Overview

HunterMaclean’s estates and trusts practice group represents clients throughout Georgia, providing services ranging from wills and trusts to sophisticated tax-effective estate plans to facilitate the transfer of wealth. Our attorneys offer expert counsel to benefit high net-worth individuals as well as clients with special needs, addressing estate and gift tax, generation skipping transfer tax, and income tax issues. More specifically:

The Firm works closely with individuals to develop estate plans that provide for strategic protection of assets, access to those assets, distribution of assets according to the client’s wishes upon death, and reduction of probate costs and estate and inheritance taxes.

The Firm represents a wide range of clients in matters of business succession planning by working closely with our corporate and securities, taxation, and real estate attorneys to develop tax efficient transfers of closely held businesses and special investment assets.

The Firm’s specific areas of practice include estate and gift tax planning, postmortem tax planning, inter vivos and testamentary trusts, life insurance and charitable planning, generation-skipping planning, and probate and administration of wills, trusts, and estates. We also have many years of experience in creating Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), Sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs), and Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs).

The Firm has extensive experience administering high-wealth estates in excess of $20 million and counseling in various aspects of federal tax planning, probate and estate administration, and fiduciary representation.

Finally, the Firm represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries in contested probate and trust matters and related litigation, combining the strengths of HunterMaclean’s trusts and estates practice group and our litigation practice group on behalf of our clients. Allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, estate mismanagement, claims by beneficiaries, and family disputes can all be handled discreetly by the HunterMaclean team.

Tracing its history to 1879, HunterMaclean has been proud to assist generations of clients with their estates and trusts needs. We’re proud to offer a wide range of asset protection and wealth preservation strategies to transfer assets on a tax favorable basis.

Experience

  • Administering estates (often in excess of $20 million) and counseling in all aspects of federal and state estate tax planning, probate and estate administration, and fiduciary representation.
  • Advising corporate and individual fiduciaries with respect to the administration of trusts and estates, postmortem planning, and fiduciary representation.
  • Assisting clients with understanding and implementing charitable giving and estate planning vehicles such as private foundations, charitable lead trusts, and charitable remainder trusts.
  • Handling estate and succession planning for owners of closely held businesses, limited liability family entities, and tax-effective planning for significant investment assets.
  • The Firm’s estates and trusts attorneys work closely with our corporate and securities, taxation, and real estate attorneys to effect tax efficient transfers of closely held businesses and special investment assets.

Publications & Presentations

Publications

Preparing a Succession Plan for a Family-owned Business

By J. Benedict Hartman, published in the 2016 issue of The Advisor, a publication by Furman University.

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National Estate Planning Week Encourages Proactive Planning

For National Estate Planning Awareness Week, attorney Will Gallagher discusses the importance of having an up-to-date estate plan.

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Who gets the Little Red Corvette: The Vital Importance of Estate Planning

In his article for Business in Savannah, HunterMaclean partner Ben Hartman discusses the importance of estate planning in light of Prince’s recent death.

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Conscientious estate planning in light of impending IRS regulations

The IRS is expected to introduce new regulations that may curtail one way that families reduce their tax burdens as they pass wealth from one generation to the next. HunterMaclean attorney Ben Hartman discusses the issue further in his article for Elegant Island Living.

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Estate Planning in the 21st Century: Modern Considerations to Ease the Burden

The advent of the Internet has changed the way we communicate, the way we shop, the way we learn—and now it is changing the way we plan our estates as well. In addition to the important steps of writing a will and creating an advance directive for health care, there are many new aspects to ensuring that affairs are in order. Attorney Ben Hartman discusses these new aspects of estate planning in his article for Elegant Island Living.

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Business Succession Planning: The Conflict of Corporate and Fiduciary Duties

In Georgia, a new state Supreme Court ruling will significantly affect court cases involving trusts and conflict of fiduciary duty. Rollins v. Rollins, decided in March, illustrates the substantial conflict of interest that can occur when the owners of a family-operated business also control a trust that owns a part of that business. Attorney John Tatum discusses the outcome of the case and what it means for business succession plans.

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Plan Ahead to Avoid Disputes Among Your Beneficiaries

Less than 50 percent of American adults have a completed estate plan. Even less have up-to-date plans. If you have an estate plan in place, you are already ahead of the curve. In this article for Elegant Island Living, attorneys Dave Burkoff and Will Gallagher share some advice on how to prepare a thorough estate plan.

