Our Practice Areas
IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic combinations. Navigating capital markets. Innovating at the speed of light. Creative and nimble financings. An international perspective. These are just some of the things that successful businesses — from startups to established market leaders — need in order to succeed.
At Raffone Dessiné, we understand that businesses demand superior legal advice and service to achieve objectives but also require business-savvy advisors and practical, creative strategists to help them navigate and solve today’s complex issues. Regardless of a business’s size, scale or stage of development, we’re to help with our clients’ evolving needs. Our capital markets, corporate and finance practices have attained national rankings and earned acclaim in the areas of initial public offerings, equity financings and general SEC compliance, as well as in debt financings, lending transactions, loans, and mergers and acquisitions. We represent some of the largest international financial institutions, as well as smaller national and regional institutions, in a wide range of equity financings, general lending transactions, private equity financings, swaps and derivatives, leasehold arrangements, and numerous other forms of secured and unsecured lending transactions. Our lending capabilities cover a broad range of commercial and private banking transactions, and we are experienced dealing with collateral encompassing numerous asset classes. We represent private and public companies, buyers, sellers, financial sponsors, and special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) across a broad range of mergers and acquisitions. Our practice is also domestic and international in scope. We have a strong presence in Asia, connections all over the world and a strong team of attorneys focused on cross-border transactions.
We advise clients of all kinds — global brands, financial institutions, private equity and other funds, emerging companies, family offices, high net worth individuals — across a broad range of industries spanning technology, digital, entertainment, media, life sciences and energy.
From Birth to Maturity, Emerging Companies Have Diverse Needs
They are best served, therefore, by law firms that can efficiently access the best talent in a wide range of areas. Our emerging companies’ team features top-flight attorneys in such critical areas as intellectual property, executive compensation, employment, litigation and personal planning. Our teams work to provide seamless, end-to-end solutions to our clients. We know that emerging companies value continuity and consistency in their working relationships. Accordingly, we neither outsource client projects nor staff on a project-to-project basis. Instead, a dedicated client service team is assigned to each emerging company client.
Working with great companies has taught us a few universal truths that have shaped the values and practices of the Raffone Dessiné Emerging Companies practice.
Pursuing Perishable Market Opportunities, Entrepreneurs Need Counsel Who Work at Their Speed
Our team is efficient, accessible and responsive. We know our clients count on us to find solutions, not raise barriers. We believe a problem is something to be solved, not something to derail progress.
Technology Companies Need Lawyers Who Are Comfortable With Technology
Not all of our emerging company clients are technology companies, but most of them are. We are inspired by the technologies and services they have developed, and our technically savvy professionals have the perspective of end-users as well as attorneys. Our knowledge of technology helps us to fully understand our clients’ businesses, which is critical to providing top-notch legal service.
Money Is the Lifeblood of an Emerging Company
We help clients raise money by maintaining relationships with key venture capital groups and other potential investors. We know market terms and have a negotiating style that gets our clients the best deals possible—while preserving strong relationships with investors (some of whom will become board members)—by working efficiently and offering creative billing arrangements so we can be sure to provide great value.
General Council Services
In today’s fast-paced, intensely competitive business environment, companies encounter diverse legal concerns but may not have in-house counsel or other internal resources with the necessary expertise. At Raffone Dessiné, we engage with clients, take the time to understand their unique business challenges and answer day-to-day legal needs with constant emphasis on affordability and results.
With over 22 years of experience across the spectrum of corporate transactions, restructuring initiatives and disputes that may require commercial litigation.
We maintain a flexible business model enabling us to either act as your “go-to” general counsel or advise you on a specific matter as it arises. Equally important, we can structure our compensation model to meet our clients’ requirements, often producing significant cost savings over the maintenance of comparable internal resources.
A Premier Resource For Outsourced General Counsel And Litigation Management
We can provide real-time legal counsel as needed on matters such as commercial contracts, risks associated with new business ventures, vendor disputes, compensation matters, financing options, risk management and all forms of commercial litigation. We manage litigation on a national or regional scale, actively supervising and collaborating with outside counsel to advance and protect our clients’ interests.
