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Private Client Services

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Our Clients

Katten's private clients include domestic and international high-net-worth individuals, family-owned businesses, trusts and trustees, personal investment vehicles, other closely held business entities, and family offices. Our attorneys represent individuals and family offices with diverse sources of wealth, particularly those whose business interests require in-depth knowledge of highly specialized industries, including real estate, financial services, private equity, hedge funds, asset management, retail, manufacturing, hospitality, aviation, energy, sports, fashion, art, entertainment, music, technology and inherited wealth.

Our Services

Our Private Client Services attorneys work seamlessly with other Katten industry and practice teams, including Trusts and Estates, Corporate, Litigation, Real Estate, Transactional Tax Planning, Antitrust and Competition, Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, Environmental and Workplace Safety, Financial Services, Insolvency and Restructuring, and Intellectual Property, to provide private clients with creative and comprehensive representation in all areas integrated with their wealth, business, succession and estate planning.

Wealth management is an ongoing, ever-evolving service for our clients. The complex problems confronting individual clients involve local, federal and international tax, estate planning, trust and estate administration, and litigation and alternative dispute resolution laws, rules and regulations. We focus on creating and implementing an integrated structure that will accomplish the client's business and personal objectives in a tax-efficient and predictable manner, with sufficient flexibility to address unanticipated change. High net-worth individuals and their family offices turn to us for unique, holistic solutions that respond to their wealth, business and estate planning needs and to their particular wishes for family governance and succession.

Succession planning is a key component of wealth management for business owners and wealth creators. Moving beyond managerial succession, our legal advice centers on restructuring business entities and other holdings in a manner that achieves efficient wealth transfer and cohesive management across generations, including the use of private trust companies.

Our team advises clients regarding tax-advantaged structuring of business entities, including C corporations, S corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, trusts, foundations and hybrid-type entities. We integrate estate and trust planning into the overall business enterprise, including a determination of the optimal taxation for income and for estate, gift and generation-skipping tax purposes. Executives of publicly traded companies seek our advice on effective tax planning for the grant and exercise of stock options or restricted stock, and for structuring distributions from retirement plans. Individuals forming privately held businesses seek our advice on effective estate planning for the holding of interests in their business ventures.

Acting as liaisons, our private client services attorneys coordinate all legal services provided by other attorneys in different disciplines and non-legal services provided by financial, insurance and corporate consultants. We help our clients determine which of the available planning techniques and structures are most appropriate for their particular needs and wishes. The following are examples of specific capabilities we offer our clients:

  • We employ buy-sell agreements, voting trusts, limited liability companies, corporate and partnership recapitalizations, and employee stock ownership plans to effectuate a client's wishes regarding the control and succession of both private and publicly held businesses.
  • We structure domestic and offshore personal family investment vehicles to act as holding companies for operating businesses or passive investments, and we integrate those entities with overall estate and trust planning.
  • In connection with succession planning, we develop and implement mechanisms to shift the future growth in a client's business to younger-generation family members on a tax-efficient basis.
  • We advise on life insurance planning, including the use of irrevocable life insurance trusts, offshore life insurance techniques, split-dollar life insurance, private placement life insurance, insurance dedicated funds and the purchase of life insurance within profit-sharing plans.
  • We design trusts to shift the future growth of a client's net worth out of the client's estate, thereby minimizing exposure to income and transfer tax on the sale and transfer of assets.
  • We counsel on the creation of charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, private foundations and other charitable vehicles to leverage the tax benefits from charitable gifts and to support and effectuate both personal and tax-driven estate planning objectives, including our clients' involvement with and commitment to charitable and civic institutions.
  • We integrate asset protection with all of our clients' business, personal and estate planning through a variety of onshore and offshore vehicles and techniques to help our clients protect their hard-earned assets from unforeseen creditors.
  • We counsel clients with intellectual property interests (including fashion, art, entertainment, music and technology) on the optimal way to structure and hold their copyrights, royalties, patents, trademarks and similar intellectual assets.
  • For owners of closely held businesses, we provide corporate and finance legal advice, including with respect to mergers and acquisitions, governance, debt refinancing and recapitalizations that is integrated with their business, personal and estate planning objectives.
  • We advise on all aspects of private aircraft acquisition, disposition, finance, lease and operation, including fractional shares.
  • For owners of closely held real estate ventures, clients who desire to invest in real estate, and clients who utilize real estate in their businesses, we provide purchase, sale, development, leasing, financing and investment structure advice that is integrated with their business, personal and estate planning objectives.

