After working in the New York and Paris offices of a large international firm, attorney Joseph Donohue opened his own firm in 2007. In 2010, he acquired his first practice from a retiring solo practitioner, doubling the firm’s revenue. In 2017, he acquired the office of O’Connell & Riley with his business partner, Kristin A. Canty.
In the decade since, ten more practices have joined his fleet, expanding the firm from a single town in the Hudson Valley to seven offices across five states in the Northeast — with no signs of slowing down.
Today, Donohue, O’Connell & Riley, PLLC boasts experienced attorneys dedicated to providing a high level of legal services for the most complex estate and tax planning issues involving assets around the globe. Whether establishing a domestic trust to avoid taxes on a villa in Europe or executing an estate plan to conserve 500 acres of land to be used as a nature preserve in Nova Scotia, the firm employs creativity and know-how to help clients reach their goals.
“Clients have different objectives depending on their assets and where they are in life,” says Donohue. “It is fulfilling to find ways to accomplish their estate planning goals in an intelligent and tax-efficient fashion.”
Closer to home, the firm advises clients on how to take advantage of trust laws and low taxes in New Hampshire when they reside in highly taxed states. “We set up trusts in New Hampshire, a state that has no state income or estate taxes,” explains Donohue. “Once assets are placed in trust, they grow free of federal and state estate taxes without requiring clients to live in New Hampshire — it can be a win-win.”
Establishing long-term, trusting relationships with clients is key to Donohue, O’Connell & Riley’s success. Clients need to feel comfortable in confiding sensitive financial information as well as private family dynamics to their lawyers to create a smooth and amicable transition of assets to beneficiaries during the administration of a trust or estate.
“We certainly navigate the financial piece to create value, but 80% of the job is understanding the emotional issues that are involved when assets pass from one generation to the next,” says Donohue. Having prepared over 10,000 estate plans, the firm’s attorneys have developed a sixth sense for how to navigate delicate family and business dynamics to avoid conflicts and eliminate unanticipated surprises.
That commitment to client service continues when it comes to legal fees. All estate plans are prepared on a flat fee basis, with clients advised of the tax savings attributable to the firm’s legal services. “We provide clients with the return on their investment up front,” says Donohue. “When planning for the future of your family, we believe fees should never get between a client and their lawyer. We want clients to be able to pick up the phone and call without feeling they will get another bill in the mail.”
Donohue, O’Connell & Riley strives to always have its clients’ best interests in mind and values being a part of their lives. “My relationships with my clients are very important to me,” says Donohue. “It is an honor to set up an estate plan for a client, giving them peace of mind that they have made a positive impact on future generations.”