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Successful Estate Planning

Surveys show that while around 60 percent of Americans believe that all adults should have estate plans, only about 40 percent have one. Many think it will be a complex and difficult undertaking. Estate planning does not need to be complicated, but it does need three essential elements.

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Low-Interest Mortgage Loans: Borrow With Confidence

HunterMaclean partner Bob Cunningham offers advice to benefit estate planning.

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New Estate Planning in Light of the New Tax Laws

HunterMaclean partner Ben Hartman discusses the impact of new estate planning tax laws, offering insight into the latest exemptions and regulations.

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Successful Retirement Planning

Partner Ben Hartman reveals the important factors to keep in mind when it comes to planning for retirement.

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Tax Law 2012: A window Of Opportunity?

HunterMaclean partner Ben Hartman discusses shifting political landscapes and tax codes and the potential impact on estate planning opportunities.

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Important Changes Affect Federal Estate Tax Laws

By Frank S. Macgill, published on August 31, 2011, in Business in Savannah.

Under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the federal estate tax was repealed for individuals who died in 2010. However, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, which became law on December 17, 2010, retroactively reinstated the estate tax for persons who died in 2010 and provided much-needed answers about federal laws governing estate taxes for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The top estate tax rate was originally scheduled to rise to 55 percent for estates of individuals dying after 2010, with an exemption of $1 million. However, the 2010 Tax Relief Act restored the estate tax for individuals dying in 2010, with a $5 million exemption and maximum rate of 35 percent. The Act also reduced the top rate to 35 percent and allows an exemption of $5 million for 2011 and 2012.

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Entrust Your Will to an Experienced Estate Planner

This article in Elegant Island Living explores the importance of preparing a will and working with a qualified estate planner.

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Presentations

Proactive Estate and Financial Planning for Professionals

Presented by William J. Gallagher, III, to the Glynn County Young Lawyer’s Division of the Bar on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, on February 25, 2016.

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Estate Planning 101

Presented by William J. Gallagher, III, for Staff Development Day at the Southwest Chatham Library in Savannah, Georgia, on October 13, 2014.

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News

HunterMaclean Honored with Eight First-Tier Rankings in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2017 “Best Law Firms”

HunterMaclean was honored to be recognized with eight first-tier rankings in the 2017 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” The complete list of rankings is published on the U.S. News website.

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Six HunterMaclean Attorneys Honored as 2015 Georgia Trend Legal Elite

HunterMaclean, a leading business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, is pleased to announce that six attorneys were recently named as 2015 Georgia Trend Legal Elite. Georgia Trend, a statewide business publication, publishes the annual feature honoring Georgia’s leading attorneys.

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HunterMaclean Honored with Eight First-Tier Rankings in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2016 “Best Law Firms”

HunterMaclean was recently honored with eight first-tier rankings in the 2016 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” The complete list of rankings is published on the U.S. News web site.

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20 HunterMaclean Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016

HunterMaclean, a leading business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, is pleased to announce that 20 attorneys from the firm were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016.

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Georgia CEO: HunterMaclean Marks 135 Years in the Practice of Law

The year 2014 marks the 135th anniversary of HunterMaclean. Lucy Adams from Georgia CEO interviewed Managing Partner Frank Macgill regarding HunterMaclean’s history, areas of expertise, milestone anniversary, and future.

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Fifteen HunterMaclean Attorneys Honored as 2014 Georgia Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Atlanta magazine just announced the top attorneys in the state of Georgia, and 15 attorneys at HunterMaclean were named either Georgia Super Lawyers or Rising Stars.

 

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HunterMaclean Honored in 2014 Edition of U.S. News - Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”

HunterMaclean recently earned nine First Tier and four Second Tier rankings in the 2014 edition of  U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.”

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Frank S. Macgill and Thomas S. Cullen Honored as “Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America® 2014

Two HunterMaclean partners have been recognized as Lawyers of the Year in Savannah metropolitan area.

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25 HunterMaclean Attorneys Selected for The Best Lawyers in America® 2014

HunterMaclean is pleased to announce that 25 lawyers from the firm were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2014.

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Brunswick Attorney Janet A. Shirley Selected for The Best Lawyers in America® 2014

HunterMaclean is pleased to announce that attorney Janet A. Shirley was recently selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2014.

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HunterMaclean Honored with First-Tier Rankings in 2013 Edition of U.S. News - Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms”

Nine HunterMaclean practices were recognized by U.S. News & World Report/Best Lawyers withFirst-Tier rankings.

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28 HunterMaclean Attorneys Among 'Best'

HunterMaclean, a business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, has announced that 28 lawyers from the firm were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2013.

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