We counsel corporate and individual executors, trustees, personal representatives, investment advisors, guardians and other fiduciaries, as well as beneficiaries and other interested parties. We advise clients with respect to litigation rights arising out of estate, tax and business planning; the performance of fiduciary duties; and estate, trust, business, personal and tax disputes. Our attorneys work with fiduciaries and beneficiaries in all types of government inquiries and proceedings.

We proactively guard against litigation in the planning and administration of estates, trusts and other entities with knowledge of the highly specialized laws of estates, trusts and other fiduciary entities. When disputes arise, we look for innovative opportunities to provide win-win solutions through the understanding and use of the applicable income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax laws. Our attorneys work to resolve intrafamily disagreements of all kinds.

Should litigation become necessary among shareholders, partners, beneficiaries and fiduciaries, we provide representation in all forms of will and trust construction proceedings, reformation proceedings, and will, trust, accounting and breach of fiduciary duty contests. We resolve creditors' claims and beneficiary-trustee disputes that arise in the post-death administration of assets in an efficient, tax-sensitive manner. Our attorneys work to acquire a decedent's assets from others who claim title to those assets, and represent both fiduciaries and beneficiaries in fiduciary removal and surcharge proceedings.

We also represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service and other federal, state and local agencies. We advise on tax litigation arising from the audit of federal estate, gift or generation-skipping tax returns. We handle a full range of voluntary and involuntary offshore asset disclosure and reporting. Our team represents corporate fiduciaries in class action, derivative, strike and other similar suits. With years of practical experience, we guide our clients through all compliance, regulatory and related issues.

By providing private clients with the same resources and services available to our largest institutional clients, the Private Client Services group offers comprehensive solutions to meet the full range of our private clients' legal needs.

  • Cooperation with a client’s primary estate planning counsel to negotiate and draft a private derivative between a series of GST-exempt trusts and an owner of a new hotel property being constructed. Katten developed a private derivative transaction, allowing the client to move some of the upside potential benefits to the irrevocable trusts while maintaining actual ownership of the project.
  • Representation of the successor trustee for the multibillion-dollar estate of an iconic artist in connection with interdisciplinary worldwide issues.
  • Provision of advice to a global family that founded one of the world's largest businesses in connection with all of their US interests and issues.
  • Provision of worldwide planning advice for the multibillion-dollar family office of an owner of interests in European and US real estate and private equity investment.
  • Representation of a real estate family in connection with a global multibillion-dollar planning initiative.
  • Corporate trustee for a late, renowned international film producer, providing advice regarding the restructuring of all of his domestic and overseas intellectual property interests.
  • Provision of advice to a founding partner of a new private equity fund regarding all aspects of fund formation. Katten serves as lead counsel on all acquisition and sale transactions for the fund and structured the fund and ownership interests to take maximum advantage of the client’s exemptions from estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes. Katten also sitused the transferee trust in a jurisdiction with more favorable trust law.
  • Representation of a member of one of the wealthiest families in the United States in all national and international estate planning matters for the multibillion-dollar holdings of his branch of the family.
  • Counsel to a high-net-worth individual in the structure of a sale of a rare piece of fine art from the family’s private collection; Katten helped structure the multimillion-dollar sale to minimize tax implications. Katten continues to provide ongoing estate and tax planning for the family.
  • Expert witness regarding the largest individual deficiency assessed by the IRS in US history stemming from a family's use of offshore trusts/subsidiary entities in a case closely watched by the entire international estate planning bar.
  • Representation of one of the wealthiest families in Colombia in connection with their privately held commodities businesses, among the largest in South America. Katten's work involves restructuring and United States-Latin America-Italy cross-border planning for the businesses and family members.
  • Court-appointed guardian ad litem in Switzerland and Bermuda representing the interests of minors/unborns in restructuring extensive overseas offshore trust holdings of one of America's wealthiest families involving highly complex tax/nontax issues and bitter litigation. Courts in both countries approved the settlement Katten reached.
  • Defense of the will of an environmentalist who donated hundreds of millions of dollars to create national parks in South America in contests being waged in New York, California, Argentina and Chile.
  • Representation of a large, private Chicagoland manufacturing company on all aspects of corporate law, including the potential acquisition of a competitor and the acquisition and development of a new manufacturing facility. Katten also advised on a recapitalization/trust structure to minimize estate tax.
  • Establishment of a number of private investing entities throughout the world on behalf of a family office. Katten handles all legal due diligence aspects of the client’s investment portfolio, including private equity fund review, private equity fund formation, hedge fund investment review, global direct investments and short-term cash investment vehicles. We determine which investing vehicles are most appropriate for each particular investment depending on cash flow needs of various beneficiaries, charitable and philanthropic funding desires, and location of the investment.
Firm News
December 18, 2017
September 26–28, 2018
June 20, 2017
May 22–25, 2017
May 4–5, 2017
April 20, 2017
September 29, 2016
Mitigating Fiduciary Risk | New York, New York
June 9–10, 2016
STEP Canada 18th National Conference | Toronto, Ontario, Canada
May 22–27, 2016
May 9–10, 2016
May 4–6, 2016
April 14, 2016
March 10–12, 2016
February 10–12, 2016
January 11–15, 2016
October 2, 2015
June 2, 2015
STEP Chicago Luncheon Meeting | Chicago, Illinois
May 4–6, 2015
April 27–28, 2015
April 23–24, 2015
February 6, 2015
Private Client Forum Americas 2015 | Papagayo Bay, Costa Rica
January 15–16, 2015
November 6–7, 2014
STEP Global Congress | Miami, Florida
February 4, 2014
STEP San Francisco Seminar | San Francisco, California
June 5–7, 2013
November 3–5, 2011
August 18–19, 2011
May 13, 2010
Citywealth Magic Circle Awards 2010 | London, United Kingdom
Private Client Services


