Deborah advises individual clients and multiple generations of families how to preserve and protects assets for their intended beneficiaries. This important work includes lessening transfer taxes, both during lifetime and after death, with sophisticated planning techniques such as lifetime gifts to grantor trusts and the use of charitable trusts and private foundations. She advises clients regarding planning opportunities to protect significant retirement accounts from the creditors of designated beneficiaries.
Deborah counsels clients in the establishment and administration of special needs trusts for disabled individuals, including self-settled special needs trusts for the protection of personal injury settlements and judgments.
Having extensive experience in trust and estate administration, including many years within a major bank trust department, Deborah guides executors and trustees through the maze of issues which impact fiduciaries in complex trust and estate matters such as avoiding probate, cy pres, the tax benefits of disclaimers and the disposition of jewelry, art and private collections. She advises individual and corporate fiduciaries, representing them in litigation and providing legal opinions, about the proper and prudent fulfillment of their duties including the establishment and maintenance of policies and procedures for risk management, asset management and administration, investment, diversification, conflict of interest and dispute resolution.
Business owners seek Deborah’s counsel as they formulate succession plans and contemplate the transition of their business interests, whether by sale or gift. She helps these clients address the unique planning issues they face, including asset protection and the need for liquidity in the event of the incapacity and death of the business owner.
- On behalf of the vested remainder beneficiaries of several trusts totaling about $30 million in assets, Deborah successfully developed a complex tax plan including the preservation of generation skipping transfer tax exempt assets. This representation successfully avoided litigation with the attorney serving as independent trustee who had ignored this important tax planning opportunity.
- Deborah has successfully protected vulnerable elderly clients, some of whom have limited capacity and faculties, from financial abuse, theft and fraud. The establishment of trusts for the benefit of these elderly clients is frequently a favorable resolution. Her efforts include working with RI Department of Elderly Affairs to identify questionable practices by family members and unrelated third parties.
- She has defended a corporate trustee sued by the grantor of a revocable trust for investment losses which the grantor claimed were due to the trustee’s negligent management of the trust investments during turbulent financial times. This representation resulted in a successful mediation, which limited the client’s exposure to the risks and costs of trial.
- Deborah represented successor co-trustees (a family member and corporate fiduciary) who filed suit against the prior trustee for breach of fiduciary duty on multiple counts. This representation resulted in preservation of a special needs trust for the adult disabled son of the deceased trust grantor.
More About Deborah
- Deborah began her professional career with a major international insurance company, handling ERISA audits and providing estate tax impact analyses for clients. Thereafter, in addition to her tenure at a major bank trust department (which she considers the true foundation for, and source of, her Trusts & Estates career), she has enjoyed private practice for more than 25 years. She serves as executor and trustee for clients, when asked, sometimes with a corporate co-fiduciary.
- Deborah loves music of all types, especially classical music, and wishes she had more time to play her piano.
- 2012 Harold Soloveitzik Professional Leadership Award from The Rhode Island Foundation. This award is presented annually to someone in the professional services industry who is committed to advising clients on the importance and value of philanthropic giving as part of the estate planning process.
- AV® Preeminent Rated from Martindale-Hubbell, highest possible rating on both legal ability and ethics based upon the confidential opinion of peers and judges.
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- The Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island, Board of Advisors, Chair
- Hattie Ide Chaffee Home, Board of Directors