Estate Planning & Administration


Estate planning concerns not only our clients’ finances, but their values and hopes for their families’ futures.  At Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Helsinger LLP, our attorneys are uniquely dedicated to meeting our clients’ estate planning needs.   In one of the most complex and challenging areas of the law, our attorneys offer not only experience and intelligence, but wisdom and sensitivity.


Each of our Estate Planning and Administration partners has been practicing over ten years. We know what wealth transfer methods work most effectively. We also understand how to shepherd complex estates through the probate courts or an IRS audit.  That experience enables us to work efficiently and effectively, drawing on the skills of our corporate attorneys to structure the ownership and transfer of family businesses, our bankruptcy attorneys to address asset protection, and our litigation attorneys to assist in probate or tax court proceedings.

We have deep experience in working through the intricacies of the tax code and the subtleties of trust law.  Our Estate Planning and Administration attorneys integrate that knowledge with such other areas of the law as asset protection, retirement planning, real estate, business and corporate structures, divorce and family law, charitable organizations and foundations.  We not only stay abreast of current law, as all attorneys are required to do; we also teach – law students, financial planners, and other lawyers.
Estate planning can involve a variety of sensitive family situations ranging from multiple marriages, feuding children, disappointed parents, great expectations and brutal economic realities.  To deal with such situations our Estate Planning and Administration lawyers go beyond our technical knowledge and considerable experience, bringing compassion and understanding in helping our clients find solutions that feel right for them. Through our technically sophisticated planning, we help our clients minimize the chances of their well-meaning intentions fostering family dissension, or worse, litigation.  
We excel at working with our clients in this highly sensitive area. We have developed unique methods to help our clients both articulate and implement their personal goals and values.   Each of our Estate Planning and Administration attorneys has become the trusted advisor for  his or her clients and their families.  Beyond wills, trusts, and tax advice, the families we serve have relied on us for counseling across multiple generations.  In bad times, we have helped our clients to cope when things go wrong with failing businesses, failing marriages and failing health.  In good times, we advise our clients on growing, preserving and making productive use of their wealth and in creating charitable and educational legacies that embody their family’s values.


Speaking Engagements


  • Represented a major Chicago trust company in extended litigation interpreting a significant change in the Illinois Probate Act

  • Represented beneficiaries in a suit against a national trust company alleging failure to properly invest trust funds.

  • Defended in Tax Court the Executor of a $50,000,000 estate against IRS challenges to valuation of estate assets.

  • Prepared an estate tax return for a wealthy decedent client with a large array of assets, and then defended the tax return at IRS audit.  The audit was unagreed and ended up in Tax Court, where a favorable result for the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s family, over the issues of valuations and tax deductions, was obtained through a negotiated settlement.

  • Advised principal shareholders in taking private transaction of manufacturing company involving reverse stock split and appraisal rights for public shareholders.  Integrated estate planning for principal shareholders into the transaction to pass ownership of the company to next generation at significant estate and gift tax savings.

  • Counseled estate on treatment of investment in Madoff ponzi scheme for federal income and estate tax purposes.