Our general counsel and litigation services team can save you time and money by allowing you to expand and contract your legal resources to meet your actual, current needs. If advantageous to your company, we can locate a lawyer on-site to ensure direct contact and a high-access, personalized working relationship.
We Emphasize Efficiency, Value And Return On Your Investment
Our firm’s manageable size and rate flexibility enable us to provide top-quality general counsel services that fit your budget and lead to measurable value. Discuss your matters directly with an accomplished lawyer by calling 385-414-2114.
Governments are among the largest consumers of goods and services, ranging from janitorial services, to cutting-edge information technology, to military and police hardware. Increasingly, governments are turning to the private sector to meet their needs, presenting reliable and lucrative opportunities for government contractors. Unlike commercial transactions, government contracts are typically highly regulated and have serious consequences for contractors who do not comply with the complex and changing rules of doing business with the government.
For years, Raffone Dessiné have assisted clients seeking to do business with the government at the local, state, federal and international levels. We have extensive experience in government, in-house and private practice and are prepared to help clients navigate the highly regulated and technical issues that regularly arise in government procurement contracts.
Raffone Dessiné offers a full range of litigation and counseling services on virtually every facet of government contracting and procurement, including:
- Bid protests
- Claims and disputes
- Intellectual property and data protection rights
- Subcontracting, joint ventures and strategic alliances
- White-collar crime and fraud
- Regulatory and transactional compliance
We represent government contractor clients providing goods and services in the following industries:
- Aerospace and defense
- Information technology and cyberspace
- Commercial items/General Services Administration (GSA) schedules
- Real estate
- Higher education, nonprofit, and other grant recipients
Range of Services
Bid Protest Litigation
Raffone Dessiné have litigated pre- and post-award bid protests before contracting agencies, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, including protests of classified procurements. As bid protests are increasingly used to open procurement opportunities or challenge improper bidding practices, we advise clients on how strategic bid protests can advance their goals, as well as when and how to intervene to protect contracts already awarded. As appropriate, we weigh and leverage the procedural advantages of the respective bid protest forums—automatic stays and/or temporary restraining orders. In short, we lay out the legal risks and benefits of a variety of approaches so that clients can make sound business decisions on when and how to protest unfavorable agency procurement decisions.
Claims and Disputes
Raffone Dessiné represents clients in the wide array of claims and disputes that arise under government contracts, which are governed by specific rules, regulations and contract provisions not found in commercial litigation. Our experience includes assisting clients with claims involving cost disallowance, constructive changes, equitable adjustments, breaches of contract, change orders, defective pricing, price adjustments, defective specifications, defective government-furnished property and impossibility. We understand that government agencies are current and future customers, and we work to resolve disputes in a principled way that preserves business relationships. When litigation is unavoidable, we litigate claims before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA), the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Capital Markets Transactions and Mergers & Acquisitions
Our practice draws on our experience in both the government and corporate arenas. Capital markets transactions can involve complex issues of federal government contracts and federal appropriations law, federal preemption and state laws governing security interests and perfected liens. The issues may be implicated through the federal government’s right to terminate contracts for convenience, exercise options and invoke set-off rights. Among other governmental rights and powers are anti-assignment restrictions, questions of agency authority and delegation, the scope of agency guarantees, the nature of the government’s payment obligations, potential government defenses to enforceability, and the full faith and credit of the United States. Our experience covers advice and representation in securities offerings backed by payment streams under government contracts, as well as both stock and bond offerings issued by government contractors.
Additionally, we counsel clients seeking to acquire, sell or fund business units that are government contractors. These transactions involving government contractors are subject to specific due diligence issues, such as data and privacy issues, security clearance matters, contract performance reviews and risk and liability assessments of the target company’s compliance procedures. To complete the transaction, we help obtain the necessary regulatory approvals and contract novations.
Compliance and Investigations
Companies that do business with the government are subject to heightened scrutiny and civil enforcement and criminal prosecution under a wide array of federal and state laws, including the Sherman Antitrust Act; the False Claims Act (FCA); the Wire and Mail Fraud Acts; the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); and securities, environmental and employment laws. Raffone Dessiné attorneys craft robust corporate compliance programs designed for government contractors that reduce the risk of facing government investigations and enforcement actions.
