Skip to main content

Jeffrey B. Power

Of Counsel | Email

  • Grand Rapids

    t. +1.616.752.2156

    f. +1.616.222.2156

  • +1.866.533.3018 - ext. 2156

Biography

Jeff Power provides general representation of large and small bank trust departments and handles contested probate proceedings and litigation. He is the firm's specialist in charitable and planned giving and in the formation and operation of tax-exempt organizations. Jeff's estate planning practice emphasizes tax and financial planning for families requiring sophisticated wealth management. 

Education

  • Fordham University J.D. 1985
  • Columbia University M.B.A. 1982

Admitted

  • 1985, Michigan

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association
    Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section
  • State Bar of Michigan
    Business Law Section (Nonprofit Corporations Committee); Probate and Estate Planning Section

Experience

  • Tax-Exempt Organizations/Charitable & Planned Giving.  Representation of tax-exempt organizations, including private and public foundations, charitable, cultural, educational and religious institutions and trade associations. Practical advice to donors and fundraising organizations on alternative structures and vehicles for both simple and complex charitable and planned giving. Examples of services include:
    • Advice to taxpayers and to exempt organizations with respect to direct charitable gifts, including bargain sales, grants of conservation easements, issuance of gift annuities and handling of unusual gifts such as closely held stock, partnership and LLC interests, commercial real estate, inventory and works of art
    • Design and implementation of planned giving strategies, including use of charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and gifts of remainder interests in a personal residence or farm
    • Advice to donors on alternative structures and vehicles to retain asset management or grant making influence or control, including the use of private foundations, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations
    • Negotiation and preparation of agreements creating and governing restricted charitable gifts and funds
    • Choice of entity advice when forming charitable organizations, including consideration of mechanisms to avoid or limit later frustration of donor intent
    • Organizations of private foundations, supporting organizations and public charities (more than 200 to date), including preparation and processing of applications for IRS recognition of tax-exempt status
    • Board and staff education with respect to ethical, legal and governance principles and best practices
    • Collaboration with exempt organization boards and staff to develop effective fund raising and grant making strategies and procedures
    • Formulation of rational investment policies and standards for selection and evaluation of investment managers; review of management contracts and investment proposals
    • Guidance on permissible exempt organization lobbying and political activity
    • Development of policies and procedures to avoid conflicts of interest and excess benefits transactions
    • Assistance to community foundations in the assembly and review of their applications made under the Council on Foundations' community foundation certification program
    • Not-for-profit organization restructuring, including amendments to articles of incorporation and bylaws, mergers, liquidations and conversion from trust to corporate form
    • Assistance to private foundations in making and properly documenting grants with respect to which expenditure responsibility is required
    • Advice to private foundations concerning program-related investments
    • Analysis of unrelated business income issues and structuring of transactions and operations to avoid or minimize UBIT
    • Formulation of scholarship grant programs, including those undertaken by company-sponsored private foundations
    • Representation of taxpayers seeking IRS rulings. See, e.g., Ltr. Rul. 9017071, which was the first IRS ruling allowing acceleration of deferred gift annuity payments
    • Annual preparation of numerous federal and state tax returns (Forms 990, 990PF and 990T) and required reports
  • Estate Planning & Administration.  Estate and tax planning for persons with inherited wealth and for business owners and executives.  Estate and trust administration practice emphasizes the administration and tax planning of decedent's estates and the handling of IRS audits and valuation controversies, including proceedings in Tax Court. Client services include:
    • Design and implementation of wealth preservation and management strategies, including creation of wills, sundry trusts, corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies to achieve specific tax and family objectives
    • Assessment and handling of issues arising out of ownership of closely held businesses, including assistance with succession planning, design of control devices, negotiation and preparation of buy/sell agreements and advice on management and governance issues
    • Planning for special situations, including transitioning of family cottage/vacation properties, creating trusts for individuals with special needs and protecting property from division and loss in the event of divorce
    • Development of tax effective strategies to reduce exposure to specific risk associated with concentrated holdings of publicly traded stocks
    • Review of life insurance and annuity needs and products; assistance with life insurance-based estate and tax planning strategies
    • Negotiation and preparation of antenuptial agreements
    • Estate and distribution planning for retirement plan benefits including qualified and nonqualifed retirement plans and individual retirement accounts
    • Postmortem estate and trust planning and administration, including use of qualified disclaimers, engagement and instruction of appraisers and fiduciary account preparation
    • Federal gift, estate, generation-skipping and fiduciary income tax planning and compliance, including planning for special elections, return preparation and handling/settlement of audits and any related Tax Court proceedings
  • Trust Banking.  General representation of bank trust and investment management departments, including advice and assistance with legal and tax compliance, the development, implementation and practical application of appropriate policies and procedures, loss prevention, and staff training. Advocate for Michigan Bankers Association in connection with the study and drafting of Michigan's 2009 enactment of the Uniform Trust Code
  • Probate Litigation.  Representation of corporate and individual executors or trustees and of beneficiaries in probate court contested proceedings. Disputes typically involve breaches of fiduciary duty, lack of capacity, undue influence, or interpretation of a governing instrument.  Service as an expert witness in the areas of estate planning, probate, taxation, investment management, and fiduciary accounting. Founded, recruited and trained the Firm's probate litigation team. Cases handled include:
    • In re Howard Stoddard Trust, Nos. 186093, 192711 Mich App Feb 25, 1997, leave denied 456 Mich 925 (1998), affirming summary disposition dismissing co-trustee's petition to remove corporate co-trustee
    • In re Messer Trust, 457 Mich 371, 579 N.W.2d 73 (1998), effecting a change in Michigan law to deny beneficiaries a right to jury trial on issues of trustee prudence
    • In re Stoddard Trust, No. 270508 (Mich App Dec 4, 2007) affirming order following 7-day trial that denied co-trustee's request to remove corporate trustee, that removed the individual co-trustee, and that divided the GST grandfathered trust in accordance with a previously obtained IRS private letter ruling

Honors & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America, Nonprofit/Charities Law and Trusts and Estates, 1995-Present
  • Named to Michigan Super Lawyers, 2006-Present
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Leading Lawyers Michigan, 2014
  • Legal Professional of the Year 2011 – NALS of West Michigan

Leadership

Speaking Engagements

  • Frequent lecturer on the formation and operation of tax-exempt organizations, planned giving techniques, and estate planning for the American Law Institute (ALI-ABA), Council of Michigan Foundations, Institute of Continuing Legal Education of the Michigan State Bar, the West Michigan Planning Giving Group and others.

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

By clicking the ‘ACCEPT’ button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that our review of your information, even if you submitted it in a good faith effort to retain us, and even if you consider it confidential, does not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the ‘ACCEPT’ button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.

ACCEPTCANCEL

Text

+ -

Reset