Trusts & Estates Leader

Michael J. Schappert


Schappert Michael J.

Estate planning consists of much more than simply designating who is to receive your assets upon your death. The impact of estate taxes, the possibility of creditors’ claims, the ability of your beneficiaries to prudently manage an inheritance, the desire to keep one’s financial affairs private and confidential, and numerous other factors need to be considered. 

HolmstromKennedy’s Trusts & Estates Group has represented thousands of clients in the preparation and administration of their estate plans. Our clients range from many of the area’s most prominent families who require very sophisticated tax and asset protection planning, to young couples whose primary concern is designating a guardian for their minor children. Whatever your particular situation is, we will strive to create a plan that meets your objectives in a timely, cost-efficient manner.

Our attorneys are well versed in the preparation of wills, living trusts, durable powers of attorney and other conventional estate planning documents. We also utilize, when appropriate, more sophisticated techniques, such as family limited partnerships, intentionally-defective grantor trusts, generation-skipping trusts, private annuities and charitable trusts.

In today’s litigious society, it is wise to consider protecting your assets from potential creditors. This can take several forms, such as creating a trust for a disabled child that will not disqualify the child from receiving governmental benefits, to medicaid planning to preserve family assets and minimize the impact of rising nursing home costs. For high net worth individuals whose occupations subject them to financial risks (such as a physician who is concerned about a possible malpractice verdict in excess of his or her insurance coverage), asset protection trusts and other strategies are available.

We are frequently asked to work with the owner of a business that has been built up over the owner’s lifetime. Often some of his or her children, but not all of them, are involved in the management of the business. We work with these clients in exploring ways of treating all of their children fairly, while permitting the business to smoothly transition to the next generation.

Although estate, generation-skipping transfer, and gift tax exemptions are at historic highs, many clients still need the sophisticated planning we can provide in order to minimize and defer those taxes. For those who will not be subject to estate taxes, we will advise you of certain income tax issues that may affect your estate planning.

Postmortem planning can present many opportunities and challenges. We are very experienced in probating estates when necessary, but also work with clients in avoiding probate when possible and appropriate. We are also well versed in the administration of revocable living trusts. Banks and trust companies who are acting as fiduciaries also use our services when unusual situations arise or litigation is involved.

We also help clients deal with the prospect of disability or incapacity. At the planning level, this usually consists of preparing durable powers of attorney in which the client designates an individual to act on his or her behalf in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. We also represent clients in situations where a family member is incapacitated and has not designated an agent under a power of attorney. In that case, we will work with the family in court proceedings to have a guardian appointed and provide guidance to the guardian, if needed.

Our attorneys are experienced in negotiating and litigating all varieties of trust and estate disputes. From contesting the validity of a will, to revising the terms of an irrevocable trust, to challenging a trustee’s investment performance, we have successfully represented both fiduciaries and beneficiaries.

We are also familiar with and frequently use alternative methods to try to resolve disputes in a cost efficient manner. In the right situations, Illinois law permits the use of Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements, trust decanting, and other sophisticated techniques which may help us achieve your goals in a way which is usually less expensive and much faster than litigation.