In the course of routine self-audits or in response to specific allegations of noncompliance with government contracting law, regulations or rules, Raffone Dessiné assists clients with internal investigations, which can greatly reduce the consequences of government involvement and enforcement actions. Through vigorous review, self-reporting and strong compliance programs, our goals are to avert government enforcement agencies from taking action or minimize any fines.
Should government enforcement agencies become involved, we work closely with clients and investigating agencies to ensure transparency and limit their risk of facing suspension, debarment and parallel proceedings with multiple government agencies. We endeavor to resolve any non-compliance issues quickly, with minimal disruption to and impact on our client’s business and reputation.
Suspension and Debarment
Debarment and suspension can have devastating consequences for companies that do business directly or indirectly with government agencies. A company listed on the government’s “Excluded Parties List System” (EPLS) becomes ineligible for new federal government work, federal export licenses and state and local contracts for a period of years. The federal government is taking an increasingly aggressive approach to debarring or suspending contractors. Contractors risk suspension or debarment if they have pleaded or have otherwise been found guilty of criminal conduct, or they fail to disclose to the government “credible evidence” of a violation of certain criminal fraud laws or the False Claims Act. Other grounds for suspension or debarment include false certifications of compliance with federal law or regulations ranging from the Buy American Act to the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA), as well as false certifications of responsibility or Disadvantaged Business Entity status.
Governments may not only terminate contracts for default, but they may also terminate contracts for the government’s convenience. Terminations, either for default or convenience, can be a challenge to navigate. We help clients respond to show cause/cure notices, thereby avoiding termination for default. Additionally, we negotiate with the government on behalf of clients to change a default termination to a termination for convenience, which reduces the contractor’s loss and liability. Raffone Dessiné also assists clients with documenting and presenting termination costs and with terminating subcontracts if the prime contract is terminated.
Federal contractors are subject to a host of special employment and labor laws, regulations and compliance requirements, including the DBA; Service Contract Act (SCA); and affirmative action plan requirements for race, gender, disabilities and veterans status administered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), as well as specialized federal contractor employee whistleblower protection laws. There are also a multitude of relatively new and ever-growing regulations and executive orders, including “Non-Displacement of Qualified Workers” and “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.”
Raffone Dessiné counsels clients on all types of general employment and labor matters that government contractors face, including: guidance on hours worked; overtime, holiday and vacation pay; compliance with federal and state pay laws; employee terminations; discrimination claims; plant shut-down notification laws (WARN Act); covenants not to compete; nondisclosure agreements; employee handbooks; and myriad other traditional labor and employment issues that contractors encounter.
We offer training on preventive practices to avoid and minimize employee claims through sound human resources practices. Our attorneys handle litigation involving wrongful discharge claims, discrimination and sexual harassment matters in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies. We also advise unionized employers about collective bargaining, arbitration, strikes, secondary boycotts, contract administration and trust fund suits, and we advise non-union employers who are faced with union organizational activity.
International Procurement and Government Contracting
International procurement presents a range of issues involving sourcing and manufacturing; import and export regulations; foreign ownership, control and influence (FOCI); the propriety of certain payments; and similar topics. Our familiarity with pertinent laws, such as the Buy American and Trade Agreements Acts and the FCPA, as well as the laws and regulations governing imports, exports and foreign military sales, allows us to guide clients as they tackle national and international markets.
Raffone Dessiné assists clients in complying with often-complex requirements of export controls and economic sanctions regulations, including the Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR), Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) rules and the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) economic sanctions regulations. As government contractors can face stiff consequences for violations, including default termination and suspension and debarment, we work closely with our clients to ensure compliance in global transactions.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The FCPA gives the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) far-reaching jurisdiction to combat foreign bribery and corruption or what they perceive to be foreign bribery and corruption. As the DOJ and the SEC continue to use the FCPA and the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower bounty provisions to combat corruption, government contractors that conduct business internationally face an increased risk of costly investigations or enforcement actions. To minimize the FCPA risks inherent in international operations, the multidisciplinary Raffone Dessiné FCPA Practice provides the full spectrum of preventive counseling and enforcement defense needed in today’s highly scrutinized global economy.
