More than 40 attorneys focused on planning and preserving wealth

Seven tax attorneys recognized by Best Lawyers in America

Two Washingtonian "Best Lawyers"



Ranked in U.S. News-Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms," 2011 - 2017

    Tier 1 Trusts & Estates Law (National; Baltimore; DC)


Asset protection

Business continuity planning

Buy-sell agreements

Charitable giving

Estate and trust administration

Family limited partnerships and family limited liability companies

Fiduciary income tax returns

Formation of public charities and private foundations

Grantor-retained annuity trusts

Guardianships and conservatorships

Intrafamily sales and loans

Life insurance and retirement-asset planning

Limited liability companies

Living wills

Post mortem estate planning

Powers of attorney and advance directives

Pre-marital and post-marital agreements

Private foundations

Probate avoidance

Probate and other judicial proceedings

Qualified personal-residence trust

Representation before the Internal Revenue Service

Serving as family advisor or trustee

Tax planning for charitable donations of copyrighted material

Tax planning for donations of appreciated property to charity

Wills and trusts


Estate Planning

protect and preserve what you’ve built

The assets you’ve worked hard to acquire and grow can continue to benefit your heirs only if the conditions and means for transfer have been carefully planned.

From creating a plan to administrating it, Venable attorneys work with clients to create solutions that provide for their heirs, minimize taxes and continue to provide support for charitable organizations.


Wealth Planning image


If you are still accumulating wealth, tax planning is essential.

Many of our clients are still in the process of building their retirement savings and providing for their children and grandchildren. They receive individual attention and special care in tax planning that reflects their current interests while affording the maximum opportunity for long-term tax wealth accumulation.

Our experience also encompasses tax-related matters, such as pensions, real estate and domestic relations law. Entrepreneurs and owners of family businesses benefit from our deep knowledge of corporate and partnership tax law and our experience with business reorganizations and commercial real estate transactions.

Estate and charitable planning for entertainment industry professionals.

Individuals and companies involved in the entertainment industry face unique and complex tax issues that require careful planning, strategic advice and a degree of sensitivity in order to address. We work closely with business and personal managers, financial advisors and attorneys to craft tax and charitable planning strategies that reflect the unique needs of entertainment industry professionals.

The scope of our work extends from the establishment of charitable trusts and private foundations, to the formation of complex estate and tax plans, as well as advice on international tax issues.


Venable tax attorneys are experienced in helping clients create a wide array of wealth planning strategies.

Qualified personal residence trust.

You can help your heirs avoid the estate tax on your home by transferring the home to a trust for a set number of years. The gift-tax value of the house can be a fraction of what the value would be for estate-tax purposes if it remained in your name until death.

Grantor retained annuity trust.

You can transfer an investment property or business property to a trust for a set number of years. The trust pays you an annuity (a fixed dollar amount) each year. At the end of the term, any property left in the trust passes to your family free of gift or estate tax.

Generation-skipping trust or dynasty trust.

In 2018, you can leave 11.18 million dollars to grandchildren (or more remote descendants) free of the estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax. By setting up a generation-skipping trust, you can make this amount available for your spouse and children during their lifetimes, and ultimately transfer such property to grandchildren. This plan makes use of the 11.18 million dollar exemption, while preserving the wealth for the beneficiaries closest to the taxpayer.

A dynasty trust is a generation-skipping trust that lasts for more than two generations. This type of trust is particularly effective when it is used to purchase life insurance, because one million dollars worth of premiums can buy a far greater amount of coverage.

Children’s or grandchildren’s trusts.

You can leave up to fifteen thousand dollars per year to children and grandchildren (or any other person), free of gift, estate or generation-skipping transfer tax. Because grandchildren often are too young to handle large sums of money, however, it is often desirable to make such gifts to a trust. Such gifts can be made free of generation-skipping transfer tax if the trust qualifies under Internal Revenue Code Section 2642(c).

Recapitalizing a closely held corporation using non-voting common stock.

It is often desirable for business owners to begin giving away interests in their business to their children during their lifetimes to avoid large estate tax bills that can cripple the business after death. The owner may not be ready to give up control, however. One solution is to issue non-voting stock, which provides the shareholders no voting power.

Family limited partnership/limited liability company.

Another way to make lifetime gifts without giving up control is to give away non-voting or limited partner interests in a family limited liability company or family limited partnership. Family LLCs or partnerships can be created with a wide variety of assets. In effect, you create a “family business” that allows younger generations to participate in the management of the family wealth. Such gifts receive favorable treatment for gift-tax purposes.

Buy/sell agreements.

If you own all or part of a family business, a buy/sell agreement should be in place to restrict transfers of interest in the business. The agreement should apply both during the lifetime and at the death of the owner of the interest. The agreement also can establish a mechanism for other owners, or the business itself, to buy out the share of a deceased owner.

Charitable remainder trust.

Instead of leaving assets to charity in their wills, many clients can benefit from setting up a charitable-remainder trust during their lifetime. In the simplest version of this trust, the taxpayer transfers the property to the trust, and the trust pays the taxpayer a fixed percentage of the trust each year for the rest of the taxpayer’s life. Setting up a charitable- remainder trust allows the taxpayer to claim an income tax charitable deduction during his or her lifetime for assets that will pass to charity at death. Also, the trust can liquidate appreciated stock without capital-gain tax, thus converting low-yield property into a stream of income for the taxpayer.

Wealth replacement life insurance trust.

A charitable-remainder trust often works best in conjunction with a life-insurance trust. The lifetime advantages of the charitable-remainder trust discussed above (income tax deduction, higher yield on investments) can be used to purchase life insurance on the taxpayer’s life. Thus, at the death of the taxpayer, the life insurance proceeds go to the family, and the charitable-remainder trust goes to the charity. Both the charity and the family are benefited, instead of just one.

Intrafamily sales and loans.

Under current tax laws, it is possible to sell your assets to a trust for your children in exchange for a promissory note with a fixed rate. The sale is ignored for income tax purposes, enabling you to shift future appreciation on your assets to your heirs without any income, gift or estate taxation.  Given today’s historically low interest rates, loaning money to your heirs is also an effective wealth transfer technique.


The technical and personal conduct of probate.

Our attorneys assist in what can be some of the most difficult decisions confronted when handling the distribution of wealth. The administration of estates and trusts often happens at a time when other matters are at hand. Who will receive the largest—and the smallest—shares of what is often a large sum of money and property? We are frequently called upon to help resolve disputes regarding wills, trusts or estates, including litigation where required.

Then, there is also the prospect you would prefer not to think about: heirs contending in court over what was meant, or not meant, by your will. Vague language, contradictory instructions, seemingly inexplicable oversights, unusual designations and last-minute codicils—these are just a few of the issues that can cloud and complicate the administration of a will. Venable can forestall such confusion and further ensure the proper allocation of your assets by working with you to frame the terms and conditions of your will.

We work with our clients to establish revocable or “living” trusts as part of their estate plan. Any assets owned by a living trust will avoid probate, thus saving fees, expenses and delays for your family. Venable attorneys work with the surviving spouse and children on “post mortem” estate planning to help minimize estate taxes on the death of one or both spouses. We often serve as a trustee of a client’s trust, or as advisor to the trustees, and thus, counsel and advise families on the best ways to manage and preserve wealth. Our attorneys deal with all types of families and all types of family situations.

You’d like your wealth to go to your heirs—not to the government. To achieve this goal, you need advisors who know what the government is legitimately entitled to. Venable attorneys are thoroughly grounded in the rules and regulations governing personal and estate taxes. We can help you provide as fully as possible for your heirs or any charitable, educational or religious institutions you choose.