Edward F. Koren is the creator of Holland & Knight’s Private Wealth Services Practice Group, which grew to become the largest group of trusts and estates lawyers in the United States. He turned over its management three years ago and is now Chair Emeritus.
Mr. Koren is past chair of the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section; former American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Regent and past chair of its Estate and Gift Tax Committee; and the author of Estate and Personal Financial Planning, a five-volume treatise published by Thomson West that covers planning concepts for asset accumulation and transfer throughout life and through inheritance.
He is a Florida Board Certified Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer and is a National Association of Estate Planners & Councils-Accredited Estate Planner® who has received the highest rating assigned by Martindale-Hubbell.
Custom-Planned Complex Structures for High-Net-Worth Families. Estate planning for high-net-worth families is both challenging and rewarding. Each family requires customized solutions, because their needs and goals are unique. A plan tailored to one family’s particular source of wealth and individual familial issues will be totally inappropriate for another that has different relational challenges, business considerations or planning needs.
Mr. Koren works continually with families and their advisors to devise and implement comprehensive plans that match and adjust to each family’s distinct attributes. Additionally, he often serves as a resource for the family office managers to ensure that they understand and are prepared to carry out the routine administration of the plan. These are the hallmarks of a successful planning approach for the high-net-worth family.
Planning for Entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur’s approach to wealth creation reflects an appreciation of risk and reward; however, they often need encouragement to focus on longer-term issues or critical details that are required for the implementation of an appropriate estate plan. At the same time, entrepreneurs often appreciate “cutting edge” planning techniques, because they are attuned to judging their risk and reward attributes and how they will apply to their situation. A significant majority of Mr. Koren’s clients are entrepreneurs, each with a different set of issues and goals, requiring specific and unique planning, often with multiple options for the client to select.
Business Succession Planning. Succession planning requires more than traditional estate planning tools. It often involves the creation of business structures, while also addressing family relationship issues that affect both current and long-range aspects of the business operation and family bonds. As with any estate plan, how assets are to be distributed and who is to administer the owner’s estate must be determined. As the advisor to owners of family businesses, Mr. Koren provides guidance on the transfer of the business to succeeding generations by raising a number of difficult issues:
- How (or whether) the business is to continue after the owner’s death
- How to separate and reward sweat equity from family equity
- How to identify and train successors
- How to deal with what may be significant liability for estate taxes
Mr. Koren knows that as an estate planner he must anticipate not only the elements affecting any business – market, economic and competitive issues, among others – but also how the interfamily relationships and related concerns impact the business.
Many planners focus only on the tax consequences when advising the family business owner on estate planning issues, but those are often resolved relatively easily by using available planning tools. Business succession planning, on the other hand, is very fact specific. With this understanding, Mr. Koren also acts as a counselor to assist the owner in the development of a plan, working with a variety of advisors who can bring their expertise on issues impacting management and ownership succession, family jealousies and rivalries, and general business concerns. This is where truly difficult issues arise, including not only the identity of the leadership of the next generation, but how to make the transfer and how to balance family issues with those affecting the business. Mr. Koren applies his experience and knowledge to design an effective succession plan to ensure that the business owner’s estate plan complements the business succession plan.
Representation of Fiduciaries. As the investment world has become more complicated, the law has evolved to recognize the new challenges. The standards by which a trustee’s performance is evaluated have changed as well, so that almost every jurisdiction now has some version of the Prudent Investor Rule, by which trustees’ investments are measured. Mr. Koren often works with fiduciaries to focus on the investment process that is required by the Prudent Investor Rule. In addition, as Chair of the committee of The Florida Bar that drafted Florida’s Principal and Income law, he often advises trustees on the law’s application to specific situations that arise during the administration of a trust.
Tax Controversies. Planning for high-net-worth families inevitably involves controversies, ranging from the valuation of assets that are the subject of transfer during life or death, to the structure and effectiveness of planning tools that may be used to implement a client’s plan, and the nature and amount of various deductions, including those for charitable transfers. These controversies begin with an audit of the estate or gift tax return, which often is triggered merely by the size of the transaction or estate. Mr. Koren has handled a multitude of such audits, generally resolving them favorably for the taxpayer at the audit level. Where that is not possible, he typically is able to resolve the matter through the IRS appeals process. In the rare instances when a favorable result cannot be achieved at that level and it is necessary to resort to litigation, Mr. Koren represents clients through the litigation process – generally in the U.S. Tax Court, although refund litigation is sometimes preferable in either the U.S. District Court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.