Our attorneys draw on experience gained from assisting government contractors in managing FCPA issues, as well as from previous service with the DOJ and SEC in high-profile cases. We routinely conduct FCPA-related due diligence for M&A transactions involving multiple foreign countries and also assist with the FCPA issues that can arise after a merger. Our work includes conducting internal investigations of possible FCPA violations on behalf of international companies and in cooperation with enforcement agencies.
White-Collar Crime and Fraud
The FCA remains one of the government’s most powerful enforcement tools, collecting billions of dollars in judgments each year, and it offers whistleblowers strong financial incentives to report fraud through qui tam suits. Raffone Dessiné has extensive experience in working with the government to resolve FCA investigations and limit our client’s exposure, either through early settlement or vigorous litigation defense.
Intellectual Property Rights and Data Protection
Raffone Dessiné has extensive experience counseling clients with respect to the intersection of government contracts and intellectual property rights. Government contractors face specific IP challenges, as a shifting and complex set of regulatory schemes determine IP rights. The FAR, DFARS and other statutory and regulatory provisions governing intellectual property rights are both complex and unforgiving. An act as seemingly innocuous as accepting a contract to develop a minor modification to an existing product, or failing to use an appropriate restrictive legend, can have the unintended consequence of allowing the government to use your intellectual property for competitive procurement purposes, or even to reverse-engineer or decompile your proprietary computer software. We help clients navigate safely through the complex government contract procurement process, including compliance with the Bayh-Dole Act, identification and protection of technical data, compliance with the Department of Commerce’s EAR, modifications to DFARS provisions and indemnification for patent infringement under 28 U.S.C. § 1498. We draft intellectual property licenses related to patents, trademarks, copyrights and technical data rights pursuant to government contract requirements. Following successful award of a government contract, we respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests issued to the government entity awarding the contract and seeking our client’s intellectual property or other competitively sensitive data.
Unique Military Programs: Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities (NAFI) and Military Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
Most government contracts use funds appropriated by Congress that are recorded by the U.S. Treasury. However, there are government organizations that act as a fiscal entity by contracting for goods and services to support government employees and their families, such as lodging, restaurants, sale of commercial goods and certain services that include the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. Despite its government function, not all entities follow standard procurement rules and each has its own policies, procedures, instructions, rules and directives that prospective contractors and service providers must follow, along with applicable federal laws and regulations.
At various times, the U.S. military attempts to improve its efficiency through massive, widespread base closures and the relocation of thousands of military personnel throughout the world. These operations basically close and/or open small cities in a very short period of time, and the costs associated with them are in the tens of billions for various service and supply contracts that cross many sector lines, such as construction, energy, environmental, transportation and healthcare.
Raffone Dessiné helps our clients understand these complex requirements and regulations in an effort to maximize the chance of a successful bid or resolve issues during contract administration.
National and Homeland Security
The federal government has increased purchases of goods and services to support enhanced Homeland Security efforts to strengthen law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the war against terrorism. Our attorneys provide legal counseling to numerous contractors that offer products and services to all levels of government. Raffone Dessiné helps these clients to comply with the new statutes and to understand how this legislation affects their businesses as they explore new markets and develop proposals to address federal, state and local needs in this area. We also introduce and discuss statutory and regulatory tools that are available to third-party suppliers to reduce or eliminate liability exposure in the wake of a terrorist attack.
Governments, at all levels, occasionally spin off certain commercially viable functions into private or quasi-private entities. We represent companies, as well as federal and state agencies, relating to the privatization of government activities, organizations and functions, including water and wastewater, environmental remediation, military housing, highways and infrastructure, and operations and maintenance. Our lawyers have drafted and negotiated applicable terms and conditions, assisted in pricing and reviewed relevant legislation and regulations to facilitate completion of the transaction.
Public-Private Partnerships (P3s)
Public infrastructure is increasingly being designed, financed, built and managed through public-private partnerships (P3s). Raffone Dessiné lawyers have skillfully negotiated arrangements in a variety of infrastructure projects and are experienced in working with all levels of government, as well as related parties involved in infrastructure projects. We work with government agencies, developers, service providers, construction companies, environmental and engineering companies, investors, lenders and other private-sector parties to structure financing, negotiate and document agreements and ensure regulatory compliance in P3s projects.
