HFM Trusts & Estates Partner Brian Tsu is a Fellow of the American College of Trust 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.

Taxation: Mr. Tsu also 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 & Teaching Engagements

  • U.S. Income Taxation of Foreign Trusts, California Lawyers Association – Taxation and Trusts & Estates Sections, February 26, 2019 (Co-Presenter)
  • Foreign Trusts, the CFC Rules and the New GILTI Tax, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners – San Diego, February 19, 2019 (Co-Presenter)
  • Dual National Beneficiaries of Foreign Trusts: UNI, PFICs and GILTI Tax – Treasury Regulations Run Amok, University of San Diego School of Law Procopio International Tax Institute, November 2, 2018 (Co-Presenter)
  • California in the Lurch – Impact of TCJA on Individuals, Trusts & Estates, California Lawyers Association, Annual Meeting, September 15, 2018 (Presenter)
  • Things Every Domestic Estate Planner Should Know About International Law, TexasBar CLE, Advanced Estate Planning & Probate, June 15, 2018 (Presenter)
  • Current Developments in Federal Transfer Taxes, American Bar Association, Tax Section – Estate & Gift Taxes Committee, May Meeting, May 11, 2018 (Co-Presenter)
  • Things Every Domestic Estate Planner Should Know About International Law, American Bar Association, Tax Section – Estate & Gift Taxes Committee, Midyear Meeting, February 9, 2018 (Co-Presenter)
  • Current Developments in Federal Transfer Taxes, American Bar Association, Tax Section – Estate & Gift Taxes Committee, Midyear Meeting, February 9, 2018 (Co-Presenter)
  • Estate and Gift Taxation of Nonresident Aliens, ALI-CLE, International Trust and Estate Planning, November 10, 2017 (Presenter)
  • Foreign Trusts: Beware of Tax and Divorce Consequences, State Bar of California Tax Section, Annual Meeting, November 3, 2017 (Co-Presenter)
  • Select Estate Administration Topics for Foreign Decedents and Foreign Beneficiaries, Probate Attorneys of San Diego, May 17, 2017 (Presenter)
  • Current Developments in Federal Transfer Taxes, American Bar Association, Tax Section – Estate & Gift Taxes Committee, May Meeting, May 12, 2017 (Co-Presenter)
  • Things Every Domestic Estate Planner Should Know About International Estate Planning, Dallas Estate Planning Council, March 2, 2017 (Co-Presenter)
  • Current Developments in Federal Transfer Taxes, American Bar Association, Tax Section – Estate & Gift Taxes Committee, Midyear Meeting, January 20, 2017 (Co-Presenter)
  • Planning for Foreign Investment in Real Property and FIRPTA for Trustees, American Bar Association, Real Property, Trust and Estate Section, May 12, 2016 (Co-Presenter)
  • Wealth Transfer Tax Planning for Nonresidents, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners – Los Angeles, International Tax and Estate Planning Forum (Pre-Conference), May 4, 2016 (Co-Presenter)
  • Things Every Domestic Estate Planner Should Know About International Estate Planning, North County Estate Planning Council, February 2, 2016 (Co-Presenter)
  • Unanswered Questions in the Fiduciary Tax World, California CPA Society, Advanced Estate Planning Institute, January 28, 2016 (Co-Presenter)
  • Wealth Transfer Taxation for the International Client, State Bar of California Tax Section – Young Tax Lawyers San Diego Chapter, November 18, 2015 (Co-Presenter)
  • Unanswered Questions in the Fiduciary Tax World, State Bar of California Tax Section, Annual Meeting, November 6, 2015 (Co-Presenter)
  • Things Every Domestic Estate Planner Should Know About International Estate Planning, ALI-CLE, Estate Planning in Depth, June 23, 2015 (Presenter)
  • Overview of Wealth Transfer Taxation, ALI-CLE, Estate Planning in Depth, June 21, 2015 (Co-Presenter)
  • Wealth Transfer Tax Planning for Nonresidents, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners – USA, Inaugural STEP USA Conference, June 5, 2015 (Co-Presenter)
  • Section 6166 Planning Issues, American Bar Association, Tax Section, January 30, 2015 (Co-Presenter)
  • Things Every Domestic Estate Planner Should Know About International Estate Planning, ALI-CLE, Estate Planning in Depth, June 24, 2014 (Presenter)
  • Overview of Wealth Transfer Taxation, ALI-CLE, Estate Planning in Depth, June 22, 2014 (Co-Presenter)
  • Tax Section, Planning with Community Property and Joint Trusts, American Bar Association, January 26, 2014 (Co-Presenter)
  • Estate Planning A-Z, Tax Planning 101, NBI, December 9, 2013 (Presenter)
  • Charitable Planning 101, American Bar Association, Tax Section, May 11 (Co-Presenter)
  • Federal Income Tax (graduate level), University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration, Spring Semester 2011 (Visiting Lecturer)
  • Trust Protector Identity, Powers and Duties: Tax Planning Opportunities and Pitfalls, Chicago Bar Association, Trust Law Committee, June 13, 2011 (Presenter)
  • Sales to Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts: Drafting and Administration Issues, Chicago Bar Association, YLS Estate Planning Committee, February 1, 2011 (Presenter)
  • Domestic Trust Planning for Non-Spousal Foreign Beneficiaries, Chicago Bar Association, Trust Law Committee, June 3, 2010 (Presenter)

Awards & Honors

  • Best Lawyers® in America (Trusts and Estates)

Affiliations

  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, Fellow
  • State Bar of California, Taxation Section, Executive Committee Member
  • State Bar of California, Trusts & Estate Section
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section
  • American Bar Association, Section of Taxation, Estate & Gift Taxes Committee - Vice Chair
  • American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, Executive Board
  • California Society of CPAs
  • YMCA of San Diego County Gift Planning Advisors' Council