Citywealth Magic Circle Awards
2013 International Law Firm of the Year
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law (Chicago)
Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law (Chicago), 2014–2015
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Trusts and Estates Law (National)
Trusts and Estates Law (National), 2014–2019
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Trusts and Estates Law (New York)
Trusts and Estates Law (New York), 2014–2019
Chambers USA – High Net Worth (New York)
High Net Worth (New York), 2016–2018
Chambers USA – High Net Worth (Illinois)
Private Wealth Law (Illinois), 2016–2018
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Litigation – Trusts and Estates (Los Angeles)
Litigation – Trusts and Estates (Los Angeles), 2014–2019
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Trusts and Estates Law (Los Angeles)
Trusts and Estates Law (Los Angeles), 2014–2019
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Corporate Law (National)
Corporate Law (National), 2014–2015
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Corporate Law (Chicago)
Corporate Law (Chicago), 2014–2015
Chambers USA – Wealth Management (Nationwide)
Wealth Management (Nationwide), 2013–2016
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law (National)
Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law (National), 2014–2015
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Trusts and Estates Law (Chicago)
Trusts and Estates Law (Chicago), 2014–2019
Chambers USA - High Net Worth - Private Wealth Disputes (New York)
Private Wealth Disputes (New York), 2018
U.S. News Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" – Law Firm of the Year – Trusts and Estates
“Law Firm of the Year” in Trusts & Estates Law, 2019
Chambers USA – High Net Worth (USA)
High Net Worth (USA), 2016–2018
Chambers USA – High Net Worth (Southern California)
High Net Worth (Southern California), 2016–2018
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2013 International Law Firm of the Year
Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law (Chicago), 2014–2015
Trusts and Estates Law (National), 2014–2019
Trusts and Estates Law (New York), 2014–2019
High Net Worth (New York), 2016–2018
Private Wealth Law (Illinois), 2016–2018
Litigation – Trusts and Estates (Los Angeles), 2014–2019
Trusts and Estates Law (Los Angeles), 2014–2019
Corporate Law (National), 2014–2015
Corporate Law (Chicago), 2014–2015
Wealth Management (Nationwide), 2013–2016
Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law (National), 2014–2015
Trusts and Estates Law (Chicago), 2014–2019
Private Wealth Disputes (New York), 2018
“Law Firm of the Year” in Trusts & Estates Law, 2019
High Net Worth (USA), 2016–2018
High Net Worth (Southern California), 2016–2018
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