Raffone Dessiné counsels clients concerning the requirements of the Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other agency programs designed to benefit the various categories of small businesses. We help clients structure their businesses and operations to maximize the advantage of applicable programs, while avoiding running afoul of the many intricate program requirements and substantial penalties, including suspension and debarment, for violating the applicable rules.
Raffone Dessiné Government Strategies (RDGS), the firm’s independent lobbying and government relations affiliate, is a full-service government relations firm. Unlike most other lobbying firms, RDGS works at all levels of government and on both sides of the aisle. The principals serve or have served in local, state and federal government positions and have the experience, skill and relationships to ensure that legislators in Washington understand and fight for realistic and sound oversight. RDGS has worked with a variety of clients and have been successful in lobbying key elected and agency officials to achieve objectives for clients.
RDGS’ understanding of government buying practices and compliance protocols and solid relationships at all levels of government give its clients an advantage when navigating this complex process. RDGS knows the essentials of winning government contracts, such as how best to market and sell services and products and how to put multiple contract vehicles—including GSA schedules—in place that enable government customers to purchase from a company. Additionally, RDGS’ Procurement team understands how to establish contractual relationships with federal agencies to facilitate research and development, as well as non-dilutive investments to establish and commercialize technologies, processes and solutions.
Sale of Goods and Services: RDGS performs detailed tasks to deliver results to its procurement clients. These tasks and supporting processes are designed to ultimately identify opportunities for clients to increase sales in the federal marketplace by best use of their sales and marketing resources. RDGS’ proven process is designed to identify opportunities as far in advance of the RFP process as possible.
Non-Dilutive Development Funding: RDGS provides consulting services related to identifying and capturing non-dilutive federal Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) funds. The firm uses a formula driven by client criteria matching to government program criteria in order to measure the potential for successful capture of funding. This process allows RDGS to pinpoint specific potential funding sources.
Grants, Cooperative Agreements and Other Social Government Programs
As funds are available through new discretionary grant competitions related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security and other federal agencies, it is an ideal time to match business goals with a grant writing team that has the experience and knowledge in these fields. DMGS offers grant proposal writing services that comprise the collaborative planning of the grant and development of the full narrative and will work to write a comprehensive package that includes detailed budgets and mission statements.
Raffone Dessiné Government Strategies has years of experience identifying, qualifying, pursuing and securing grants at the federal, state and local levels of government, as well as with foundation, corporate and private funding. DMGS’ Grant Strategies Division provides three basic services: grant monitoring, grant writing and grant development. Through experience with various programs, DMGS can be a valuable partner in identifying eligible costs and project needs, drafting first-rate applications and monitoring the grant process throughout its duration.
We know that family is important to our clients, and what’s important to our clients is also important to us. Cases that involve your family require attentive, proactive, and tenacious legal representation. Family legal issues have many elements and steps that require attention to detail which we would love to help you with. Attorney Kristin Vazquez has had 22 years of seasoned experience in family and divorce law in Utah, Connecticut, and New York.
Raffone Dessiné’s legal representation extends to:
- Contested Divorces
- Stipulated Uncontested Divorces
- Post-Divorce Modifications
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Alimony/Spousal Maintenance
- Domestic Violence
- Family Law Mediation
Raffone Dessiné Legal Services works one-on-one with companies and individuals to ensure that their businesses receive the best security and stability. Intellectual Property is one of the most important assets that a business possesses. These assets can often be neglected and under-protected. When building and growing a business, it’s very important to secure the maximum amount of protection over the assets of the business. Our firm has the knowledge and experience to assist you with each of your needs.
Our services include:
- Data Privacy and Security
- Due Diligence
- Transactional and licensing
Mergers & Acquisitions
Public and private transactions, both domestic and international. Proxy contests. Spin-offs and joint ventures. Our mergers and acquisitions lawyers regularly tackle some of the most complicated deals for many of the world’s largest private equity funds, making complex deals clear for our clients and easing an otherwise difficult process.
