SONNY HELPS CLIENTS IN ALL AREAS OF ESTATE AND TAX PLANNING, TRUST AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION AND LITIGATION.
Sonny is a partner in the Tax, Trusts and Estates Group and is also a member of the Trusts and Estates Litigation Group. His practice is focused on serving high net-worth individuals and families, closely-held business owners and executives, corporate fiduciaries, and charitable organizations, in all areas of estate and tax planning, including both domestic and international estate planning, trust and estate administration, and trust and estate litigation.
Domestic Estate Planning
Whether you are married or single, Sonny can assist you in achieving your estate planning objectives while minimizing taxes and future conflicts. From charitable planning to protecting your assets from creditors, Sonny can assist you in developing a plan that fits you and your family.
International Estate Planning
If you own assets in a foreign country or if you or your spouse is not a citizen of the United States, Sonny can help you navigate through the complex world of international tax and guide you through competing tax regimes and the impact of multi-country tax treaties. Sonny also assists foreign individuals who own real estate or other assets located in the United States.
Trust and Estate Administration
After the death of a loved one, Sonny can assist you and your family in administering the estate. From simple estate and trust administration to post-death tax planning, Sonny can help make the process run more smoothly and help you to avoid costly pitfalls.
Trust and Estate Litigation
Whether you are involved in a will dispute or a tax controversy, Sonny brings a wealth of experience to help you through a difficult and often emotional situation. Sonny has represented families and corporate fiduciaries in non-tax controversies where there is a dispute as to the interpretation or administration of a will or trust. Sonny also represents individuals in front of the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities in connection with estate and gift tax valuations and audits.
Education & Admissions
University of Iowa College of Law (J.D., 1997), With Highest Honors; Order of the Coif; Articles Editor, The Journal of Corporation Law
Oklahoma Baptist University (B.B.A., Finance and Banking, 1994), Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society
Zeta Chi Chapter of Mortar Board
- South Dakota
Significant Estate Planning Representations
- Advises high net-worth families concerning general estate and income tax planning issues ranging from applicable exclusion amount and marital deduction planning to generation-skipping and charitable deduction planning.
- Represents wealthy international individuals with estate planning for assets within and without the United States. Representation focused primarily on Canadian citizens and residents, but also includes Mexican and European citizens and residents.
- Advises family offices in recommending and implementing estate plans for multiple generations of wealthy families.
- Assists married individuals with estate planning in both separate property and community property states (including the preparation of joint revocable trusts and community property agreements).
- Prepares premarital and postnuptial agreements for high net-worth clients to protect family wealth.
- Advises owners of closely-held businesses with respect to business succession and tax avoidance. Assists clients in developing leadership succession among key employees and family members. Drafts irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) to leverage annual gift tax and generation-skipping tax exemptions.
- Advises families with respect to minority-interest and marketability discounts and drafts family limited partnerships (FLPs) and limited liability companies (LLCs) to hold family assets and ultimately reduce transfer taxes.
- Advises individuals and families about a variety of transfer tax minimization and avoidance vehicles and implemented such plans including grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), self-canceling installment notes (SCINs), and installment sales to defective grantor trusts (IDGTs).
- Advises individuals and families with respect to the income and transfer tax implications of a variety of charitable planning vehicles and implements such plans including the creation of private foundations, supporting organizations, charitable lead trusts (CLATs) and charitable remainder trusts (CRUTs).
- Represents clients in connection with establishing and administering legal guardianships and conservatorships.
Significant Trust and Estate Administration Representations
- Fully competent in all phases of the probate and estate administration process including gathering assets, court appearances, disclaimers, estate and fiduciary income tax return preparation and funding issues.
- Prepares estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns for complex estates.
- Participates in estate tax audits and directly represents individuals and estates in front of the Internal Revenue Service, including the preparation of estate tax protest letters and negotiations with internal appeals at the Internal Revenue Service with respect to allowable discounts.
- Prepares and submits Court Petitions and Private Letter Rulings on complicated issues of trust and estate administration and interpretation.
- Represents corporate fiduciaries in connection with seeking court approval of annual accounts and court instruction or authorization with respect to investment or distribution objectives, including charitable trusts. Reviews accounts and tax returns for corporate fiduciaries.
Significant Trust and Estate Litigation Representations
- Successfully coordinated litigation representation of national banking institution in connection with breach of fiduciary duty claim alleging significant damages for failure to distribute trust assets in a timely manner. Case involved issues ranging from vesting of remainder interests, potential loss of generation-skipping exemption and allocation of legal fees among multiple beneficiaries.
- Successfully coordinated litigation representation of individual trustee in connection with a significant claim against the estate of the deceased predecessor trustee for breach of fiduciary duty for self-dealing (predecessor trustee had made substantial loans of trust assets to failing companies who employed her during her lifetime). Representation resulted in a successful settlement of the claim in line with the assets available in the estate of the predecessor trustee.
- Negotiated settlement on behalf of professional fiduciary between multiple charitable beneficiaries (public and private schools) in connection with an ambiguous testamentary scholarship trust, and obtained Court approval of resolution.
- Successfully represented both corporate creditors in actions against estates of deceased individuals and estates of deceased individuals against creditor claims.
- Served in a non-legal capacity as Mediator in connection with a family dispute involving an estate. Mediation resulted in a successful compromise of the issues.
News & Resources
News & Press Mentions
- “Community Property Accounts and Non-Probate Property Designations”, Carter Financial Management, April, 2005
- “Lions, Tigers and Bears . . . Estate Planning for Employees in the Global Jungle,” Minnesota Institute of Legal Education, September 2000
- Numerous presentations regarding estate planning issues to financial brokers, bankers, and groups of individuals
Industries & Practices
- Development & Infrastructure
- Non-Profit & Tax Exempt Organizations
- Tax Controversy & Litigation
- Trusts & Estates
- Trusts & Estates Litigation