Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP
HFM Trusts & Estates Partner Brian Tsu is a Fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estate Counsel and California Certified Legal Specialist.
Mr. Tsu represents high-net-worth individuals in the areas of domestic and international estate planning, related areas of taxation and closely-held family business planning. He also advises fiduciaries in complex trust and estate administrations, particularly when tax or cross-border issues are present. His work includes:
International Estate Planning
Mr. Tsu advises individuals on the succession and tax aspects of planning for multinational family members and their property interests. In particular, he counsels U.S. clients regarding the disposition of foreign property, with a particular emphasis on business holdings; in conjunction with local counsel, through integrated U.S. and foreign-based estate plans. Such plans consider and navigate the differences in marital, property, succession laws applicable to the client’s multinational family and property interests. His international estate planning practice also provides succession and U.S. tax planning advice to non-U.S. clients with respect to their U.S. investments and wealth transfers to U.S. beneficiaries. He also counsels clients on the repatriation of foreign trusts, foreign trust reporting, and estate/gift tax treaty analysis.
Mr. Tsu advises on all aspects of federal wealth transfer and fiduciary income taxation, as well as the wealth transfer aspects of California real property taxation. This includes the design and implementation of advanced wealth transfer techniques such as intentionally defective grantor trusts, intra-family installment sales, grantor retained annuity trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, qualified personal residence trusts and family limited partnerships/limited liability companies. In addition to federal wealth transfer tax advice, he advises fiduciaries on California fiduciary income taxation and tax compliance. He regularly prepares and reviews gift and estate tax returns and has successfully resolved estate and gift tax audits and appeals. He also has significant experience advising on the wealth transfer and income tax consequences of trust decantings, modifications, reformations, terminations, trust-to-trust transfers and beneficiary/fiduciary settlements. In addition to high-net-worth clients and fiduciaries, he has also advised certified public accountants, trust and estate litigators, and family law attorneys on tax matters related to trust and estate planning.
Closely-Held Family Business Planning
Mr. Tsu regularly advises clients on the organization, administration and succession of closely-held family businesses. The scope of his advice includes tax-efficient transfers of such business interests to the succeeding generation and planning for related considerations such as family dynamics, estate liquidity, sufficient cash flow, family business management structures, buy-sell agreements, and the mitigation of valuation risk through formula gift planning.
Mr. Tsu is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and is a Certified Specialist in both (1) Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law and (2) Taxation Law, each by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. He has also been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Trusts and Estates since 2016.
Mr. Tsu serves as Vice Chair of the Estate and Gift Taxes Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation and on the Taxation Executive Committee of California Lawyers Association. He is a member of the YMCA of San Diego County Gift Planning Advisors’ Council, the Executive Board of STEP San Diego, and of the San Diego chapters of the Boston College and University of Dayton Alumni Associations.
Mr. Tsu is a regular speaker and contributing member of the American Bar Association, Tax and Real Property, Trust & Estate Sections; the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP); the State Bar of California, Taxation and Trusts & Estate Sections; the California Society of CPAs; and the San Diego County Bar Association, Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section.
SPEAKING AND TEACHING ENGAGEMENTS