We regularly advise on M&A deals worth more than a billion dollars, and we have experience working with some of the most talented foreign law firms in the world on cross-border deals. Because good work leads to more of the same, we’ve also become the go-to firm for many private equity funds’ portfolio companies in their investments and dispositions.
Non-Profit and Tax Exempt Organizations
Nonprofit Attorneys Representing Utah 501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) Organizations
What can a law firm do to help a nonprofit charity be effective in accomplishing its mission? The answer is simple: provide that nonprofit client with the same level of responsiveness and sophisticated legal advice that a for-profit corporation would demand. Most nonprofits are thinly capitalized and rely on grants and donations that cannot be counted on from one year to the next. Therefore, a nonprofit charity’s law firm must not only seek to enhance and protect its legal right to advocate, but also provide practical advice with regard to “process issues” ranging from legally appropriate fundraising to the oversight function required of the board of trustees. Ironically, it is more complex to go through the step-by-step process to form a nonprofit entity that is granted 501(c)(3) status than it is to form a typical for-profit entity.
Legal Services for Nonprofit Organizations
Those in our society who do not share in its abundance cannot abide a second-rate job by their lawyers. Those lawyers must step up; they must exceed themselves. Raffone Dessiné has a boutique practice focused in commercial representation, an important component of which is nonprofit law. Indeed, many of our firm’s attorneys and paralegals serve on 501(c)(3) boards of trustees for a variety of nonprofit charities and religious institutions. As a result, our firm’s practice has expanded to include religious nonprofits, including churches, temples, and other houses of worship. They believe in the mission of advocating for the abused, the suffering and the dispossessed. The firm’s attorneys welcome the opportunity to defend the legal rights of the organizations that are defending those in need. Its team of lawyers is eager to represent nonprofit organizations in Utah involving such items as:
Formation of the Nonprofit
- filling out IRS forms 1023 and 1023-EZ to apply for 501(c)(3) status;
- drafting the initial corporate resolutions and by-laws;
- helping the nonprofit determine whether to utilize a member or non-member structure;
- analyzing the Internal Revenue Service conflict of interest rules relating to boards of trustees;
- assisting the nonprofit in obtaining sales tax exemption certificates;
- forming a religious nonprofit and addressing the unique legal issues confronting spiritually-based gathering places and 501(c)(3) religious supporting organizations;
- assisting in satisfying the fiduciary responsibility of officers and others in a leadership position;
- helping to enforce the unique personnel issues that apply to non-profit officer compensation;
- creating an internal background check procedure for volunteers who work with children;
- reviewing state and federal fundraising laws and regulations;
- handling internal investigations relating to theft of funds;
Transactional Legal Matters
- complying with municipal ordinances and other local governmental requirements that may also apply to certain types of fundraising, such as games of chance;
- negotiating commercial real estate leases for the nonprofit;
- preserving the nonprofit’s intellectual property rights such as copyright and trademark;
Asserting the Nonprofit’s Legal Rights
- defending the nonprofit’s First Amendment and religious autonomy rights (if applicable);
- addressing potential federal Religious Land Use Act violations;
- implementing a procedure for internal mediation of disputes that would otherwise result in the nonprofit being the subject of a lawsuit; and
- defending the nonprofit in state or federal court.
Raffone Dessnié’s Private Equity practice combines the depth and breadth of our nationally recognized middle-market buyout and growth equity practices with a full-service local presence and a complete understanding of the business ecosystem of the area. More expert at handling complex, large-scale buyout, growth equity and secondary transactions than venture capital law firms and more adept at working in entrepreneurial growth situations than typical buyout law firms, we offer unique expertise in these deals.
Our deep market knowledge and industry relationships help our clients secure deals and build equity value. The Private Equity practice has a long list of clients in a broad range of sectors including software, technology, consumer, healthcare, financial services and fintech. We stand out from our peers because of our well-rounded local presence. Our teams effectively handle the most sophisticated private equity transactions, including tax, intellectual property, employee benefits, and executive compensation.
Moreover, our leveraged finance and debt capital markets attorneys are dedicated to serving the debt financing needs of private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies, with expertise in structuring, negotiating and documenting debt financing transactions in auctions, leveraged buyouts, dividend recaps, and restructurings.
