Briani Bennett Mellen practices in the firm’s estate planning group.  She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and South Carolina.  Ms. Mellen’s practice is primarily focused in the areas of federal transfer tax planning, estate and wealth transfer planning, and business succession planning.  Ms. Mellen also advises individuals and closely-held businesses on local and federal income tax issues, compliance, and novel tax questions. 

Ms. Mellen advises clients on tax and estate planning matters, including:

  • Gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer (“GST”) tax planning;
  • Creation and administration of irrevocable trusts;
  • Trust modifications or decantings;
  • Multi-generational wealth transfer planning;
  • Family succession for closely-held businesses; and
  • Advice for complex estate planning structures or techniques.

Ms. Mellen has written and presented on advanced estate planning topics at both the state and national level.  She has presented on trust modifications, trust decantings, and other complex or innovative wealth transfer techniques for the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association, Bloomberg BNA, and the Greenville County Bar Association (SC), among others.  Ms. Mellen is the co-author of Bloomberg BNA’s Tax Management Portfolio on Trust Decanting, No. 871, and has authored articles on matters involving estate planning and trust administration for numerous legal or trade publications, including the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal; Trusts & Estates; and Estate Planning magazine.    

Ms. Mellen has served as co-chair for the American Bar Association’s RPTE Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Committee for 2014-2017.

Ms. Mellen received a B.A. in Economics from Emory University.  She received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and an LL.M. in Taxation from the New York University School of Law.  While obtaining her law degrees, Ms. Mellen served on the editorial staff of the Tax Law Review and the South Carolina Law Review.  After obtaining her LL.M. from NYU, Ms. Mellen served as a federal law clerk to the Honorable Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., at the United Stated District Court for the District of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

  • Judicial Clerk, the Honorable Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina)
  • Recipient, Tax Law Review Scholarship (New York University School of Law)
  • Tax Law Review, Graduate Editor (New York University School of Law)
  • South Carolina Law Review, Editorial Staff (University of South Carolina School of Law)
  • Order of the Coif
  • Order of the Wig & Robe
  • Designed and implemented sophisticated wealth transfer and estate planning techniques, including generation-skipping transfer (“GST”) or dynasty trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts (“ILITs”), intentionally defective grantor trusts (“IDGTs”), grantor retained annuity trusts (“GRATs”), grantor trust sales, and intergenerational family business succession planning
  • Drafted and provided legal advice for the administration of irrevocable inter vivos trusts for multiple family generations, mixed-family situations, creditor, marital or spendthrift protection, preservation of family businesses, and qualified retirement plan assets
  • Created and implemented trusts as part of business planning techniques, including business succession planning and New Markets Tax Credits transactions
  • Provided legal advice for complex multi-family operating agreements, buy-sell provisions, and transfer restrictions
  • Reviewed and analyzed gift, estate, GST, or income tax implications of trust settlements, modifications, decantings, or terminations
  • Provided legal advice and assistance for the administration or conversion of out-of-state trusts (e.g., Delaware, Massachusetts, Florida, Nevada)
  • Assisted in the review, drafting, and implementation of gifting and trust techniques as part of premarital or marital settlement agreements
  • Administered and provided legal advice to personal representatives in the probate of large and complex estates and to trustees in the funding and administration of complex trusts
  • Prepared, filed and reviewed gift and estate tax returns
  • Domestic transfer tax planning for U.S.-sitused assets of nonresident aliens and their families

Publications

  • Contributing author for chapter on Estate Litigation, Estate Planning in South Carolina, 2nd Edition, Vol. IV (South Carolina Bar 2016) (co-author)
  • “Decanting from Trusts with Perpetuities Savings Provisions,” Estate Planning, October 2014.
  • ABA RPTE eReport, Practice Alert, Trust Decanting Update: Recent Case Law and Developments, August 2014.
  • Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Portfolio, Trust Decanting, 871-1st T.M. (co-author)
  • “Trust Decanting: An Overview and Introduction to Creative Planning Opportunities,” Real Prop. Tr. & Est. L. J., Vol. 45, Issue No. 1, Spring 2010 (co-author)
  • “Use of Trust Decanting to Extend the Term of Irrevocable Trusts,” Estate Planning, Vol. 37, No. 6, June 2010 (co-author)
  • “Closely Held Business Interests and the Trustee’s Duty to Diversify,” Trusts & Estates, April 2009 (co-author)

Presentations

  • Panelist, “Installment Sales to Spousal Grantor Trusts,” American Bar Association’s 2018 Fall Tax Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 5, 2018
  • Panelist, “En Garde! Dueling Views of the Consequences of Bifurcated Transfers,” ABA Section of Taxation and Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law, Trust & Estate Division, 2016 Joint Fall CLE Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, September 30, 2016
  • Panelist, “Refashioning Irrevocable Trusts: Practical and Tax Considerations for Modifying Irrevocable Trusts,” North Carolina Bar Association’s 2016 Advanced Estate Planning Survey Course, Cary, NC, May 6, 2016
  • Panelist, “Modifying Irrevocable Trusts: Judicial and Non-Judicial Modifications, Reformations, and Decanting – A Study of the Rules Governing the Ability to Change Irrevocable Trusts,” North Carolina Bar Association’s 2014 Advanced Estate Planning Survey Course, Cary, North Carolina, May 9, 2014
  • Panelist, “Modifying Irrevocable Trusts: Trust Decanting and Court-Ordered Trust Modifications,” South Carolina Bankers Association 2014 Trust Conference, Columbia, South Carolina, April 18, 2014
  • Panelist, at seminar to discuss South Carolina’s New Probate Code, Greenville County Probate Court, Greenville, SC, October 4, 2013
  • Presenter for Bloomberg BNA webinar, “Trust Decanting: Examples and Analysis,” September 25, 2013
  • Panelist on trust decanting at the 2012 Joint Fall CLE Meeting, ABA Sections of Taxation and Real Property, Trust & Estate Law, Estate Division on September 14, 2012, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Panelist, “Modifying Irrevocable Trusts,” North Carolina Bar Association’s Advanced Estate Planning Survey Course, April 19, 2012, Cary, North Carolina
  • Panelist, on trust decanting at the 9th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Tax Section Workshops, May 28-30, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Professional Activities

  • Vice Chair, RPTE Individual and Fiduciary Income Tax Committee, American Bar Association, 2017-present
  • Co-Chair, RPTE Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Committee, American Bar Association, 2014-2017