such as banks and trust companies, executors, trustees, administrators and other fiduciaries, as well as non-profit organizations in all facets of trust and estate disputes.
With our trust and estates specialists, the end result is a more expert, more efficient and more responsive. We have represented clients in trust and probate disputes involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty, or the duty of loyalty, environmental claims, investment claims, beneficiary disputes, contested heirship, pretermitted and adopted heirs, disputed creditor claims, judicial construction and modification of wills and trusts, will and trust contests, will and trust validity, capacity, undue influence, elder abuse, contested powers of attorney, contested accountings, fraudulent transfers, partition actions, spousal right of election issues, wrongful death recovery, family and estate management disputes, conservatorships and guardianships.
We provide you with employee management services including drafting employment contracts, NDA agreements, policies and employee handbooks. We also help you remain compliant with state and federal laws and handle disgruntled employee lawsuits.