Trusts and Estates
Utah Attorney Helping You Craft a Strong Plan for the Future
Whether you are reaching the latter stages of your life or a family member has recently died, it can be stressful and anxiety-provoking to confront death and issues like what will happen to your property and wealth after you are gone. Utah trusts and estates lawyer Kristin Vazquez understands the sensitivity of these situations. She is experienced in matters related to estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, estate administration, the selection of an executor, estate taxes, estate settlement services, advance directives, and others. Sometimes out-of-state family members or relatives of Utah residents must retain an attorney in Utah, and she also can represent out-of-state executors, administrators, and beneficiaries.
Common Issues Related to Trusts and Estates
When someone passes away and leaves a Last Will, it will need to be probated in the Utah Surrogate’s Court, in the county where the decedent lived, in order to have legal effect. Probate is a complex process. It requires the filing of both the original Last Will and a petition that includes information about the decedent and distributees (heirs). The court will determine the validity of the Last Will, which must be properly executed. Sometimes, a family member challenges the validity of the Last Will in a proceeding known as a Will Contest.
Only after all of the issues have been adequately addressed will the Surrogate’s Court issue a decree and issue Letters Testamentary to the person named as Executor in the Last Will. Letters Testamentary provide authority for the Executor to administer the estate by identifying property, having it appraised, paying taxes and debts owed, and distributing the remaining property as directed in the Last Will.
If a decedent passes away without a last will or trust, an administration proceeding will need to commence in court. The court will appoint an estate administrator to settle the estate. In some cases, it is necessary to determine a decedent’s next of kin. Any assets that a decedent owns that would have gone through their Last Will are instead distributed according to intestacy laws.
Under intestate succession, if you die with a spouse but no children or grandchildren, your spouse inherits everything. If you die with both a spouse and descendants, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 of the intestate property, plus half of the balance, and the descendants inherit everything else. Other family members are eligible to inherit when you do not have a spouse or descendants. Certain assets that have beneficiary designations would not go through this process, such as life insurance proceeds, IRA funds, and property transferred to a living trust.
In general, it is wise to make plans for illness or death long before you actually face the need for those plans to be in place. Estate planning allows you to ensure to the extent possible that your property is distributed as you want after your death. It can also permit you to reduce the tax burden that your family will face. However, it is important to retain an experienced Utah trusts and estates attorney to help you minimize challenges to your estate planning documents.
When estate planning documents are improperly prepared, it is more likely that there will be a will or trust contest, which can result in delays and greater expenses. Only after the court is satisfied that a will is valid will Letters Testamentary be issued so that the executor can administer your estate.
Instruments that we may draft as part of your estate plan prior to your death include a last will, living will, living trust, health care proxy, or power of attorney. Often, it is wise to set up a trust for your property and set up a pour over will to handle any property not handled through the trust. A trust is a legal arrangement in which a property owner, known as a settlor, transfers their property to a trustee to administer for one or more beneficiaries or for a set purpose, based on the instrument terms that govern the arrangement. The trustee owes a fiduciary duty, which is a very high duty of care, to trust beneficiaries.
There are several different types of trusts that a trusts and estates attorney in Utah can draft, and which instrument is appropriate depends on your needs. For example, trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. If they are revocable, the settlor has kept the right, either unilaterally or with the consent of someone else, to revoke the trust and reclaim the assets within it. Revocable trusts can usually be amended by the settlor, even if they are not specifically described as such. By contrast, an irrevocable trust is any trust that cannot be undone.
A trust can also be classified based on whether the people involved are living. A living trust is created through a separate agreement between a living settlor and a trustee. However, a testamentary trust is part of a decedent’s will, such that the will is the trust instrument. In Utah, a trustee of a testamentary trust needs to get Letters of Trusteeship from a court supervising the administration of an estate before they can serve as a trustee.
After a person dies, there may be disputes about who gets what. Most probate cases do not involve estate litigation, but there are serious controversies at times. For example, a family member may not receive a share of the estate, or they may not receive the share that they expected. In some cases, it may be necessary to bring a will contest. In Utah, you can file a will contest based on lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, duress, fraud, or improper execution of a will.
Request A Consultation
While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call the firm or complete the form below.