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Attorneys – Trusts and Estate Planning

Dealing with Toxic Succession Issues

Unfortunately, environmental cleanup cleanup liabilities pass at death along with any contaminated real estate assets (toxic succession), putting beneficiaries and successors at significant risk.  For this reason, attorneys who advise clients on trusts and estate planning issues should be aware of potential toxic succession scenarios.

Contamination of real property can occur from any of numerous commercial, industrial or agricultural sources, including gasoline service stations, dry cleaners, chemical or pesticide storage, and manufacturing operations.  The contamination can impact both soil and groundwater, and can lead to liability for potentially catastrophic cleanup costs associated with the contamination.

As an attorney practicing in the trusts and estate planning arena, you have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to help clients mitigate toxic succession risks – many of which can be easily avoided with just a few extra steps.  Attorneys can help protect their clients from toxic succession problems through a) proactive toxic succession planning, and b) a periodic environmental review of client assets.  This may be all that is necessary to help clients avoid serious environmental cleanup liability consequences.  By providing this level of support, estate and trust attorneys can strengthen their client relationships and add even more value to their ongoing advisory role.

Resources:
Campaign 5000: Toxic Succession Whitepaper
Planned Giving Today article by Kevin Daehnke
Contaminated Property: Proactive Planning Strategies to Maximize Estate Value and Avoid Draconian Results
Environmental Cleanup Costs: Professional Negligence for Failure to Warn Successors and Beneficiaries